By Tim Nanns
Heavy fighting near the port of Aden has killed dozens during clashes between Houthi and allied army units and the loyalists of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi on Sunday. The Houthis advanced towards the port but were pushed back again some hours later, Reuters news agency reported.
The situation in Aden is meanwhile deteriorating further, with water and electricity still being cut, and the supply routes largely interrupted, prompting a serious humanitarian crisis.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is still waiting for clearance to send in a surgical team into besieged Aden by boat. So far, the ICRC has received permission for two planes to bring in supplies and staff, according to a statement by ICRC spokesperson Sitara Jabeen to Reuters. The aid deliveries have so far not reached Yemen due to logistical problems on the ICRC’s side.
The Houthis, though interlocked with loyalist forces in Aden, have raided homes and offices of the Islah Party and associated reformist groups from Saturday night to Sunday. The rebel group has abducted a number of high-ranking party officials along with their family members, a total of 120 people, according to various statements released on Islah Party’s official website.
Among the abductees are Hassan Al-Yaeri and Mohammed Qahtan, both senior members of the party. Islah Party is known as the Yemeni branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, though its loyalties shifted from allying with the regime of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh to agreements with the Houthis. Islah is now supportive of the Saudi-led air strikes, which is likely to have prompted the recent abductions by the Houthi militia.
The air strikes and support of “Operation Decisive Storm” have been continuing for nearly two weeks. They have, however, been unable to halt the advance of the Houthis and its allied army units, loyal to former president Saleh who remains a major player in Yemenite politics.
Instead the country is being shaken by rapidly spreading violence and skirmishes between the Houthi bloc, Hadi’s loyalists, tribal militias and Islamist militant groups like the local Al-Qaeda branch. The death toll is steadily rising, especially among the civilian population.