Suspicious of his Loyalties, Houthis Force their ‘Premier’ to Pledge Allegiance in Sanaa

Wednesday, 12 September, 2018 - 07:30
Sanaa - Asharq Al-Awsat

Suspicions by the Iran-backed Houthi militias against their “Prime Minister” Abdulaziz bin Habtour forced them to bring him to Sanaa to swear allegiance to their leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi.

The militias grew tired of his ongoing loyalty to the General People’s Congress Party (GPC) amid rising fears over his defection, especially since he has a history of switching political allegiances, informed sources in Sanaa told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Abdulmalik Houthi tasked the militias’ senior intelligence official, Abu Ali al-Hakem, along with other leaders, to bring the PM to Saada, according to the source.

Bin Habtour was given two choices: either remain loyal to the GPC and, therefore, be removed from office, or swear loyalty to Abdulmalik al-Houthi and officially join the militias.

The sources said that Abdulmalik al-Houthi received bin Habtour with a degree of contempt following reports that he was secretly contacting legitimacy leaders ahead of abandoning the militias.

According to the same sources, bin Habtour pledged his allegiance to the Houthi leader in the presence of a number of militia commanders. However, Abdulmalik al-Houthi asked the PM to undergo intensive courses on the militias’ sectarian beliefs, including listening to speeches by Abdulmalik and his brother Hussein, the founder of the group who was killed on September 10, 2004.

The sources added that bin Habtour was taken to visit in Saada the graves of the militias’ dead members, including that of Badreddine Houthi, Abdulmalik’s father, and other family members.

A few months ago, sources in the legitimacy revealed that bin Habtour had contacted some of its leaders after he became certain that the Houthis will soon be defeated given their successive losses on various fronts.

Bin Habtour, who hails from the southern Shabwa province, was a leader in the GPC, but opted to abandon President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and join the Houthi coup in 2015.

In late 2017, he chose to remain at the head of the Houthi government and abandon former GPC leader former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saleh was killed by the Houthis in December for turning against his alliance with the militias and seeking to open a new chapter of ties with the Saudi-led Arab coalition.

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