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Houthi Spokesman’s High-end Living Decried by Yemeni Activists

Houthi Spokesman’s High-end Living Decried by Yemeni Activists

Monday, 20 May, 2019 - 08:15
A woman holds her malnourished boy after he was weighed at a hospital malnutrition intensive care unit in Sanaa, Yemen September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah
Sanaa – Asharq Al-Awsat
Yemeni activists, especially running social media platforms, blasted the life of luxury paraded around by Houthi militia commanders. Taking to Twitter, activists posted a picture showing Houthi spokesman Muhammad Abdulsalam Felita sporting a high-end wrist watch.

What seems to be a lush life enjoyed by Houthi commanders is greatly frowned upon as the Yemeni population sinks further into economic despair, famine and poverty.

Tracing the hand-watch featured, activists found that the internationally branded timepiece costs about $ 21,000, which is a figure enough to pay the salaries of some 100 Yemeni teachers.

While commanders seem to be enjoying the spoils of war, many public sector workers in Houthi-run territories remain unpaid.

The watch, according to activists, is only one of many signs proving the extravagance lived by Houthi officials, especially those close to the group’s leader, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi.

Felita, for example, is living abroad alongside a number of Houthi top brass figures. He is running a Sanaa-based oil conglomerate that is believed to be is responsible for the smuggling of Iranian oil and selling it to Yemen over the past years.

The militia spokesman also handles fundraisers for the sectarian group and serves as a communications backchannel between Abdul-Malik al-Houthi and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Activists note that other than the watch worn by Felita, there are other signs that show the oil tycoon’s relaxed living. He was spotted wearing a traditional yet branded head garment estimated to cost $3,000.

Houthi commanders drive around in luxury cars, while the average Yemeni suffers to secure basic living necessities.

The group has also been racing to open up bureaus for international organizations in their stronghold, Sanaa. Such a move means the militia will be able to pillage international funding pledged for humanitarian relief.

In Houthi-controlled areas, citizens only get crumbs of international aid when compared to the astronomical funds going to militia pockets. Houthis have made it a habit to loot international aid and sell it on black markets.

In parallel, United Nations reports show that about 20 million Yemenis are on the verge of famine and that half of which do not have food security.

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