Houthi rebels deplete traders, citizens’ resources for ‘war effort’

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Asharq Al-Awsat

Iran-back Houthi militia intensifies, during the month of Ramadan, efforts to blackmail citizens and merchants under the provision of “Eid convoys” in support of the war effort, as well as taxes and levies imposed such as zakat or fees to improve Sanaa and distribute food baskets.

Traders and businessmen said that they are on the verge of bankruptcy due to systematic and continuous extortion by Houthi militia. They (Houthi rebels) also impose royalties throughout the year, and on several occasions.

Businessmen told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Houthi militants use all methods of extortion and looting of citizens, merchants, institutions, forcing them to donate all convoys without taking into account living conditions of the citizens and their economic situation caused by the war.

The militia did not exclude any of the institutions under their control in Sanaa from mobilizing support and donations, including public and private institutions.

Academics told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Houthis ordered the universities to run food convoys and collect donations for the fighters in the fronts.

Economists confirm that the coup militia continues to destroy the private sector, after being privy to the public sector. They looted all authorities’ savings and monopolized them for their followers, war effort, and employees’ salaries.

Merchants in Sanaa say they are forced to donate, whether cash money or items they trade, without any exception.

The Houthi militants forced a shoe seller to allocate 10 percent of his total merchandise for the war effort.

“They determined each kind and shoe size they want, including women’s, children and men shoes,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

A prominent perfume merchant, speaking on condition of anonymity, admitted that each Eid, Houthis force him to pay royalties and participate in preparing aid convoys for fighters. He admitted that the militia’s senior leaders in Sanaa asked for his best perfume for their personal use.

Traders fear Houthis’ retaliation for those who do not support the war effort. They said the Houthi coupists are practicing a variety of methods, including kidnapping and closing shops, for those who refuse to donate.

Economists say that levies and royalties imposed on traders, regardless of the goods, will be added to the final value of the commodity, which poor and destitute citizens will have to pay.

Earlier, Houthi militiamen closed several stores in Sanaa and other cities under their control. In addition to closing one of Sanaa’s biggest shopping malls under the pretext that it deals with banknotes issued by the Central bank in Aden.

Meanwhile, dozens of traders left Sanaa to areas under the legitimate government control in Aden, Marib, and Hadramout, in an effort to distance themselves from the militarization of the militia and its relentless war effort.

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