Since 1975
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • Home
  • Billion-dollar property grab as Houthi ‘gangs’ seize rivals’ homes

Billion-dollar property grab as Houthi ‘gangs’ seize rivals’ homes

Girls stand at the site of a Houthi ballistic missile attack in Yemen where officials said Saturday Houthis are stepping up a campaign to seize the homes, land and property of opponents who challenge their authority. (Reuters)
Girls stand at the site of a Houthi ballistic missile attack in Yemen where officials said Saturday Houthis are stepping up a campaign to seize the homes, land and property of opponents who challenge their authority. (Reuters)
Short Url:
13 Mar 2022 04:03:31 GMT9
13 Mar 2022 04:03:31 GMT9
  • Some of the properties are sold or passed on to Houthi fighters, while others are turned into secret detention centers
  • The Iran-backed Houthis say they are carrying out orders from judicial authorities to confiscate the property of Yemeni figures

Saeed Al-Batati

AL-MUKALLA: Armed Houthis are stepping up a campaign to seize the homes, land and property of opponents who challenge their authority, Yemeni officials and victims of the raids said on Saturday.

Some of the properties are sold or passed on to Houthi fighters, while others are turned into secret detention centers.

Unlike previous campaigns that mainly targeted properties in Sanaa, Houthi rebels have stormed dozens of houses and plots belonging to government officials and activists in Hajjah, Ibb, Al-Bayda, Dhamar and Al-Mahwit provinces, as well as other areas in northern Yemen.

The Iran-backed Houthis say they are carrying out orders from judicial authorities to confiscate the property of Yemeni figures who support the internationally recognized government of Yemen and the military operations of the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen.

However, relatives of the victims say that militia fighters have confiscated the properties of former ministers, activists, tribal leaders and even ordinary people who happened to be living in government-controlled areas.

Sadam Maoudah, a former Houthi prisoner who now lives in government-controlled Marib city, told Arab News that the militia raided his seven-flat apartment block in Al-Mahwit city and told the other tenants in the building that property belonging to “the traitor Maoudah” was being confiscated.

The Houthis then wrote a new contract with the tenants that allowed them to receive the rent.

Maoudah said that the tenants later were ordered to leave the building after they revealed plans to turn it into a hotel.

“We don’t know what they will do with the building,” Maoudah said, adding that his family, including his disabled father who was hit by a car in Marib, is penniless after losing their only source of income.

“We appeal to the international community and humanitarian organizations to intervene to stop the crimes of the Houthis and their looting of displaced people’s properties,” Maoudah said.

Yemen’s Rased human rights organization documented 32 cases of Houthis looting and confiscating private assets of displaced people, including houses, cars and cash, in the province of Al-Mahwit alone.

The organization described the confiscation campaigns as “a collective punishment” that targets civilians who fled the Houthi-held areas.

Other victims of the campaigns have authorized local lawyers to challenge the confiscation orders, and complained that Houthi judiciary guards occupied their houses and refused to leave despite receiving orders from the attorney general.

Mohammed Murshed Al-Arshani, the son of a former justice minister, said on Friday that a Houthi judicial guard, Mohammed Saleh Dubaish, and a number of militia fighters occupied his family home in Sanaa’s Rawadha neighborhood under the pretext of executing a judicial order.

The Houthi occupants later added a new floor, ignoring orders from the militia-controlled public prosecution to leave.

“It seems that the gang will remain a gang even if it wears the dress of the state,” Al-Arshani said.

On Saturday, Yemeni officials and activists voiced their support for Saleh Samae, a former minister and governor of Al-Mahwit, whose properties in Sanaa were stolen by the Houthis.

Samae was among hundreds of Yemeni ministers, officials, politicians, military and security officials and journalists who left Sanaa in late 2014 after the Houthis launched a crackdown on dissidents.

Last month, the Geneva-based SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties said in a detailed report that the 38 confiscated properties owned by the Houthis’ opponents in Sanaa alone, including real estate and major companies, have a combined value of more than $2 billion.

The Houthis also looted more than $1.7 billion in revenues from the confiscated companies, hospitals and other institutions.

Yemeni analysts believe that the militia have stepped up the seizure of opponents’ property to destroy any hopes of returning home under a peace agreement.

“The militia moves to a new stage, removing any trace of their opponents and telling the society that they cannot return,” Ali Al-Fakih, editor of Al-Masdar Online, told Arab News.

topics
Most Popular
Recommended

return to top