Houthis Recruit Thousands Of Yemenis Under Anti-Israel Chants


By Saeed Al-Batati

Yemen’s Houthis militia has recruited tens of thousands of Yemenis who would supposedly fight the Israelis in Gaza, prompting fears in Yemen that those warriors will only fight Houthi opponents in Yemen.

Yemen’s government authorities, as well as military and political observers, have accused the Iran-backed Houthis of leveraging widespread popular fury in Yemen over Israel’s brutal shelling of Gaza to recruit thousands of Yemenis. 

“This is another one of the Houthis’ falsehoods. They do not have the military, geographical, or political resources to deploy anybody to Gaza,” military analyst Brig. Gen. Mohammed Al-Kumaim told Arab News on Wednesday.

The Houthis have been encouraging individuals in densely populated regions under their control to undergo military training as part of their alleged mobilization efforts to help Palestinians over the last two months.

On Sunday, the Houthis organized a military parade for 20,000 recruits who graduated from short military courses in Abes district, Hajja’s northern province, where thousands of people dressed in traditional Yemeni attire raised Yemeni and Palestinian flags, waved their weapons and chanted anti-Israel and anti-America slogans. 

The Houthis had earlier organized a military parade in Sanaa for 16,000 individuals who were reported to have graduated from the training and will purportedly battle the Israelis in Palestine. 

The Houthis did not specify how they planned to get those troops to Palestine, raising concerns in Yemen that their recruits will be used to fuel Houthi military activities even as the UN Yemen envoy is close to providing a road map for ending the conflict in Yemen.

Al-Kumaim said that the Houthis saw the public outrage over what is happening in Gaza as an opportunity to boost their popularity and recruit people into their ranks, primarily because people refused to join them on the battlefields during the UN-brokered truce that went into effect in April last year. 

“The Houthis discovered that, despite holding six military parades, military mobilization had deteriorated during the truce, so they used the events in Gaza as an excuse to reactivate mobilization,” Al-Kumaim said.

By enrolling thousands of volunteer warriors through their brief military training courses, the Houthis would not be committed to giving them money or treating them if they were injured on the battlefields, and they would not take care of their families after they died. 

“The events in Gaza provided the Houthis with a justification to mobilize in this manner so that they do not pay wages or provide care to the warriors and consider them to be part of the framework of sacrifice and jihad,” Al-Kumaim said.

At the same time, Yemeni military officers on the ground have said that the Houthis have begun to deploy many of those freshly recruited individuals around the nation. 

Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a Yemeni military official in Taiz, told Arab News that some of the newly recruited fighters had been dispatched to contested areas in Taiz, Hodeidah, and Al-Dhale, with some refusing to join the battlefield and returning home after realizing Houthi slogans had duped them. 

“Fighters who graduated from the Houthi military camp in Yarim (Ibb province) have already been transferred to the battles in Taiz, the western coastline, and Al-Dhale,” Al-Baher said. 

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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