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Yemen: Field Losses Push Houthis towards Public Conscription

Yemen: Field Losses Push Houthis towards Public Conscription

Tuesday, 20 February, 2018 - 11:15
Child soldiers with Houthi fighters hold weapons during a demonstration in Sanaa on March 13, 2015. - © 2015 Reuters
Sanaa,Taiz – Asharq Al-Awsat

Coup militias in Yemen have turned to a public draft as they suffer countless losses on nationwide battlefields. Orders have been sent out to annul voluntary recruitment and sending for military personnel forced to abandon posts when the insurgency was launched.

Enlistment demand coincided with the failure of the “voluntary” recruitment campaign that was called for earlier this year, as well as the escalation of dissent among coup officers, as defectors hurl into government-controlled areas and join in among their ranks.

Houthi leader and head of coup council Saleh Ali al-Sammad on Monday admitted recent field defeats as Iran-allied coup militias lose ground to Saudi-led Arab Coalition and government forces.

“We cannot determine the hour of victory… controlling a certain piece of geography does not settle the battle,” he said during a meeting with group leaders responsible for “public recruitment.”

The statement points towards the rapid collapse of Houthi ranks on “West Coast” fronts, near the strategic port of Hodeidah.

Other battle declines Houthis experienced, is losing vital land grab in the southwestern Taiz governorate, full withdrawal from posts in Shabwa and facing a tightened siege around its main stronghold of Sa’ada.

Due to the failure of the recruitment campaign, the militia ordered militia leaders to review and simplify the conditions required for recruitment.

The “simplification” of terms, according to observers, means abolishing the age limit, opening chances for offenders and convicts to enroll, allowing children and the elderly to join in, and reducing the training period to a few days before dispatching recruits to battlefronts.

Sources said that the Sammad stressed the pressing need for “facilitating procedures for involving youth in armed forces--and the need for coordination between the various military units to raise combat capabilities.”

The Houthi leader cited the need for increased recruitment in the face of the continued division among officers and soldiers and their defecting to pro-government camps.

Loyalists of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh have sizably abandoned coup ranks, serving a blow to militia count.

Houthi leaders sent out orders “to mobilize energies and the need to regroup all military units.”

In the meantime, official sources said the Yemeni pro-government army reported the continued advance towards Hodeidah, with clashes leaving dozens of militia combatants dead.

Air support from Arab Coalition forces played a central role in sustaining government advances on the ground.

Field sources confirmed that at least 24 Houthi militants were killed in Arab Coalition air strikes targeting various locations south of Hodeidah and west of Ma'rib, while clashes in western Taiz and Al Bayda killed at least 8 rebels.

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