The Houthi militias in Yemen are preparing to lead new wave of extortion through their self-styled Zakat agency against merchants and businessmen in areas under their control, namely Sanaa.
Zakat is a religiously imposed tax in Islam.
A statement by leading Houthi official Shamsan Abu Nashtan, head of the so-called Houthi Zakat General Authority, revealed that a blacklist including the names of a number of businessmen perceived as tax evaders will be released.
The traders blacklisted by the Iran-backed militias will be subject to escalatory measures for refusing to pay the Zakat tax to the Houthi-formed authority.
Nashtan vowed that the Authority will be forced to “extract the payment from evaders in any way,” implying that the militants will make merchants to pay the cut by force.
Commenting on Nashtan’s threats, a number of traders and businessmen in Sanaa expressed their fears of being subject to blackmail and looting.
A number of merchants, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat, said that the militias are seeking to impose royalties and levies on merchants and shopkeepers in a new extortionary manner and in the name of “Zakat.”
Also, merchants and businessmen complained about the continued harassment and countless looting and campaigns they are being subject to under different pretexts.
Houthis carry out continuous campaigns to collect royalties and cash by force.
As for Zakat, Houthis refuse that the blacklisted merchants had paid the religiously allotted amount to other charities and local organizations.
Traders and shopkeepers in Sanaa told Asharq Al-Awsat that the militias regularly raid a number of businesses and force them to pay under force.
In turn, local economists emphasized the negative repercussions of the militias’ actions, which exacerbates the citizens' suffering due to a lack of liquidity.
Economists, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat, condemned the continuous Houthi violations and crimes against merchants and the private sector in Sanaa and other Yemeni cities under the militias’ control.