The Iran-backed Houthi militias were quick to close the case of the assassination of their prominent member and sports ministers in their illegal government after alleging that the perpetrators were killed in fighting in the Dhamar province.
Hassan Zaid died on Tuesday in hospital from his wounds after gunmen opened fire on his car in an area of the Houthi-held capital Sanaa. His youngest daughter was also in the car and was seriously injured.
The way in which the Houthi authorities were quick to close the case has prompted speculation over who was really behind the murder. Officially, they blamed the legitimate government and Saudi-led Arab coalition for taking him out, but Zaid’s oldest daughter openly accused the militias of killing him.
Zaid’s murder took place at a time of unprecedented disputes among the militias over spoils of war, levies on the people and on positions of power. The disputes are especially intense in Sanaa.
Zaid’s oldest daughter said on Thursday that her father “loved the Houthis from the moment their military movement was formed in 2004.”
In a Facebook post, she added that some sides from within the militias “harmed him” and “this is no secret” to anyone.
“I am assured that God will avenge my father in this life or the afterlife,” she stressed, claiming that many attempts against his life had taken place over the years.
Observers have said that the murder does look like an inside job, comparing them to other similar assassinations.
They said the latest murder is part of the Houthi family’s attempt to eliminate any figure seen as an obstacle to its ambition to monopolize power and wealth. Several rivalries exist between Houthi families in Sanaa, Dhamar, Kaukaban and Hajjah.
Zaid’s murder is expected to deepen the rivalries, with observers predicting more assassinations in the future in favor of the Sanaa wing of the family and its pursuit of political, military and economic hegemony.
Moreover, observers noted how even though the Houthis have allegedly deployed 30,000 of their members to secure Sanaa for the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday celebration, which fell on Thursday, Zaid was still killed in broad daylight. This only deepens speculation that the Houthis ordered his assassination.
They added that more suspicions were raised when the Houthis announced the arrest of the perpetrators, but then declared their death on the battlefield some 24 hours after the murder.
Relatives of one of the alleged perpetrators said that he is actually being detained in a Houthi jail for two years and could not have possibly committed the crime.
Other observers noted how Zaid was killed soon after he criticized the appointment of leading member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hassan Irloo, as new ambassador to Tehran in Sanaa.
Zaid had previously attacked Iran, accusing it of manipulating the Houthis for its regional agenda and of seeking to prolong the war in Yemen.
Zaid was a staunch member of the Houthis who played a role in the Sanaa takeover and murder of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. He was active in promoting the Houthis’ political ideology and took part in setting up training camps for women. He also encouraged children and teachers to quit school and join the battlefronts.