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Houthis Capitalize on Tribal Conflicts, Poverty for Recruitment

Houthis Capitalize on Tribal Conflicts, Poverty for Recruitment

Sunday, 31 January, 2021 - 09:15
Houthi fighters during a gathering called by the group's leadership in Sanaa (DPA)

Despite losing tens of thousands of fighters in battles waged against Yemen’s internationally recognized government, Houthi militias have managed to continue drafting and deploying tribesmen and disadvantaged Yemenis to battlefronts.

Through exploiting deeply rooted tribal disputes in the country’s north and crippling poverty which affects over 80% of the Yemeni population, Houthis have successfully recruited many desperate Yemenis to fight their battles.

Houthis refusing to pay the salaries of public servants in areas under their control coupled with scores of businesses and projects shutting down in the war-torn country have left many with the only option of joining the war to secure a monthly income.

The payment of salaries of nearly a million civil servants and hundreds of thousands of military personnel has been frozen.

As for securing public services, Houthis have been utterly neglectful and rather focused on seizing state resources to fund their war effort. Militants have even resorted to doubling levies paid by merchants, companies, and farmers in areas run by Houthis.

In Yemen’s north, Houthis introduced themselves as valuable allies in the ongoing conflict between the Hashid and Bakil tribes.

“They (Houthis) worked to win over some tribal leaders from Bakil, who viewed the regime of the late President Ali Abdullah Saleh to be a pro-Hashid tribal ruling system,” sources with knowledge of the matter told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Other than boosting their alliances with Bakil chiefs, Houthis also sought to fill a leadership vacuum in the Hashid tribe created by key figures exiting the scene after the ouster of the Saleh regime.

More so, Houthis have offered millions of Yemeni rials to tribesmen who can bring them more recruits.

“Houthis pay 50 million riyals to any clan leader who can enlist 50 fighters to their ranks. The reward is doubled if the chief manages to recruit more individuals,” a local source who requested anonymity revealed.

It is worth noting that around 70% of Yemeni army forces refusing to join the coup has forced the Iran-backed group to scour elsewhere for recruits.

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