Shiite Houthis Target News Outlet in Yemen in Latest Press Freedom Violation

AP Photo
The Associated Press

Iran-linked Shiite Houthis and their allies, armed groups loyal to the former president of Yemen, have attacked an independent news outlet in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa and apprehended its manager, Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya News Channel reports.

Citing the Yemeni Journalist Syndicate, the Saudi news agency notes that the Houthis and their allies are responsible for the majority of 100-plus press violations during the first six months of 2016 that include “dozens of murders, abductions, disappearances, [arrests], and assaults.”

Referring to the al-Saeeda newsroom in Sanaa that was reportedly stormed by the Houthis and their allies, Al Arabiya reports that “media sources confirmed that the station was closed and several of its employees were arrested without further explanation.”

A U.S.-backed Saudi-led Sunni coalition has been fighting the Houthis and their allies, forces loyal to ousted former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, since March of last year. Both U.S. and Saudi officials have accused Shiite powerhouse Iran of providing military assistance to the rebels, an allegation that both the Islamic Republic and the Houthis have denied.

The internationally recognized Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi was forced into exile in Saudi Arabia back in January 2015 by the Houthis. He has since returned to his native country. The Saudi-led coalition is fighting to restore Hadi to power.

Iran is Saudi Arabia’s regional rival.

Houthi perpetrated attacks against Yemeni journalists is not unprecedented. According to Human Rights Watch, the Shiite group attacked “critical journalists” in 2015.

It notes:

The Freedom Foundation, a Yemeni group that monitors press freedom, reported at least 49 attacks on media in January 2015 alone, while the Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate reported that Houthi forces beat at least 10 journalists, cameramen, and photographers as they covered the January and February 2015 protests, arbitrarily detaining seven and seizing or smashing equipment. Human Rights Watch documented seven attacks on media in early 2015.

Fighting between the Saudi-led coalition and the Iran-allied Houthis continues.

Gulf News reports:

Yemeni forces waged a fresh offensive on Monday aimed at driving Al Houthis out of their last bastion in the Marib province.

Government officials and army commanders speaking to Gulf News say the assault was backed by heavy air support from the Saudi-led Arab coalition…

Yemeni forces recaptured three mountains in the early hours of the offensive after heavy clashes with Iran-backed Al Houthi militants and forces loyal to ousted Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

“The national army and resistance forces attacked Al Houthi militants and Saleh’s forces in Serwah, their last stronghold in western Marib,” a Yemeni official told Gulf News on the condition of anonymity.