SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)-Yemen has moved closer to chaos as talks between the government and Shia Houthi rebels, who have established a growing presence in the capital over the past week, broke down and tens of thousands of people took part in an anti-Houthi march through the city centre.
For the past week, growing numbers of Houthi supporters have been arriving at encampments on Sanaa’s outskirts, marching through the city daily while the movement’s leader Abdelmalek al-Houthi has made repeated demands that a recent fuel price hike be reversed and the government be dissolved, threatening an expanding campaign of civil dissent.
Houthi officials have repeatedly said that they intend to topple the government through peaceful means – but also say that they reserve the right to respond with force if attacked by the security forces.
On Saturday evening, a delegation sent to the Houthi stronghold of Sadah in north Yemen by President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi returned to the capital empty-handed after three days of talks with al-Houthi.
The negotiations had initially seemed to be fruitful, with Hadi offering to reshuffle the government and form an economic committee to review the decision to cut fuel subsidies, several people with knowledge of the situation said.
But “the first round [of talks] fell through,” an official told Al Jazeera.
Hadi appears increasingly convinced that the Houthis plan on laying siege to the capital, and preparing for the worst.
“The army is ready to address any threats,” the same official said in response to questions about the likelihood of fighting in the capital.