Houthi rebels capture oil fields

Written by Staff Writer

CNN Staff Writer

Yemenis have put up with a state of siege-like emergency conditions for years now. The United Nations has officially called it the most serious humanitarian crisis in the world.

Yemen continues to live up to its grim reputation. One of the world’s poorest countries with food, unemployment and malnutrition on the rise, food banks now freely roam the streets, with lines stretching on for blocks.

CNN also spoke to Emile Damour, 30, who has had a job washing pots and pans, but has not been paid for two months. He has no idea when he will receive his next check.

“I need food, but I don’t have any. For me, nothing is better than leaving to fetch water and filling a jerry can, but I have no choice,” he said.

For a while now, one of the country’s largest economic powers has been the Marib province. Its size, its location on the Red Sea coast, and the mere fact that it sits atop vast quantities of oil, makes Marib crucial to the central government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Now a war is looming that could change all that.

Last year, Houthi rebels took over the capital city of Sanaa and now they have made their way northwards. On July 24, they reached the doorstep of Marib. They now control all the vital oil fields, bringing oil to the surface in trucks that deliver it to the country’s ports on the Red Sea.

The Zaydi Houthis, who belong to the Zaydi branch of Shi’ite Islam, view the northern part of the country as an independent state of their own. They conquered the cities of Saada and Hajja last year and are now consolidating their position in Marib.

“The people of Marib have stood firm and persevered until now. At the end of the war there will be a peaceful transition — but I think that peace will not be long in coming,” said Abdul-Majeed, the governor of Marib province.

As it stands now, the war in Marib is only just beginning. Once the Houthis have taken all of the oil fields it will be their turn to cement their position as Yemen’s most powerful power.

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