Yemen’s Houthis Slam Saudi Arabia for Hajj Procedures, Affirm Support for Saudi Dissidents

Sheba Intelligence | 2024-05-25 11:29 AM UTC


The Ansar Allah (Houthi) group attacked Saudi authorities for "complicating" the Hajj journey of the Yemeni pilgrims, saying that the Saudi regime and the Aden-based Yemeni government have intentionally "imposed obstacles" and "politicized Hajj".

The Houthi-run Ministry of Guidance said in a statement on Friday, "The Saudi regime worked to change the agreed-upon air transport plans and reduce the number of passengers and flights approved for Yemen, which in turn will lead to great difficulties and obstacles to the transportation of pilgrims to [Mecca]."

It added that the Saudi regime is still obstructing and delaying the issuance of the necessary permits and visas for the air transportation of Yemeni pilgrims despite the limited time and the limited airlines allowed to operate in Yemen.

According to the Houthi statement, Saudi Arabia canceled flights from Sanaa Airport to Medina, allowing only flights from Sanaa Airport to Jeddah, which will "make the transportation of Yemeni pilgrims difficult and costly".

The UN-recognized government in Yemen holds the Houthis responsible for the difficulties facing the Yemeni pilgrims. The Aden-based Ministry of Guidance said the Houthis adopted "arbitrary measures" to obstruct the Hajj journey from Yemen.

It explained that the Houthi authorities prevented the approved Hajj agencies from performing their duties. The Houthi authorities also exercised various types of pressure to blackmail Hajj agencies and pilgrims, according to the Aden-based Ministry of Guidance.

Houthi-Saudi antagonism keeps growing despite continued diplomatic efforts to bring the two sides closer. Houthi officials have outspokenly affirmed their support for Saudi dissidents who seek to overthrow the ruling regime in Saudi Arabia. 

Mohammed Al-Bukhaiti, Dhamar governor and member of the Houthi Supreme Political Council, said yesterday in a post on X, "We are serious about supporting the Saudi opposition because this is a moral, religious and humanitarian duty, especially since Bin Salman has been excessive in suppressing the [Saudi] people."

He added, "We agree with the Saudi opposition in all its factions on the priority of the Palestinian issue, which is the major issue that will unite the (Muslem) nation and distinguish the truthful from the liars."

Al-Bukhaiti expressed sympathy with the Saudi critics of the Saudi regime. He said in another post on x, "Most of the political detainees in the [Saudi crown prince] Bin Salman's prisons were convicted through their writings on social media. We are confident that the majority of the people of [Saudi Arabia] are against the corruption… of Bin Salman."

Authorities in Shabwah in South Yemen arrested a Saudi dissident named Majed Al-Asmari, who stayed years in Houthi-controlled Sanaa.

Al-Bukhaiti said that Al-Asmari is a political refugee in Yemen, whether in Sanaa or Aden, and he should not be extradited to Saudi Arabia. He affirmed that Houthi authorities are ready to take any initiative in exchange for his release.

A report by Sheba Intelligence revealed that the Houthis have participated in smuggling Saudi opposition figures from southern Saudi Arabia and are training groups of them in camps in Saada and Sanaa.

The Houthis lately celebrated an opposition member called  Ali Hashem from the Saudi Qatif region. He was received in Sanaa and allowed to post pictures and videos of his activity.

Saudi citizen Hashem bin Salman Al-Hajji is considered a Shiite dissident who settled in Lebanon in 2018, and he threatened to blow up the Saudi embassy in Beirut in August 2022.

Hashem moved to Yemen's North, where the Houthis officially received him, and the leader, Ali Al-Hakim, gave him his personal weapon, showing his appreciation.