Concern over armed presence in Taiz

Published on 2 February 2012 in News Emad Al-Saqqaf (author)

Locals in Taiz fear the return of violence to the city, especially with the renewed presence of armed militias.

TAIZ, Feb. 1 — People in Taiz have become concerned since armed figures started appearing in the city over the last couple days. Some roads were also closed during this time.

Mohammed Sa'eed, a shopkeeper, speaking with the Yemen Times, said, “We had started feeling everything was returning to normal. Kids started going to school and people to their jobs until roads were closed and insecurity showed up again.”

Sa’eed said that armed men allied with the revolution now roam the city, and especially on Jamal Street. Armed men aligned with the government can be found in the city's Al-Hawban area. A fear exists among citizens in Taiz that armed militias will become a presence in the city and that sustained violence may again erupt.

“We ask the security committee to deal with these problems promptly. They keep giving the armed men 48 hours to put down their guns...but after these periods, nothing changes.”

Hawdh Al-Ashraf's main road was closed when local residents protested after not receiving water from the government for more than two months.

“We are a big family and we cannot afford to pay YR 12,000 monthly for water tanks. We will keep the road closed until the state fulfills its promise to provide us with water,” said Nabeel Ahmad of Hawdh Al-Ashraf.

Fekra Mahmoud, a writer from Taiz, said that life in Taiz has been worrying as some young people “are immature and might be pushed by the regime or revolution supporters to do things such as fire gunshots in the air and close roads. We should all work to return life to normalcy in Taiz.”

According to a source that asked not to be named, there are people who want rampant insecurity in the city and who pretend that water and electricity problems are the motives behind closing roads. According to well-informed sources from the Republican Guards, representatives of the military committee withdrew from Taiz as they were called on by higher-ups in Sana’a.

This occurred simultaneously with the arrival of the military commission headed by Major General Nasser Al-Tahiri in Taiz. The major came to solve issues regarding checkpoints, the removal of armed figures and the release of prisoners.

An official source from the military commission denied that the withdrawal of Republican Guard from Taiz took place. He said that all the Republican Guard units in Taiz are committed, are under the guidance of the military committee and that they returned to their camps. He added that the commission is living up to its responsibility to restore security and stability to Taiz.

Men supporting the revolution held a consultative meeting in Taiz on Monday to discuss the governorate's security situation and to define the roles required for Yemen's military and security forces.

A statement issued at the meeting demanded that corrupt military and security officers be held accountable for murder and for abuses against civilian and military personnel in Taiz.

The statement demanded that military prisoners be released and they should be given their suspended salaries.

In addition, they wanted; those in exile and those suspended from work to return to be able to return to their normal lives. They said that they should be compensated for the harm they suffered simply because they supported the revolution.