Yemen's Ansarallah mark 8th anniversary of Sanaa takeover
Helicopters were flying at a low altitude in the sky of Sanaa Sept. 21, a scene not witnessed by Yemenis since 2015. The helicopters, this time, were not on a military mission or transferring soldiers from one place to another; they dropped small packages containing chocolate, raisins and leaflets.
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The Ansarallah group operated the helicopters to commemorate the eighth anniversary of their takeover of Sanaa. On Sept. 21, 2014, Sanaa fell to the group's fighters who were armed with Kalashnikovs and mortar shells. Today, they fly helicopters.
The latest parade shows that the war has not exhausted the Ansarallah forces; instead, it has developed its military capabilities.
Mohammed Ali, a soldier who participated in the Houthi-organized parade in Al-Sabeen Street, told Al-Monitor that the magnitude of the military force on this anniversary celebration was unprecedented.
"The number of soldiers, armored vehicles, missiles and police vehicles on the eighth anniversary was massive. I have not seen a parade like this in Yemen," said Ali, who has been fighting for the Houthi group since 2017. "The best part of the parade was the helicopters in city's sky."
The Ansarallah rose to power in Sanaa in 2014-15 where it faced with a foreign military intervention led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Thousands of airstrikes have hit the country over the last seven years, leaving a tragic impact on civilians and civilian infrastructure. However, the Ansarallah movement survived and flourished at the political and military levels, and they are prepared for a renewed war once the ongoing United Nations-sponsored truce ends without a renewal.
Celebrating what he describes as the Sept. 21 revolution, Abdul-Malek al-Houthi, the movement's chief, delivered a long speech explaining achievements and challenges since 2014.
He said one of the major achievements is the development of the military industry in Yemen. "Our country manufactures everything from infantry weapons to medium weapons to advanced and long-range weapons." He specifically listed what weapons Yemen can produce, including pistols, Kalashnikovs, cannons, drones and ballistic missiles of various ranges.
He continued, "The future of the industry at the military and civil levels in Yemen is promising, as Yemen is manufacturing what many countries are unable to produce."
According to Ansarallah, the war has not ended, which entails constant preparation. He noted, "The aggression is still ongoing and the war is not over. They [Saudi-led Arab coalition] did not lift their siege and did not stop their aggression. We are only in a temporary truce."
The current UN-sponsored cease-fire between Yemen's beleaguered internationally recognized government and the Ansarallah movement will expire Oct. 2. The latter's massive military parade on the eighth anniversary of their capture of Sanaa serves as a warning signal that they are highly prepared for a new cycle of conflict with a better military might.
The Ansarallah's military success since their seizure of Sanaa has earned them substantial popular support. Fuad Qasem, resident of Sanaa, remembers when the fighters entered the capital in September 2014 and how much he detested their spread in the city. Today, his perception of the rebel group has changed.
"The Houthis were called a militia, but their actions and political and military performance have made them like a state. That is what convinced me to support them, " he said. Expressing his views on the Ansarallah parade, Qasem told Al-Monitor, "When I saw the helicopters in the sky in Sanaa Sept. 21, I felt that the Houthis have the potential to subdue their local opponents, and this is only a matter of time."
On Sept. 1, the Ansarallah movement organized a huge military parade in the port city of Hodeida, a move that sparked the reaction of the UN.