Yemenis Protest Against Pro-Saudi Government as Prices Soar

(Bloomberg) -- Hundreds of Yemenis took to the streets to protest the depreciation of the national currency, chanting against the government and its Saudi allies as rising prices deepen the destitution in the war-devastated nation.

Residents blocked roads with burning tires and closed their businesses in the southwestern city of Taiz, which has been under siege by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels for three years. The protesters chanted “no legitimacy” and burned pictures of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

The intervention of a Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen’s civil war has contributed to the humanitarian catastrophe in the country, where disease and starvation have emerged as bigger dangers than bombs and gunfire.

Yemen’s rial lost about a third of its value relative to the dollar last month, pushing up prices of basic goods. In September, the central bank raised quarterly yields on certificates of deposit to 27 percent and on government bonds to 17 percent in an effort to halt the currency’s decline.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia announced a $200 million grant to Yemen’s central bank meant to ease the country’s economic distress, just months after it deposited $2 billion there. A coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia entered Yemen’s civil war in March 2015 to help restore the internationally recognized government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur, who was forced into exile in Riyadh by the rebels.

The Yemeni socialist party, part of Hadi’s government, called for a small emergency cabinet and the lifting of restrictions on airports and seaports to facilitate the entry of relief aid and the production and export of oil and gas.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.