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memri
June 11, 2019 No.
1460

Sparse Response To Houthi Fundraising Campaign For Hizbullah

By: N. Mozes*

During Ramadan, the SAM FM radio station, which broadcasts from Sanaa, Yemen and supports the Houthi rebels, launched a fundraising campaign for the Houthi armed forces, titled "Mobilize for the Sake of Yemen's Finest." The campaign, which was also held last year, was conducted in three parts, lasting about 10 days each. This year, however, the third part of the campaign was devoted to collecting funds for the Lebanese Hizbullah, under the title "From Yemen, [Land] of Faith, to the Lebanese Resistance".

The response to the campaign for Hizbullah seems to have been sparse, however. One week after it started, the station reported that 43,300 rials had been collected ($173). This is in contrast to 30,300,000 rials ($13,179) collected for the Houthi rebels within 10 days. Apparently due to the small yield, the station announced that, "in response to popular demand," it was extending the campaign, which was supposed to end on the last day of Ramadan, until June 30.

Regardless of its lack of success, the campaign for Hizbullah is significant in that it reflects the dire economic crisis Hizbullah is currently suffering due to the U.S. sanctions that have been imposed on it and on its sponsor, Iran.[1] Moreover, the limited response to the campaign among the Yemenis living in the Houthi-held territories may indicate the extent of Hizbullah's popularity there, while also reflecting the harsh economic conditions in these regions.

In addition, the campaign is further indication of the close ties between the Houthi leadership and Hizbullah, which are manifested in both statements and actions. In July 2017, for example, Houthi leader 'Abd Al-Malik Al-Houthi declared: "Anytime Hizbullah or the Palestinian people need us, we will be able to reach them. We are ready and willing to do so, even as we confront America's tools in the region [i.e., Saudi Arabia] and are at war due to their aggression against us. Even in such circumstances, we are willing to dispatch fighters to take part in any new confrontation... We say to [Hizbullah Secretary-General] Hassan Nasrallah...: You can count on the Yemeni people..."[2] In July 2018, Al-Houthi thanked Nasrallah, "the master of resistance and jihad, who keeps his promises, the loyal, steadfast [leader] of vast capabilities and high status," for his solidarity and support of the Yemeni people, and promised that the Yemenis would not forget it.[3] One month later, a Houthi delegation met with Nasrallah in Lebanon. According to reports Hizbullah indeed assists the Houthis in training and fighting, and supplies them with weapons and drugs.[4] Turki Al-Maliki, spokesman of the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, has stated that Hizbullah supplies the Houthis with Fath missiles and drones.[5]


Logo of the fundraising campaign for Hizbullah (source: Facebook.com/profile.php?id=100029555901313, May 30, 2019)

This report will review the reports on SAM FM's fundraising campaigns for the Houthi rebels and Hizbullah.

Fundraising Campaign For Houthi Rebels

As stated, this is the second year that SAM FM has conducted a Ramadan fundraising campaign for the Houthi rebels. During the campaign the station devotes a daily program to it, which, according to the pro-Houthi Yemeni press, is very popular and has even scored top ratings.[6] The campaign is advertised by the station, including on its two Telegram channels (t.me/SAMymenradio and t.me/SAMredio), each of which has over 2,000 members (the station's Facebook page has been shut down). It is also advertised on billboards in the Houthi-held areas, and the station has circulated a telephone and Whatsapp number (770991991) for the campaign.


Poster advertising the campaign, with the station's logo in the top-right corner (Facebook.com/profile.php?id=100029555901313, May 11, 2019)


Billboard advertising the campaign (Facebook.com/profile.php?id=100029555901313, May 6, 2019)

Donations can be made to Postal Bank account no. 555555, and can apparently also be handed to activists who collect them on the streets. In addition to monitory donations, gold and vehicles have been donated as well. According to the Houthi rebels' news agency, last year's campaign and this year's together have yielded a total of over 200 million Yemeni rials (about $800,000), about 30,300,000 ($120,000) of which were collected during the first 10 days of this year's campaign, which focused on supporting the Houthi military industry, missile units, drones, air defense forces, naval forces and coast guards.[7] To demonstrate that the donations have indeed been deposited in the campaign account, the station director, Hamoud Muhammad Sharaf, posted a photo of the deposit receipt on his Facebook page:


Photo of the deposit receipt posted by the station director on his Facebook page (Facebook.com/profile.php?id=100029555901313, May 22, 2019)

Fundraising Campaign For Hizbullah

On the 19th day of Ramadan SAM FM launched the third part of the campaign, dedicated to Hizbullah. Station director Sharaf said that devoting part of the campaign to Hizbullah would be "a surprise and a painful blow for the Zionist entity, enemy of the Arab and Muslim nation... [and would] have an immense impact in terms of strengthening the resistance axis." He assessed that the response would be extensive, saying: "We have great faith in the Yemeni people's sense of responsibility towards the issues of the [Islamic] nation... and in its belief in the principle of being loyal towards those who showed it loyalty amid the oppressive aggression and the criminal siege we have been facing for the past four years... The Yemeni people will never disappoint the leader of the Islamic resistance in Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah. This is in accordance with the statements of the commander of the [Houthi] revolution, ['Abd Al-Malik Al-Houthi], who declared [on July 7, 2017] that 'we are loyal' and expressed the willingness of the Yemeni people to dispatch troops to [participate in] any future military confrontation [waged by] Hizbullah in Lebanon or in Palestine with the Israeli enemy." Sharaf confirmed the reports about the economic crisis Hizbullah is suffering due to the U.S. sanctions on it and on its sponsor Iran, saying that the organization is in financial "distress" because it is being punished for supporting the Palestinian cause and the Yemeni people.[8]


Image on the station's Telegram channel: Hassan Nasrallah and 'Abd Al-Malik Al-Houthi (T.me/SAMredio, May 30, 2019)

According to the anti-Houthi Yemeni website Yemen60.com, the station presenters exhort the audience to support "the leaders of jihad in the world [and] the world's purest people, Hizbullah," by asking: "Are you a Yemeni? Are you among the loyal? If you are, be part of attaining the victory. In the spirit of the jihad fighter Hassan Nasrallah and based on the principle that loyalty deserves loyalty, we call upon all the Yemeni people to take a large and active part in the popular donation campaign [for Hizbullah]."[9] The station also took advantage of International Qods Day, which is marked by the supporters of Iran's Islamic Revolution on the last Friday of Ramadan, to promote the campaign.


Images on the station's Telegram channel. The banner says: "This is the 13th station for collecting funds for supporting Hizbullah" (T.me/SAMredio/5300, June 1, 2019)


Activists with Hizbullah flags beside a pail for collecting donations (T.me/SAMredio/5267, June 1, 2019)


Poster advertising the campaign outside the central branch of the postal bank (T.me/SAMredio/5320, June 2, 2019)

It seems that, contra to the organizer's expectations, the response to it was sparse. A week after the start of the campaign for Hizbullah, the station posted on its Telegram channel a receipt for 43,300 rials (about $173) that had been deposited in the postal bank account. The small yield apparently motivated the station to extend the campaign, which was supposed to end on the last day of Ramadan, until June 30, "in response to popular demand."[10]


Photo of the deposit receipt posted on the station's Telegram channel (T.me/SAMymenradio/3996, June 4, 2019)

 

* N. Mozes is a research fellow at MEMRI

 

[2] Almrasel.net, July 21, 2017.

[3] Al-Masira (Yemen), July 7, 2018.

[5] Alarabiya.net, May 28, 2019.

[6] 26sep.net, May 27, 2019.

[7] Sabanews.net, May 25, 2019.

[8] Sabanews.net, May 25, 2019.

[9] Yemen60.com, May 28, 2019.

[10] T.me/SAMymenradio/3996, June 4, 2019.