Tuesday, September 30, 2014

UN brokers Yemen peace deal between government and Houthi rebels

The Houthi rebels in Yemen accepted a UN-brokered peace deal after capturing much of the capital Sanaa. The deal will require disarmament and withdrawal from areas they seized recently.



The deal was signed by the Shiite rebels along with political rivals the Islah party linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, with other parties signing as well. The Houthis appear to be the strongest force in the capital Sanaa. They have thousands of fighters in the city, man checkpoints, and are well supplied with weapons seized from army barracks. The Houthis may be reluctant to give up their present power status. While the Shiite Houthis are a minority among the Sunni majority in Yemen as a whole, they are a majority in their strongholds in the north. However, separatist rebels in the south also oppose the central government.
 Even while the deal was being signed some Houthi fighters fought with security guards at the house of the national security chief Ali-Ahmadi. Two Houthi fighters were killed in the fighting. Al-Ahmadi is in charge of the security apparatus that coordinates attacks on Al-Qaida with the US. The Houthis were apparently trying to storm the house.
 The US embassy told US citizens to leave Yemen because of the security situation just a day ago. Government staff have been reduced at the embassy. The Yemeni president and staunch US ally Mansour Hadi claimed that Yemen could be heading for civil war.
 On Saturday a rocket attack was launched against special police guarding the US embassy in Sanaa. The attack was said to be in retaliation for a US drone strike on Friday in the north of Yemen. Ansar al_Sharia, affiliated with Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula(AQAP) claimed responsibility for the attack. The rocket hit about 200 meters from the embassy and injured at least two of the special police guarding the facility. Tribal sources confirmed that 2 Al-Qaeda members were killed in a drone strike in Al Jawf, Friday, and some children were reported wounded. Another attack in the capital targeted an armored vehicle of security guards who were protecting a building rented by the US embassy. A man fired a portable missile from a motorcycle. It caused a large explosion but no one was injured. US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said: "We are aware of an attack with an assault weapon in Sanaa today. We have no indication that the U.S. Embassy was the target of the attack,"
  The US Embassy in Sanaa has been the target in the past of AQAP operations. The US provides training for Yemeni counter-terrorism forces and also carries out drone strikes again suspected militants. He is strongly supported by President Hadi even though there is considerable opposition among the population. Many Yemenis are angry that Yemeni citizens in Guantanamo have not been released back to Yemen. The president sides with the protesters on this issue.
 The Houthis have agreed to join the fight against Al Qaeda although they do not support US drone strikes. The agreement will give Houthis some executive power as the president will name an adviser from the group and another from the southern separatist movement which is also a challenge to the central government. A new government is to be formed within a month. So far the Houthis have not agreed on who should be the new prime minister. The appended video discusses the chances of the peace deal holding.


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