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Fighting Resumes in Yemen Despite Attempts from Government to Mediate

January 8, 2014

Dammaj town, Sa'ada, Yemen  

Al-Houthi rebels battling tribesmen in north Yemen

President Hadi on Tuesday sent a delegation to try to broker a truce

Gulf News, AFP, January 8, 2014


Al-Houthi rebels and gunmen from the powerful Hashid tribe in north Yemen clashed for a third straight day on Wednesday, with the fighting intensifying, tribal sources said.

The fighting first broke out on Monday when Al Houthi rebels attempted to take over the towns of Wadi Khaywan and Usaimat, strongholds of the Hashid tribe in Amran province, they said.

Al-Houthis launched the attacks in retaliation for the Hashid tribe’s support for hardline Sunni Salafist groups fighting Al Houthis in Dammaj, the Al Houthis’ stronghold in the northern province of Saada, the sources said.

According to witnesses, the fighting has left dozens dead and wounded. The toll could not be confirmed due to the difficulty of accessing the area.

The tribal sources said the fighting had intensified on Wednesday, while the Al Houthi Ansarullah (Partisans of God) group said on their website that they had taken control of several Hashid strongholds.

During the battles, a Hashid chief, Hashim Al Ahmar, escaped an attack but his guard and four of his relatives were killed, tribal sources said.

Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Tuesday sent a delegation to try to broker a truce but they have yet to make contact with leaders from the two sides.

Al Houthi rebels have been battling the Sana’a government for nearly a decade in the remote Saada province, but the outbreak of fighting with Sunni militants has deepened the sectarian dimension of the unrest.

Fighting that erupted in late October has centred for months on a Salafist mosque and Quran school in Dammaj.

But the conflict has spread in the northern provinces, embroiling tribes wary of the power of the Al Houthis, who have repeatedly been accused of receiving support from Iran.

Al Houthis, named after their late leader Abdul Malek Al Houthi, are part of the Zaidi Shiite community.

They rose up in 2004 against the government of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, accusing it of marginalising them politically and economically.

They accuse Salafists in Dammaj of turning the town centre into “a real barracks for thousands of armed foreigners”, a reference to the Dar Al Hadith Quran school, where foreigners study.

On January 6, the International Committee of the Red Cross said it had evacuated 34 people wounded in the Dammaj clashes.

The ICRC said it has managed to enter Dammaj six times since the fighting resumed on October 24.

Government renews attempts to reach peace in Houthi-Salafi fighting

Yemen Times, 7 January 2014 in News Nasser Al-Sakkaf (author)

SANA’A, Jan. 6—

A new round of delegations was sent this week to several areas in the North in order to broker a peace deal between the Houthis and the Salafis, whose fighting has spread throughout the region since it began in the city of Dammaj in late October.   

One presidential delegation arrived in the Haradh area of Hajja governorate on Sunday amid reports of more fighting between a group of Zaidi Shiites who have controlled parts of northern Yemen since 2011, known as the Houthis, and the the Salafis, who are conservative Sunnis.  

A committee headed by Sana’a’s mayor, Abdulqader Hilal, arrived last week in Sa’ada governorate to focus his efforts on Dammaj.  

The current commander of the Reserve Forces, Gen. Ali Al-Jayfi, has been tasked with reaching a peace deal in the Arhab district of Sana’a governorate between armed anti-Houthi tribesmen and Houthis. Fighting in Arhab is the most recent evidence that the conflict is spilling over into other parts of the country.    

The central government has made repeated attempts to secure a peace deal between the two warring groups.  A presidential delegation returned to Sana’a in December after being unable to get both sides to follow through with a compromise they had originally agreed to implement.  

“If the government really wants to end the conflict between the Houthis and the Salafis, it will succeed,” said Mohammed Al-Bukhaiti, a Houthi representative at the National Dialogue Conference. “Otherwise, the [newest] committee will be as ineffective as the previous ones.”

On Sunday, demonstrators are planning to march from the city of Sa’ada to Dammaj after being bused from Sana’a in order to call for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.  

“There is coordination with the security authorities to secure the road the participants will travel on,” said Mohammed Al-Bashiri, the secretary general of the newly-established Al-Salam Party, a group known for its peaceful advocacy work.

Yahia Abu Asbo, the head of the original presidential committee that failed to secure peace in Dammaj, said President Hadi has ordered that those injured in the ongoing fighting receive medical treatment at the expense of the state.


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