Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE INTERVIEW

Boutros-Ghali: 'I wanted to reform the UN'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

57 000 little problems

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

The Sarkozy 'threat'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Budget challenge for India's new government

Read more

DEBATE

Africa's Newest Failed State: How to Stop Civil War and Famine in South Sudan? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Africa's Newest Failed State: How to Stop Civil War and Famine in South Sudan?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Israeli strikes on Gaza as seen on social media

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

World Cup humiliation for host nation

Read more

DEBATE

Israel and the Palestinians: How to Break the Cycle of Violence?

Read more

  • Video: Muslims in China confront obstacles to Ramadan fasting

    Read more

  • French companies will have to accept anonymous CVs

    Read more

  • Israel steps up airstrikes as diplomacy gets under way

    Read more

  • Argentina beat Netherlands on penalties to reach World Cup final

    Read more

  • Foiled French jihadist ‘targeted Louvre and Eiffel Tower’

    Read more

  • Obama in Texas to urge congressional action on child migrant crisis

    Read more

  • Iraq’s heritage 'in danger' from ISIS militants

    Read more

  • Froome crashes out of Tour de France

    Read more

  • South Sudan independence heroes ‘have lost their way’

    Read more

  • 100 years on, the Tour de France returns to the Western Front

    Read more

  • Dozens of blindfolded bodies found south of Baghdad

    Read more

  • Both candidates say they won Indonesian presidential election

    Read more

  • Brazil players should never wear 'sacred uniform' again, press says

    Read more

  • Exiled Syrian opposition elects new president

    Read more

  • Ukraine imposes new conditions on peace talks with pro-Russia rebels

    Read more

4 rebels receive death sentences

©

Latest update : 2008-05-14

Four Shiite rebels were sentenced to death by a Yemeni court after being found guilty of killing two soldiers in 2007. The sentences come amid renewed fighting in the four-year-old conflict.

The conflict between Yemeni authorities and Shiite rebels based in the country’s volatile northern province of Saada has violently escalated in recent days. On May 5, fighting between the Yemini military and rebels in Saada killed 19 Shiite rebels and injured six soldiers, according to a local official. On May 12, a court in the capital city of Sanaa condemned four rebels to death after finding them guilty for the death of four soldiers during an attack in 2007. Three of the rebels were tried in absentia.

The Houthis insurrection

The conflict between the Yemeni Army and the Shiite rebels in the Saada region began simply as a local unrest. In 2003, Hussein al-Houthi, a religious leader in Saada and head of group Al Shabab al-Moumin, or the Youthful Believers, called on his followers to protest the US invasion of Iraq.

The Shiite insurgents are popularly known as Houthis after their commander, Hussein al-Houthi.

According to Sami Noaman, a Yemeni journalist, “the Yemen government discourages such anti-American gatherings, fearing an escalation of the situation.” While al- Houthi was part of the Yemeni government in 1994, he gradually fell out with the government over his increasingly violent anti-US rhetoric.

The first confrontation dates back to June 4, 2004 during a protest in front of the US Embassy in Sanaa. The Yemeni Army fired on the crowd leaving two dead – including a 15-year-old - and several injured.

 
The four major stages of the Houthis conflict

There have been four stages or “wars” in the Houthis conflict, according to Noaman.

The June 2004 protest marks the beginning of the first “war” between the Yemeni Army and the Houthis, led by Hussein al-Houthi. Determined to eradicate anti-US movements, the Yemeni government killed Houssein al-Houthi after three months of fighting.

Hussein’s father, Badr al-Din al-Houthi, took over after his son’s death. The deadly fighting that began in March 2005, marks the start of the second Houthi rebellion in Yemen. Like the first war, it lasted three months. Rebellion leader, Badr al-Din al-Houthi was killed in combat.

Qatar steps in

The violent clashes that followed Yemen’s Jan. 2007 presidential elections led to a four-month period of chaos. Faced with the severity of the situation, Qatar offered to mediate between the rebel group and the government. In doing so, Qatar “is in search of power and recognition on the international scene,” according to Naoman.

As a result of this arbitration, the Yemeni government and the Houthis signed an agreement in June 2007. But the violence did not cease. The principal clause of the agreement was a provision for a ceasefire. Other clauses “can be surprising” according to Sami Noaman. “The agreement authorises the Houthis to keep control of certain large regions. As a result, the role of the State is completely marginalized,” he explains.

 
Sunni Saudi Arabia applies pressure on Sanaa


The Houthis belong to the Shiite sect of Zaidis, a sect considered moderate by many scholars.  Despite the rebel’s religious rhetoric, the rebel group has been denounced by moderate Zaidis. Indeed Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh belongs to the Zaidi sect.

But since 2004, the Houthis have begun to advocate a political line similar to that of the Hezbollalh, sparking suspicion from Yemen’s powerful Sunni neighbour, Saudi Arabia. According to Noamam, Riyadh has been quick to put pressure on Sanaa to quell the growing Houthi influence.

Date created : 2008-05-13

Comments

COMMENT(S)