Rebellion in Yemen (Sa'dah
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officially the Republic of Yemen, is a Middle Eastern
country located on the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia.
Yemen is composed of former North and South Yemen. It
borders the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden with Somalia,
Djibouti, Eritrea on the south and east, the Red Sea on the
west, Oman to the northeast and the rest of the country
borders Saudi Arabia. Its territory includes over 200
islands, the largest of which is Socotra, about 350 kilometers (217
mi) to the south off the coast of Somalia.
a republic with a bicameral legislature. Under the
constitution, an elected president, an elected 301-seat
House of Representatives, and an appointed 111-member Shura
Council share power. The president is head of state, and the
prime minister is head of government. The constitution
provides that the president be elected by popular vote from
at least two candidates endorsed by Parliament; the prime
minister is appointed by the president. The presidential
term of office is 7 years, and the parliamentary term of
elected office is 6 years. Suffrage is universal over 18.
is divided into
governorates are subdivided into 333
districts, which are subdivided into 2,210
sub-districts, and then into 38,284 villages
(as of 2001).
1990, Yemen existed as two separate
TYPE OF CONFLICT
FIGHTING FACTIONS FROM 1996 TO 2006
2) Rebels of Shī’a "Shabab al-Moumineen," or Believing Youth
Movement founded by Imam Hussein Bader Eddine al-Houthi.
According to government sources,
the three-year sporadic battles have claimed the
lives of more than 800 government forces and wounded more than
It is said that thousands of civilians and al-Houthi followers died
in the same period, but the real number is unspecified.
Yemen is one of the oldest centres of civilization on
the Arabian Peninsula. Its relatively fertile land and adequate
rainfall in a moister climate had helped sustain a stable
population, a feature recognized by the ancient Greek geographer
Ptolemy, who described Yemen as Eudaimon Arabia (better known in its
well known Latin translation, Arabia Felix) meaning "fortunate
Between the 12th century BC and the 6th century AD, Yemen was part
of the Minaean, Sabaean, and Himyarite kingdoms, reputed home of the
Queen of Sheba in the 10th century BC. Romans were impressed by the
wealth and prosperity of the Kingdom, based on the cultivation and
trade of spices and aromatics including frankincense and myrrh.
These were exported to the Mediterranean, India, and Abyssinia where
they were greatly prized by many cultures, using camels on routes
through Arabia, and to India by sea.
Later Yemen came under Ethiopian and Persian rule.
In 628, the Persian governor in Southern Arabia, Badhan, converted
to Islam and Yemen followed the new religion and became a province
in the Islamic empire, during Muhammad's lifetime. After this
caliphate broke up, the former north Yemen came under control of
Imams of various dynasties usually of the Zaydi sect, who
established a theocratic political structure that survived until
modern times. In 897, a Zaydi ruler, Yahya al-Hadi ila'l Haqq,
founded a line of Imams, whose Shi'ite dynasty survived until the
second half of the 20th century.
SUNNI ISLAM AND
There are a number of Islamic religious denominations, each of which
has significant theological and legal differences from each other
but possesses similar essential beliefs. The major schools of
thought are Sunni and Shi'a; Sufism is generally considered to be a
mystical inflection of Islam rather than a distinct school.
According to most sources, present estimates indicate that
approximately 85% of the world's Muslims are Sunni and approximately
15% are Shi'a. There are a number of other Islamic sects not
mentioned here which constitute a minority of Muslims today.
A caliphate (or Khilafah) is an Islamic federal government
representing the political unity of the Muslim world despite
theological differences, with the head of state (caliph) as the heir
of Muhammad's political, not religious, authority.
A hadith was originally an oral tradition relevant to the actions
and customs of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The hadith were
eventually recorded in written form and collected into large
collections during 8th century.
The Sunni are
the largest group in Islam. They believe that the leader of the
Khilafah has to be elected. In Arabic, as-Sunnah literally means
"principle" or "path." The sunnah, or example of Muhammad, is
described as a main pillar of Sunni doctrine, with the place of
hadith having been argued by scholars as part of the sunnah. Sunnis
recognize four major legal traditions, or madhhabs: Maliki, Shafi'i,
Hanafi, and Hanbali. All four accept the validity of the others and
a Muslim might choose any one that he/she finds agreeable to his/her
ideas. There are also several orthodox theological or philosophical
traditions. The more recent Salafi movement among Sunnis, adherents
of which often refuse to categorize themselves under any single
legal tradition, sees itself as restorationist and claims to derive
its teachings from the original sources of Islam.
Shi'a Muslims or
Shi'ites, the second-largest branch of Islam, differ from the Sunni
in rejecting the authority of the first three caliphs as some of
them believe that the Muslims had no right to elect the leader of
the Khilafah. They honour different accounts of Muhammad (hadith) and
have their own legal tradition which is called Ja'fari
jurisprudence. The concept of Imamah, or leadership, plays a central
role in Shi'a doctrine. Shi'a Muslims hold that leadership should
not be passed down through a system such as the caliphate, but
rather, descendants of Muhammad should be given this right as Imams.
Furthermore, they believe that the first Imam was prophet Muhammad's
son-in-law Ali ibn Abu Talib, explicitly appointed by Muhammad
himself. Followed Ali’s sons Hassan and Hussein, and subsequent
lineal descendants, whom they consider to have been divinely
ordained unclassified successors of the prophet.
MIDDLE AGE HISTORY
history is a tangled chronicle of contesting local Imams. The
Fatimids of Egypt helped the Isma'ilis maintain dominance in the
11th century. Saladin (Salah ad-Din) annexed Yemen in 1173. The
Rasulid dynasty (Kurdish and Turkish in origin) ruled Yemen from
about 1230 to the 15th century. In 1516, the Mamluks of Egypt
annexed Yemen; but in the following year, the Mamluk governor
surrendered to the Ottomans, and Turkish armies subsequently overran
the country. They were challenged by the Zaydi Imam, Qasim the Great
(r.1597–1620), and were expelled from the interior around 1630. From
then until the 19th century, the Ottomans retained control only of
isolated coastal areas, while the highlands generally were ruled by
the Zaydi Imams.
As the Zaydi Imamate collapsed in the Nineteenth Century, the
Ottomans moved south along the west coast of Arabia back into
northern Yemen in the 1830's, and eventually even took Sana’a making
it the Yemeni district capital in 1872. Meanwhile the British
interest in reducing piracy on British merchants lead to their
creating a protectorate over the southern town of Aden, in 1839, and
adding the surrounding lands over the following years. The opening
of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the increased traffic on the Red Sea
route to India increased the military and commercial importance of
Yemen. The Ottomans and the British eventually established a de
facto border between north and south Yemen, which was formalized
in a treaty in 1904 even if the interior boundaries were never
However the presence of the Ottomans, and to a lesser extent the
British, allowed the Zaydi Imamate to rebuild against a common
enemy. Guerrilla warfare and banditry erupted into the full rebellion
of the Zaydi tribes in 1905.
collapsed and Turkish forces withdrew in 1918, so North Yemen became
independent while the southern country was held by the British.
Imam Yahya Muhammad strengthened his control over North Yemen
creating the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen, which became a member
of the Arab League in 1945 and the United Nations in 1947. Imam
Yahya died during an unsuccessful coup attempt in 1948 and was
succeeded by his son Ahmad. Ahmad bin Yahya's reign was marked by
growing repression, renewed friction with the United Kingdom over
the British presence in the south, and growing pressures to support
the Arab nationalist objectives of Egyptian President Gamal Abdul
Nasser. Ahmad died in September 1962.
Shortly after assuming power in 1962, Ahmad's son, the Crown Prince
Muhammad al-Badr was deposed by revolutionary forces, who took
control of Sana’a and created the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR).
Egypt and the Soviet Union assisted the YAR with troops and supplies
to combat forces loyal to the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia and Jordan
supported Badr's royalist forces to oppose the newly formed republic
starting the North Yemen Civil War. Conflict continued periodically
until 1967 when Egyptian troops were withdrawn.
By 1968, following a final royalist siege of Sana’a, most of the
opposing leaders reached a reconciliation and Saudi Arabia
recognized the Republic in
Read more on
North Yemen Civil War.
Former South Yemen
interests in the area which would later become South Yemen, began to
grow in 1832,
British East India Company forces
captured the port of Aden, to provide a coaling station for ships en
route to India. The colony gained much political and strategic
importance after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.
Aden was ruled as part of British India until 1837, when the city of
Aden became the Colony of Aden, a crown colony in its own right. The
Aden hinterland and Hadhramaut to the east formed the remainder of
what would become South Yemen, which was not administered directly
by Aden but was tied to Britain by treaties of protection. Later,
the Aden Protectorate was divided into numerous states as
sultanates, emirates, and sheikhdoms. Economic development was
largely centred in Aden, and while the city flourished partly due to
the discovery of crude oil on the Arabian Peninsula in the 1930s,
the states of the Aden Protectorate stagnated.
Encouraged by the rhetoric of President Nasser of Egypt against
British colonial rule in the Middle East, pressure for the British
to leave grew. Following Nasser's creation of the United Arab
Republic, attempts to incorporate Yemen in turn threatened Aden and
the Protectorate. To counter this the British attempted to unite the
various states under its protection and, on 11 February 1959, six of
the West Aden Protectorate states formed the Federation of Arab
Emirates of the South to which
all of the Aden Protectorate
On 18 January 1963, the Colony of Aden was incorporated against the
wishes of much of the city's populace as the State of Aden and the
Federation was renamed the Federation of South Arabia. Several more
states subsequently joined the Federation and the remaining states
that declined to join, mainly in Hadhramaut, formed the Protectorate
of South Arabia.
In 1963 fighting between Egyptian forces and British-led
Saudi-financed guerrillas in the Yemen Arab Republic spread to South
Arabia with the formation of the National Liberation Front (NLF),
who hoped to force the British out of South Arabia. Only in 1964,
there were around 280 guerrilla attacks and over 500 in 1965. In
1966 the British Government announced that all British forces would
be withdrawn at independence. In response, the security situation
deteriorated with the creation of the socialist Front for the
Liberation of Occupied South Yemen (FLOSY) which started to attack
the NLF in a bid for power, as well as attacking the British.
After mass riots, attacks and clashes, the temporary closure of the
Suez Canal in 1967 effectively negated the last reason that British
had kept hold of the colonies in Yemen, and, in the face of
uncontrollable violence, British forces finally left Aden by the end
of November 1967, earlier than had been planned and without an
agreement on the succeeding governance. Their enemies, the NLF,
managed to seize power
in a drawn out campaign of terror.
The Federation of South Arabia collapsed and Southern Yemen became
independent as the People's Republic of South Yemen.
In June 1969, a radical Marxist wing of NLF gained power and changed
the country's name on 1 December 1970, to the People's Democratic
Republic of Yemen (PDRY). In the PDRY, all political
parties were amalgamated into the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP),
which became the only legal party. The PDRY established close ties
with the Soviet Union, People's Republic of China, Cuba, and radical
Unlike East and
West Germany, the two Yemens remained relatively friendly, though
relations were often strained. In 1972 it was declared unification
would eventually occur.
However, the massive exodus of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis from
the south to the north contributed to two decades of hostility
between the states. In 1979 war was only prevented by an Arab League
intervention. The goal of unity was reaffirmed by the northern and
southern heads of state during a summit meeting in Kuwait in March
1979. What the PDRY government failed to tell the YAR government was
that it wished to be the dominant power in any unification, and left
wing rebels in North Yemen began to receive extensive funding and
arms from South Yemen.
In 1980, PDRY president Abdul Fattah Ismail resigned and went into
exile. His successor, Ali Nasir Muhammad, took a less
interventionist stance toward both North Yemen and neighbouring
Oman. On January 13, 1986, a violent struggle began in Aden between
Ali Nasir's supporters and supporters of the returned Ismail, who
wanted power back. Fighting lasted for more than a month and
resulted in thousands of casualties, Ali Nasir's ouster, and
Ismail's death. Some 60,000 people, including the deposed Ali Nasir,
fled to the YAR.
In May 1988, the YAR and PDRY governments came to an understanding
that considerably reduced tensions including agreement to renew
discussions concerning unification, to establish a joint oil
exploration area along their undefined border, to demilitarize the
border, and to allow Yemenis unrestricted border passage on the
basis of only a national identification card.
In November 1989, the leaders of the YAR (Ali Abdullah Saleh) and
the PDRY (Ali Salim al-Baidh) agreed on a draft unity constitution
originally drawn up in 1981 and the two countries were formally
united as the Republic of Yemen on May 22, 1990, with Saleh
becoming President and al-Baidh Vice President. For the first time
in centuries, much of Greater Yemen was politically united.
A 30-month transitional period for completing the unification of the
two political and economic systems was set. A presidential council
was jointly elected by the 26-member YAR advisory council and the
17-member PDRY presidium. The presidential council appointed a Prime
Minister, who formed a Cabinet. There was also a 301-seat
provisional unified parliament, consisting of 159 members from the
north, 111 members from the south, and 31 independent members
appointed by the chairman of the council.
A unity constitution was agreed upon in May 1990 and ratified by the
populace in May 1991. It affirmed Yemen's commitment to free
elections, a multiparty political system, the right to own private
property, equality under the law, and respect of basic human rights.
The constitution provides for freedom of religion even if there are
some heavy restrictions. It declares that Islam is the state
religion, and that Shari'a (Islamic law) is the source of all
Public schools provide instruction in Islam but not in other
religions; however, Muslim citizens can attend private schools that
do not teach Islam. Almost all non-Muslim students in the country
are foreigners and attend private schools.
Non-Muslim citizens may vote but may not hold elected office.
Parliamentary elections were held on 27 April 1993.
Islaah (Yemeni grouping for reform, a party composed of various
tribal and religious groups) was invited into the ruling coalition,
and the presidential council was altered to include one Islaah
member. Conflicts within the coalition resulted in the deterioration
of the general security situation as political rivals settled scores
and tribal elements took advantage of the unsettled situation.
Continuous negotiations between northern and southern leaders
resulted in the signing of the document of pledge and accord in
Amman, Jordan, on 20 February 1994. Despite this, clashes
intensified until civil war broke out in early May 1994.
Almost all of the actual fighting in the 1994 civil war occurred in
the southern part of the country despite air and missile attacks
against cities and major installations in the north. Southerners
sought support from neighbouring states and received billions of
dollars of equipment and financial assistance, mostly from Saudi
Arabia, which felt threatened by a united Yemen. The United States
strongly supported Yemeni unity and repeatedly called for a
cease-fire and a return to the negotiating table. Various attempts,
including by a UN special envoy, were unsuccessful to effect a
Southern leaders declared secession and the establishment of the
Democratic Republic of Yemen (DRY) on 21 May 1994, but the DRY was
not recognized by the international community. Aden felt on 7 July
1994, resistance quickly collapsed and thousands of southern leaders
and military went into exile but after a general amnesty most
southerners returned home.
In 1994, amendments to the unity constitution eliminated the
presidential council. President
Ali Abdullah Saleh
was elected by Parliament on 1 October 1994 to a 5-year term. Then,
as constitution provides that the President is elected by popular
vote, Yemen held its first direct presidential elections in
September 1999, electing President
Ali Abdullah Saleh
to a 5-year term in what were generally considered free and fair
elections. Constitutional amendments adopted in the summer of 2000
extended the presidential term by 2 years, thus moving the next
presidential elections to 2006. The amendments also extended the
parliamentary term of office to a 6-year term, thus moving elections
for these seats to 2003. On 20 February 2001, a new constitutional
amendment created a bicameral legislature consisting of a Shura
Council (111 seats; members appointed by the president) and a House
of Representatives (301 seats; members elected by popular vote).
Worthy saying that the Yemeni government started since 1995 economic
measures, in the course of a financial reformation program proposed
by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank under the
pretext that the economy might collapse of such reforms will not be
Tribal violence has always resulted in a number of killings and
other abuses, and the Government's ability to control tribal
elements remains limited. Tensions periodically escalate into
violent confrontations. In several cases, long-standing tribal
disputes were resolved through Government-supported mediation by
Several serious incidents involving Yemen, reinforced its image as a
weak and lawless state with porous borders, a country with tenuous
Government control over vast parts of its territory and dominated by
a culture of kidnappings and endemic violence, a sanctuary for
al-Qaeda operatives, being the ancestral homeland of al-Qaeda leader
Osama bin Laden. The country got a reputation of anti-west
In December 1998 a group of western tourists, including two
Americans, were kidnapped by terrorists in Yemen. Four hostages were
killed and one American hostage wounded when Yemeni security forces
attempted a rescue operation. In 2000, seventeen sailors were killed
and thirty-nine injured when a US Naval ship, the USS Cole, was
attacked by suicide bombers in the port of Aden in Yemen. In October
2002 there was an attack on the French oil supertanker Limburg off
Yemen. In 2003, Yemeni Government announced foiling a plan to attack
the two American and British embassies in the capital Sana’a.
But Yemen had made substantial progress since its unification in
1990 and civil war in 1994. A nascent democracy with the most open
political system in the Arabian Peninsula, its Government had shown
a general commitment to developing the instruments of a modern
state. Since the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US, impoverished
Yemen had launched a major crackdown against al-Qaeda sympathisers
among the country's Sunni majority and has cooperated with
international efforts to uproot the al-Qaeda network, which used
Yemen as a staging and recruitment area on account of the presence
of thousands of veterans who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan in
During and after the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, members
of the Zaydi-Shi’a community protested after Friday prayers every
week outside mosques, particularly the Grand Mosque in Sana’a,
during which they shouted anti-US and anti-Israeli slogans, and
criticised Government's corruption and close ties to America. These
protests were led by former member of parliament (for the
pro-monarchy al-Haqq (Truth) Islamic party in the period between
1993-1997) and Imam, Hussein al-Houthi, accused of setting up
unlicensed religious centres and forming an armed group, the
Believing Youth Movement, which was established in 1997.
Hussein al-Houthi never was accused of links to al-Qaeda, being,
being the Zaydi militants and the Sunni extremist al-Qaeda deadly
enemies; but to stress anti-US and anti-Israeli sentiment, already
very high all over Yemen because of the occupation of Iraq and the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His group did not recognize the
republican regime which destroyed the Zaydi Imamah system.
Yemen's Government said the group was modelled on the Lebanese
Hizbollah, and that it sought to re-establish a monarchy in Yemen by
force. Hizbollah in Lebanon denied any links with the rebels in
Sa’dah, though some thought the Iranian-backed insurgents were
Anyway, an exclusive focus on terrorism would obscure the domestic
roots of the many problems that confronted Yemen. Endemic urban and
rural violence there reflected a host of interlinked factors. These
included widespread poverty, rapid population growth, an uneven
distribution of scarce natural and other resources, a heavily armed
civilian population (50 and 60 million pieces of arms in a country
where the population does not exceed 20 million dispersed throughout
remote and often inaccessible regions), a state often unable to
extend its authority to rural areas, porous borders and smuggling,
weak political institutions, popular disenchantment with the slow
pace of democratisation and lingering social, economic and religious
The central Government did not exert full control over tribes in
remote areas and faced difficulties in exerting control over
religious education in both public and private schools. Parts of the
population resisted stronger Government authority, and many
discontented young men and women have been attracted to a variety of
home-grown Islamist movements. The Government increased efforts to
prevent the politicization of mosques in an attempt to curb
extremism and increase tolerance. Efforts concentrated on monitoring
mosques for sermons that incite violence or other political
statements that it considers harmful to public security.
Large numbers of Yemenis opposed any deployment of U.S. forces in
Finally in 2004
in Sa’dah, northern region in which Shi'ites are the majority, a
political crises blew up between the authority and the opposition
parties, when dissident cleric Hussein al-Houthi launched an
uprising against the Yemeni Government. In response the Yemeni
Government implemented an aggressive campaign to crush "the
Zaydi-Shi’a rebellion" in order to favour pro-Government Wahhabis (Shi’a
opponents) and show “anti-terrorist ortodoxy” to western allies. It
closed unlicensed Islamic schools and centres due to the "connection
between the acts of violence and extremist views and thinking made
in the circles of students and youths". Press freedom and human
rights heavily suffered from the new campaign.
The Sa’dah rebellion highlighted a split within the Zaydi Shi’a
elite. President Saleh himself was a Zaydi tribesman, but he was not
a sayyid who can claim descent from the Prophet Muhammad. Hussein
al-Houthi, who was a sayyid, used his status to question the
In the same period the Government was also facing a Sunni rebellion
for similar reasons to the Zaydi discontent, the Iraq war, Israel,
and the Government's alliegiance to the USA. Yemen's constitution
states that the source of laws is the Shari’a (or Shariah), although
the Sunni and Shi’a groups criticise the Government for not abiding
by this, and of being led by Americans.
The Sa'dah conflict began in June 2004, when Yemeni security forces
tightened besiege of al-Houthi and his supporters in Marran mountain
area, after the failure of the mediation assigned by the Yemeni
President Ali Abdullah Saleh to convince al-Houthi to hand over
voluntarily to the authorities and to abide by the constitution and
the law. After three weeks of fighting Yemeni forces proposed a
reward of 54,000 US dollars to whom will arrest al-Houthi, who
enjoyed the support of up to 3,000 armed rebels. After one month the
number of killings tolled 300, according to local sources, 500 after
two months, more than 600 at the beginning of September.
Most of the fighting took place in Sa'dah Governorate in
North-western Yemen. The Yemeni Government accused the Iranian
Government of directing and financing the insurgency. Six opposition
parties condemned the way the Yemeni authorities dealed with al-Houthi
and his supporters by the military means.
The Yemeni army carried out a house-to house mopping up operation in
the villages which were considered a position for the rebels. The
Yemeni army chief of staff Muhammad al-Qasimi attributed the failure
of negotiations with al-Houthi, to that the latter wanted to
continue provoking violence against the US and Israel and to include
that in the learning curricula, adding that al-Houthi also asked for
the withdrawal of the Yemeni forces from areas under his influence
and to get compensations for him and his supporters and the people
for the damages inflected by the fighting.
In a speech before 350 mosque Imams Yemen's President Ali Abdullah
Saleh criticized Hussein al-Houthi and his thoughts and described
his behaviour as "deviationist from the values of Islam”, saying that
“he provokes sectarianism and racism."
In September 2004, after 2000 members of the Yemeni army launched
the last attack on the rebels, Houssein al-Houthi was killed and the
According to Amnesty International exact details about the killings
were not available as the Government prevented the media from fully
conveying the extent of the collateral damage, as well as casualties
on both sides, which outnumbered 700. Excessive use of force and
extrajudicial killings may have been the main or contributory
factors behind the death toll. Reports indicated that children were
among the dead. AI called for an investigation into the killing of
civilians but no such investigation was known to have been initiated
by the end of the year.
STATUS OF FIGHTING
In March 2005,
resumed. Late on Friday 01 April 2005 in the northern area of
Nishour, ten soldiers and six rebels died after rebels tried to
attack an army camp. Clashes spread close to
province the next day, killing at least 20 rebels.
Abdullah Ayedh al-Razami, Yusuf Madani who had recently married one
of Hussein al-Houthi’s daughters and Houthi’s brother Abdul Malak,
were leading the rebels on the ground, while al-Houthi’s father, the
86-year old Badr Eddin al-Houti, had taken the role of spiritual
Government troops worked to put down this resumption of violence by
al-Houti's followers. Tribal sources said that the fighting killed
250 people on both sides in the first two weeks. The army brought in
artillery to pound the brick compounds that the rebels are holding
out in. Opposition media reports said that the fighting on 13 April
2005 left 120 deaths and injuries among the rebels.
International reported 400 people to have been killed in a two-week
period, many allegedly as a result of excessive use of force by
Government troops. Hundreds of local men were rounded up and
detained. The Government also closed hundreds of religious schools
within the Zaidi community and later, in October ordered the closure
of 1,400 charities which it said were contravening the law.
In May 2005, President Saleh announced that the leader of the
rebellion had agreed to renounce the campaign in return for a
pardon. President Saleh called for establishing national dialogue in
order to open a new page in Yemen.
Abdullah Razami, the military leader of the Believing Youth,
surrendered on 23 June 2005 after tribal mediators worked out a deal
with the Government. The terms of the deal were said to include a
cessation of hostilities in return for amnesty for members of the
However, minor clashes continued. More than 1500 Yemenis members of
the Believing Youth Movement were held in Yemeni jails.
On November 1, 2005,
bloody confrontations between security forces and the Believing
Youth broke out again. Eleven troops and four members of Believing
Youth were killed. On December 24, 50 members-strong armed group of
the Believing Youth attacked a police station, leaving a number of
people dead and several wounded on both sides. Confrontations
between the army and the Believing Youth continued throughout the
Sa’dah province until the beginning of February 2006. The
death toll supposedly reached 60.
On March 3, 2006, President Saleh released 627 rebels from jail as
part of an amnesty.
The rebels had to sign a "covenant of loyalty and good conduct" to
secure their release. Not included in the amnesty were 36 rebels
standing trial for a riot in Sanaa.
On June 3, three soldiers were killed in clashes with al-Houthi
More than 30 people, including children, were reported to have been
killed, and hundreds of others injured when a Government decision to
double fuel prices resulted in violent
protests across the country on 19/20 July. Several soldiers
and police were also among those killed. It was reported that
protesters used firearms and the military used heavy weaponry,
including helicopter fire and tanks.
On August 18, 2006, the army attacked followers of al-Houthi in
Sa’dah province’s al-Masnaa area, using tanks and heavy artillery.
On November 11,
security forces launched a wave of arrests against al-Houthi
The Yemeni Government announced on 23 September 2006 that President
Saleh won relection for another seven-year term with 77% of the
vote. International monitors described the election as "an open and
genuine political contest."
RIGHTS (from AI Report 2005)
1,000 alleged followers of
were detained without charge or trial, as were hundreds of people
previous years in the context of the “war on terror”. In the rare
cases where political prisoners were brought to trial, the
proceedings fell far short of international standards.
Media freedom was restricted and journalists who criticized the
Government were harassed, attacked and had their property
confiscated. In May, the authorities introduced a draft press law
which was strongly criticized by journalists as posing an even
greater threat to press freedom than the existing Press and
Publication Law (1990). New offences would include “criticizing
heads of state” and some, such as “communicating classified
information or documentation to foreign bodies”, would be punishable
The Yemeni authorities forcibly returned at least 25 people to
countries where they would be at risk of torture and other human
rights violations, in contravention of international human rights
Women’s organizations continued to campaign against discrimination
and violence against women.
Dozens of people were reportedly executed and several hundred people
remained under sentence of death.
Around 80,000 refugees registered with UN High Commissioner for
Refugees, including more than 68,000 refugees from Somalia, were
living in Yemen. Around 7,000 were housed in Al-Kharaz refugee camp.
Throughout the year, hundreds of refugees drowned off the coast of
Yemen either because they were forced to jump from smugglers’ boats
or because the boats became unseaworthy.
Refugees in Yemen faced poor economic conditions and a lack of work
opportunities. There were reports of rapes of refugee women; the
justice system failed to ensure that survivors had access to
Oromo refugees from Ethiopia repeatedly complained of harassment by
the Yemeni authorities, including arbitrary arrests.
The Sana’a Committee, established in 2004 by Yemeni human rights
defenders, AI activists, lawyers and others, met for a second time
in June. The Committee widened its mandate to provide legal and
other assistance to detainees’ families and called on Governments in
the Gulf region to ensure that people detained in the context of the
“war on terror” were treated humanely and in accordance with
international human rights standards.
STATUS OF FIGHTING AT PRESENT DAY
Hussein al-Houthi's brother, Abd al-Malik, became leader of
Believing Youth Movement.
The rebels remained
loyal to the memory of their former leader but ambiguity surrounded
their political aims.
They denied that they wanted to overthrow Yemen's Government and
re-instate the Shi’a Imamate that ruled northern Yemen until the
1962 revolution. They were said to oppose Yemen's alliance with
Washington and reject President Saleh's co-operation in the US "war
sporadic clashes, a new spate of fighting broke out on 27/28 January 2007, when
using machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades attacked
multiple Government installations. A second series of attacks on
January 31 brought the number of killed to about 55 soldiers and up
to 80 rebels, independent media reported. More clashes killed other
people in the following weeks.
At least 124 soldiers and 275 rebels died from the beginning of the
year, according to government officials. Houthi's followers say the
official figures of rebel losses are inflated but give no numbers of
Opinion in Yemen is now divided as to whether the recent clashes are
the result of an isolated ambush or indicate the start of a renewed
The complex sectarian and tribal nature of al-Houthi’s rebellion has
the potential to upset the delicate balance that forms the power
base of the ruling party, the General People's Congress. Disparate
interests that oppose the regime could use the opportunity to press
their interests, if the Government is perceived as weakened.
Opposition say that in the past years the Government used excessive
force in suppressing the rebellion, conducted mass arrests, cracked
down on opposition parties suspected of supporting the rebellion and
imposed restrictions on the press.
Opposition sources said about 40 Houthi followers had been arrested
across the country.
Yemen asked Libya to extradite Yahya al-Houthi, a parliament member
and brother of the rebel leader. Efforts were under way to revoke
his immunity. The Shi'a leader denied the rebels received Libyan
support and said Libya had tried only to mediate in the conflict.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh
rejected talks with the rebels and urged them to surrender to end
DEVELOPMENT OF THE COUNTRY
The latest clash comes at a time of increasing confidence among
foreign donors, with the UK and Gulf countries pledging nearly $5bn
in aid over the coming years.
A decision is
expected later this month on Yemen's application to join the
threshold programme for USAID's Millennium Challenge Account.
The country has
also embarked on an ambitious reform programme and is hoping to
attract much-needed private investment.
President Saleh must be hoping
that these shoots of progress will not be overshadowed by the
prospect of a third extended military campaign.
Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research
Le Monde Diplomatique
US Department of State
Yemen has a total population of
22,230,531 as of
July 2007, with a
growth rate of
Yemenis are from Arab
Arabic is the
Virtually all Yemenis
are Muslims, divided into two principal Islamic religious
groups: 52% Sunni
and 48% Shi'a. Sunnis are primarily Shafi'i while Shi'is are divided
into Zaidis primarily then Jafaris and Western Isma'ilis. The Sunnis
are predominantly in the south and southeast. The Zaidis are
predominantly in the north and northwest whilst the Jafaris are in
the main centres of the North such as Sana'a and Ma'rib. There are
also a few thousand Ismaili Muslims, mostly in the north. There are
mixed communities in the larger cities.
Less than 500
Jews are scattered in the northern part of the country. There are
approximately only 3,000 Christians throughout the country, mostly
refugees or temporary foreign residents.
is 62.52 years. 54% of the population is up to 14
years old, being the median age less than 17.
(2000 census) is 50.2% (70.5% for males and
30.0% for females).
Demographic data from 2007 CIA World Factbook
Yemen is one of the poorest
countries in the Arab world, reported average annual growth of 3.5%
from 2000 through 2006. Its economic fortunes depend mostly on oil.
GDP (PPP)(2006 est.)(CIA)
- Total $20.46 billion
- Per capita $1.000
- Grow rate 2.6%
(150th) (UNDP 2006)
45.2% of the population live on less than $2 per day (UNDP 2006)
41.8% of the
population live below national poverty line (UNDP 2006)
n.a. (5-14 year olds) (1999-2005) (UNICEF)
Under-five mortality rate
111‰ (UNDP 2006)
6.6% of GDP (2006)(CIA)
US Dep State