BIPPI B's Independent Pro-Peace Initiative  

Rebellion in Yemen (Sa'dah conflict) - 2004/2007
updated at March 2007

Location of Yemen

Map of Yemen
Source © Wikipedia

Source © Google Maps

Yemen, 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.

Yemen is 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 21 governorates (muhafazah).

The governorates are subdivided into 333 districts, which are subdivided into 2,210 sub-districts, and then into 38,284 villages (as of 2001).

Before 1990, Yemen existed as two separate entities.

Ideological rebellion


1) Government.
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 5,000.
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 Arabia".

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.

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.
Distribution of Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims
Yemen's medieval 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 clearly established.
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.


Ottoman Empire collapsed and Turkish forces withdrew in 1918, so North Yemen became independent while the southern country was held by the British.

Former North Yemen
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 i
n 1970.

Read more on North Yemen Civil War.

Former South Yemen
British interests in the area which would later become South Yemen, began to grow in 1832, when 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 territories were subsequently added.
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 Palestinians.

Yemenite reunification
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 legislation.
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 cease-fire.

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 made.


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 non-governmental actors.

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 militancy.
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 the 1980s.

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 linked.

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 cleavages.
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 their country

Location of Sa'dah in YemenFinally 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 president's legitimacy.

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 Shi'ite 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 rebellion stopped.

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.

In March 2005,
fighting 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 Sa'dah 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 leader.

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.

Amnesty 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 organization.

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 followers.

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 viol
ent 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 1
1, security forces launched a wave of arrests against al-Houthi followers.

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." 

HUMAN RIGHTS (from AI Report 2005)
More than 1,000 alleged followers of al-Houti were detained without charge or trial, as were hundreds of people arrested in
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 by death.

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 standards.

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 justice.

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.

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 on terror".

After sporadic clashes, a new spate of fighting broke out on 27/28 January 2007, when militants 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 their own.

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 insurgency.
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 the violence.

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.

Al Bayane

Amnesty International
HIIK - Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research
Le Monde Diplomatique
US Department of State


Flag of Yemen
Yemen has a total population of 22,230,531 as of July 2007, with a growth rate of 3.46%.

Virtually all Yemenis are from Arab ethnic groups
and Arabic is the
official language

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.

Life expectancy is 62.52 years.  54% of the population is up to 14 years old, being the median age less than 17.

Total literacy rate (2000 census) is 50.2% (70.5% for males and 30.0% for females).  

Demographic data from 2007 CIA World Factbook

Economy: 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. (CIA) 

GDP (PPP)(2006 est.)(CIA)
- Total $20.46 billion - Per capita $1.000
- Grow rate 2.6%

Gini coefficient 33.4 (CIA 1998/UN 1998)

HDI 0.492 (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) 

Unemploy-ment rate 35% (2003 est.)(CIA)

Child labour n.a. (5-14 year olds) (1999-2005) (UNICEF)

Under-five mortality rate 111‰ (UNDP 2006)

Military ex-penditures 6.6% of GDP (2006)(CIA)

CIA Factbook
US Dep State