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article imageSecond ceasefire in Yemen between rebels and Sunni tribes

By Ken Hanly     Oct 19, 2014 in World
Sanaa - In Yemen's Ibb province rebel Shia Houthi fighters have signed a second ceasefire agreement Saturday after an earlier agreement was breached.
The second agreement would allow the Houthis to safely withdraw from Ibb. An agreement on Friday was breached by fighting that erupted when tribesmen at a checkpoint prevented the Houthis from entering the capital. At least 20 people were killed before the new agreement was reached.
The city of Ibb, the provincial capital of the province, is 150 km southwest of the Yemen capital Sanaa. The Houthis successfully took over Sanaa back on the 21st of September and last Tuesday they also occupied the strategic port of Hudayah on the Red Sea. They then entered the provinces of Dhamar and Ibb and set up checkpoints.
Al Jazeera reporter Omar al-Saleh in Sanaa said that the Houthi gains in the north and southern separatist demands in the south were resulting in "utter chaos in every corner of the country". Houthi rebels are not the only group taking advantage of the situation as southern separatists have demanded the government withdraw its soldiers and civil servants from the south by November 30. Formerly the south was a separate country the Republic of South Yemen until unification with northern Yemen Arab Republic in May of 1990. Four years later it tried to unsuccessfully to return to being an independent country. In the resulting civil war, the south lost. Al Saleh claims: "Many Yemenis are now worried that there could be a sectarian war in the north and a secessionist war in the south. The secessionists in the south are now taking advantage of the chaos in the north and they are demanding self determination and full independence of the south of Yemen." An article in Al Arabiya gives some of the background to the unification issue and the role of former President Saleh in the events. Many believe that the Houthis at present are advancing because there is no resistance among those in the armed forces associated with the former president. There is considerable irony in all this since during the reign of Saleh the Houthis were in constant conflict with him. The Sunnis see the Houthis as heretics and as being influenced if not controlled by Iran.
The Houthis are mostly in the far north and make up only about one fifth of the total population. The Shia Houthis often come into conflict with conservative Sunni tribes and the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) that is powerful in the neighbouring province of Bayda. There have been clashes between the Houthis and AQAP all week. AQAP is particularly incensed that the Houthis were able to take over Sanaa and have signed an agreement that will give them influence on the government. AQAP has waged a constant guerrilla war on the central government since being driven out of areas they controlled earlier.
On Thursday a Houthi convoy of fighters trying to reach the town of Radda in Bayah were blocked by Sunni militants from Ansar al-Sharia a local branch of AQAP. A local resident said that he estimated at least ten Houthi fighters had been killed. Earlier on Tuesday at least 12 were killed in Radda itself as the Houthis clashed with Ansar al-Sharia. AQAP also claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in Sanaa that killed at least 47 people at a Houthi gathering. AQAP has used the Houti advance in Ibb to seize territory in the province itself. Another clash between Houthis and a rival Islamist politicians' supporters is described in the appended video.
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