Report

Cease-Fire Collapses in Yemen as Houthis Attack President’s Home

Houthi fighters seized control of the presidential palace and shelled the home of Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi Tuesday but maintained they had not toppled the president.

YEMEN-UNREST-POLITICS
A tank is positioned next to home of Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi in the capital, Sanaa, on January 21, 2015 as international concern grows over attacks by Shiite militia on the presidency. The Shiite militiamen, known as Huthis, seized control of Yemen's presidential palace and attacked Hadi's residence the previous day in what officials said was a bid to overthrow the government, drawing condemnation from the UN Security Council. AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED HUWAIS (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Houthi fighters seized control of the presidential palace and shelled the home of Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi Tuesday and battled with the presidential guards after a cease-fire and talks broke down. On Wednesday, Houthi fighters captured Yemen’s largest military base and posted guards around the home of Hadi, but said they had not toppled the president. Hadi’s whereabouts are unknown, though Houthi leaders have maintained he is safe at home. In a televised address Tuesday night, Houthi leader Abdel Malik al-Houthi accused Yemen’s political leadership of sinking “deep into corruption and tyranny.” Houthi threatened further “measures” if Hadi did not implement a power-sharing deal struck after Houthi fighters overran the capital of Sanaa in September. Houthi additionally listed four demands including amending a draft constitution. The U.N. Security Council condemned the violence, while the turmoil has increased concerns for the United States, which views Hadi as an ally in its strategy against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Syria

An EU court released a judgment Wednesday upholding sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s wealthy uncle, Mohammad Makhlouf. The statement said Makhouf maintains links with and has “decisive influence” over the inner circle of the Syrian regime. Activist groups reported an airstrike hit the Islamic State-held village of Khansaa in Syria’s eastern Hassakeh province killing between 30 and 80 people. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees said the Syrian air force dropped barrel bombs on a livestock market, though some residents attributed the strike to the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State militants.

Headlines

  • Israeli police shot and injured a Palestinian man after he stabbed and wounded up to 13 people in an attack on a bus in Tel Aviv Wednesday morning.
  • Bahrain has sentenced human rights activist Nabil Rajab to six months in prison for “insulting a public institution” on Twitter.
  • The chairman of an investigation into Britain’s role in the 2003 Iraq War said the report would be delayed until after the general election in May.
  • Kuwait has closed the office of Al-Watan, a newspaper seen as critical of the government, after the trade minister canceled the business license of the company that owns the publication.

Arguments and Analysis

The Libya Conundrum’ (Karim Mezran and Tarek Radwan, The Cairo Review of Global Affairs)

“Since the collapse of order in Libya, Egypt has been the most affected by the instability. The power vacuum allows extremist elements to infiltrate Egyptian territory and carry out attacks against security forces. The temptation then is very high for the Egyptian state to intervene directly in Libya and secure at least a buffer zone, but also possibly exert full control over as much of Libya’s eastern territory as feasible. An open intervention by Egypt’s military, however, would not only hinder a peaceful settlement in Libya, but also negatively affect Egypt’s interests. It would entrench the polarization of Libyan forces on the ground, further diminishing prospects for a political solution, and entangle Egypt in a war against forces that will gain wider support as the local population shifts from anti-Islamist sentiments to animosity toward a foreign invader.”

Why (some) states use religion to justify violence’ (Ani Sarkissian, The Washington Post)

“The Saudi regime uses its authority to repress not only religious minorities (including about 2 million Shiites), but also Sunni Muslims who dare to publicly criticize the official interpretation of Islam or who are critical of the religious leadership. It is under this guise that Badawi was sentenced for publishing a liberal blog that challenged the religious establishment, advocated for secularism and criticized groups such as Hamas that seek to build a religious state in the Palestinian territories. They also, when needed, punish those they consider ‘extremists,’ including individuals who fight for groups such as the Islamic State.

The acts carried out in order to appease that Islamic establishment are not costless. They run counter to Saudi efforts at home and abroad to present King Abdullah as a reformer. The publicity surrounding shocking acts such as the flogging of Badawi hurts Saudi Arabia’s image internationally. Last week, for instance, a bipartisan group of eight high profile U.S. senators condemned Badawi’s flogging and The Washington Post editorial board called for an international commission of inquiry on Saudi human rights. But, in spite of recent reports indicating that King Abdullah may be bowing to international pressure to cease using flogging as a form of punishment, those costs have evidently been considered worth paying because of the domestic regime survival interests at stake.”

Mary Casey-Baker

MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images

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