Houthi rebellion simmers on

Yemen's Houthi rebels have not received much attention internationally since the ceasefire was declared in February. Since then, there have been numerous small-scale incidents, indicating that the war is dormant rather than at an end.

Last week, a 30-minute battle between rebels and security forces in Amran province resulted in the deaths of two soldiers and an unspecified number of rebels. Four soldiers were also reportedlyabducted at gunpoint from a car in al-Jawf province.

Last Wednesday, a Unicef official complained that both rebels and pro-government elements have been seizing schools – which drives away teachers and pupils in are area where school attendance is in any case low.

"Schools are being seized by armed men from both sides," Unicef representative Geere Cappelaere told Reuters. "This may be indicative of the jeopardisation of the ceasefire as a whole ... We would have loved to see these efforts being sustained. Unfortunately there are indications that we're headed in the opposite direction."

The National also reports fears that the conflict could flare up again. It quotes one soldier as saying: “The situation is very tense and everyone’s hand is on the trigger. A seventh wave [of fighting] is imminent at any time.”

A student from Saada (the original seat of the rebellion) told the paper: “The rebels are not committed to the [ceasefire] conditions. Their checkpoints are still there and they refuse to let security men or military to enter to some areas.” 

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 17 May 2010.