Capture of Yemeni troops confirmed

Following last week's report that the Houthi rebels had captured200 Yemeni soldiers and a subsequent official denial (of sorts), the picture is clearing.

On Saturday, the Supreme Security Committee admitted that the rebels had "kidnapped" 228 soldiers and tribesmen (including Sheikh Sagheer Bin Aziz, a pro-government member of parliament) after a two-month siege of al-Za'ala army post in the Harf Sufyan district of Amran province. 

Since they were captured, large numbers have been released through mediators, in several batches. News reports (herehereand here) give conflicting versions of the figures which in some cases add up to more than the total said to have been taken prisoner at al-Za'ala.

Whatever the details of the affair, there can be little doubt that it has been a huge military embarrassment for the Salih regime. This may help to explain the president's offer last week to include Houthi representatives in the national dialogue process. The Yemen Times also reports that Qatar, which has previously been involved in mediation, is once again in contact with the Houthis.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 3 August 2010.