1) Yemen Government Strikes Truce with Northern Rebels

By: Elizabeth Frederick
Pace International Law Review, Managing Editor

On February 11, Yemeni officials came to a truce with rebels in Northern Yemen.  The uneasy truce follows a half-decade-long civil war in the Arab world’s poorest nation.  Since 2004, the Yemeni government has clashed with Houthis, a powerful clan.  The Houthis are Zaydis, a Yemeni offshoot of Shia Muslims.  Yemen claims that the Houthis intend to subvert the government and institute Islamic law in the country with backing from Iran.  The Houthis, however, claim that they are engaging in self-defense against the Yemeni forces and Wahhabis, a Sunni Muslim group from Saudi Arabia who helped the government end civil war with South Yemen, have undue influence over the Yemeni government.  The five years of violence prior to the ceasefire were sparked by the Yemeni government’s attempt to arrest Zaydi leader Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, who is the namesake of the group.  Adbul Malik al-Houthi has since taken the reins as spiritual leader of the clan, as his brother, Hussein Badreddin, was killed in September of 2004.  The bulk of the fighting has occurred in the northern region of Saada in Yemen.

Since the rebellion broke out, over 254,000 Yemenis have been displaced by the violence, according to UN sources.  There is little hope that the ceasefire will hold among analysts, many of whom consider Yemen to be on the verge of becoming a failed state.  Most consider the ceasefire due to a stalemate in which neither side can win.  Hours after the ceasefire was announced fighting broke out between Yemeni forces and Houthis.  Qatar brokered an eighteen-point peace agreement between Houthis and the Yemeni government which fell apart in 2007. Yemeni President Saleh announced the war over in 2008, and fighting broke out a year later.  Yemen, at the same time, is dealing with mounting tension in the southern region of the country, which has only been reunited with Yemen since 1990.

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