Sunday, September 21, 2014

Houthis and Yemeni government sign agreement after four days of fighting in Sanaa.

Smoke rises from residential buildings near the army's First Armoured Division which came under attack from Shi'ite Houthi militants, in Sanaa September 20, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi
Residential buildings near the barracks of the First Armored Division in Sanaa are burning after attacks by the Houthis. (Photo Reuters).

A UN-brokered peace deal between Houthi rebels and Yemen's government has been signed while the Houthis have taken control of government buildings and a state radio and TV station in the capital, Sanaa.
Sunday's deal called for the current government to rule in a caretaker role until a new government is formed next month.
The most important point is the cessation of hostilities which flared up in the capital four days ago, but the deal is "still short on details". Yemen's president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi urged all sides in the crisis to abide by the deal. The agreement was aimed at getting the Houthis to leave the capital.. However, the annex, which was not signed by the Houthis, stipulated that they were to withdraw from Sanaa, Jawf and Amran within 45 days. Reports were coming in that clashes were still ongoing in other parts of the country, including Marib, east of the capital.

The Houthi rebels and government forces earlier on Sunday fought for a fourth straight day, in spite of the fact that the agreement was to be signed later that day. Residents reported sounds of heavy shelling throughout Saturday night in an area of the capital near the headquarters of the first armored division camp and close to the religious university of Iman. The  rebels said they had taken control of the headquarters of state television. Yemen's Higher Security Committee announced a curfew in four areas of the capital from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m., and schools were shut until further notice.
More than 100 people have been killed in four days of clashes,which intensified on Thursday after weeks of protests. UN special envoy Jamal Benomar, who had held talks with Houthi leader Abdulmalek al-Houthi in their home province of Saada on Wednesday and Thursday, announced late on Saturday that an agreement had been reached and was to be signed on Sunday.
The Houthis, who belong to the Zaydi sect of Shi'ite Islam, have been struggling for a decade against the Sunni-dominated government for more territory and autonomy in the north. In recent weeks, Houthi protesters have blocked the main road to Sanaa's airport and held sit-ins at ministries. They have called for the government to step down, and for the restoration of subsidies cut by the state in July as part of economic reforms.

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