Friday, August 14, 2009

More Hostage-taking in Yemen

This time it appears to be for a different reason, but none the less 15 Red Crescent aid workers are reported kidnapped. The Government of Yemen rolled out this claim:
Followers of rebel leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi took Red Crescent doctors, nurses, officials and administrators from a refugee camp on Thursday, said Hassan al-Manna, governor of Saada province.
First off, the Government and the al-Houthi rebels have been locked in a death-struggle for years. The rebel's main aim is to restore the rights and system of a tribal-based loose form of theocracy that was the norm in northern Yemen until the 1960's. The government however is the product of Arab Nationalism in the fashion of Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Then comes word that just Thursday the rebels received and rejected an offered ceasefire.
Friday's kidnappings came the day after Yemen issued the rebels with the terms of a ceasefire to end a government offensive against them in the north of the mainly Sunni Muslim Arab country.

The rebels rejected Thursday's truce offer and denied holding any kidnapped civilians.


The government ceasefire conditions included a rebel withdrawal, the removal of their checkpoints and the clarification of the fate of kidnapped foreigners.

They also required rebels to return captured military and civilian equipment, hand over those behind the June kidnapping of nine foreigners and refrain from intervening in local authority affairs.
There is more here than meets the eye, so far. The terms of the ceasefire ask the rebels to give up their gains, for nothing, and require an act ("hand over those...") that may well not be possible (as the kidnappers in *that* case are more likely al-Qaeda-linked insurgents, not part of the al-Houthi rebellion).


I'd normally have some more information, either from regional sources or from the superb Jane Novak, but Ms. Novak has been away from her efforts for about a week (on holiday?) and so this will take a bit more careful watching on our part here at CompHyp until more facts become available.

As a reminder, Red Crescent is the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) element of the Movement that also includes the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

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