By William Tucker
Chief Correspondent for In Homeland Security
Yemeni troops launched an assault against Houthi tribesman in north Yemen Monday killing 100 of the rebels and around 20 government troops according to the provincial governor of Amran.
Reports indicate members of the Islah party – a Sunni movement – tried to eject Zaidi rebels from a strategic position near Amran’s provincial capital. The assault was backed by the Yemeni air force, though it didn’t prevent the Zaidi’s and other Houthi tribesman from striking infrastructure in the region. The prison in Amran was also allegedly attacked by the Houthis, which reportedly led to several inmates escaping. Because the region is remote and the conflict is of an intense political nature it is often difficult to differentiate between propaganda and actual events. That being said there hasn’t yet been any reports to contradict what the government is reporting from Amran.
This is the largest loss of life since February when government troops and Zaidi rebels fought over territory in Amran and parts of Saada. Though the Zaidi have historically challenged the national government in Sanaa for further autonomy they have done so largely against the previous government of president Saleh.
After more than 30 years, Yemen now has a new government and the Zaidi may feel compelled to push more aggressively for further autonomy while Sanaa battles an al-Qaida insurgency and Southern separatists. For its part, the government responses both Monday and in February demonstrate that it will not tolerate such actions. This isn’t to say that the government’s approach to the Zaidi issue is correct, but both parties are rather distrustful of one another and quickly resort to violence as opposed to dialog.
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