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Yemen Rebels Guard Presidential Compound


Shi'ite Houthi rebels have replaced the guards outside Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi's home, further pressing their control of the country's capital.

The rebels took up the positions Wednesday, a day after clashing with Yemeni security forces at the site in Sana'a. Hadi is said to be safe inside the house.

Rebel leader Abdel Malik Al Houthi said in a televised speech late Tuesday that his faction wants an end to what he called "corruption and totalitarianism" in Yemen. He stopped short of calling for the government's ouster but warned that further action against it is possible.

Elsewhere, authorities in the southern city of Aden closed the airport there Wednesday, saying the move was a protest against attacks on the Hadi's power and the country's sovereignty.

The United Nations Security Council and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have called for a cease-fire and the restoration of the government's full authority.

Houthi seek greater rights

Houthi forces, calling for greater rights for Yemen's Shi'ite minority, overran Sana'a in September.

On Saturday, the Houthis kidnapped Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, the president's chief of staff, as the government was trying to draft a new constitution.

Yemen has been wracked by internal divisions. The Houthi movement has spread beyond its traditional rebellion in the north as separatists continue to press their cause in the south.

Meanwhile, the Yemen-based group Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed attacks both at home and abroad, most recently on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris earlier this month.

The Shi'ite Houthi movement is fiercely opposed to the militant Sunni AQAP.  But it is also against U.S. interference in Yemen.

The Hadi government has been instrumental in helping the U.S. battle AQAP, in particular by allowing U.S. drone strikes against AQAP targets.

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    Yemen's Houthis lay out their demands

    Shia fighters press president to implement power-sharing agreement a day after taking over presidential palace in Sanaa.

    21 Jan 2015 16:07 GMT | Politics, Yemen, Middle East, Houthis, Latin America

    Shia Houthi fighters in Yemen are pressing President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to appoint a vice president from their group.

    The development comes as the Houthi fighters, after taking over the presidential palace in Sanaa following months of political unrest, demand that Hadi implement a power-sharing deal.

    The fighters battled guards at Hadi's home in Sanaa and entered his palace on Tuesday.

    Al Jazeera's Omar Alsaleh, reporting from the southern city of Aden on Wednesday, said it was not yet clear if Hadi has approved the demands of the Houthis, but given his current tenuous position, he has "no other options but to meet all the demands".

    "All of this is happening after a day of heavy fighting, which left President Hadi even weaker," he said.

    Also on Wednesday, Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former president, called for early elections, arguing that early presidential and parliamentary polls would help defuse the current political crisis.

    Al Jazeera has obtained leaked telephone conversations suggesting that Yemen's deposed leader is working with Houthi rebels to undermine the government.

    Abdel-Malik al-Houthi, leader of the Houthis, has accused Hadi of "failing the Yemeni people" and disrupting the implementation of the Peace and National Partnership Agreement (PNPA), which was approved after the Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, in September.

    'Great danger'

    In a televised speech just hours after his fighters' display of force on Tuesday, Houthi warned Hadi that he had to implement the power-sharing deal.

    "At this historic and exceptional point in time, when conspiracies have been plotted against the country, there is a great danger facing Yemen,” Houthi said.

    “Nothing will ever stop us from realising the peace and cooperation treaty. We will not be scared by foreign powers, the issue is crucial."

    RELATED: Yemen crisis explained

    The Houthis are demanding security solutions and reforms to the national decision-making body, and they reject the draft constitution that divides Yemen into six federal regions.

    Houthi fighters stood guard on Wednesday outside the private residence of Hadi, whose home in the city centre is normally protected by presidential security officers, witnesses said.

    Entry posts were empty and there was no sign of the presidential guard at the compound, scene of clashes between Houthis and guards on Tuesday, the witnesses said.

    Under house arrest

    An official at the president's residence told Al Jazeera that Hadi had not been harmed in the clashes overnight.

    Hadi appeared to be under house arrest, the official said.

    However, Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, a member of the Houthi politburo, told Reuters: "President Hadi is still in his home. There is no problem, he can leave."

    The Houthis appear to hold de facto power over the capital and most of the country after months of territorial gain that culminated in the capture of Sanaa last September.

    However, the international community is standing by Hadi as the legitimate leader of the mainly Sunni Arabian Peninsula country.

    Peter Salisbury, a Yemen analyst, said it remains unclear how the ultimatum will affect the position of Hadi.

    Cristian Barros Melet, Chile’s permanent representative to the UN and currently UN Security Council president, urged all parties to commit to dialogue after a closed Security Council session on Tuesday.

    Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

  2. Gulf states denounce rebel 'coup' in Yemen

    Published time: January 21, 2015 16:48
    Edited time: January 21, 2015 18:34

    The Gulf states have decried the seizure of Yemen’s presidential palace by a rebel Shia group as a coup d’etat. The Houthi rebels secured control of the palace in Sanaa, the country’s capital after two days of clashes with government forces.

    “The GCC considers what happened in Sanaa on Tuesday Jan 20 as a coup,” the ministers said in a statement on Wednesday.

    Without promising any assistance to the Yemeni government, the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) demanded that rebels withdraw from both the presidential palace and President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s private residence.

    They also called on the rebel fighters to free Hadi’s office manager Ahmed bin Mubarak who had been kidnapped during the fighting. Mubarak had been designated prime minster last fall, but declined the position.

    The coalition which consists of oil-rich Gulf monarchies Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain, has also demanded that the rebels return all government institutions to the control of the state.

    However, according to an anonymous source close the President Hadi this seems unlikely. The source told Reuters:“Decisions will be made heeding the Houthi demands.”

    “We expect an announcement to resolve all problems within hours,” he said.

    The US also continues to back Hadi as the legitimate leader of Yemen according to the State Department.

    "Hadi remains the president of the country and we remain in touch with him," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at a briefing on Wednesday.

    The Houthis, a Shia group with ties to Iran – Saudi Arabia's archrival – swept through Yemen and penetrated key government institutions last fall. Over the last two days of clashes, the rebels have overtaken the capital. A reported 35 people have been killed.

    After seizing the presidential palace, but without formally deposing Hadi, Houthi leader threatened to take further “measures” against the regime unless their demands for constitutional change that would increase Houthi power were met.

    Houthi guards had replaced all presidential guards at the palace by Wednesday morning.

    Houthi leaders have accused Hadi of attempting to bypass a power-sharing deal signed back in September, while also claiming that they are seeking to protect the state from corruption.


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