After launching offensive against rebels, Yemen government lays our terms for truce

Other News Materials 13 August 2009 21:57 (UTC +04:00)

Yemen's government laid out six terms Thursday that Houthi Shiite rebels in the country's north must meet to achieve a truce, SABA, Yemen's official news agency, reported.

The government's demands include removing check points, ending banditry and destructive acts, handing over all military equipment and weapons, and offering information on the fate of six kidnapped Europeans who disappeared in June, CNN reported.

The announcement of cease-fire conditions by Yemen's Supreme Security Committee comes only days after Yemeni forces began an offensive against the Houthi rebels in the Northern mountainous province of Saada, which is on the Yemeni border with Saudi Arabia. It follows one day after a state of emergency was declared in all regions of Saada Province by the Saada Local Council.

The English language Yemeni newspaper Yemen Post reported Wednesday that, according to local sources from Sa'ada, "army forces and fighter aircrafts launched a massive attack on Houthi leader Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi's headquarters in Saada province."

Thursday, citing official sources, Yemen Post reported that, over a five-year period of sporadic battles between Yemeni forces and Houthi rebels, over 1,000 government forces have died and over 6,000 have been injured. According to Yemen Post, "it is said that thousands of civilians and Houthi's followers died in the same period, but the real number is unspecified."

Yemen's government and Houthi rebels have been involved in intermittent fighting since 2004. The conflict is believed to be both separatist - over who will have power in the area - and sectarian - whether Shia Islam will dominate even though the majority of Yemenis are Sunni.

Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh is also faced with a separatist movement in the country's south and a growing threat from al Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda's presence in Yemen has been a growing concern for the United States. In late July, Gen. David Petraeus, CENTCOM Commander, and an accompanying delegation, flew to Yemen and met with Saleh. According to SABA, one of the topics of discussion was how to better combat terrorism.