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UN demands that Yemeni Shiite rebels leave city

July 12, 2014

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council on Friday demanded the immediate withdrawal of a Yemeni Shiite rebel group that took control of a key city near the capital, Sanaa, this week, along with all other armed groups involved in the fighting.

The Hawthi rebels captured Amran, about 45 miles north of Sanaa, on Tuesday after weeks of fighting with the conservative Sunni Hashid tribal confederation, one of the country’s largest, which is allied with Yemen’s Muslim Brotherhood group. Witnesses said bodies littered the ground and the Hashid fighters were nowhere to be seen.

The council demanded in a press statement that the Hawthis and other armed groups disarm, swiftly implement existing cease-fire agreements and hand over weapons and ammunition seized in Amran to authorities loyal to the national government.

Council members also demanded “that the current turmoil should not extend to other parts of the country, including Sanaa.”

Yemen, the poorest Arab nation, is facing multiple challenges including confronting the world’s most dangerous al-Qaida offshoot in several cities, a secessionist movement in the south and the Hawthi rebellion in the north.

The Hawthis waged a six-year insurgency in the north against President Ali Abdullah Saleh which officially ended in 2010, but fighting has often reignited, and attempts at lasting cease-fires have failed.

Arab Spring protests in 2011 forced Saleh to step down after 33 years and his successor, President Abed Rabo Mansour Hadi, has been struggling since then with a transition to democracy, promoting national reconciliation and restructuring the military and security to ensure loyalty to his government. Hadi has accused Saleh of trying to stage a “coup” to abort the transition process.

The Security Council “noted with concern that spoilers continue to stoke the conflict in the north in an attempt to obstruct the political transition.”

In February, the council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing sanctions against individuals and organizations threatening peace, security or stability in Yemen and established a committee to decide who should face sanctions and to monitor their implementation, and a panel of experts to assist with investigations.

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