Yemen President Expected to Yield to Rebels Amid Escalating Unrest

Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Wednesday was expected to yield to Yemeni rebels’ demands as Shia Houthi fighters took control of the presidential palace and his private home in Sana’a after two days of fighting in the capital city.

Reuters reports:

The rebels, who swept Sana’a four months ago, seizing state institutions and the city itself, on Wednesday forced most of Hadi’s guards to flee from the palace but stopped short of overthrowing the president.

News of Hadi acceding to the rebels comes after violent face-offs with the military that left at least eight people dead on Monday and a televised speech by Houthi leader Abdel Malik al-Houthi Tuesday night, warning Hadi that if he failed to implement the group’s political and economic reforms, “all necessary measures will be open” to enforce those changes.

The Houthis are calling for a role in Yemen’s military and civil bodies, as well as changes to a draft constitution that would divide Yemen into six provinces.

Clashes between rebels and government forces have further imperiled a country that has been targeted by covert U.S.-led air strikes since at least 2002 as part of the continued fight against Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP). The U.S. also sees Hadi as a close ally in its ISIS offensive.

Houthi rebels have accused him of protecting Yemen’s corrupt politicians and civil servants and attempting to bypass a power-sharing deal brokered in September after rebels seized the capital city.

The Guardian explains:

The New York Times also reports:

On Monday, al-Houthi gave his televised address against a banner that read, “The Revolution Continues.”

“All the options are open and without exception and the ceiling is very, very high,” al-Houthi said. “And this is why, I here advise the president [to] … Implement this deal. It is for your benefit and for the benefit of your people.”

“We … will not hesitate to impose any necessary measures to implement the peace and partnership agreement,” al-Houthi said.

April Longley Alley, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, told the New York Times that some of the Houthi demands were “quite legitimate.”

As news of the Houthi’s advances on Hadi’s palace emerged on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch asked, “One important question is, should the Houthis take over Yemen’s government, do they fully understand their human rights obligations?”

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