Yemen Affiliate Of Islamic State Targets Houthis
NEW DELHI: A Yemeni group linked to the Islamic State has claimed a series of deadly bombings on Shiite mosques and rebel Houthi headquarters in Sanaa. At the time of writing, 31 people have been confirmed killed on the attack targeting three mosques and the political bureau of the Ansarullah movement of the Houthis in the Yemeni capital.
The IS-linked group that claimed the attack said it was as “revenge” against Shia Houthis who have overrun Sanaa, and much of Sunni Yemen in the last year.
The attacks took place as the Muslim world prepares for Ramadan, and rebels and the internationally recognized government of Yemen begin peace talks in Geneva aimed at halting the fighting.
Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition that is aiding embattled Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi continues air strikes -- which began March 26 -- on Houthi bases. The Houthis, in turn, are reportedly backed by Iran -- a charge the Shia majority nation denies.
At the time of writing, reports indicated that an air strike on a convoy of civilians fleeing the fighting in southern Yemen killed 31 people, making it the deadliest single attack since the air campaign began.
The fighting has led to a crisis in Yemen, where according to the United Nations over 2600 people have died in the few months the fighting began. 21 million people are in desperate need for humanitarian aid. Relief workers have warned of a dire situation as civilians in Yemen remain in need of urgent medical and food supplies.
In this scenario, as rebels and US and Saudi-backed government forces battle each other, the unlikely winners are groups like the Islamic State and Al Qaeda. The Islamic State in Yemen has so far claimed several attacks, including a deadly attack on two Shia mosques earlier this year that killed 137 and injured 350 people. In May, soon after, the group claimed an attack on a Houthi mosque in Sana’a that wounded 13.
All of the above is reflective of the US’ confused policy in West Asia -- where it is fighting Sunni rebels allied to the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, but aiding Sunni forces against Shia militias in Yemen.
The restoration of peace in Yemen, therefore, is crucial, with the UN extending stalled peace talks in Geneva as the internationally recognised Yemen government and Houthi rebels accused each other of trying to sabotage the peace process.
We discussed the truce but the other side is setting unacceptable conditions," rebel delegation member Hassan Zeid told AFP. They were demanding a rebel retreat from Aden and Taez, where fighting is continuing.
Houthi rebels in turn say that they support a truce, but will not withdraw as is being demanded by the other side.
"The only positive point so far is that the negotiations are continuing and that no delegation has slammed the door," said a Western diplomat close to the talks to AFP.