Sanaa, Asharq Al-Awsat – Armed confrontation has resumed in northern Yemen between tribesmen and Huuthi rebels, resulting in the deaths of more than 50 people in a battle that has raged for 4 days in Harf Sufyan, Amran province. The Yemeni authorities have also accused the Huthi rebels of being responsible for the death of a senior tribal figure, Sheikh Zaidan al-Moqannay, along with his son and a number of his guards.
Informed sources told Asharq al-Awsat that over 50 people were killed in the clashes over the past days in ongoing clashes between the Huthi rebels and the Ibn Aziz tribe in Harf Sufyan, Amran province. The sources confirmed that the Yemeni army had entered the conflict by sending military reinforcements from Al-Ammar, Sa’dah governorate, to Harf Sufyan, in ordr to aid the pro-government Ibn Aziz tribe that has previously supported Yemeni government troops in their fight against the Huthis.
Sources informed Asharq al-Awsat that a tribal mediation led by Ali Nasser Bin Qurasha – the senior mediator in the negotiations between the Yemeni government and the Huthis who prevented a sixth Yemeni – Huthi conflict breaking out – failed to stop the bloody clashes in Harf Sufyan. The source added that some efforts to reach an agreement were successful, and first aid was given to the wounded Ibn Aziz tribesmen. Asharq Al-Awsat also learnt that other tribes in the region sent military reinforcements to the Ibn Zaid tribe, including the Ibn Zayban tribe and the Hashid tribe.
The Yemeni Supreme Security Commission also accused “Huthi rebel elements (Shiite rebels)” of committing “a heinous crime by setting up a cowardly and treacherous ambush that left pro-governmental tribal leader Sheikh Zaidan al-Moqannay, his son and four bodyguards dead on Tuesday in Manabah district of northern Sadah province.”
The Yemeni Supreme Security Commission’s statement went on to say that “this criminal act by Huthis coincided with other…violations including killing citizens in numerous areas of Sadah province and in the neighbouring district of Harf Sufyan in Amran province, which reflects a deliberate purpose to continually create strains and undermine the efforts for brining peace and security there.”
The statement ended by saying that the “High Security Commission condemned this terrorist act and held Huthi rebel elements responsible for this crime and its consequences.”
The situation in northern Yemen, between the government and the Huthis, is on the verge of political and military escalation despite the calm atmosphere that has prevailed on both political and media levels over the past weeks. Such escalation is the product of recent developments on the ground, with some areas continuing to witness armed confrontation between Huthi rebels and tribesman and Yemeni army units.