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Yemen MPs Postpone Session as Protests Rage

  • Edward Yeranian

A Shi'ite Houthi rebel threatens Yemeni protesters during a rally against the control of the capital by Houthi rebels, Jan. 24, 2015.

A Shi'ite Houthi rebel threatens Yemeni protesters during a rally against the control of the capital by Houthi rebels, Jan. 24, 2015.

Houthi rebel militiamen fired automatic weapons to disperse protests Sunday in Yemen's capital amid popular anger over their power-grab last week in which President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his government resigned.

Witnesses said Houthi militiamen wearing police uniforms fired automatic rifles into the air near Sana'a University to break up demonstrations against their creeping takeover of the country. An opposition TV station also reported casualties after shooting in the Red Sea port of Hodeida.

A parliament meeting, scheduled to discuss Thursday's abrupt resignation of Hadi and the government was postponed indefinitely. Several Arab satellite channels reported Houthi militiamen were blocking the entrances of parliament.

U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking about the situation in Yemen during a state visit to India, said, “I saw some news reports that suggested somehow that counter-terrorism activity had been suspended and that is not accurate. We continue to go after high value targets inside of Yemen and we will continue to maintain the pressure that is required to keep the American people safe."

U.N. special envoy Jamal Ben Omar told journalists the goodwill and cooperation of all political parties would be needed to extricate Yemen from the crisis.

Omar said serious efforts are being made with all the political parties involved in the joint peace committee, and he thinks it may be possible to end the crisis if everyone cooperates.

House arrest claims

Local Affairs Minister Abdel Raqib Fatah told Sky News Arabia he and other members of the outgoing government, which resigned last week, are being held under house arrest.

Fatah castigated the Houthi rebels, saying, “There is no place for violence in a modern state,” and that “dialogue is the only way to resolve conflicts.”

Protests against the Houthi rebels were reported in at least a dozen towns and cities across the country, many reminiscent of demonstrations during the 2011 Arab Spring uprising.

One young man in Sana'a denounced the Houthi rebels' power grab. He said there is no place for armed militias in Sana'a and urged them to leave the capital. He said the Houthis may stay only if they want to live with everyone in peace.

Public officials in the southern Yemeni capital of Aden reportedly raised the flag of the former Republic of South Yemen over government buildings and police checkpoints. Leaders in at least five provinces have indicated that they will no longer take orders from officials in Sana'a.

Al Arabiya TV reported the old land border between North and South Yemen has been closed to stop Houthi militiamen from advancing into the south of the country. The formerly independent countries united in 1990.

Some material for this report came from Reuters.

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