An army soldier aims at rebel targets during the ongoing military offensive on Shi'ite rebels in the northwestern province of Saada in this undated picture released by the Yemeni army August 30, 2009. Yemen said on Sunday it had killed a leader of northern rebels as the air force continued to attack targets in Saada province, where rights groups say tens of thousands have been displaced.  REUTERS/Yemen Army/Handout (YEMEN POLITICS CONFLICT MILITARY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. QUALITY FROM SOURCE *** Local Caption ***  SAN21_YEMEN-_0830_11.JPG *** Local Caption ***  SAN21_YEMEN-_0830_11.JPG
A government soldier takes aim at an al Houthi rebel target as the military continues its operation Scorched Earth offensive in Sa'ada province.

Yemini tribes take sides in uprising



SANA'A // When the government rejected a rebel peace proposal on Monday, it became clear that as the battle against the al Houthis drags on, the potential for the war to destabilise Yemen is growing. Government troops have been pounding al Houthi bases in mountains overlooking the Saudi border in Sa'ada since August 11, but there has been no visible progress. Yesterday, Yemen said it had killed 11 rebels in fighting in the north of the country, while the rebels posted footage on the internet that appeared to show the army withdrawing from one area.

On Wednesday, the insurgents announced that they had only just begun what would be a "long war" after the rejection of their peace proposal. While this may be posturing, the rebels, who have fought an intermittent war against the army for more than five years, are now seasoned guerrillas. Their ability to withstand years of fighting, from which they emerged stronger, has enabled them to build coalitions with local tribesmen and nearby tribal regions where the government has little control.

Pushed by brutal acts, looting and kidnapping by al Houthis, some tribal militias allied with the army during the last wave of fighting. But, when a truce was announced, they were left without any of the support promised by the government. The result was that some were removed from their houses by the rebels while others had to take the side of their former foes. The involvement of tribal militants on both sides of the fight further inflames the conflict by generating tribal feuds. The tribesmen fighting alongside the army are mainly from the Hashid tribe, which was already engaged in a dispute with the Bakeel tribe in Harf Sufyan over land ownership.

The rebels, who belong to the Sufyan tribe, on Saturday launched an attack on Hashid fighters resulting in dozens of casualties. Tribal sheikhs from Sufyan have warned they make take the side of their al Houthi brethren. The war will have consequences that stretch beyond Sa'ada. Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president, said the army would employ counterinsurgency tactics that require new weapons and additional funding for the army and intelligence services as well as time.

The high cost of this new war will consume scarce resources, which are already perilously low, at the expense of much-needed development projects in the impoverished country. The war will also increase the ranks of displaced people, who now number about 150,000, according to the United Nations. But as it has taken the military route, the state will be compelled to demonstrate its strength by quickly taking out the al Houthi leadership and clearing and controlling land. If the army fails, it could embolden groups challenging the government in other parts of the country

The intermittent conflict has also allowed groups to flourish by profiting from the war. It is in the favour of these tribal sheikhs, radical anti-Shiite Salafists, weapons traders and drug traffickers that there is violence in Sa'ada. The turmoil in Sa'ada has also invited meddling by regional powers. Yemen has accused Iran and Libya of supporting the al Houthi rebels in the past and during the current fighting and the country accused the Iranian media of bias in favour of the rebels and warned it would take unspecified steps in response.

For their part, the al Houthis and Iran's media have also accused Saudi jets of shelling the rebels in Sa'ada and supporting anti-Shiite groups in the region. The Saudis are concerned that politicised Shiites directly across the border from their own Shiite-majority province may provoke unrest there. The European Union and US have voiced concerns about the growing instability in Yemen. They says the government's preoccupation with the war in the north and separatist unrest in the south is allowing al Qa'eda to operate freely, turning Yemen into a sanctuary for its militants.

The suicide bomber who attempted to assassinate Prince Mohammed Bin Naif, the Saudi assistant interior minister, last week came from Mareb province in Yemen, where al Qa'eda militants are believed to enjoy the sympathy and protection of some tribes. mqadhi@thenational.ae * With additional reporting by Reuters

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MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League final:

Who: Real Madrid v Liverpool
Where: NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine
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Company profile

Company name: amana
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Founders: Karim Farra and Ziad Aboujeb
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Producers: Uniglobe Entertainment & Vision Films

Director: Namrata Singh Gujral

Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Nargis Fakhri, Bo Derek, Candy Clark

Rating: 2/5

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

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2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

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2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

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UFC FIGHT NIGHT: SAUDI ARABIA RESULTS

Main card
Middleweight:

Robert Whittaker defeated Ikram Aliskerov via knockout (Round 1)
Heavyweight:
Alexander Volkov def Sergei Pavlovich via unanimous decision
Middleweight:
Kelvin Gastelum def Daniel Rodriguez via unanimous decision
Middleweight:
Shara Magomedov def Antonio Trocoli via knockout (Round 3)
Light heavyweight:
Volkan Oezdemir def Johnny Walker via knockout (Round 1)
Preliminary Card
Lightweight:

Nasrat Haqparast def Jared Gordon via split decision
Featherweight:
Felipe Lima def Muhammad Naimov via submission (Round 3)
Welterweight:
Rinat Fakhretdinov defeats Nicolas Dalby via split decision
Bantamweight:
Muin Gafurov def Kang Kyung-ho via unanimous decision
Light heavyweight:
Magomed Gadzhiyasulov def Brendson Ribeiro via majority decision
Bantamweight:
Chang Ho Lee def Xiao Long via split decision

Inside Out 2

Director: Kelsey Mann

Starring: Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke, Ayo Edebiri

Rating: 4.5/5

West Indies v England ODI series:

West Indies squad: Jason Holder (c), Fabian Allen, Devendra Bishoo, Darren Bravo, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Evin Lewis, Ashley Nurse, Keemo Paul, Nicholas Pooran, Rovman Powell, Kemar Roach, Oshane Thomas.

Fixtures:

1st ODI - February 20, Bridgetown

2nd ODI - February 22, Bridgetown

3rd ODI - February 25, St George's

4th ODI - February 27, St George's

5th ODI - March 2, Gros Islet

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