Houthi rebels arrest, attack demonstrators protesting Yemen takeover

Several demonstrators protesting the rebels' takeover of the Yemeni government were injured while others were arrested.

By Fred Lambert

SANAA, Yemen, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Shia rebels that took over Yemen last week attacked and arrested several demonstrators protesting the coup on Sunday.

Houthi fighters fired weapons in the air to disperse protests at Sanaa University, injuring and arresting several demonstrators, Al Jazeera reports. Journalists at the demonstration were also attacked and several had their cameras broken.


The Houthis are a Shia Muslim militant group from the country's north. It warred with the Sunni government for a year before seizing the presidential palace in Yemen's capital Sanaa on Jan. 20 after heavy fighting.

On Saturday over 10,000 Yemenis marched in solidarity with President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who resigned Thursday along with Prime Minister Khalid Bahah a day after allegedly reaching a deal with the Houthis that would, among other things, make changes to Yemen's constitution in return for a withdrawal of the rebels from Sanaa.

The toppling of Yemen's government is cause for concern among the United States, as one of al-Qaida's most powerful wings, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, is based in the country.


White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday that the Houthi takeover would not affect efforts to continue counter-terrorism operations in the country.

"I think it's very important to recognize that governance in Yemen has always been difficult," McDonough said. "We will continue to press on the ground, including today, to make decisions transparently, pursuant to a political agreement, so that we can work with them to keep on the offensive against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. But we can't be responsible for every government in the region; we have to make sure that they're doing that themselves."

Republican Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, criticized the White House for a lacking an articulated strategy to defeat such groups, and said more U.S. special forces were needed in Yemen, an assertion agreed with by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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