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Fall of Amran sends shock waves across Yemen

The causes of the Yemeni government’s failure to hold the city of Amran against Houthi militias are deeply rooted in history.
People look through the wreckage of the headquarters of Yemen's Islamist Islah party in the northwestern city of Amran July 14, 2014. According to local media, the five-story building was bombed by Shi'ite Muslim tribesmen known as Houthis during recent fighting against army forces in Amran, and there were no casualties. Yemen's president on Sunday demanded the withdrawal of Shi'ite Muslim tribesmen from the provincial city of Amran captured on July 8, in a stand-off that threatens to intensify turmoil in t

SANAA, Yemen — Amran is the city of the Hashid tribe, the tribe of Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former president of North Yemen from 1978 and the first premier after the reunification in 1990. From this time on, all military leaders have hailed from this tribe, including Gen. Ali Mohsen, who defected from the regime in 2011 during the popular revolution. The Hashid tribe remains the strongest among the Yemeni clans, headed by prominent politician Sheikh Abdullah Bin Hussein al-Ahmar until his death in 2009. Under the Saudi Wahhabist banner, the tribe managed to rule Yemen for more than three decades until it divided during the revolution in 2011.

The Houthis are a Zaydi-Shiite group that emerged as a result of the consecutive rounds of fighting they waged against by the state from 2004 onward. The Houthis grew and expanded and are now governing the city of Saada, which is inhabited by more than a third of the country’s population and borders Saudi Arabia in the far north. The city is seen as the stronghold of the Zaydis, who present more than a third of the Yemeni population.

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