While the GCC stumbles, a ceasefire fails to end Taiz violence
TAIZ, Dec 4 — A ceasefire agreement has failed to stop the bloody violence in Taiz as clashes and shelling continue and the body count carries on rising.
Some 30 people died between Thursday and Sunday, while 90 others were injured. Among them were civilians, including women and children, medical sources told the Yemen Times.
The truce committee announced on Saturday evening that they had agreed an immediate ceasefire and that it had been enforced on the ground, a member of the committee told the Yemen Times. However, the ceasefire has already failed.
The agreement stipulates the removal of military units and their heavy arms as well as the armed groups, the committee member explained.
“The existence of the armed men inside the city doesn’t support the aims of the revolution. There is a third party who has hidden aims and pushes the armed men to increase the tension, which justifies the government forces targeting of Taiz,” the member, who wished to remain anonymous, warned.
Vice President Abd Rabo Mansour Hadi directed on Friday evening the formation of a committee to withdraw the armed forces and militias from Taiz after the new Prime Minister, Mohammed BaSundwa, threatened to leave the national unity government if shelling continued in Taiz.
This came after renewed clashes over the past days between the government’s forces and armed men loyal to the revolution. In a bid to extend their territory, pro-revolutionaries had tried to take control of the political security, criminal investigation and migration offices on Thursday morning, all located in the west of Taiz.
Government forces, stationed in Cairo Castel, Al-Jara Mountain, reacted with a violent, random attack on many residential areas, shelling in the west of the city and in areas under the control of the anti-government armed men. Government forces used different kinds of heavy weapons in the fierce clashes, which were ongoing Sunday morning.
A medical source at the field hospital told the Yemen Times that the shelling, which targeted areas including Al-Maroor, Wadi Al-Qadi, Al-Rawdha and Jamal Street, led to the deaths of 30 people. Among them were six civilians, two women and two children, while 90 others were injured.
The medical source said that the government forces also prevented the Red Crescent teams from accessing areas in the west of the city to provide assistance for injured people. The residents in the western areas live in a worsening humanitarian situation, unable to go out and unable to get basic food items, including water and wheat.
“If the government’s forces justify the killing and the attacks because of the attempt by the armed men to take control of the political security, criminal investigation and the migration offices, why are they attacking civilians in homes in Wadi Al-Qadi, Al-Rawdha and Al-Masbah?” the medical source asked.
For his part, a security official in Taiz denied that government forces have targeted civilians.
“We are doing our duty in protecting the public security and defending the state’s establishments,” the security official said in a statement to the Yemen Times.
“The militias of the Muslim Brotherhood [Islah party] and some elements of the first armored division attempted on Thursday morning to storm the migration office, the traffic administration and the criminal investigation. They destroyed the buildings using heavy weapons,” the official said “Eight soldiers were killed and 15 others wounded due to this attack.
“These militias have also burned the house of the secretary general assistant of the [ruling] General people Congress and stole its contents,” he added.
“These militias have been attempting to storm the 33rd Division of the Republican Guards [run by Saleh’s son] since last Monday by using all kinds of weapons,” he said.
He claimed that defected leaders of the First Armored Division and some of the Islah party were trying to encourage violence in order to derail the GCC agreement.
He accused the armed group of working on carrying out assassination attempts against security leaders and blaming the government.
He also warned citizens against “untrue” pamphlets distributed by the JMP advising citizens to evacuate their houses.
The Human Rights Information and Training Center, a human rights NGO in Taiz, condemned the “organized military attack against the city by all kinds of weapons, the targeting of several residential areas and banning people from going out of their homes.”
The center called on all human rights organizations and the international community to work on the immediate suspension of the revenge campaign carried out by the regime against Taiz and an end to the random shelling against civilians.
“The continuation of escalated violence in Taiz rather than other governorates is adopted by some parties refusing the GCC initiative and who were not included in the political settlement,” said Fuad Mohamed Abdo, a political analyst in Taiz.
“These parties have chosen Taiz because they expect revenge actions from government forces, which will lead to more bloodshed. This will provoke the youth, which in the end will create agitation and a wider rejection of the GCC intuitive in all protest squares in all governorates as the people of Taiz have a big presence and influence in all squares,” said Abdo.
Taiz is a hub of protest activity with a high awareness among its youth, he explained. In addition to this, the city’s strategic position with a large population, close to the south and sea ports, which has made it more of a target.
“So the opposition doesn’t want to withdraw from its positions and sees any withdrawal from Taiz, even according to a ceasefire, as an end to their bet in case the GCC initiative fails. The opposition calls Taiz the capital of the revolution while the government thinks that if Taiz falls it will also be the collapse of the regime,” Abdo concluded.