Yemen's Houthi rebels detain at least 9 UN staffers and others in sudden crackdown, officials say | Houthi rebels kidnapped 9 UN personnel: staff's wife also included in them; took this step due to financial crisis

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Houthi rebels in Yemen have taken at least 9 people associated with the UN agency hostage. The hostages include staff of the UN Human Rights Agency, World Food Program and a person working in the office of the UN Special Ambassador. Apart from this, the wife of one of the hostage employees is also held captive by the rebels.

According to news agency AP, people associated with the UN agency gave this information. UN regional officers have confirmed the hostage taking to the news agency on the condition of anonymity. At present, neither the Houthi rebels nor the UN have officially given any information on this.

According to reports, the Houthi rebels are facing an economic crisis due to the airstrikes by the US and other countries. Earlier, the Houthi rebels had also executed 44 people in Yemen to attract the attention of the international community.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels are targeting American ships in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. By doing this, they are pressurizing Israel to stop the war in Gaza. To avoid these attacks, commercial ships from around the world have been passing through Africa instead of the Red Sea since November.

The Red Sea carries 10% of the world’s trade and 40% of Asia-Europe’s.

Houthi rebels want to target Israel

Last month, Houthi rebels have carried out more than 100 attacks in and around the Red Sea. In February, Houthi rebels hijacked a cargo ship Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea. This ship was coming from Turkey to India. Houthi rebels hijacked it thinking it to be an Israeli ship.

Before the incident, the Houthi group had warned of attacks on Israeli ships. A spokesperson for the Houthi rebels had said that all ships operating on behalf of Israel would be targeted.

Who are the Houthi rebels?

  • Civil war broke out in Yemen in 2014. Its root is the Shia-Sunni conflict. According to the report of the Carnegie Middle East Center, there was always a dispute between the two communities which turned into a civil war with the beginning of the Arab revolution in 2011. In 2014, Shia rebels opened a front against the Sunni government.
  • This government was led by President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Hadi seized power from long-time former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in February 2012 after the Arab Spring. Hadi struggled to bring stability amid the changes in the country. At the same time, the army split and the separatist Houthis mobilized in the south.
  • In the race to dominate the Arab countries, Iran and Saudi Arabia also jumped into this civil war. On one hand, the Houthi rebels got the support of the Shia-dominated country Iran. On the other hand, the government got the support of the Sunni-dominated country Saudi Arabia.
  • Within a short time, the rebels known as Houthis took over a large part of the country. In 2015, the situation had become such that the rebels forced the entire government to go into exile.
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