04/09/2015, 00.00
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Yemeni death toll rises. Al Qaeda promises gold to whoever kills the Shiite leaders

by Paul Dakiki
Since the beginning of the conflict, there are more than 600 dead and over 2,200 injured. No electricity, water or medicines. Paramedics killed while on duty. Afghan Islamists ready to invade Yemen with "thousands" of fighters.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - The death toll in the war launched by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies against the Houthi rebels in Yemen continues to climb. And while the Saudis and the Emirates are trying to polarize the UN against the rebels, even al Qaeda is becoming an "ally" promising 20 kg of gold to whoever kills the leaders of the Shiite uprising.

Last night the World Health Organization stated that the number of those killed from March 26 to date is 643 with 2226 injured. The continuous bombing of Sana'a, Aden and near the Strait of Bab al-Mandeb by the coalition led by Riyadh has created a new wave of refugees: at least 334 thousand are displaced within the country; almost 255 thousand have fled abroad.

The WHO states that ""The humanitarian situation is critical, with power cuts and water and fuel shortages further deteriorating... the situation”. Attacks on healthcare workers and health facilities have also been reported. Since March 30 three volunteer ambulance workers have been shot and killed while on duty. 

Yesterday in Aden, for the first time since the beginning of the clashes, the NGO Doctors Without Borders has managed to get 2.5 tons of medical supplies. A Red Cross vessel, with material and medical staff is instead stuck in port because of the fighting. Yesterday the Houthis bombed the center of Aden from the hills around, causing 22 dead and 70 wounded among the civilian population.

The operation "Firmness Storm " was launched at the request of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, ousted by Houthi groups demanding a greater share of power. So far, the operation involves air strikes, but does not exclude a ground war.

Two days ago, the Gulf monarchies proposed a UN Security Council resolution that imposes sanctions against the rebel leaders, Abdel Malek al-Houthi and the son of former president, Ahmad Ali Abdallah Saleh.

In the past, the Saudis had fought fundamentalist groups like al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula supporting Saleh. Today, al Qaeda appears an unlikely "ally" of the Saudis. Yesterday the terrorist group reportedly promised 20 kg of gold to anyone who "kills or captures" Iranian- Shiite backed al-Houthi or Saleh.

The intra-Yemeni conflict has become a theater of war between the two regional powers, Saudi Arabia and Iran, Sunnis and Shiites, forcing the countries in the area to take a stand and take sides. In addition to the Gulf monarchies, the Arab coalition is supported by Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan. Also yesterday armed Islamists with Hezb-e-Islam, in Afghanistan, proposed sending "thousands" of fighters in Yemen to support the Sunni coalition.

The conflict is even causing even deeper division among the Lebanese parliament and parties with Hezbollah who defend the Houthis and Hariri's party who have taken the defense of Saudi Arabia.

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