‘Trapped by all the sides’ in Yemen’s largely ignored war

The Washington Post reports: The streets are eerily ­silent in this front-line enclave near Taiz’s Freedom Square, where thousands of protesters rose up against Yemen’s government five years ago.

The presidential palace nearby survived the demonstrations but not the war that followed. It is now a concrete carcass, pummeled by airstrikes. Shops are shuttered and homes are empty. The only people who remain cannot afford to go anywhere else.

By day, snipers strike down residents. At night, the gunfire and artillery shelling start.

“We’re trapped by all the sides,” said Ghulam Sayed, a former bus driver.

For weeks, Yemen’s warring factions have held peace talks to end their 16-month civil war, bringing a sense of calm to much of the country. But in the southwestern city of Taiz the conflict rages on, defying a U.N.-backed cease-fire. Civilians are indiscriminately killed or wounded daily. Thousands languish in ragged displacement camps. Humanitarian groups are blocked from adequately helping victims.

On one side of the war is an alliance of Shiite Houthi rebels and loyalists of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. They have seized the capital, Sanaa, and control the northern half of the country.

On the other side is the government, backed by the United States, Saudi Arabia and other regional powers. It controls only portions of the south, including the port of Aden. The rest is lawless or ruled by radical Islamists. [Continue reading…]

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