Houthi Rebels Release Detained Yemeni Ministers

Houthi Rebels Release Detained Yemeni Ministers

CAIRO — Houthi rebels released Yemen’s former prime minister and members of his cabinet after nearly two months of house detention on Monday, in a sign of some progress toward easing the country’s chaotic political crisis.

In a note he posted on his Facebook page on Monday, former Prime Minister Khaled Bahah called his release a “good-will gesture,” and praised the Houthi leadership as well as the United Nations envoy to Yemen for arranging it. It means that he and the other ministers have “absolute freedom to travel inside and outside the country,” he said.

Mr. Bahah also said he hoped his release could help rescue the country from a deepening crisis that began in September, when the Houthis, a Zaydi Shiite rebel group from northern Yemen, took control of the capital, Sana. The rebels were demanding political reforms from the government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

In January, the rebels expanded their power grab by seizing the presidential palace and placing Mr. Hadi, Mr. Bahah and the rest of the government under house arrest.

Last month, Mr. Hadi fled Houthi custody and traveled to the southern port city of Aden, where he declared that he was still Yemen’s rightful president. Seeking to bolster that claim, several Persian Gulf nations announced that they were moving their embassies to Aden.

The United States, which closed its embassy in Sana in February after the arrest of Mr. Hadi, has not announced any plans to move its diplomatic facilities to Aden.

Even before the crisis began, Yemen was the region’s most impoverished country, suffering from a vacuum of central authority that made it an attractive haven for a powerful affiliate of Al Qaeda. Now, with Yemen split between competing power centers in the north and south, concerns have also grown that the dispute could deteriorate into a civil war.

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