Al-Jawf receives displaced citizens fleeing Sa’ada area fighting [Archives:2008/1161/Front Page]

May 5 2008

By: Mohammed Bin Sallam
SANA'A, June 4 ) Al-Jawf governorate near Yemen's northeast border with Saudi Arabia has received hundreds of displaced residents from Amran governorate's Harf Sifyan district who evacuated their homes over the past few days as a result of the ongoing bloody confrontations between the Yemeni army and Houthi supporters in the restive area of Sa'ada governorate, media and tribal sources said Wednesday.

The same sources surmised that those displaced residents who fled the fighting arrived in Al-Jawf's Marashi and Humaidat districts, noting that hundreds of families are suffering miserable conditions, particularly describing their health conditions as “tragic.”

The displaced citizens appealed to the relevant government agencies to help them after losing their homes and property in the destructive fighting. “We've become the direct victims of the fighting, without having done anything wrong,” media quoted the residents as saying.

They further appealed to international aid organizations to provide them tents, food, drinking water and other necessities as soon as possible in order to survive.

They also strongly denounced the Yemeni government, which they maintain hasn't given any consideration to their sufferings since they deserted their homes and fled to Al-Jawf governorate, demanding the relevant governmental authorities compensate them for their property that has been damaged in the four-year fighting.

Situations in Sa'ada

According to tribal sources from Sa'ada governorate, bloody confrontations between government troops and Houthi loyalists are occurring in several districts throughout the governorate, noting that Houthis have taken over Mahdha area, which is only 500 meters from the Sa'ada city wall.

Other clashes between the two sides are occurring in Haidan and Saqain areas, which the Yemeni army previously had controlled before this latest war, which broke out last month. The government pulled its troops from the two areas following fierce Houthi counterattacks.

According to Sa'ada tribal sources, there are other armed confrontations between government forces and Houthi loyalists in Al-Ghabir and Al-Abqour areas following extensive military strikes on Houthi strategic mountaintop positions in Matra and Naqaa areas.

Local sources confirm that military troops struck other Houthi positions in Dhahian area, located 8 kilometers north of Sa'ada city, on Monday, adding that there are ongoing clashes between both sides in Amran governorate's Harf Sifyan district.

In Sa'ada's Majaz district, tribesmen backed army forces in their fight against Houthi supporters who are showing strong resistance and foiling government troops' efforts to take control of strategic mountaintop positions in numerous areas.

In a statement published by the Islah Party-affiliated, Houthi field leader Abdulmalik Al-Houthi said what he described as “militants” (i.e., his supporters) destroyed two tanks and a military vehicle that was transporting food supplies to troops deployed in Mirran area. The web site also published video footage of what it called “military air strikes” on Fawt and Al-Ruwais areas, which injured seven women and children.

The Yemeni Times was unable to obtain exact reports on property losses and human casualties on both sides due to an information blackout being imposed by the Yemeni government and contradicting reports from both conflicting sides.

Contradictory statements

Sana'a Governor Numan Duwaid announced Monday that Yemeni military and security forces had cleared Houthi fighters from Bani Hushaish area, adding that many Houthis surrendered themselves to government troops.

This declaration comes more than two weeks after Yemen's Defense Ministry announced that clashes between army forces and Houthis in Bani Hushaish had ceased. The armed confrontations on the northeastern outskirts of Sana'a between Houthis and Yemeni army forces continued more than two weeks.

In a statement to various media outlets, Governor Duwaid noted that many Houthi youths have surrendered themselves to the government. “They are youngsters whom Houthis had seduced to back them in their fight with the government,” he added, urging all residents of Sana'a governorate to maintain a high level of vigilance and prevent the entry of any malicious individuals into their areas seeking to shake up security and stability in the capital secretariat area.

According to political analysts and observers, the Sana'a governor's statements contradict a Defense Ministry announcement a week ago, thereby implying that the ministry's announcement was false.

Sana'a witnesses report that, “Security and military troops are deployed heavily on various streets and lanes in the capital city. They are inspecting any passing vehicles and searching their occupants, thereby causing traffic jams in various parts of the city. They're also asking pedestrians to show their identity cards.”

Observers believe that excessive deployment of security troops and armed forces within the capital, as well as spreading fear, serves as an alarm to the worsening security situation. They predict a potential Houthi entry into the capital, which may constitute an imminent threat to the current government power holders.