Although government claims to have cleared Bani Hushaish district of HouthisHouthi fighters threaten to hit Sana’a Airport [Archives:2008/1160/Front Page]

May 2 2008

By: Mohammed Bin Sallam
SANA'A, June 1 ) “We've observed fierce clashes between Yemeni military forces and Houthi loyalists in Bani Hushaish area since Friday morning,” witnesses say, adding that Houthis deployed excessively in Sana'a's northeast suburbs are threatening to hit Sana'a International Airport, despite the Defense Ministry's announcement that the army has driven Houthis from Bani Hushaish and taken over strategic mountaintop positions in the area.

Mortar attacks have been heard from Sana'a city as the army continues attacking mountains east and northeast of Sana'a, in addition to the Hatarish Mountains near Sana'a International Airport.

Observers claim that the government's declaration that the Bani Hushaish clashes had ended is an attempt not to alert international media outlets to what's happening on the ground where clashes are ongoing., which is affiliated with the Nasserite Unionist Popular Organization, reports that Houthi loyalists have threatened to strike Sana'a International Airport if Yemeni army forces don't stop attacking their tribesmen in Sa'ada. It adds that the Houthi field leader in Bani Hushaish has vowed to move the fighting into Sana'a and attack vital state institutions.

Authorities have heightened security around Sana'a Airport in the expectation that Houthis may target the installation.

Tribal sources in Sa'ada governorate note that the confrontations between Houthis and the Yemeni army are expanding in various districts, particularly in Jaamala area. This comes after government sources affirmed that the army had seized control of strategic positions in Sa'ada; however, Abdulmalik Al-Houthi's office denies this allegation, maintaining that his supporters control most of the strategic military positions.

Amran governorate also is experiencing ongoing armed confrontations between government forces and Houthi loyalists in Harf Sifyan and Houth districts. Other clashes occurred northeast of Harf Sifyan in the areas of Majzaa and Shibarq after the Sana'a-Sa'ada Highway once again was blocked last weekend. Houthis burned a military truck loaded with food supplies and car tires on its way to Sa'ada.

Other tribal sources claim that Houthi supporters in Amran seized two military trucks loaded with ammunition and ordinance and arrested their accompanying soldiers. According to witnesses in Amran, hundreds on both sides have been killed, their bodies left to decay out in the open, and many civilians' homes have been destroyed.

At its first meeting of the season on Saturday, Parliament approved summoning the appropriate Cabinet ministers to discuss the security situation and the renewed clashes in Sa'ada, designating the coming weekend as the deadline for the Cabinet ministers to brief its members on what's happening on the ground in Sa'ada and other areas and submit an urgent report thereupon.

Charges by Sheikh Sultan Al-Barakani, head of the General People's Congress's parliamentary caucus, directed at opposition parties and accusing them of collaborating with Houthis provoked outrage in the Yemeni Parliament. According to members of Parliament, such accusations neither serve the national interest, nor contribute to resolving the country's pressing problems.

The MPs added that the nation is experiencing harsh circumstances and there's no need to falsely charge effective opposition forces like the Joint Meeting Parties, especially when, “Everyone knows the government is responsible for the nation's current complicated problems and their negative consequences.”

A campaign entitled, “Together against the Sa'ada Fighting,” organized by numerous nongovernmental organizations, rights groups and political dignitaries, had planned a June 1 sit-in at the Presidential Palace. Being prevented from doing so at that location, the participants then headed toward Parliament to hold their sit-in there and submit a letter of appeal to end the fighting in Sa'ada.

According to a statement by the campaign's organizers, the sit-in seeks to end the Sa'ada fighting and resolve its consequences, as well as unblock area roads for relief and humanitarian organizations to reach affected residents. A further aim is to engage the media, various constitutional and civil institutions, NGOs and political parties in mediation efforts to end the four-year fighting.

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“Together against the Sa'ada Fighting” launched on June 24, 2007 as an initiative by politicians, human rights activists and media personnel to settle the ongoing Sa'ada clashes, which have left thousands dead or injured on both sides since fighting first broke out in June 2004.

Sa'ada tribal sources further noted that Houthis attacked two Saudi military vehicles patrolling the Saudi border with Yemen in Al-Malahidh area last Tuesday. While there's no clear reason why the Saudi army was patrolling an area near the site of the fighting between Houthis and the Yemeni army, the same sources disclosed that a Saudi official visited Sana'a last Monday, deliberating with Yemeni government officials about how to quell the Sa'ada rebellion.