Amid confrontations civilians seek food [Archives:2007/1030/Front Page]

March 5 2007

Mohammed bin Sallam
SA'ADA, March 4 ) Sources at Al-Sallam Saudi Hospital in Sa'ada reported that the hospital has received and recorded 104 deaths and 479 injured among military men between Jan. 28 and Feb. 28, while other victims were transferred to hospitals in Sana'a, Al-Jawf, Amran and Hajjah.

Tribal sources also reveal that armed confrontations between the Yemeni government and Al-Houthi loyalists are aflame in many areas of Sa'ada, which continue to be under a complete media blackout.

The same sources also noted that armed groups arrived in the governorate's largest market, Souq Al-Talh, to buy essential foodstuffs and medicine for themselves and their families, who are besieged in mountainous caves and valleys while escaping the government's violence. However, they were unable to buy anything due to high price increases and the presence of soldiers who clashed with them.

Locals in areas where battles are ongoing are suffering a lack in necessary foodstuffs due to the government siege.

According to, an organ of the Yemeni armed forces, the visits to the market was an attempt by Houthis to escape the government siege around them. The prevention of access to foodstuffs is an attempt to corner them in certain areas and prevent foodstuffs and medicine from getting to them.

Houthis are employing guerrilla war tactics against the Yemeni army in various areas in Sa'ada, Hajjah and Amran, while the army is replying with mortars and air attacks, together with tanks.

An official with the Sa'ada local council denied reports by Tehran Radio and other media outlets mentioning that 416 soldiers were killed and hundreds more injured during the recent confrontations with Al-Houthi loyalists.

Earlier this week, the same source told that such reports are baseless and the number is exaggerated, indicating that the dead among security and armed forces are less than the alleged number. The individual further requested media outlets verify any information before publishing it, especially if from unreliable sources.

Future Stream, which is supported by the General People's Congress, organized a symposium last Thursday in Sana'a to discuss the current crisis in Sa'ada. Joint Meeting Parties representatives didn't attend.

At the event, Sana'a University political science professor Mohammed Al-Dhahri noted that the culture that governs the two warring parties is one of revenge between brothers and relatives, while this same culture is more tolerant of foreigners.

Al-Dhahri further pointed out that Yemeni political forces portray themselves as infallible, with the government overstating opposition mistakes and vice versa. “Yemeni culture isn't keeping pace with development, modernization or political stability; rather, it's a culture that pushes the other,” he asserted.

According to him, most of the time, Yemenis attempt to resolve their problems by crossing red lines and resorting to violence. He concluded by requesting a deep and thorough study of the Houthi problem to understand the real causes of the crisis.

Tariq Al-Shami, head of the GPC's media department, recounted the Sa'ada events since they first occurred in 2004.

He further noted, “Houthis are receiving foreign support from Iran and this topic was discussed with an Iranian national security official. During the meeting, we raised the matter clearly and their justifications were that the support comes from religious institutions in Iran, but not from the political regime.”

Al-Shami added that while Yahya Al-Houthi previously stated that the loyalists are receiving no foreign support, it's clear that Houthis are receiving financial support from Libya.

Adel Shuga' of Future Stream commented, “We still suffer consequences from the 1994 war. It's natural that people turn the pages of the past and embark on development and create economic and political stability.” He further warned that the situation in Yemen may turn into a field for settling regional accounts.

In a letter sent to the Yemen Times, the Iranian Embassy in Sana'a denied Al-Shami's remarks at the symposium. It further denied news reports by, and other web sites, as well as reports by Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper on March 2 concerning the visit of an Iranian national security team to Yemen.

It added, “The embassy considers such allegations irresponsible. This goes against the cooperative spirit between the two countries and the views of both Yemeni and Iranian leaderships.”

Ali Larijani, head of the Iranian National Security Council who also is in charge of Iran's nuclear dossier, visited Yemen June 7 and 8, 2006, announcing that his visit aimed to enhance and expand cooperation between the two nations.

In further Houthi news, reported that Minister of Justice Adnan Al-Jifri received an official letter from Parliament concerning its resolution to rescind immunity for Member of Parliament Yahya Al-Houthi. The source further assured that the letter was referred to Attorney General Abdullah Al-Ulfi to prepare a file demanding his extradition to Yemen by Interpol.

A relative of Yahya Al-Houthi complained to the Yemen Times that security forces broke into Yahya Al-Houthi's house in Sana'a last Wednesday and took his eldest son, 18-year-old Alawi, to an unspecified location and further, that authorities aren't permitting his relatives to visit him. He asked human rights organizations to force the Yemeni government to free the youth because he's underage and did nothing except being the son of an opponent currently outside of Yemen.

Yemeni Socialist Party Secretary-General Yassin Sa'eed Noman pointed out that the Sa'ada issue is an opportunity for the current regime's instability and inability to treat the nation's situation in a right manner.

Addressing Socialist leaderships and staff in Al-Dhale' governorate, Noman noted that the authorities' interpretation of the problem with Houthis – describing them as belonging to the 12th doctrine – is wrong thinking and ignores the nature of problems ensuing from Yemen's political reality.

He asked the authorities to explain why they differ with Houthis and why they are trying to improvise justifications for their failure to treat Yemeni society's dire economic, social and political issues.

Noman also warned of drifting into a sectarian religious conflict, asserting, “They want to lead the Arab mind to issues involving sectarian conflict in order to forget about the other real problems, such as facing poverty, dictatorship and corruption.”

He further assured that he refuses dividing Arab and Islamic society on sectarian grounds, maintaining, “This isn't our project because it weakens us and shifts our focus from our true field of struggle to another one serving backward Arab regimes.”