As Sa’ada war continuesYemen recalls its ambassadors to Iran and Libya [Archives:2007/1050/Front Page]

May 14 2007

By: Mohammed bin Sallam
SA'ADA, May 13 ) Tribal sources report that bloody clashes continue in most Sa'ada districts, especially in rough areas such as Razih Mountain and other surrounding areas in Qulat Al-Muwaqr, as well as Shawiah site, the highest peak in Al-Nadhir area and dominated by Houthis since last Monday.

Further, fierce confrontations between the Yemeni army and Houthi loyalists have continued since last Thursday in Sahar district's Ayoub and Ahsan Mountains, as well as Sha'ban and Bani Ma'een areas east of Sahar, where Yemeni army forces advanced in an attempt to re-enter Razih district after having evacuated it at the end of last week.

Likewise, battles are being waged in Sahar's Bani Mu'ath, Magz and Saqeen districts. However, media sources reveal that the fiercest battles have been fought on the Dhahian front, killing and injuring dozens on both sides.

Last Friday evening, Houthis attacked two military camps in Umm Aisa and Al-Salah in Al-Safra district, areas the Yemeni army had conquered for the first time. Houthi loyalists also waged offensives last Thursday on military camps in Al-Ablah and in the mountains surrounding Dammaj area, resulting in more victims among both warring parties.

Some Sa'ada locals describe what occurred in Sahar, Magz and Al-Safra districts as “unprecedented mass murder.”

Regarding the number of victims among soldiers, reported more than 60 dead and more than 90 others injured in clashes between Thursday and Saturday. Victims were transferred to the Sana'a Military Hospital, as Al-Sallam and Al-Jumhury Hospitals in Sa'ada are overflowing with dead and injured soldiers.

Media sources report that Sha'arah, Al-Nadhir and Burkan areas, together with areas located on the main road between Al-Qal'ah and Sha'aban areas in Razih district, witnessed mass evacuation of residents to areas located on the Yemeni-Saudi borders and the Tihama plain in Al-Dhaher district near Harath due to the conflict's expansion.

Such mass evacuation is because of residents' fear of pro-government tribal fighters, who always are accompanied by looting and robbing of personal property.

Al-Nida newspaper reported Naji Al-Ghaithi, head of Sa'ada Education Office, as saying that studies have halted in Ghamer, Razih and Qataber districts because of the war. Similarly, medical centers in Baqem, Magz, Haydan, Dammaj and Qataber districts also are closed for the same reason, according to the head of the Sa'ada Health Office, who also pointed to a shortage of medicine and medical equipment, noting outbreaks of suffocation due to the types of weaponry employed, diarrhea and skin inflammation among emigrants, partially due to food shortages.

Meanwhile, the Yemeni government has recalled its ambassadors in Tehran and Tripoli for consultations over alleged involvement of both capitals in the Sa'ada events and Houthis' support.

Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi indicated that both ambassadors were recalled to Sana'a for consultations. He further hinted that the periodic existence in Libya of Yemeni Member of Parliament Yahya Al-Houthi, Abdulmalik Al-Houthi's brother, is evidence of Libyan support for Houthis, especially since Libya declined the Yemeni government's request to extradite the MP.

Al-Qirbi further added that Houthis are receiving support from Shi'ite sources in Iran, but not necessarily from the Iranian government.

Thus far, the Yemeni government hasn't indicated the possibility of cutting or freezing diplomatic relations with Libya and Iran.

Al-Qirbi pointed out that his government is considering conducting talks with Houthis, led by Abdulmalik Al-Houthi; however, he considers such dialogue to be of no avail, especially when the rebels' demands are unclear.

For its part, revealed that Qatari mediation continues via back channels and that a meeting involving Yahya Al-Houthi and envoys from President Ali Abdullah Saleh took place in Germany.

The same source added that MP Yahya Al-Houthi previously met with a member of the German Parliament's Foreign Relations Committee, together with members of the European Parliament, asking them to mediate a halt to the war in Sa'ada.

Libyan President Moammar Al-Qaddafi told Al-Jazeera channel that President Saleh asked him to mediate the termination of the second Sa'ada war, as well as a meeting with Yahya Al-Houthi at that time.

Such developments against Libya come just one day after a Yemeni-Qatari summit in Sana'a. Close sources mention that influential, tribal and military leaders and individuals foiled the Qatari mediation.

General People's Congress Secretary-General Abdulqader Bajammal mentioned that his party is willing to negotiate with opposition parties regarding the Sa'ada events, additionally rejecting their attitude toward the conflict.

Opposition party leaders assure that they are about to announce a national project addressing their stance on the Sa'ada war and further criticized the ruling General People's Congress party for ignoring its political process' partners regarding the Sa'ada crisis, despite the fact that it deals with all public forces.

In statement distributed last week, Yahya Al-Houthi noted that Houthis are ready to cease fire, provided the Yemeni army retreats to its positions prior to the war's eruption in 2004.

In his first public stance, Yemeni Speaker of Parliament Sheikh Abdullah Al-Ahmar described Houthis as “a group of adolescents and dreamers who want to turn back the wheel of history.

“What's going on in your areas harms us. You and the tribal sheikhs are held responsible as those reckless youth defame you and your existence. Nothing encourages them except your silence,” Al-Ahmar said while addressing Sa'ada sheikhs.