Bani Hushaish residents’ lives deteriorate as security measures escalate [Archives:2008/1164/Front Page]

June 16 2008

Almigdad Mojalli
SANA'A, June 15 ) In an attempt to control the troubled areas of Bani Hushaish district in Sana'a governorate where a number of Houthi rebels took refuge, security authorities placed a blockade around the area on diesel and food products.

According to local sheikhs and citizens in the surrounded area, there are military checkpoints on all roads leading into the district, inhabited by over 75,000 people.

Security forces at the checkpoints prevent any diesel, used primarily for farming equipment like tractors, from entering the district. They also prevent wheat, among other foodstuffs, from entering the area. According to locals, the security forces also won't allow residents to take their products such as vegetables, fruits and qat outside the district. This prevents the Bani Hushaish locals from selling their goods in neighboring markets, including those in Sana'a city.

“People can come and go, but as they reach the checkpoint they are searched thoroughly and if they are carrying anything with them, it is confiscated,” said a resident of Bani Hushaish who asked to remain anonymous for fear of governmental reprisal. He described an incident in which a man told the checkpoint security that he was carrying a diesel tank in his vehicle to be delivered to a town in an isolated area outside Bani Hushaish. The resident said that security let him go but followed him and when they realized he was lying because he headed to his home in Bani Hushaish, they confiscated the tank and the vehicle before arresting the man.

An official at the Sana'a Governorate Office, who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitive subject matter, confirmed these steps and their use as a means to put pressure on both the locals and Houthis in Bani Hushaish area.

“The way Yemeni society is structured in tribal areas would never allow state control without the locals' acceptance. By creating this siege, we are pushing the locals to understand that they must cooperate with the state against the Houthis even if they are their relatives or neighbors,” said the Sana'a Governate Office source. “”When they begin to starve and their source of income is interrupted