Battles continue in Sa’ada [Archives:2005/840/Front Page]

May 9 2005

Mohammed bin Sallam
Government forces, backed with helicopters and tanks, are still pursuing tens of Believing Youth elements, supporters of Hussein Badr al-Din al-Houthi, who was killed by the military in September of last year, well-informed sources said.

Security and armed forces have control over parts of al-Fard mountains of al-Naq'ah area, to the north of the city of Sa'ada on Yemeni-Saudi borders.

Saudi forces have been lined up on its borders adjacent to areas of clashes, to prevent the infiltration of the elements of the Believing Youth into Saudi lands.

The sources added that a governmental warplane last Tuesday hit two cars carrying a number of Houthis, some of whom were killed in the incident. Sources did not mention the number of casualties.

It is mentioned that a third-rank person called Sheikh al-A'asar, from Hamdan bin Zaid tribe, is spearheading the attacks against governmental facilities and officials, the last of which was that attack against al-Anad checkpoint which resulted in the death of a number of soldiers.

Violent battles involving heavy weapons and helicopters are taking place in al-Naq'ah mountains as well as in Wailah district, between governmental forces and Houthis who are entrenched in mountainous hideouts, according to sources

State forces are using heavy artillery and helicopters to bomb hideouts of insurgents, tens of whom have been killed. State forces are not able to sweep through hideouts due to harsh topography and fear of being soft targets for insurgents who are hiding in the mountains.

Meanwhile, security and armed forces are still conducting house-to-house searches and arrests in different places in the province of Sa'ada coinciding with pressure exerted upon tribes to force them to help the military catch suspected Houthi sympathizers.

“From time to time, military forces raid certain areas supported with helicopters and armored vehicles,” said Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, son of cleric Badr al-Din al-Houthi who is being chased by the armed and security forces.

In a statement to al-Shura Weekly last week from an undisclosed location, he denied that his father and his brother Hussien, who was slain in Sa'ada last September by the governmental forces, stood against the Authority, the Republic or the President.

“We were astonished at being attacked in the first war because of a slogan chanted by the youth in solidarity with their fellow Moslems in Iraq and Palestine,” he added.

“We, as Moslems, are responsible before Allah and history. This liability is unavoidable. We therefore chose to take up that slogan as a peaceful gesture within the frame of democracy and freedom of expression.”

Al-Houthi the son confirmed that his father, who is reported to be ill with asthma, did not pledge to reside in Sana'a when he traveled there three months ago. “During his stay in Sana'a, there were no practical steps to address the aftermaths of the first war despite official promises. This caused my father to return to Sa'ada in a normal manner with no bad intention. He had no choice but to return to his village.”

He said that the State refuses to admit that the reason behind the war was the slogan. He asked for a fair solution to their case, and admitted that they are ready to receive mediators who have the power to implement the resolution, provided that they are neutral and did not formerly support the government.

In the mean time, the governmental forces are still waging raids against different areas in Sa'ada including Al Jaber, to the north. Eyewitnesses reported the security arresting a number of activists suspected of supporting the Believing Youth and that warplanes early last week bombarded areas thought to be gathering places for Houthis such as Wadi al-Far'a and Saroum, on the borders. The Yemeni and Saudi governments have jointly coordinated border guarding.

Night home searches happen on daily basis. Forces stormed last week a number of homes including those of Ahmed al-Zain, Ali al-Mutamiyz, and Sheikh Mohammed al-Moayad, who has been imprisoned for about one year in Sa'ada on charges related to the Believing Youth while his son is imprisoned in Sana'a. The forces also stormed the house of Abdul-Hakim al-Dhahyani, director of Dhahian Private Health Center because of him helping a family of a Houthi. Recent news says that the house of cleric Ahmed al-Qabousi, located in Al Bayan, was searched last Tuesday and that soldiers search houses late at night, looting properties sometimes.

Houthi counterattacks have been accelerated. According to a tribal source, they attacked Sa'ada airport with mortars last week and performed sudden attacks against a number of military stations one of which was in Juma'at Khawlan which resulted in the death of 8 soldiers and another was in Nashour area but no casualties were reported.

Government forces have not been able to discover the hiding place of cleric Badr al-Din al-Houthi as well as Sheikh Abdullah al-Ruzami who are thought to be hosted and protected by tribes in al-Naq'ah area. The armed forces can't conduct military operations due to high-level of directives. According to sources, further operations would open new fronts with tribes and expand the circle of battles which may incite the dormant tribal differences and set ablaze the whole northern area.