Dhahian besieged, Sa’ada war prolongs [Archives:2007/1035/Front Page]

March 22 2007

By: Mohammed bin Sallam
SA'ADA, March 21 ) Government forces continue their offensives upon Dhahian city, the stronghold of Al-Houthi loyalists, using all types of heavy weaponry as well as support from air forces.

According to tribal sources, the Yemeni army offensive is fiercest in Dhahian, located 8 km. north of Sa'ada city, since confrontations began between it and Houthi supporters. Most residents able to evacuate the city did so, heading for secure locations, while large numbers of elderly citizens, women and children remain in their residences, most of which are made of clay, and live under the mercy of mortar, tank and missile attacks that have left dozens dead or injured.

The same sources added that, “Dozens of houses were demolished on top of their residents, while the remainder have no access to food and medicine. Further, electricity and water supplies are cut off.”

They note that the situation there is tragic, calling on all relief organizations and international human rights organizations to provide aid for those who either have fled to farther locations to escape the flaring war or those confined in their homes.

The fierce confrontations between Houthi loyalists and the Yemeni army have expanded to include other areas, such as Al-Anad, Al-Khafji, Bani Muath, Al-Saifi and Al-Amar in Al-Safra'a district.

Sa'ada locals express displeasure at the participation of tribes from outside the governorate in the ongoing war, causing most of them to join the Houthis in their fight against the Yemeni army. Further, attacking Dhahian, the area's second-largest city of more than 8,000, prompted the same feelings among residents.

During last Sunday's “Together against War” symposium attended by politicians, journalists, human rights activists and members of Parliament, participants demanded ceasing the ongoing war in Sa'ada. They also urged all parties to help resolve the governorate's problems according to Yemeni law and constitution, highlighting Yemeni citizens' rights to form organizations and conduct peaceful demonstrations.

Participants further denounced random arrests occurring in many Yemeni governorates regarding the Sa'ada events, stressing the importance of releasing hundreds of citizens who have been arrested for their opinions or for rejecting the war in Sa'ada.

They also denounced prohibiting media and relief organizations from entering Sa'ada to convey the facts about what's happening there, emphasizing that the media has the full right to cover news about the confrontation, as well as receive truthful information. They further maintained that blocking or misleading public opinion is a stark violation of press freedom and journalists' rights to cover the events impartially from their original sources.

Mohammed Al-Sabri, Joint Meeting Parties spokesman and head of the executive committee, assured that the JMP calls for applying the law and constitution in any conflict because war's consequences overshadow the entire nation. He further voiced the JMP's readiness to work on halting the bloodshed. He stressed that public institutions shouldn't give up, hinting at inserting the tribal milieu into the Sa'ada war against Houthis.

Concluding the symposium, participants called for national dialogue involving both the authority and the JMP to come up with a joint vision to stop the war in Sa'ada and create national and constitutional solutions that preserve the state's dignity and ensure application of the constitution, together with integrating Houthi loyalists into the Yemeni political process.

On March 20, a media source at the General People's Congress described the Yemeni Socialist Party's stance on the Sa'ada war as “disgraceful and irresponsible.”

“It's not strange that the Socialist Party media, especially Aleshteraki.net, has become a bugle for terrorist elements by repeating their misleading forgeries, including what's published by fugitive terrorist Yahya Al-Houthi. This comes in the context of giving back service and providing political and media cover for the terrorist and criminal acts committed against the nation, its citizens and security and armed forces personnel,” Al-Motamar.net quoted the source as saying.

It added, “This disgraceful stance of the Socialist Party masks revenge goals and bad intentions aimed at harming the country, its security, stability, national unity and social peace.”

In retaliation, a source at the Yemeni Socialist Party declared that the 'disgraceful act' is that of the ruling party's leadership, which is leading a futile war in Sa'ada against the nation, while the consequences of the 1994 Civil War still haven't come to an end.

The independent Nass Press web site quoted the source as saying that the ruling party leadership “can't live or rule without war,” stressing that his party will continue its calls for stopping wars in general.

It added that the Socialist Party's stance calling for ending the war in Sa'ada matches its stance in all dirty wars, which do nothing except drain Yemeni resources in pointless conflicts, maintaining that it will always call for stopping war, whether leaders accept such a stance or not.

“We don't even know who the imamates are! Are they those quelled by the September 26 Revolution or those who have inherited it?” the source questioned.

In related news, the Yemeni armed forces-affiliated 26September.net reported Wednesday that Yemen has submitted a request to Interpol demanding the extradition of MP Yahya Al-Houthi, now living in Germany. The request contained numerous accusations against Al-Houthi, including fomenting sectarianism, participating in forming armed gangs, shaking national security and stability and taking innocent lives.

During a session last month, the majority of Yemeni MPs agreed to rescind immunity for Yahya Al-Houthi.