Government declares end of military operations [Archives:2004/762/Front Page]

August 9 2004

Mohammed bin Sallam
Sheikh Al-Houthi's rebellion will be fully annihilated within 12 hours, also state forces have conquered all of the Mran area though there remain a few pockets of resistance in villages, said Army Chief of Staff Brigadier Mohammed Al-Qasimi.
He said there are a number of armed groups in the northeastern outskirts of Sa'ada, which have been given a warning to surrender, otherwise “they should expect an attack of similar ferocity. “
“Bloody battles are continuing between Al-Houthi's militants and government troops in Mran and Hamdan areas. The army now controls a huge area because of superiority in numbers and resources- they used warplanes, regularly bomb Al-Houthi followers,” said a source close to Al-Houthi on Saturday night in a telephone conversation with the Yemen Times.

Eyewitnesses confirmed to France Press that the army used tanks, armored vehicles, and artillery, as Al-Houthi's followers displayed violent resistance from their positions, sniping and targeting government troops with heavier weapons such as machine guns and missile launchers.
The army went on the offensive after the failure of mediations. Previously President Saleh had ordered, on July 27, a committee to be formed consisting of 26 leading figures including opposition party leaders, ministers, parliamentarians and clerics.
The mediation yielded no results. The committee returned to Sana'a having two opinions, one of them disapproved the army's breaching the truce suggested by the committee whilst others approved of a military assault backed by high ranking army officials.
The committee, after returning from Sa'ada had held a meeting with the president, in which he asked them to sign a statement that approved of a military solution to the problem. But the majority of the committee members refused to sign the way the President wanted. The committee has been holding meetings till the writing this article and is expected to issue a statement, which has been delayed due to the majority of the committee members abstaining from Saturday's meeting.
The supporters of Al-Houthi had been increasing in number, reaching recently 3000 men in comparison to 15000 government troops. Bloody clashes had started on June 18 and were continuing upto the writing of this article, claiming the lives of over a thousand civilans and troops, while the number of the wounded is much more. Losses in property and homes have not been estimated yet.
Hussein Badr Al-Din Al-Houthi, a former member of Parliament, follows the Ja'afari school of religion, and is leader of a Shiite group named the “Believing Youth”, which similarly cherishes the Ja'afari school so popular in Iran. The group was established in 1997 with the support of the government to block the Wahabi school in Saudi Arabia to influence the northern part of Yemen, basically inhabited by Zaidis and Ismailis. Many Shiite schools were established along the Yemeni Saudi borders. The Yemeni government recently turned on Al-Houthi, accusing him of proclaiming himself as a Commander of Believers (ruler), calling for restoring the Imamate and threatening the wider peace.
Al-Houthi denies this. He told the BBC in an interview from his stronghold in the Mran area that the state's allegations are “groundless.” “I call for reciting the holy Koran, disseminating it among people, and hating America and Israel,” stated he.
He said the dispute with the government is political in nature and could have been solved through peaceful negotiations and not through military might and acts of killing and destruction.