Hilal dismissed from heading reconstruction committeeHouthis fear possibility of new setback [Archives:2008/1188/Local News]

September 8 2008

Mohammed Bin Sallam
SANA'A, Sept. 7 ) Tribal sources in Sa'ada said that the security situation is relatively better in the governorate, but that tension and fears have returned after Abdul Qader Hilal, Minister of Local Administration, was dismissed from heading the reconstruction committee, particularly given that some centers of power attempted to obstruct the ceasefire agreement between the Yemeni army and Houthis.

“The involved centers of power, which receive support from neighboring countries, are recruiting thousands of youths from the Bakil and Hashid tribes in order to prepare for a sixth war,” said the source.

Official sources revealed last week that the president Ali Abdullah Saleh authorized Omar Al-Kurshimi, Minister of Labor, to head the reconstruction committee in Sa'ada instead of Abdul Qader Hilal.

According to online website Newsyemen.net, official sources justified the president's decision saying there is a need to transfer the reconstruction committee from the security and political level to the technical level, which is part of the Ministry of Labor's work

A number of prominent Sa'ada sheikhs showed their apprehensions concerning “dealing with the Sa'ada file as a technical issue,” pointing out that the war-torn governorate is in need of security and political efforts to support peace. They confirmed that Abdul Qadir Hilal was the qualified person to complete this task if the government were actually seeking means to ultimately close the file of war.

Sheikhs and other fundamental bodies in the governorate exerted pressure on the government to dismiss Hilal from his position in Sa'ada as he allegedly doesn't deal with Houthis strictly. The president responded to these pressures out of his belief that the dismissal would be on behalf of pacifists against those who advocate war inside the government.

In cooperation with the local mediation committee, Hilal was able to achieve peace and security in all the districts of Sa'ada including Haidan and Dhahian. His performance didn't appeal to war advocates who had been lobbying against him ever since the beginning of his nomination as head of the reconstruction committee.

This past month, press reports revealed that Hilal submitted a report to the president in which he clarified the situation in Sa'ada after the war. In the report, he demanded that the government take several urgent measures, the most important of which were ending the state of emergency in Sa'ada city, restoring electricity and telephone services, and releasing detainees. The report said that this would enhance confidence in Sa'ada citizens and ensures the closure of the final Sa'ada war file.

As for the detainees of the Sa'ada war, the newspaper 26 September reported last Thursday that, based on the president's directives, a group of detainees would be released during the upcoming few days. The newspaper's online website had reported last week that there were directives to release 132 detainees including Fadhl Al-Houthi, and scholar Mohammed Muftah who hasn't been released yet.

Human rights activists said that releasing detainees is a good step by the government.

The directives to release detainees followed a series of sit-ins, carried out during the past months by the families of the detainees to protest against the detention of their relatives. Protestors met Abdul Qader Hilal who promised to work on the detainees' release as one of the outstanding factors contributing to closing the Sa'ada war file. Sources said that, after the detainees' relatives met Hilal, he confirmed that the detainees included in the list of names he was given would be released, along with other detainees.

Over 1,200 people who were arrested during the last Sa'ada war are still detained in prisons without charges. Some of them have been subjected to torture.

Media outlets reported that General Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar went to Libya as an envoy of President Saleh, as part of his visit to a number of Arab countries to ask for help in reconstructing the war-torn governorate of Sa'ada.