Houthis block Sana’a-Sa’ada Highway, clashes resume in many areas [Archives:2008/1154/Front Page]

May 12 2008

Mohammed Bin Sallam
SA'ADA, May 11 ) Houthi supporters blocked the Sana'a-Sa'ada Highway in the area of Amran governorate's Harf Sifyan district after preventing numerous military trucks filled with military supplies to be deployed to army personnel from driving toward Sa'ada, tribal sources and eyewitnesses said Saturday.

“The government tried to facilitate the movement of military vehicles via tribal mediations, but to no avail,” the same sources stated, adding that the army has attempted to unblock the highway since Saturday morning, employing various types of weaponry such as fighter jets, tanks and Katyusha missiles to accomplish the task.

“Fighter jets intensified strikes on villages near Harf Sifyan district where Houthi loyalists are believed to be entrenching,” the sources maintained.

According to other tribal sources, the commander of the 115th military division deployed in Harf Sifyan demanded citizens evacuate their homes in order for his troops to launch air strikes and land offensives in the area.

The same sources mentioned that area inhabitants appealed to Sheikh Hussein Bin Abdullah Al-Ahmar on Saturday to intervene and convince the relevant authorities not to attack the area, but Al-Ahmar told them the Yemeni army is insistent upon hitting the area, which is why citizens were coerced to evacuate the area and move to safe locations.

Houthi field leader Abdulmalik Al-Houthi released a statement on Friday, warning the authority against waging a fifth war in Sa'ada. “The authority currently is attacking several Sa'ada areas, preparing for a new war while not considering the Yemeni people's position, which rejects war against Sa'ada citizens,” he stated.

“This unjust authority is wasting public funds and resources in its military operations that are destroying citizens' property when Yemenis need this money to pay for food, medicine and other basic necessities,” Al-Houthi maintained, “The government is killing its citizens and damaging their property in order to satisfy the U.S. administration and Israel.

“We urge the authority to cease its military attacks and come to the dialogue table,” he went on to say, adding, “We hope Arab states won't contribute to what is harming the Yemeni people; rather, we want Arab states to take positions favoring peace and the Yemeni people.”

In the Monday issue of Al-Nass weekly newspaper, Al-Houthi said, “We're now stronger than we were in the past and have many supplies. Additionally, we have new internal coalitions due to achieve their fruitful results at the appropriate time. We've gained experience from past wars and have much to benefit from during a potential fight with the army.”

He added, “We're more able to engage in a ceaseless war, as well as bequeath the spirit of struggle to the next generation.” The young leader didn't rule out the possibility of a new war between his supporters and the army, saying, “Some opportunistic criminals [referring to military officials] plan to fuel the fighting in this war-torn governorate again because they benefit from such bloodshed.”

Al-Houthi further accused the authority of violating the Doha-brokered peace deal that ended a previous war between the two conflicting sides, pointing out that Term 7 of the agreement, which the government claims Houthis aren't abiding by, will be executed soon.

He indicated that the ceasefire agreement's various terms are clear, placed in a good sequence and take steps toward comprehensive peace, but the authority is not committed to implementing them.

Clashes between government troops and Houthi supporters escalated in various Sa'ada areas over the past two days, leaving many dead and injured on both sides. Meanwhile, a new presidential mediation committee has done nothing to end the destructive fighting since it arrived in Sa'ada more than 10 days ago.

According to information obtained from reliable sources, government troops attacked Al-Houthi's main stronghold in the area of Matra, firing rockets at the area on Friday. This is the first time the area has come under attack in four months since both sides signed the second ceasefire agreement in Qatar.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh decided on Wednesday to form a new executive committee made up of Alawi Al-Awadhi, Awadh Al-Wazir, Qasim Qabeidha, Mansour Al-Arjali, Ali Abdurabu Al-Awadhi and others from the National Solidarity Council and presided over by Sheikh Hussein Al-Ahmar to implement the terms of the Doha-brokered ceasefire agreement signed by both sides this past Feb. 1.

This new committee is expected to work in conjunction with the new presidential mediation committee, chaired by Member of Parliament Ali Abdullah Abu Holeiqa, in an effort to create a good climate for accomplishing joint and interrelated tasks, according to sources from both Sa'ada and Amran tribes.