Houthis resort to guerrilla warfare in Bani Hushaish and Sa’ada areas [Archives:2008/1162/Front Page]

May 9 2008

Mohammed Bin Sallam
SANA'A, June 8 ) Houthi supporters have resorted to guerrilla warfare tactics in their fight with Yemeni military and security forces in Bani Hushaish district east of Sana'a and in various Sa'ada areas, reliable sources from Sa'ada said Sunday, adding that Sa'ada city is experiencing relative calm, with the exception of sporadic clashes employing light weaponry between Houthis and Yemeni army troops.

The same sources continued, “There's ongoing fighting between the army and Houthis in Al-Mahadher, Haidan, Ja'amala and Al-Abqour areas, far from the provincial capital,” pointing out that army personnel withdrew from their positions due to a Houthi lockdown while fighter jets continued striking Houthi strongholds in several areas.

They note that other battles are occurring on strategic Um Laila Mountain, which Houthis are seizing, as well as in Mirran district, while Houthi loyalists attempt to take control of a highway leading to Haradh city on the Saudi border.

The sources report that Houthis continue besieging a military position in Lahman after taking over Al-Fajam Mountain overlooking Saqain area, which, according to the sources, Houthis have cut off from nearby areas. Additionally, Houthis raided homes in Mahdha area where Yemeni army personnel were entrenched, thereby driving them from these homes.

Bloody clashes have continued in Amran governorate's Harf Sifyan district for three weeks. According to witnesses from the district, Yemeni army forces hit with mines those homes belonging to Houthi gunmen who've been fighting with the army in Beit Qaood and Beit Jamina areas.

Clashes have expanded to Dhi Bain area, the home village of Amran Governor Kahlan Mujahid Abu Shawarib, as well as Rukya and Rour areas, which are affiliated with the Hashid tribe. The Yemeni Times was unable to obtain the exact number of casualties from fighting in these areas due to a government-imposed information blackout.

In Bani Hushaish district, locals say clashes between Yemeni army brigades and area tribesmen are occurring, adding that the tribesmen, who are loyal to Abdulmalik Al-Houthi, are using guerrilla warfare tactics in their fight against the army. Houthi loyalists admitted last week that the Yemeni army now has control of the strategic Al-Jamim Mountain, which Houthis previously controlled.

Heightened security

Sana'a city and other governorates have been experiencing heightened security measures since confrontations between the Yemeni army and Houthis have intensified and terrorist operations targeted foreign residential compounds and vital installations in Sana'a.

Police are searching vehicles and their occupants at road intersections, as well as at the entrances and exits to Sana'a in an unprecedented manner.

Some police searching these vehicles are being joined by political security personnel. The heightened security measures are intended to prevent the entry of weapons into the capital.

Police also are checking the identity cards of road users amid fears of escalating fighting between the army and Houthis, who have threatened to expand the scope of their armed operations against the government.

Security authorities claim that they are searching for 70 wanted individuals, circulating their names and photos to various security checkpoints in all Yemeni governorates, telecommunications centers and internet cafes, where individuals can't make calls or use the internet unless they show their identity cards for their whereabouts to be noted.

Houthi's parliamentary immunity rescinded

The Yemeni Parliament has approved a decree rescinding the immunity granted to Member of Parliament Yahya Badraddin Al-Houthi, who has been residing in Germany since early 2005. The government accuses the MP, who is the brother of Houthi field leader Abdulmalik Al-Houthi, of leading and inspiring the fighting in Sa'ada area, which has raged since June 2004.

This is the second time Parliament has voted to rescind the ruling party member's immunity, as the Qatari-brokered mediation late last year between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels canceled a previous parliamentary decree issued in early 2007 that rescinded Al-Houthi's immunity.

This most recent decision came after Yemen's minister of justice submitted a letter to Parliament asking to rescind the MP's immunity, accusing him of participating in forming an armed gang, spurring armed disobedience and inciting noncompliance to the law.

For his part, Yahya Al-Houthi describes the Joint Meeting Parties' position toward the nation's turmoil as both “national and honest.” He says to the opposition coalition, “Because you favor national interests, you've refused to back the authority against us and you've refused to join the government-initiated dialogue, which is expected to be an exchange of accusations and nothing more.”

He continued, “We support your position and we want to join you in peaceful struggle to persuade the regime to cancel its military dictatorship and acknowledge a peaceful transfer of power via free and fair elections.”