Houthis seize four Sa’ada districts [Archives:2007/1045/Front Page]

April 26 2007

By: Mohammed bin Sallam
SA'ADA, April 25 ) Yemeni army forces have intensified their all-encompassing operations in most Sa'ada districts using fighters and helicopters to initially bombard targeted areas, in addition to Katyusha missiles, together with heavy and Hawn mortars.

Tribal sources reveal that such army offensives have included Sudan, Beit Al-Qabaili, Ghalfan, Al-Qahrah, Al-Al'al, Harf Ja'fer, Sha'eb Sudan and Al-Madhloum villages in Sahar district's Bani Mu'ath area, further extending to Dammaj area, as well as Al-Hanajer and Brash Mountains south of Sa'ada.

Clashes are ongoing in Al-Qal'ah city, the capital of Razih district, which Houthis seized many days ago. They also stretch to other areas within the district, the second largest in Sa'ada governorate with numerous fortified sites.

The same tribal source added, “Houthis managed to completely control four Sa'ada districts at the outset of this week.”

Over the past two weeks, armed forces leaders have amassed approximately 70,000 soldiers, with the participation of forces from Central Security, Al-'Amaliqah Brigade and parachute units, to launch a conclusive battle against Houthis. In fact, the battle already has been launched in some districts.

Sources also indicate that Yemeni army forces have halted their military operations in areas of Magz district, likewise stopping operations in some parts of Baqem district, allegedly seized by Houthis.

Such measures were taken after the army learned that Houthis have scouts in various areas of Bani Mu'ath, gathering information about army movements and being in contact with each other on one hand and with Houthis on the other.

In related news, Dhahian city, located some 8 km. north of Sa'ada, witnessed intensified air raids, together with several other areas in the district, which shares the same name, including Al-Saifi and Bani Urig, thus compelling locals to evacuate their homes for nearby areas in Al-Khamis and Al-Mujawar areas, according to media sources.

Earlier, military leaders ordered their soldiers to vacate areas of Dhahian in order to enable fighters to bombard those areas.

Sources mention that new Sa'ada Governor Mutahar Rashad Al-Misri has dictated transferring all Sa'ada war prisoners to other governorate prisons, as well as detaining all of those who come to ask about such prisoners. He also prevented transporting gas cylinders to Dhahian, lest Houthis use them in the war; however, the source didn't specify how such cylinders could be used in war.

Similarly, Al-Misri ordered halting aid from those areas accused of accommodating Houthis, which action is considered as collective punishment and banned by international law.

A media source confirmed that most security and military leaders in Sa'ada will change in the coming days, adding that leaders of military units have received higher directives demanding they end the Sa'ada crisis before the May 22 Yemeni Reunification Day.

Some observers believe the war's expansion aims to be finished before President Ali Abdullah Saleh's visit to the United States next month.

In related developments, the families of military victims in the Sa'ada conflict have asked the Red Cross organization to transfer the bodies of their sons from a location they've been unable to access.

Residents of Taiz's Sabr and Al-Misrakh areas point out that for more than a week, they've been attempting to reach their sons' bodies, but in vain due to the prolonged fighting. However, a Red Cross source assures that they too are unable to reach such areas.

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In an article published by Al-Sharq Al-Awsat last Monday, political thinker Ahmed Al-Rub'i alleged that no one is satisfied with the justification that what's occurring in Sa'ada is nothing more than a Houthi-led insurrection.

“An insurrection lasts days or weeks, but what we're seeing is a real war that's continued for two years and reaped thousands of lives belonging to both warring parties,” Al-Rub'i noted.

He went on to say that the Yemeni government has offered only vague indications and reports about the Sa'ada events, at one time saying Houthis aim to restore Imamate rule to Yemen and at others, saying they're rebels led by elements from Iranian intelligence. It alleges that they are advocating Shi'ite ideas imported from Iran, while claiming at another time that Libya is playing an important role via one of Badraddin Al-Houthi's sons who is living there.

“There are many questions in need of an answer. Those afraid for Yemen should ask about the reality of the two-year war and the difficulty of achieving victory by the central state in Sana'a and the large experienced army. People have the right to know the real reasons for this insurrection and the nature of regional relations with Houthis, as well as the ideology they advocate and for which they sacrifice their lives, as well as the source of the modern arms and money they receive,” Al-Rub'i wrote.

Concluding his article, Al-Rub'i pointed out that what's more dangerous about the Sa'ada war is its vagueness and the silence about the real reasons for it. “The matter is given over to oversimplification and no one knows what's going on.

“Those worried about Yemen's future and that of the Yemeni people should know the full truth, as the continuous government claim about a family's insurrection doesn't stand for long, especially in front of such a huge number of victims and the war's costly bill,” Al-Rub'i lamented.