In response to Al-Houthi sources allegations on Saudi fighters raidsSaudi Arabia refutes claims of involvement [Archives:2004/757/Front Page]

July 22 2004

By Yemen Times Staff

In a statement to Yemen Times Tuesday, a Saudi diplomatic source at the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Sana'a categorically denied any involvement of his country in the ongoing events in the governorate of Saada near the Yemeni-Saudi borders, between Sheik Al-Houthi and the Yemeni government forces. The source also described as groundless the allegations that Saudi warplanes bombarded Yemeni villages in the area of Mran and areas nearby to it.
The Saudi diplomat said that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would not accept interference in others' internal affairs, adding that was one of the pillars of the Saudi foreign policy and said, ” We wish that peace and stability would prevail in Yemen.”
A source close to Sheik Al-Houthi had earlier claimed that two Saudi air force planes had on Monday 19 July bombarded the villages and mountains of Mran, alleging that the Saudi flag painted on the attacking planes was clearly seen.
According to the Houthi source, the joint Yemeni-Saudi bombings of “Melha” village on Monday afternoon had caused the destruction of 80 homes over the heads of their inhabitants. And at Mran Mountains and Plateaus, 95 homes were leveled down over mostly children and women and three mosques were shelled during noon's prayers, resulting in the death or wounding of 20 worshipers. The source added that because the bombings were very indiscriminate, the citizens in the area were not able to reach a more precise count in the destruction and the number of the killed or wounded citizens.
The source concluded his statement that Al-Houthi followers were able to regain control of “Al-Thabit” area and that the number of causalities on both sides were very high.
Other political sources stated that Sheikh Al-Houthi receives large financial support from Shiites in United Arab Emirates and Kuwait and that an Arab prince is implicated in offering intelligence information, military and logistic support to Al-Houthi followers through some influential Yemenis.
Yemeni forces killed around 90 armed supporters of the rebel Muslim cleric in north Yemen last weekend, military sources said. The recent clashes brought the official death toll up to around 300 as fighting between government soldiers and followers of Hussein Al-Houthi has lasted for a little over a month.
“Almost 90 supporters of Houthi have been killed in violent battles with army forces over the past three days,” said a military source last Sunday.
” Dozens were killed and wounded among the armed forces, who, since Thursday have launched an offensive to take control of the last hideouts of Houthi, whose supporters continue to put up a tough resistance.”
President Ali Abdullah Saleh declared that Yemeni forces will stay the course until the militant group is defeated.
” We will never give up, whatever our sacrifices were,” Saleh accused “foreign intelligence” of backing Al-Houthi while addressing veterans of Majlisul Shaab Al-Taaseesi, the body that elected him to power in 1978. during the 26th anniversary of his presidency.
” What is happening in a patch between 3-4 kilometers in Saada is but a collaboration, and not incited by sectarian thought,” said Saleh. “It is the work of foreign intelligence.”
The president did not identify which foreign intelligence, but added that ” the signs have started to become clear and they will be made public.”
France Press quoted military sources on Sunday July 18 as saying that Al-Houthi was hiding behind his last protected areas and that the armed forces had tightened their grip around the valley he and his followers were bunkering inside.
Regarding mediation to contain the situation, sources stated that an Arab leader had offered to host Al-Houthi, but the Yemeni authority said that it was too late. As well, tribal dignitaries and politicians had tried to mediate to settle the crisis peacefully and the Yemeni authority preferred to militarily end it.
Al-Houthi, in an interview with BBC, accused President Saleh of lying and that President Saleh receives orders from the United States of America to demolish whomever is an enemy against Israel and US policy in the region. Al-Houthi said that President Saleh was using force instead of dialogue to settle a dispute that was mainly a political one.
Some are expressing concern over the climbing number of casualties and how long the struggle would last. ” Yemenis did not expect clashes to escalate as far as they did,” said a Yemeni political analyst.
“They also feel that peaceful methods before resorting to the use of force should have been utilized.”
Amnesty International asked the Yemeni government last week to investigate the possible killing of civilians caught up in clashes. In a letter to the Minister of Interior, the organization states that innocent Yemenis are said to have been killed resulting from heavy artillery fire and missile attacks.