Influential people seek to block the peace agreementSa’ada still tense [Archives:2007/1064/Front Page]

July 2 2007

Mohammed bin Sallam
SA'ADA, July 1 ) Apart from the exchange of mortar fire between Houthis and the army forces in Al Al-Saifi, a tribal source in Sa'ada pointed out that it is relatively calm in most of Sa'ada's districts. The exchange of fire left a soldier killed and another one wounded.

The same source added, “Houthis breached the truce when they attacked a military site located at Al-Mifrakh Mountain. In return, the army forces located somewhere close to Al-Mifrakh Moutain, waged an attack using tank shells on sites possessed by Houthis. However, the end result is still unknown.”

According to some sources the Haydan, Saqeen, Qataber and Munabeh districts still witness increased congestion of Houthi loyalists and pro-government tribes men and they exchange fire during night hours.

Razih district, captured by the army earlier, witnesses relative calm especially after Houthis withdrew from it. Further, its residents started to resume their normal life and the displaced locals are returning. Government institutions also resumed their work and a new district chief was appointed.

Media sources revealed that two soldiers were arrested by Houthis in Dhahian city last Wednesday. This happened despite the fact that Dhahian was among the areas Houthis agreed to open up for army forces according to the last peace agreement signed in Qatar.

Despite all these events, the committee in charge of implementing Sa'ada's Ceasefire Agreement is still exerting its efforts to relieve the tension and prevent the exchange of further attacks. There are some hurdles and difficulties before implementing the second article of the agreement that dictates the hand-over of medium-sized weapons by Houthis as well as securing their descending from the mountains.

The committee members and the Qatari Delegation are still continuing their efforts as they contacted Houthi leaders last Tuesday. They reached an agreement leading to the hand-over of medium-sized weapons by Houthis in the Magz district.

Sources close to the Houthis said that Houthi loyalists voiced their protest against the committee formed by President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his military leader to supervise the implementation of the Sa'ada Ceasefire Agreement. They demanded that a new committee be formed, half of which members must be from among them [Houthis].

The committee spokesman, Yasser Al-Awadhi, assured that Houthi followers started to descend the mountains and that military units replaced them at all sites.

Al-Awadhi told 26, that the Houthis deserted the areas of Magz, Baqem and Qataber districts, noting they did not hand over their arms. He added that the ceasefire is effective in all areas and only single cases of ceasefire breach have been registered. These breachings will not affect the agreement or resumption of normal, daily life in all Sa'ada districts.

According to the same source, the evacuation of Houthi sites took place in the presence of the committee members, consisting of Parliament and political party members as well as the Qatari representatives.

The committee arrived last Thursday in Al-Safra, Sahar and Kittaf districts to supervise the evacuation process and hand over these sites to the military units.

Former member of Parliament, Yahya Al-Houthi, reacted and said that Al-Awadhi in his foulness, does not want to make the peaceful process a success.

He also criticized 26 as it has not committed itself to the agreement which calls for halting media campaigns on both sides.

Houthis harshly criticized what they considered attempts by some military leaders and tribal dignitaries to foil Sa'ada's Ceasefire Agreement. He accused them of igniting the crisis and highlighted their involvement in attacking Houthi congregations and their families dwelling in displaced people's camps, especially when 18 women and children were abducted in an effort to force Houthi to surrender.

They also demanded a quick halt of all military operations and the return of military units to their positions held before the fourth Sa'ada war. They also demand all their detainees set free and compensation for all those affected, before handing over their medium-sized weapons.

The Canada-based Yemeni Center for Human Rights demanded the Qatari government to take a serious stance towards abducting 12 women, 7 children and 7 men from Otmah village in Sa'ada. They consider the incident to be a stark violation of the ceasefire agreement.

The center also accused the military leadership of performing the abduction process, asking all Human

Rights Organizations outside Yemen to pressure the Yemeni government to stop their inhuman acts.

They added that the incident took place without any firing and this proves Otmah locals are peace-loving, hinting that militias would have been unable to perform the operation in case the locals were Houthi loyalists.

Head of the Supreme Council of the Joint Meeting Parties, (the five-largest opposition parties) and the Secretary General of the Yemeni Socialist Party Yassin Sa'eed Noman, denied that the Sa'ada war is sectarian and demanded a peaceful solution within the right frame.

In his interview with the Al-Shark Al-Awsat Newspaper, Noman indicated the issue needs to be dealt with in its political, social and economic context, but not from a sectarian angle. He called on the regime to respect the law, stressing that the weight of a political system is in the weighing of its laws and this creates a fixed and strong society.

Local sources mentioned that the committee members meet every day and that they contact Houthis through mobile phones or mediating people. They further indicated that committee members insisted an attendance of Houthis. The latter however asked for a guarantee, (including some tribal Sheikhs to remain at their disposal), to ensure their safe return.