Optimistic about achieving peace, ceasefire committee meets with Al-Houthi [Archives:2007/1072/Front Page]

July 30 2007

Mohammed bin Sallam
SA'ADA, July 29 ) Media and tribal sources revealed that the ceasefire committee met for the first time with Houthi leader Abdulmalik Al-Houthi. The committee spokesman Yasser Al-Awadhi declined to mention the meeting location.

The meeting took place the middle of last week after a secret agreement. Committee members accompanied by 150 of their bodyguards left Sa'ada and met Al-Houthi who was unarmed.

Al-Shar'e newspaper mentioned in its Saturday issue that Houthi loyalists were distributed throughout the area surrounding the meeting place in order to prevent the occurrence of any firing incident, especially when the committee was targeted earlier in Al-Ghubair.

Moreover, Al-Houthi hosted the committee members for lunch, after which they returned to Sa'ada around 8 p.m.

Al-Awadhi revealed that the meeting was positive as both parties agreed to proceed in the peace process and work for ending the war. He further hinted there was no agreement made, however, a contact channel was opened for further meetings.

Voicing his optimism, Al-Awadhi assured his committee is keen about implementing the agreement. In return, Al-Houthi stressed his followers' commitment to the agreement.

Parliament member and Houthis spokesman abroad Yahya Al-Houthi demanded the realization of peace, freedom and equality among all Yemeni people and considered the current crisis between the state and his followers to be political.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel, Yahya Al-Houthi noted wrongfulness exercised upon Believing Youth Organization prompted its followers to raise arms against the ruling system in Sana'a.

He also called on the state to commit itself to the signed agreements between both sides as well as evacuating the military units and soldiers from Houthi villages and areas in order that people may return to their homes.

Moreover, Al-Houthi expressed the his followers' solidarity with popular demonstrations by civil society organizations in southern and eastern governorates demanding equality, peace and freedom and exposing the restriction of freedoms and wasting of resources. Demonstrators also spoke out againt the rampancy of poverty in Yemen as well as the dramatic setbacks faced by economic and social institutions.

As for the security situation in Sa'ada, Al-Houthi pointed out the situation is relatively calm in most of the district save some scrimmages in Sha'lal and Al-Jum'ah areas, hinting the army shot a ten-year-old girl there.

Regarding the background of conflict between Houthis and the state, Al-Houthi indicated the conflict is not sectarian but political, noting they [Houthis] have a political project wherein there is freedom and equality in wealth distribution.

He further stressed they want people to be equal and not to see some with utter richness while others suffer from hunger and diseases, as is the case in Al-Mahweet and Al-Dhal'e.

As for displaced people, Al-Houthi noted there are over 120,000 internally displaced people in Sa'ada. They are starving due to lack of aid supplied by the International Red Cross or other domestic charitable societies to the region.

He also hinted some high-ranking military leaders failed to evacuate farms and citizens' houses, especially in Al Amar, in an effort to ignite war once again.

Media sources revealed the resumption of the official address that attacked Houthis following the withdrawal of the Qatari delegation and the referral of some suspects to the judiciary were among the reasons that hindered the implementation of the ceasefire agreement.

Sources close to decision-making circles hint the withdrawal of the Qatari delegation aims to ease Saudi anger over the role being played by Qatar in Yemen, presenting themselves as doing something that others have not done.

The same sources added that President Saleh, in person, will supervise forthcoming negotiations in implementing other pending articles in order to give an impression the matter is a national affair.

Sources also pointed out, regardless of any interpretation of the Qatari delegation withdrawal, the state will not allow failure of the Sa'ada peace effort and will prevent any potential war to erupt in Sa'ada or any other governorate.

According to media sources, conflict between Houthis and pro-government tribal fighters is prevalent in Dhuaib area and the nearby mountains and intermittent clashes take place between both sides.

Furthermore, Houthis are digging trenches in mountains facing Al-Safra district's Al-Brash and Al-Mudawar areas and eyewitnesses noted Houthis were seen using digging machines for this purpose.

Sources also mentioned that a military vehicle struck a mine and the incident caused the death of six army personnel, including two officers and four others injured. The vehicle was completely destroyed.

The sources noted Houthi loyalists are involved with the incident, however, details have yet to be released.