Parliament advocates action against Houthis [Archives:2007/1023/Front Page]
Mohammed Bin Sallam
SANA'A, Feb. 11 – Informed sources say military forces have been attacking all Sa'ada governorate villages and areas where Al-Houthi followers exist, using heavy weapons including guns, warplanes and helicopters.
The same sources revealed that Sa'ada was prepared as an operations scene a week ago and witnessed fierce clashes Friday, causing villagers to flee to nearby mountains.
Security authorities isolated the governorate from the outside world by ordering mobile phone companies to switch off all lines between the governorate and other Yemeni areas. Thus, Sa'ada was isolated from the outside world, except for some Thuria mobile phones owned by influential and rich tribesmen. The government also prevented media outlets from entering the governorate.
The Yemeni government hasn't reported any casualties; however, in a letter sent to the Yemen Times today via email, Member of Parliament Yahya Al-Houthi – brother of rebel Abdulmalik Al-Houthi – declared, “War is aflame on many fronts in Sa'ada, where more than 120 military men have been killed and taken to hospital morgues.”
Yahya Al-Houthi, who now lives in Germany, didn't speak about the losses among his followers, only saying they were unable to admit their followers to Sa'ada government hospitals.
In his letter, Yahya Al-Houthi called on the authority to abide by agreements reached via the mediation committee and respect those voices calling for ending the war and violations against Sa'ada citizens, including the elderly, women and children.
He also requested the Islamic Conference Organization, the Arab League, the European Union, donor and neighboring countries intervene to seek a just solution. He further warned authorities about violations against humanity, declaring that those responsible – whether nations or individuals – will be held accountable.
In related news, Parliament held a closed meeting Saturday to discuss developments in Sa'ada. However, Speaker of Parliament Sheikh Abdullah Al-Ahmar didn't chair the meeting because he was headed to Saudi Arabia under presidential mandate by Ali Abdullah Saleh. The session witnessed disparity among MPs regarding evaluating the clashes and government performance there.
Some MPs strongly criticized the government for resorting to war and using force to deal with the crisis, while others supported the government policy, considering it necessary to maintain national unity.
According to media sources, a majority consisting of the General People's Congress and the Islah Party won the debate by voting to continue the measures against Houthis and recommending the government abide by law and the constitution.
During the meeting, National Security Apparatus Chairman Ali Al-Anisi presented a government report recounting the Sa'ada events during the past three years and renewing official accusations against Houthis.
Some MPs accused the government of supporting Houthis prior to the first round of fighting in the mountains of Maran, which was led by Hussein Al-Houthi, founder of the Faithful Youth Organization in June 2004, and ended with his killing in September of that same year.
They further called upon Al-Houthi followers to commit to political and peaceful work within the framework of the Yemeni Constitution and effective laws, affirming that the government also should act according to the same.
Considering it a basis for sectarian sedition, MPs criticized the report Zaidi scholars presented to President Saleh in the mediation committee, further assuring that Yemen is a unified nation wherein no sectarianism or religious differences exist.
Moreover, the mediation committee asked President Saleh for more time and pointed out violations some officials committed against Houthis who descended from the mountains or those released from government prisons.
Al-Anisi previously reported the total number of military men killed in Sa'ada is 727 and 5,294 injured, with $600 million in material losses; however, some media sources estimate the number of those killed to be 750 and 6,000 others injured.
Sources mentioned that some MPs spoke of involvement by Libya and Iran in the Sa'ada events, stressing the importance of treating the matter via diplomatic means.
Aleshteraki.net reported there was a meeting involving high-ranking military officials to discuss Abdulmalik Al-Houthi's offer submitted to President Saleh regarding forming a political party and applying the general amnesty resolution.
The same source revealed that these officials, who are very close to President Saleh, blatantly rejected formation of a political party by Al-Houthi followers, as well as securing their descent from the mountains and guaranteeing their personal security as Yemeni citizens.
In a letter to President Saleh last Wednesday, of which the Yemen Times received a copy, Abdulmalik Al-Houthi declared his consent to Saleh's demands in return for applying the amnesty resolution.
“We are ready to descend from the mountains and return home, provided all things hampering our return are removed. We request your directive to provide us stability and security just as other Yemeni citizens,” Abdulmalik Al-Houthi stated.
However, the meeting that included senior officials and took place a day before the Supreme Defense Council meeting refused what was included in Abdulmalik Al-Houthi's letter, insisting that the war should continue until what's described as a “tumor” is completely removed.
Al-Houthi followers' response to this decision is, “We won't accept any solution that doesn't maintain our rights. We'll fight to the death in defense of soul and dignity!”
Sultan Al-Saama'i, an MP and member of the Yemeni Socialist Party's Political Office, said the decision Parliament reached Saturday regarding the Sa'ada events is dangerous and grants authorities and the army a green light to wage a war with a wider scope against Al-Houthi followers and Sa'ada citizens.
In a statement to Aleshteraki.net, Al-Saama'i indicated that Saturday's decision doesn't reflect the viewpoint of the YSP parliamentary bloc or other blocs, particularly after Parliament's presidency board didn't allow these blocs to express themselves or their attitudes.
“Most of those who voted for the decision are MPs affiliated with the ruling General People's Congress. I know many of them oppose the war-related decision presented to Parliament in order to receive fraudulent legitimacy,” Al-Saama'i said.
He holds those who voted for the decision responsible for the killings and war crimes occurring in Sa'ada because they gave the army the green light to wage a wider ranging war. “Only those people will be held accountable for any blood shed in the restive governorate because they voted for such a dangerous decision,” Al-Saama'i went on to say.
Regarding the stances of parliamentary opposition, Al-Saama'i said, “Since the very beginning, we requested dialogue and most of us wrote our names on the speakers' list, but the session chairman rejected the offer. He presented a list with a particular number of MPs to give talks in a way gratifying the government. Because only a limited number of MPs were allowed to speak, it was clear that they don't back the government's proposals.”
According to Al-Saama'i, “The session chairmanship knew we'd oppose the decision concerning launching a war with a wider scope in Sa'ada. The YSP has a clear attitude toward the Sa'ada events. The party rejects the war and claims making the Sa'ada events a national issue to be tackled by dialogue between the fighting parties.”
He questioned, “What kind of Parliament is this? What kind of decision is this? How can one imagine representatives of the people voting to wage war against civilians?
“I know there are Parliaments that vote for war against foreign forces and form committees to investigate the issue before making an ultimate decision on a local issue,” Al-Saama'i stated.
“In Yemen, the authorities have engaged in this war for three years, but today they tell us to approve the war and what's been happening. This example is the first of its kind in the history of world parliaments,” he observed.
Concluding his statements, Al-Saama'i urged MPs, the press and civil community organizations to denounce the war and insist on ending the bloodshed via all peaceful means so as not to regret the consequences. According to him, launching war against Sa'ada locals only breeds more fighting and claims the lives of military and security forces.
Yemeni authorities claim that Interpol extradited MP Yahya Badraddin Al-Houthi, who currently resides abroad, to learn about his brother Hussein's followers.
“Yemen handed Interpol an official memorandum claiming the extradition of Al-Houthi, who is living in Germany, after recently being granted political asylum,” 26September.net quoted a senior Yemeni government official as saying.