Parliament questions Sa’ada war [Archives:2007/1058/Front Page]

June 11 2007

By: Mohammed bin Sallam
With new supplies and support on the way, the battles in Sa'ada seem to be on the verge of ending. However, Parliament has announced its intention to call for an investigation of the war, especially as it has disrupted the lives of more than 40,000 Yemenis, while Houthi rebels promise more surprises.

SA'ADA, June 10 – After declaring a humanitarian disaster in Sa'ada, the Yemeni government gathered its strength and stacked more army personnel to join the ongoing battles in Sa'ada, which have raged since the beginning of this year.

In an attempt to control the rebellion, Yemeni army forces currently surround troubled areas, particularly the rough mountain areas of Razih, Ghamer and Qataber. Statements by high-level military officials express optimism that the government will be able to end the war soon.

However, local tribes in the area don't share the same optimism, reporting continuous clashes between army forces and Houthis employing guerrilla tactics while taking advantage of the very difficult terrain.

The past few days have witnessed intense exchange of fire between government forces and Houthi rebels, who still control several areas in the villages and hills surrounding Al-Gao and Al-Hisn Mountains in the northern part of the governorate.

42,000 displaced

Meanwhile, relief agencies such as the International Red Cross, Islamic Relief, the U.N. World Food Program and the Yemeni Red Crescent have rushed to aid and provide food and basic commodities to those dislocated, which are estimated to exceed 42,000.

Relief agencies still are struggling to reach displaced residents who are scattered in remote areas outside the battlegrounds or have found refuge in other people's homes.

Reports from Sa'ada convey that many locals prefer to remain in their homes despite the heated clashes because they fear being killed while “camping in the open air or traveling on the way.”

An International Red Cross spokesman explained that the future for such displaced peoples remains unclear, especially as they are increasing in numbers and are totally dependent upon aid to survive.

Anti-war campaign

Simultaneously, updates on the political front indicate an increasing tension between the government and the opposition, led by the Joint Meeting Parties. As a reaction to the war, there has been a call to create a campaign entitled, “Together against the war,” criticizing how the state has handled the conflict in Sa'ada.

Yassin Sa'eed Noman, head of the JMP's supreme council, proposed forming a committee for the anti-war campaign made up of 120 credible personalities from all political parties and affiliations. “The invitation is open until the 28th of this month to all activists and national figures known for their balanced attitudes and commitment to dialogue,” he stated.

However, Noman's idea was unappealing to at least one government source, who lashed out at the suggestion, terming it a “call for conflict and sabotaging the state's achievements.”

The same source added to the ruling party's web site that, “There's no doubt that the JMP is on the side of Houthi rebels and thrives on bloodshed and disaster.”

The “Together against the war” campaign aims to intervene to stop the Sa'ada war and come up with political solutions to the situation, especially its consequences, including compensating dislocated people and rebuilding damaged homes and infrastructure.