President Saleh orders hostilities cessation [Archives:2004/758/Front Page]

July 26 2004

Mohammed bin Sallam
President Ali Abdullah Saleh, last Wednesday 21st July, gave orders to cease military operations against Sheik Hussain Badruddin Al Houthi and his followers in Haidan district of Saadah Governorate, North of Yemen.
Those orders came after bloody confrontation between the army, the security and Sheik Al Houthi and his more two-thousand strong followers, calling themselves the “Believing Youth”. Hostilities have so far continued for (34) days. Following of what is said of mediation carried out by a number of leading religious men including Sheik Mohammed Mohammed Al -Mansoor, one of the leading clerics of Zaidi sect. in Yemen.
Government sources said that “military operations were ceased since midnight of last Wednesday to give chance for the mediators to go to Sheik Al-Houthi to convince him to surrender himself to Major General Mohammed Al-Qassemi, Chief of staff who is to be entrusted with providing protection to Al-Houthi and accompany him to the Capital Sana'a and then to stand trial”.
While official sources attributed the president's decision to authorities intention to avoid more bloodshed, political sources viewed that the step came as a result of casualties and material losses, expected to increase had the hostilities continued with Al-Houthi and his insurgents who during the past days proved to be stronger than what was expected and that the number of his men had increased.
Until it reached to approximately 2000, most of them have come from various Yemeni districts, a matter made security authorities close inlets to Saadah Governorate.
On the other hand, a close source to Sheik Al-Houthi denied on Saturday reliability of the news about the cease-fire. The source told Yemen Times that ” military attack was going on against Al-Houthi and his followers in Al – Sayfi, Al Shafeah, Nushoor and al-Hamzat districts of Haidan-Mran district. On news of sending mediators to sheik al-Houthi , the source said ” All the Sheiks who arrived in Saadah were hosted by Major General Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmer. They are the followers of the authority and are not mediators, they are not expected to meet Sheik Al-Houthi because there are some parties working for giving priority to military settlement rather than any peaceful agreement”. The source added, ” Sheik Al-Houthi has shown his willingness for peaceful settlement in an interview to the BBC, and in a letter he had sent to the president of the republic last month, offering to meet him and discuss the whole issue with him, regarding the issues of dispute were ideological and that he had not refused previous mediations, describing them as mainly messengers for fact-finding and gathering information”.
Some sources had earlier mentioned that a mediation by an Arab leader to host Sheik Al-Houthi in his country in return for ending the crisis but the offer was rejected by Yemeni authorities. The same sources claim that it is probable that the offer has been renewed and that some parties in the authority might be of the opinion of accepting the offer, despite rejection of other parties.
On the other hand, Amnesty International expressed concern over Saada events. On 22nd July 2004 a letter from the German office of Amnesty International was addressed to Dr. Abdu Bakr Abdullah Al-Qurbi, Yemen's minister of foreign affairs, on the military events in Saada, expressing concern over civilian killings resulting from the confrontations there.