President seeks national figures intervention [Archives:2004/759/Front Page]

August 29 2004

Mohammed bin Sallam
President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Tuesday July 27, discussed with JMP leaderships and a number of influential national figures on the Yemeni arena, all possible ways and means that would lead to stop bleeding of blood of Yemeni brethren, resulting from a more-than a month old ongoing armed confrontation between state's armed forces and Sheikh Hussein Badradin Al-Houthi and his followers, entrenched in Mran-Haydan mountains in the governorate of Sa'adah.
During the meeting chaired by the President, it had been decided to set up a 25-member committee chosen from political parties and organizations, chiefs of tribes, leading clerics, the Shura Council and independent personalities to study the situation and form a vision leading to solve the problem and also to exert mediation to convince Al-Houthi to surrender himself.
President Saleh had earlier given his orders on halting hostilities against Sheikh Al-Houthi and his followers in a prelude to facilitate the task of the mediation committee.
But reports mention that fighting between the two sides did not stop completely but rather was more pitched and Al-Houthi supporters are increasing in number.
Reliable sources reported that the government forces were advancing towards the last stronghold of Al-Houthi. The sources also refuted state-run newspapers reports, describing them as groundless, and that the battles claimed hundreds of lives on both parties in addition to large numbers of wounded during the past forty days of fighting.
Government's forces, supported by fighter tribesmen from tribes of Hajour Al-Sham, Uthar, and Usaimat, have so far failed to decide the battle in their favor and scored triumph on Al-Houthi and his followers. The main reason is that they are entrenched in mountainous caves, difficult to be swept over or bombed by warplanes and missiles.
Along with the increasing calls demanding the cessation of military operations, reliable sources in Sa'adah confirmed the return of the mediation committee that had been entrusted with negotiating with Al-Houthi to Sana'a.
The sources said the committee, comprised of a number of sheikhs and members of Parliament and Shura Council, was unable to reach Al-Houthi's stronghold because of intensive fighting by the two parties, and refusal of the temporary ceasefire so that the committee could be able to carry out its mediation task.
On his part, sheikh Al-Houthi has said a group of conditions before surrendering himself to the government, such as:
The recognition by authorities of his right as a citizen to express his opinion and chant slogans condemning America and Israel.
Withdrawal of the government forces from the region.
Giving guarantees that his supporters and all citizens should be safe from any military attack against their areas after surrendering himself, and
The release of all detainees who are considered to be his supporters.
In a statement to Yemen Times, Member of Parliament Yahya Badradin Al-Houthi, brother of Sheikh Hussein Al-Houthi, said that, 'There were among military commands some who would not intend to stop fighting and bloodshed between the Yemenis, because that would contradict their own interests.'
He added: 'for that reason, they worked for raging the bloody confrontation and did not abide by President Saleh's orders.'
In response to a question about possible way out of this crisis, Mr. Yahya Al-Houthi said, 'If there are good mediators to intervene and if there is a good will harbored by the state, the crisis would be solved, and there are mediators would be able to work out solutions for this crisis.'
Mr. Al-Houthi also said, 'Nowadays, I and my family are exposed to continuous harassment and threats by some gunmen putting on civilian dress, but I am protecting myself in my house in Sana'a with the help of my tribe and family to prevent any attempt of aggression against me.'