Qatar gives one-week time limit for implementing cease-fire agreementOptimism about ending Sa’ada war [Archives:2007/1074/Front Page]

August 6 2007

Mohammed Bin Salam
SA'ADA, August 5 ) The spokesman of the presidential committee supervising implementation of the Sa'ada agreement, Yasir Al-Awadhi stated, “The committee is waiting for the fighting parties in Sa'ada to present projects of its timetable programs to implement the rest of the agreement. The committee will choose the best projects presented by the local authority, military leadership and Abdulmalik Al-Houthi in Sa'ada,” denying that the presidential committee had failed in containing the situation as well as applying the agreement.

In a statement to Al-Sayasiyah official newspaper, Al-Awadhi stated, “Most of the agreement's articles have been implemented. The committee supervised the delivery of 60 percent of the military sites controlled by Al-Houthi's groups,” confirming, at the same time, the withdrawal of troops from households and farms, saying, “The committee supervised handing them over to the citizens.”

Quds Press Agency revealed that the signed agreement stipulated the withdrawal of Houthis from all the sites (mountains and fronts) occupied during confrontations to be replaced by government forces after 48 hours from the withdrawal. The troops also are to withdraw from villages and residential areas to which Houthis can return after 24 hours from the withdrawal.

However, the second article of the agreement, according to the agency, includes the departure of a number of Houthi leaders listed in the agreement namely, Abdulmalik Al-Houthi and Abdullah Al-Razami. They are to depart from Sa'ada to Qatar via Al-Dhahran, Saudi airport.

The agency also pointed out that “this item, according to special information, is still facing obstacles due to the Saudi obstinacy regarding unwillingness to allow the plane to pass Al-Dhahran airport, while Houthis refuse to depart to Al-Dawha via Sana'a airport.”

One source revealed that the Qatari delegation refused to return to Sa'ada unless the troops abide by the agreement's items, hurrying the withdrawal of villages, farms and households owned by Houthi loyalists. The Qataris specified one week to carry out these terms, otherwise they will depart from Sana'a to Al-Dawha.

The source also stated, “The issue is now in hands of the president, the supreme commander of the armed forces. He is the only one who can direct firm commands to the army leaders to fulfill the demands of the mediation committee, and to hold sites away from villages and countrysides, in order to avoid friction between the Houthis and army elements, as well as to withdraw tribal groups supporting the system from the governorate to their areas.”, the official army media organ, stated, “The presidential committee assigned to supervise implementation of the ending war agreement in Sa'ada governorate had finished its meeting on Saturday. The meeting aimed to discuss the mechanisms related to finalizing the implementation of the agreement's items.”

In a joint release of the spokesman of the committee, Yasir Al-Awadhi, and the representative of the parliamentary bloc of Islah party (one of the opposing parties in Yemen) on the committee, Abdulrazaq Al-Hajri, both parties affirmed that the committee is negotiating the timetable related to finalizing the agreement's items, stipulating evacuation of Houthi followers from sites still under their control and handing over their weapons to government authorities. The two members of the committee confirmed that there is consensus among all members of the committee concerning issues related to supervising the implementation of the agreement.

Similarly, local media sources indicated, “President Saleh received last Friday the members of the presidential committee supervising the end of Sa'ada war. During the meeting they discussed the committee activities, telling the president about the obstacles that hinder its work.”

The president encouraged the committee members to exert more efforts, advising them to be patient and large-hearted, the sources added.

A well-informed source also revealed, “On Thursday evening, the supervising committee met the Qatari delegation arriving to Sana'a in the morning. The meeting was dedicated to discuss the committee works in the upcoming period. The source listened to the Qatari conditions and their recommendations. They agreed to put a schedule including a work plan for the days to come.”

Local sources in Sa'da governorate stated that the major general, Hussein Mohammed Arab, former minister of interior, who was a member of the committee in the past and is now the chairman of the committee, could convince Abdulmalik Al-Houthi to sit with committee members directly instead of communicating through tribal sheiks. Arab has been communicating with Abdulmalik since his arrival to Sa'ada.

Another source pointed out that the main reason that Al-Houthi sat with members of the committee was related to the departure of the Qatari delegation from Yemen. This made Houthi loyalists along with high-ranking government officials afraid that Qatar would stop its efforts in reconciliation. This fear was exacerbated after reports of Qatari delegation members who left Sa'ada being frustrated because of difficulties and obstacles standing against the supervising committee.

The same sources declared, “The most important subjects being discussed by committee members and Abdulmalik Al-Houthi along with some tribal sheiks were related to the issue of the existence of the army soldiers as well as their forces inside some areas in Bani Mu'ath, Al-Talh, Dhahyan and other areas. The Houthi loyalists demand the departure of the army forces and their supporting tribes from the citizens' areas so they can go back to their houses.”

The Qatari committee returned to Sana'a last Thursday after being recalled by the Qatari government due to obstacles faced from Houthi followers in implementing the agreement.