Sa’ada confrontations expand Saleh rejects Houthi negotiations [Archives:2007/1033/Front Page]

March 15 2007

By: Yemen Times Staff
SA'ADA, March 14 ) Informed tribal sources mention that the Yemeni army continues attacking Houthi areas in Sa'ada with mortars and Katyusha missiles, but without any direct offensives in order to avoid further losses among military personnel.

Instead, authorities are using civilians mobilized from the Hashed tribe and other areas to back the Yemeni army in their war against Houthis, who belong to the Bakil, Yemen's second largest tribe. revealed last Sunday that thousands of underage enlistees – including hundreds aged between 15 and 16 – from across Yemen have been deployed to fight Houthis in Sa'ada, with the source assuring that the same is true for Houthis.

“Approximately 3,000 soldiers from various Yemeni areas recently enlisted and were deployed to participate in the ongoing war in Sa'ada against Houthi loyalists. Most are underage and they were given no weapons training. This violates both Yemeni and international law and is considered by some international organizations a stark violation of human and children's rights, in addition to being listed among war crimes,” the web site reported.Continued on page 3

The Yemeni government froze national defense service many years ago, with recruitment delegated to military unit leaders, who in turn distributed them to sheikhs to improve their status in their area and give sums of money to enlistees' families.

Media reports mentioned that during the first Sa'ada war in 2004, many army officials contacted tribal sheikhs and influential individuals, asking them to mobilize youth in their areas to join Yemeni army forces in their war against Houthi loyalists.

However, the families of those killed didn't receive any salaries under the pretext that their relatives weren't enlisted in the army or on martyrs' registries. A newly-enlisted Yemeni soldier receives YR 12,000, or approximately $60.

Enlistment centers opened

Al-Wahdawi newspaper reported sources as saying that the state has opened several centers to receive those citizens willing to fight in Sa'ada and registered them among Yemeni army forces. The paper added that hundreds from Al-Ausimat, Al-Ahnoum and belonging to the Hashed and Sufian tribes frequented the four centers in preparation for deployment to support the Yemeni army on various Sa'ada fronts.

“Four centers have been established for this end in Khamer, Houth, Kharef and Harf Sufian districts to receive tribal sons from Al-Ashah, Qaflat Uther, Suwayer, Bani Sureem and Theibin,” the source noted.

Promising enlistment in the army, these centers distribute arms and munitions in return for warranting enlistees taken from among those registered, especially as many volunteers from the first batch fled with their arms after many were killed or injured during the past two weeks of battles with Houthis, the source added.

Sheikh killed

In related news, local sources in Saqeen district assure that Sheikh Mohammed Farhan Khattab and two of his escorts were killed Monday during armed confrontations with six Houthi loyalists.

According to, the clash between Sheikh Khattab and the six Houthis occurred Monday afternoon as the latter were onboard a vehicle filled with foodstuffs heading to Bani Aurig Mountain. Khattab asked them to disclose their identities; however, they refused and began exchanging fire, which resulted in killing the sheikh along with two of his escorts and another three who were injured.

Security sources mentioned on Tuesday that nine citizens were killed and another six, including a woman, were injured in the current week's confrontations between security forces and Houthi supporters in Hajjah's Washhah district. Three Houthis were injured while attempting to open up a new front in Hajjah.

Further, eight Houthi backers were killed earlier this week and another two injured; however, sources didn't mention any injuries among army personnel.

The sources also revealed that there are many Houthi supporters in Hajjah's Washhah and Sha'lel districts. They noted that military presence is very weak there because sheikhs and dignitaries refuse such in their areas; instead, they requested the state provide them arms and ammunition to face Houthi loyalists.

Saleh's stance

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced on Monday that the doors to mediation and dialogue are blocked after his authorities exerted too much effort to make Houthis abandon their armed acts against the state.

“The Yemeni armed forces and security won't allow terrorist elements to toy with Sa'ada's security and stability,” the president said while addressing several supporting tribes in Sa'ada by telephone.

He added, “Today we speak to local authority members, sheikhs, dignitaries and social personalities about the sedition ignited by terrorist elements in some areas of this governorate.”

Saleh described Houthis as enemies of democracy, development, freedom, security and stability because they are highway robbers, noting that they chant the slogan, “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” while they kill Yemeni soldiers, officials and innocent citizens.

“Houthis want to overthrow the republican system. They harm the interests of Yemen in general and Sa'ada governorate in particular, maintaining that they want to reinstate the bygone imamate regime,” Saleh concluded.

Libyan defusing

In related news, Libyan Foreign Minister Abdurrahman Shalqm left Sana'a on Monday after a two-day visit, during which he delivered a letter to President Saleh from Libyan President Moammar Al-Gaddafi. Upon his departure, Shalqm told Saba News Agency that he was carrying a reply from the Yemeni president to his Libyan counterpart.

Media sources say the Libyan envoy was attempting to calm the tense atmosphere between Yemen and Libya, particularly after several Yemeni officials accused the Libyan government of supporting Houthis, a charge denied by Libya.

Hajjah residents want trial in Khayran

The Joint Meeting Parties in Hajjah governorate on Tuesday warned of any threats to detainees' safety in Khayran Al-Muharq. They were arrested and accused of links to Al-Qaeda. Meanwhile, authorities have initiated procedures to move the case to Sana'a for trial, a step Ibrahim Shami of the governorate's Joint Meeting Parties considers a legal violation and an attempt to deter the issue from its real path.

Shami, head of Islah Party's media department, voiced Hajjah residents' resentment at transferring the case to Sana'a and appeal to President Saleh to intervene to resolve the matter in Khayran, as all state branches are available there.

The Khayran locals' attorney Khalid Al-Mawri notes that 14-year-old Hussein Shu'ai Al-Akwa'a is among the 22 detainees. Further, nine others should be freed because they aren't linked to Houthis.

Shi'ite accusations

Shi'ite leader Issam Ali Al-Emad, former head of the Supreme Shi'ite Council in Yemen, has denied reports published in Marib press on March 12.

He further accuses the Yemeni government of inciting sedition between Shi'ites and Sunnis by issuing statements attributed to Sunni and Shi'ite personalities to achieve U.S. policy, which he says seeks to turn the U.S.-Muslim conflict into a Sunni-Shi'ite one.

Al-Emad warned Sulfis that President Saleh is attempting to foment sedition between Yemen's Sunnis and Sulfis, alleging that the Yemeni president is trying to reproduce the sectarian strife in Iraq and bring it to Yemen.

He added that the Yemeni government claims that Sa'ada locals are 12th Shi'ites, however, they all adhere to Zaidi doctrine.