Sa’ada security situation relatively calm [Archives:2008/1182/Front Page]

August 18 2008

Mohammed Bin Sallam
SA'ADA, Aug. 17 ) The current security situation in Sa'ada is relatively calm, with the exception of occasional violations committed by individuals from time to time, a reliable source from the governorate said Sunday.

Requesting anonymity, the source noted that any security violations are being addressed quickly, but mediation committees must be more patient and wise in order to realize progress on the ground.

Regarding achievements by the government committee mandated to assess damages in the war-torn governorate, the same source noted that the committee's teams working in Al-Talh area are optimistic about making progress on the ground.

Yemen's Local Administration Minister and head of the government committee, Abdulqader Ali Hilal, affirmed in a statement to local media outlets on Saturday that the Yemeni government cares about developing and reconstructing villages on Yemen's border with Saudi Arabia.

Hilal stressed the necessity of providing electricity and water services to border villages in Al-Dhahir district, particularly Marahidh village, and connecting them to paved roads. He confirmed that the government will give the district top priority, providing its residents development and service projects in recognition of their support for the Yemeni army during its fight against Houthi rebels.

The committee recently released a report on both public and private property damaged during the four-year fighting between Houthis and Yemeni government troops. The report indicated indirect compensation for those citizens whose farmlands were damaged, as part of government efforts to focus on promoting agricultural products.

The committee further discussed consecutive measures taken by the Sa'ada Reconstruction Fund and the Investment Program, as well as the governorate's budget for the fiscal year 2008. It obliges the relevant government agencies and the governorate's local authority to create reports on the entirety of the operations they undertook in Sa'ada.

Government and Houthis exchange prisoners

Regarding an exchange of prisoners detained in the conflict, tribal sources say Houthi field leader Abdulmalik Al-Houthi last week released 117 military and security soldiers whom his gunmen had been detaining for months.

On its side, the Yemeni government released 70 war prisoners seized from among Sa'ada residents, including former mediation committee member Sheikh Saleh Al-Wajman, who has been jailed at the Interior Ministry for two years. It also freed Sheikh Naji Bukhtan and dozens of other detained Houthi loyalists totaling 1,200 detainees.

“We're optimistic that other jailed Houthi followers will be freed by presidential pardon before the advent of the holy month of Ramadan,” a senior Houthi supporter stated on condition of anonymity.

In related news, religious cleric Mohammed Bin Mohammed Al-Mansour sent a letter to President Ali Abdullah Saleh urging him to free his friend, cleric Mohammed Miftah, chairman of Al-Haq Party's Shoura Council and a Houthi loyalist. Miftah has been in a coma since last Thursday evening after he began a hunger strike to protest his two-month detention for no apparent reason.

Additionally, several women whose male relatives have been detained for alleged connections to the Sa'ada fighting met with Interior Minister Mutaher Rashad Al-Masri last week following three consecutive sit-ins in front of the presidential palace.

The women appealed to Al-Masri to free their relatives, who remain imprisoned even now that the Sa'ada war has ended. Further, they denounced the way their relatives were arrested on the streets of Sana'a and subsequently thrown into security jails. They also expressed concern about the deteriorating conditions of their relatives.

Soldiers practice highway robbery

As many as 191 armed services soldiers returning from Al-Abr area in Sa'ada have established numerous checkpoints and begun practicing highway robbery. All of the soldiers are from eastern Al-Jawf governorate.

“We are exercising highway robbery against the [Yemeni] government because it has abused our rights and refused to give us our salaries,” the angry soldiers maintain, “We supported the government in its fight against Houthis, but it did not consider our demands.”

Their spokesperson further added, “We've established numerous points for highway robbery in the early morning in Khab and Shaaf districts. We'll continue conducting these highway thefts and looting any property belonging to the government until it grants us all of our rights as ensured by the [Yemeni] Constitution.”