Why did Sa’ada war cease? [Archives:2008/1181/Opinion]

August 14 2008

By: Muneer Al-Mawri
Having asked the colleague Mosa Al-Namrani why the Sa'ada war ceased, he ironically answered me, “You shouldn't have asked such a question,” adding, “When we know why the war broke out, we will then know why it ceased.”

Such a great answer did not prevent me to search and communicate with some sources with the aim of surveying the primary reasons behind the surprise declaration by President Saleh to end the Sa'ada War. I obtained the kind of information that may not satisfy a researcher in pursue of facts as they really happen on the ground, however, it may be part of a mystery being noticed during the few days preceding the declaration to end Sa'ada War.

First, we should remember that Abdulmalik Al-Houthi vowed to present a gift to Yemeni people on July 17. Seemingly, Al-Houthi might have meant ending the war. As long as the declaration to end the war was made by President Saleh while Houthis did nothing in this regard, this means that Al-Houthi and President Saleh were brought together via an open communication channel throughout the weeks preceding the war.

Mutual understanding behind ending the war:

Certainly, there might have been mutual understanding that led to this result, which Abdulmalik Al-Houthi's office circulated in a statement prior to Saleh's declaration to end the war. According to information obtained from a well-informed source, telephone communication between President Saleh and Abdulmalik Al-Houthi was 100 percent true despite official allegations denying that both men communicated by phone.

The source says that Houthis are still reserving a recorded tape of the telephone conversation between their leader and President Saleh in order to give it out whenever they need. In addition, another source related with Houthis' field leader, but is currently residing abroad, confirmed to a columnist that all Houthis have written guarantees from President Saleh delivered to their leader Abdulmalik in person via tribal mediation.

The source adds that President Saleh requested a written reply from Houthis, but their leader refuses to do so as he believes that a verbal response to Saleh's offer is enough.

Second, another informed source confirmed to the columnist that Saleh was enraged by the presence of Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Hadithi, acting Head of the Special Saudi Committee in Sana'a and his four-day meetings with tribal sheikhs, social figures and military officers. It appears that President felt that Al-Hadithi is reminding him of the role played by the late Saudi Military Attache Saleh Al-Hadhyan, who played an effective role in appointing consecutive presidents of Yemen and liquidating others.

Al-Hadhyan is believed to have paved the way for President Saleh to rule Yemen. What specifically enraged Mr. President is Al-Hadithi's direct distribution of Saudi gifts to targeted figures in Yemeni society without even consulting him. Saleh also felt that Saudi Arabia is planning to establish a popular army to fight against Houthis with funds coming from its treasury, expecting that such may threaten his rule in the future.

As a result, Saleh preferred to declare that Sa'ada war is “over” in order to prevent Saudis from having a direct influence on the events. He then sent a letter to senior officials in the Saudi government reading, “It is impossible for you to do anything without consulting me.”

Military commanders not serious to defeat Houthis:

Third, Saleh understood that his war against Houthis was so difficult to end. He felt that military commanders are not serious to defeat Houthi gunmen and put an end to the fighting. He also felt that the war will not help him win international sympathy and that he may be inserted in a list topped by the Sudanese leader Omar Al-Bashir.

The current situation helps explain the exaggerative solidarity with Al-Bashir and telephone communication with him, as well as demonstrating fears and concern about opening 'an international barberry saloon in the Hague to be in charge of shaving hair and beards of many Arab leaders'.

The colleague Abdurrahim Mohsen was the first one to indicate this explanation. And, as Mr. President fears foreign forces more than he fears his people, possibility of international questioning is a very important factor, which is believed to have left great effect on the psychology of President Saleh but within other factors which are not less important than it.

Fourth, President Saleh has understood that he still needs Houthis in a new battle via which he is plotting to fight against a particular current in the Islah Islamist party. Saleh believes that he may attract a good international support during his next war against Islamists under the guise of combating terrorism.

He began his ugly plan, which I indicated in a previous essay, by encouraging the so-called 'Virtue Protection Authority' to machinate fragmentation within the Islah Party. He opened the door wide for ruling party-affiliated newspapers to slam this authority in order to engage society in a new issue that may lead to a new war against those described by ruling party media as “Group of Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen”.

Fifth, Houthis have found out that it is in their favor to accept President's Saleh offer to end the war since this is their primary demand. Whether the truce was permanent or temporary, Houthis still have a great scope to take breath and reshuffle themselves. Despite the fact that Houthi's demand doesn't go beyond the limit of executing the Doha-brokered ceasefire agreement reached between Military Commander Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar and Houthis' representative Sheikh Saleh Habra, they were surprised to see that army brigades are withdrawing from various areas, which even had not been contained in the ceasefire agreement. Consequently, they took over several areas in the war-affected governorate.

Sixth, as long as it is difficult for the regime to survive aside from seditions and conflicts, a new enemy is being prepared and a new sedition is being plotted. This sedition may begin with reshuffling the army and replacing old military commanders by new ones prior to clashes with a targeted current in the Islah Party. To be clear, the new sedition targets the Salafi current in this party in order to win international support ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections, due to take place in April 2009 if possible.

Source: Al-masdar.com