Yemen's war on several fronts

The Yemen is at war. Menassat wonders why nobody seem interested in what is happening in Sa’ada province, situated somewhere between Saudi Arabia’s border and North Yemen.
Karen Nohra - Menassat
saada war.jpg

Radio Netherlands Worldwide published on its website on September 26, 2009 that “the Yemeni government says it will not shirk from the fight against Shiite rebels in northern Yemen, even if it takes years. President Ali Abdullah Saleh's administration is still, however, willing to agree a ceasefire.
An earlier offer of a truce was ignored by the Shiite rebels and serious fighting has flared up again in Yemen over the past week as government troops launched a new offensive against the insurgents.
The rebels, known as Houthis, say their community is discriminated against and are demanding more autonomy. Tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes because of the recent fighting and eyewitnesses say hundreds of people have been killed.
Well nothing else under the cover? So Sunnites are killing Shiites, that’s all. It's just Arab Muslims killing each other.
The Sa’ada last round war has entered its second month, with all information indicating its expansion in geographic, social and sectarian contexts. Casualties are increasing on both sides, together with the number of residents displaced from their areas and villages, and food supplies into the governorate are cut off.
Sources have mentioned that fierce and vicious confrontations continue between the Yemeni army and Al-Houthi loyalists on various fronts, felling dozens of victims day after day.

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Observers believe the issue reflects the Yemeni government’s duality in dealing with its citizens, as it moved the Jews from the war-torn areas and provided them security, while others are kept there like firewood. Uncertainty may be the one element unanimously agreed upon by all when it comes to the Sa’ada issue, from its first to its sixth war.
People are still confused by two allegations. The first is that Al-Houthi says his men's seizure of districts and their government facilities is done out of self-defense and their right to practice their religious culture, at the foremost of which is their wretched motto: [Death to America- Death to Israel.]

The second claim is that of the government, whose media are still floundering and hurling contradictory accusations at the Houthis. One of the main accusations is that the Houthis are attempting to bring Yemen back to an Imamate and are leading a coup against the republican system.

Sa’ada's plague is that it’s the historical center of Zaidism. It also borders a Wahhabi kingdom and is an extension of the eastern area of Saudi Arabia, which is mostly Shiite. Such an overlap was not to be missed by Iran in its everlasting quest to find a footstep in every country as a means to enable it to play a role in determining the future of the Middle East as a whole.

Sadly enough, it is the Arab regimes and their haughty dealing with their own people and minorities that has facilitated such infiltration. This is especially true in Yemen, where the government uses Sa’ada as a bargaining chip with other countries on the outside and influential powers within.

The positives of Sa’ada, if any, are that they exposed the people who used to be associated with holiness and generals who kept lying about their brigades’ capabilities and preparedness. It revealed the true nature of some tribal chiefs, whose tribes are warmongers. It also revealed the inefficiency of the state as well as that of the opposition press, and how Yemen is intended to be a battlefield for foreign powers. This is due to the country's neediness and internal deteriorating conditions that the authorities could not and cannot deal with.

Therefore, any peace that is intended for the sake of truce and for buying time will only lead to preparation for a fiercer and more ruinous war. Unless the causes that have led to these confrontations are discussed, Sa’ada will never enjoy real stability.
And we ask ourselves: Is Yemen the next Afghanistan? While the rest of the world focuses on Iraq and Afghanistan, Yemen is coming to a boil. With every day that passes, we come closer to believing that the war in Sa’ada is a Saudi-Iranian war, not a Yemeni one.

Both foreign countries are desperate for more regional power while both are also worried of losing greatly. Saudi Arabia does not want Houthis controlling northern parts of Yemen for one main reason: southern Saudi Arabia has a large number of Shiites who could make them turn against Riyadh. Saudi Arabia paid billions of dollars to keep Hezbollah out of the government in Lebanon and somewhat came out victorious for the meantime, and is doing the same with Houthis in Yemen.
The current situation in Yemen has worried many Arab countries, which warn that the Houthi rebellion in northern Yemen and secessionist unrest in southern Yemen could potentially destabilize the Middle East region.

The Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa said that Arab states supported the unity of Yemen.

Ahmed Abu Al-Gheit, the Egyptian foreign minister warned that “foreign hands” were stirring trouble in Yemen, in a reference to Iran’s alleged support for the northern rebels.

The Houthis and Iran deny Yemeni government statements that the northern insurgents want to set up a Shi’ite state in north Yemen. The Houthi leader, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, described the conflict as a fight for rights against unfair rule, while Iran said it has always emphasized the sovereignty, independence and national unity of Yemen.

However, several Arab countries, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are concerned over what they see as efforts by Shi’ite Muslim Iran to extend its influence by supporting the Houthis. “We are refusing any foreign interference or rebellion,” said Abu Al-Gheit.
Human Rights Watch has asked the Yemeni authorities to allow humanitarian organizations to help about 180,000 civilian caught in the fighting zone.  
The same statement said that John Holmes, the UN Humanitarian Aid Coordinator, realized during his September 7-8 visit to Yemen that he could play a significant role in drawing the world's attention to the serious effects of the clash between the army and the Houthis in Sa’ada and Harf Sufian.

HRW called upon donors to respond generously to the UN request for the provision of $23.7 million to help people affected by the conflict. According to the organization’s web site, only three million have been donated so far.

HRW also renewed its request for Saudi Arabia to stop returning refugees fleeing the fighting to conflict areas because it is a violation of the international ban on coercive repatriation of people to a place where their lives or freedoms are in danger.

Some civilians said they had to walk for days in mountainous, deserted areas to reach safety because many paths were blocked by militants or by fighting.
HRW said neither the government, nor the Houthis have responded to the UN's calls for the opening of humanitarian passageways to help those people.

The organization said it had had asked Holmes to talk the authorities into facilitating provision of relief to the civilians who are badly in need for food, water, shelter and health care. 

The Yemeni government should immediately allow free access to humanitarian organizations. International agencies are needed to provide urgent aid to a desperate civilian population.