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|Saleh Announces End of Sa’ada War; Houthi Leader Denies and Says War still Ongoing|
Written By: Moneer Al-Omari ( YEMEN POST STAFF )
Article Date: July 21, 2008
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced on Thursday that the Houthi rebellion in Sa'ada province is over following more than six months of war.
One day later, Yahya Al-Houthi announced that the war was still ongoing and does not know what President Saleh meant by the end of the war. He announced that no seize fire has been agreed upon by both parties.
Yemen Post contacted local sources in Sa’ada and they indicated that skirmishes still exist in different areas of Sa'ada, especially in Bani Muath, Al Humidan, Al-Ja'malah and Kittaf.
The sources continued that a number of army forces were killed and wounded in ambushes and clashes with Houthi followers even after the president announced the end of the Sa’ada war.
Late last week, a military source stated that Houthis seized Mahza village, emphasizing that some military positions in different areas of Sa'ada were attacked by RPG and Hawn shells.
The four-year war, now in its fifth copy, left behind over 6,000 families with no financial support, nearly 20,000 handicaps, while the number of displaced people has reached 120,000, according to reports by human rights organizations.
In a statement released last Wednesday, security sources called on the remnants of Houthi followers in Sana'a Province's Bani Hushaish area, Sa'ada Province and Amran Province's Haraf Sufian's area to surrender to authorities.
The same sources pointed out that they had secured the main road linking Sa'ada and Sana'a after the armed and security forces combined managed to clear all resistance pockets of Houthis, especially in Harf Sufian which witnessed the fiercest battles between Houthi loyalists and army forces.
In a speech aired by the state-owned the Yemen Satellite Channel on Thursday, Saleh announced that "Saada war ended three days ago," hoping it will not resume again.
"There had been victims because of extremism, ignorance and backwardness," Saleh added. "Dialogue is the civilized way and is better than bloodshed."
This came at the launch of Youth Summer activities that targeted 10,000 youths nationwide. These activities aim to educate students during summer vacation and to teach them new skills at different aspects.Authorities accuse Houthi rebels of fighting to reinstate Imamate ruling that was overthrown in 1962 in a republican coup that targeted Imam Ahmed Yahya Hamid Addin who ruled over the period (1948-1962).
Qatar led mediation efforts in June 2007; however, the peace pact was broken by the advent of 2008. In an effort to revive 2007 peace deal, the Qatari leadership sponsored new mediation efforts in February 2008, but in vain.
The deal demanded the government to release Houthi prisoners, dismantle roadblocks and withdraw troops from houses and farms belonging to Houthis in return for getting them down the mountainous positions and disarmament.
There have been different mediation teams from tribal sheikhs and dignitaries from Sa'ada, but their efforts resulted no success and there have been constant exchange of accusations over breaking the truces.
Displaced people to return homes
Security sources called on citizens in Sa'ada province and other areas including Harf Sufian and Bani Hushaish to return homes stressing that they had cleared all areas from Houthi elements and pockets.The sources hinted that there is nothing now that prevents them from returning homes, adding the government has already provided the required things for them including food, medicine and security.