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Abdullah Bin Hussein Jarullah, Sheikh of Khawlan, and Former MP:

“Houthi rebels did not stop at this point as they started to loot citizens’ property and cars and blow up their houses. The second is that they are still positioned in some areas being unsatisfied with the state’s existence there. We doubt this, if made without any agreement, to be a handover of Sa’ada to Houthis as was the case with Hasan Nasr Allah in the South of Lebanon.”

  Interviewed By: Interviewed by Alahale newspaper in cooperation with the Yemen Post
  Article Date:
August 11
, 2008



Abdullah bin Hussein Jarullah is the Sheikh of Khawlan bin Amer, Haydan and Saqeen. He lost the parliamentary elections in his constituency in 1993 against the Slain Houthi leader Hussein Badr Addin Al-Houthi. He won in 1997 and lost it again in 2003 to another Houthi rival Yahya Al-Houthi. Hereafter, he talks about Sa'ada war and other related issues

Yemen Post: Five wars in Sa'ada, how did it start?

Abdullah Jarallah: The war started in six villages of Marran area, the main stronghold of Yahya Al-Houthi, while the rest areas and districts remained in peace. It expanded by time to other places.

Locals cooperated with authorities and provided everything for soldiers.

YP: In the beginning, the war was in six villages and now in three provinces?

AJ: By the time the war ended, governor Al-Amri and other officials wanted to terminate the rebellious forever. When the war ended in Marran under truce, Houthis, numbering then only 35 people, left for Naq'ah. Over the years, war expanded markedly as Houthis understood the nature of the game.

YP: Contrary to expectations, the Houthis were expanding and the authority retracting, why?

AJ: In my opinion, the war was 85 to 90 percent interferences from outside parties.

YP: You mean that only 10 percent are Houthis while others are those affected by the authorities?

AJ: Houthis are limited in number; however, they are good at planning and information more than their work in the field. When authorities retract, citizens who backed authorities, got stunned and remained silent, fearing harassment by Houthis.

YP: Talking about ending the war once and for all has been present during the five wars, then suddenly a truce is announced?!

AJ: We are still struggling. Several pro-government people from our area left from Marran last week after the army vacated it. in the beginning, the government wanted to end the rebellious there and not another truce.

YP: Why did the authority and army evacuate?

AJ: This is President Saleh's view and the whole issue lies in his hand. He will bear the consequences of this issue, hoping to prevent the province from fighting once more.

YP: Why does the army vacate its positions?

AJ: This is what happened. 

YP: Why?

AJ: This issue was a matter of difference between citizens, including me, and authority. We agreed earlier with the government that we take over the positions with some forces; however, these forces vacated the area three days later and there remained no one.

YP: Do you have any interpretation for such an evacuation?

AJ: I, in the end, doubted that the state had wanted to make people fight one another and to ignite civil wars, while it takes the role of the spectator.  

YP: As for war end; your talk is no more than a wish?

AJ: We wish that war will not resume, because we need no more bloodshed. Further, we wish Saleh to be courageous for ending the issue.  

YP: In reality, is it possible for the war to renew?

AJ: Yes, because there are still some elements who practice rebellion, and when the mediation committee assesses their damages they, on the other side, kill and attack soldiers. There should be an agreement with strict points. Otherwise, how could a five-year war that left thousands of victims end? How does this war end when it apparently has no beginning or end? There must be an agreement with clear points.

YP: Are you familiar with the ceasefire agreement's articles?

AJ: I have no idea of it. It has been proposed by one party and the three pillars fell out.

YP: What are these three pillars?

AJ: The first is that the state vacated the area, and the rebels considered the matter to be a victory for them. However, Houthi rebels did not stop at this point as they started to loot citizens' property and cars and blow up their houses. The second is that they are still positioned in some areas being unsatisfied with the state's existence there. We doubt this, if made without any agreement, to be a handover of Sa'ada to Houthis as was the case with Hasan Nasr Allah in the South of Lebanon.

YP: Some say that tribal sheikhs, including you, are against peace in Sa'ada?

AJ: Conversely, I cannot judge all people; however, the issue did not exist yesterday as it has been there for the last five years. Every person has come to be known for his patriotism or deceitfulness. There are some personalities who seek to settle accounts, but there are also patriots.

YP: Your speech is understood as you are against peace in Sa'ada?

AJ: I am for peace and I used to mediate for those who were involved previously in the war. I used to as well to receive them because I am the Sheikh of all people in the area. The state knew from the very beginning that I am straightforward.

YP: Regarding the Popular Army, What is its story and has it come to an end?

AJ: When we met with President Saleh, he proposed to recruit 30,000 tribesmen: 10,000 from Hashed tribe and 20,000 from the other provinces. I pointed out then that this could be used for exerting pressure on Houthis as well as narrowing the view points as for mediation efforts.  

YP: This means that it was no more than exerting pressure?

AJ: I think so. Thing are still under study. When it is true, I wish that Sa'ada shall get a share in it, because the province is deprived at all levels. We have a qualified cadre in Sa'ada in all fields. I read few weeks ago that two persons from outside Sa'ada province are rivaling for the post of the General Secretariat. Everything is imposed on us. Democracy is almost complete in Yemen but not in Sa'ada; why? I wish that Sa'ada sons are allowed into the armed forces and other fields because this is a right for all.

YP: What about the departure of Sheikhs opposing Houthis from Sa'ada fearing for their lives?

AJ: None leaves because of fear; but some people were nervous during the war and they left for two months or three until things got calm. How can a person leave his home? I am a Sheikh and some of my people are rebels while others are not. If I am Sheikh for only those rebels, then my rank would of came to end before five years. I summoned 100 people and recruited them and they are ready to come anytime I contact them.  

YP: But Houthis drag the meat from under the Sheikhs?

AJ: This is not true. There some Sheikhs whose meat was dragged by Houthis, but, with the respect to them, they are the ones who helped them do so. This is because some Sheikhs exploited their influence to suppress their fellow people and this forced some to join Houthi in reprisal. The Houthi leader did not name himself as Sheikh and he does not interfere with the tribal affairs. He has a policy to deal with fool Sheikhs as he refers to them, but, at the same time, he runs things from behind them. 

YP: The 5th war is different from the previous wars?

AJ: The issue is totally politically-motivated and its roots are in Sana'a and abroad. Every new war is different from the previous in the geographical expansion. Those whom Houthi adopted were taught for 18 year, so how can he get into people's minds in one month? The cards have been mixed and everything has intermingled due to internal and external factors. When I was in the Qatari Committee, I was asked by a member of parliament about the solution. I replied then that the issue must be resolved through a radical political solution or military resolving; otherwise what happened in Sa'ada could be reproduced in other provinces. 

YP: What about Sa'ada Reconstruction Committee headed by the Local Administration Minister Abdul Qader Ali Hilal?

AJ: We hope that Houthis accept the committee. When the committee works for assessing the destruction and damages in their houses and areas, they attack military positions and soldiers. They still occupy schools in Khawlan Haydan and Saqeen. This means that they are still hurting state's constitution, and this is sort of a war announcement. The committee should gather all parties in Sa'ada as we have already two parties: pro-government and rebels.

YP: Final say?

AJ: All people in Sa'ada should be true brothers. Citizens and Sheikhs should work for ending war effects and treating war wounds. They have to join the state effort in reconstructing what has been destructed by the war. We can oppose one another; however, we should come out with a peaceful solution. We hope that President Saleh work for a radical solution for Sa'ada issue and not to leave it a scene for fighting and settling scores.