Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Will GCC and US rescue Yemen from collapse?

By Nasser Arrabyee/15/12/2009

The leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) said they would provide Yemen with all kind of support to confront Al Houthi armed rebellion and for preservation of unity, security and stability.

They also said the security of Saudi Arabia and Yemen, both of them are in war with the Iranian-backed Al Houthi Shiite rebels, is the security of the GCC countries, according to the joint statement released at the end of the 30th summit which was concluded in Kuwait late Tuesday December 15th.

This expected support to Yemen and Saudi Arabia comes at the time when both armies of Yemen and Saudi Arabia appear to be determined to defeat militarily the rebels or the infiltrators as Saudis call them.

Both armies say this defeat, which will end the war, has become very close. Yemen has been in the war for more than 4 months and Saudi Arabia for more than one month.

As the army tightens the noose on the rebels in Sa'ada, which has become blockaded from all directions, Al Houthi started to say it is not the Yemeni army that fights but the 'Saudi and American armies'.

Although Saudi forces are now focusing only on cleaning their borders from the Al Houthi infiltrators and not implementing any operation inside the Yemeni territories, Al Houthi rebels alleged that the Saudi fighter jets struck the area of Bani Mueen in Razeh, west of Sa'ada more than 50 times killing more 70 and injuring more than 100 people of them only on Sunday December 13th.

The spokesman of the Yemeni army Askar Zuail, said on the same day, however, Bani Mueen was the stronghold of the rebels in Razeh, and the air raids were carried out by the Yemeni warplanes, not the Saudis, against Al Houthi fighters in that area.

Only one day after Al Houthi accused the Saudi warplanes of striking his followers, he accused the American fighters of implementing air raids on his areas in Sa'ada.

"The American warplanes carried out more than 28 air raids on Razeh, Shada, Dhyah, and Ghamer, from evening Sunday until dawn today Monday, with very advanced warplanes, and huge bombs, and they (Americans) were monitoring the our moving cars with satellites," said a statement sent by Al Houthi rebels through emails on Monday December 14th.

The Yemeni government denied any direct American participation in the war, although it said the American government supports the war against the Al Houthi armed rebellion.

Al Houthi accusation for America, came one day after the commander of US Central Command, General David Petraeus said in press statements his country is providing security support to Yemen within the framework of military cooperation provided by Washington to its allies in the region.

He emphasized that American ships based in Yemeni waters are not only there for monitoring but for also for stopping the flow of arms to the Al Houthi rebels.

Observers view these conflicting and strange statements of Al Houthis about the war as an indication that his followers are drawing their last breath and the army is about to defeat them and end the war.

Last week, the Yemeni army implemented a big storming operation against the old city of Sa'ada where about 300 rebels have been using their families and families of their neighbors who are not Houthis as human shields for more than two months.

Dozens from both sides, mainly from the rebel side, were killed and injured, and more than 200 rebels surrendered and about 130 families displaced to safer places under the supervision of the local authority in the city of Sa'ada.

Only about 40 rebels now are still barricading in the mosques and few houses at the northwestern corner of the old city according to statements by the governor of Sa'ada Hassan Mana'a on Tuesday December 15.

The rebels outside Sa'ada city failed over the last two days to reduce the pressure on their comrades surrounded in the mosques of the old city despite their repeated suicide attacks on the troops positioning in the areas around the city of Sa'ada like Muhdha, Makash and Al Sama'a.

The big numbers of those rebels who surrender themselves to the army and the tribal chiefs and those who escape in big groups from the blockaded Sa'ada to the neighboring province of Al Jawf in the east, and also the number of the field leaders being killed in special operations, all these indications are also viewed by some observers that the war is about to end.

For instance, 10 Al Houthi rebels including two well-known leaders surrendered themselves to the Yemeni army and showed readiness to fight against the rebels earlier this month.

The surrender took place in Harf Sufyan, the most important frontline in the south of Sa'ada province.

The 10 rebels, who surrendered through the local tribal sheikh Hamed Mused Kazma, were all from the tribe of Al Shahwani.

All of the 10 were shown by State-run TV expressing their repentance and refusal of the rebellion, and expressing their readiness to fight against the rebels.

The local authority in Sa'ada and the army keep calling upon the misled fighters of Al Houthi to surrender and return to their houses and families and that the government will protect them from any danger.

For those rebels who escaped to the neighboring province of Al Jawf, they were surrounded in a cave by the army and local tribesmen who do not want the instability to spill over to their areas, so the rebels were forced to escape again or surrender.

To show the tribesmen of Al Jawf that any cooperation with the fleeing rebels is a red line, the government sent fighter jets to strike Al Zaher area where the rebels desperately tried to position in that cave.

The air strikes also destroyed the 3-floor house of the tribal sheikh Hassan Abdullah Hamtan, in which the fugitive rebels had meetings.

The house lies in the village of AlSa'amoom, in the district of Al Zaher, which is only about 60 km east of the main frontline of Harf Sufyan. Many people and tribal sheikhs in this area are cooperating with the rebels not necessarily for sectarian reasons but only to anger the government, which they accuse of ignoring them.

The owner of the house, which was destroyed, Sheikh Hassan Abdullah Hamtan has three sons fighting with Al Houthi rebels according reliable source from the same area.

Many of the fleeing rebels surrendered so far, either to the security authorities or to tribal chiefs they trusted.

The leader of the approximately 50-member group who escaped to Al Jawf earlier this month, Muhy Al Deen Al Ansi was arrested by tribesmen loyal to the government.

Earlier, the top leader of the rebels, Abdul Malik Al Houthi said in statements he would send fighters to open a new frontline against the Saudi forces in Najran, which is close to the far north of Al jawf.

The rebels apparently try to take revenge on the normal people for what they are facing from the army.

For instance, last week they injured seriously three children, two women, and an over-aged man when they pounded the two houses of Mabrook Saleh Al Ghulaisi and Hsaasn Ahmed Al Ghanin in the village of Al Bada'a in Harf Sufyan, only for not evacuating their houses for the rebels, according to sources from the victim families.

Whether the war against Al Houthi rebels in the north has come to an end or not according to these indications, it is only one of three big challenges facing Yemen now and making it close to failure.

The second challenge facing Yemen at the same time is the increasing calls for separation from disgruntled groups in the south. Al Qaeda, which is exploiting both south and north problems to recruit more and more, is waiting eagerly for the collapse to happen to declare its big victory.

At the meantime, the Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, on Tuesday December 15th, determined the 26th of current December as a date for starting a national dialogue which include all the political, tribal, religious and social forces to rescue his country from this possible collapse.

In a letter addressed to the chairman of Shura, Saleh said, under the ceiling of constitution and unity, the dialogue will include all the 111- member Shura council, Saleh's appointed advisory council, the first and second man of every political party, 22 religious scholars, heads of the parliamentary blocks in the House of Representatives, the first person of every civil society organization, 22 tribal chiefs and secretary generals of the local councils from all over the country.

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