Is the Yemen war over, or just in warriors break?
By Nasser Arrabyee/17/02/2010
The war in Yemen is over. However, no good guarantees that it will not erupt again.
The Shiite Al Houthi rebels accepted last week all the six conditions set by the government for ending the conflict, which cost the poor country a lot .
Both sides declared a cease-fire on February 12 to end the sixth round of fighting that lasted for more than six months, the longest and the most violent of the 6-year old sporadic war, which claimed thousands of lives, and displaced about 250,000 people.
The international community, which exercised an obvious pressure on Sana'a to end the war, welcomed the decision of ending the war and supported unity and stability of the country which faces two more challenges also: separation calls in the south and an open war with Al Qaeda, which exploits this unrest for more recruiting.
"The United States supports a unified, stable, democratic and prosperous Yemen," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said who was in a middle eastern trip.
The decree of ending the war comes also before the international donors meet in Riyadh at the end of this month for supporting Yemen and helping it face its major challenges.
The President Ali Abdullah Saleh has chosen 20 members of the parliament from all parties and formed four separate committees for supervising the implementation of the six conditions, which included the rebels going down from the mountains and handing over the heavy weapons, during 45 days.
One of these four committees is in charge of supervising the implementation of the conditions at the borders with Saudi Arabia, which wants its five soldiers captured by the rebels to be released as the first and foremost.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also wants the Yemeni army to deploy in the borders instead of the rebels who attacked its territories last November and were driven out by the Saudi forces about 40 days later.
The rebels released only one injured Saudi soldier to the Yemeni government which in turn handed him over to Riyadh, but they held back the remaining four, saying they want the governments of Saudi Arabia and Yemen to release their detainees first.
This was not in the declared conditions. The Saudi authorities, repeatedly said, they would not deal with the rebels over any issue whatsoever, but they would deal only with the Sana'a legitimate government.
The Saudi officials would only hand over Al Houthi rebels, if any, only to their government as Yemenis.
The Saudi captives are one of the most sensitive issues that may obstruct the efforts of the mediation committees. The second issue that may obstruct the reconciliation and bringing peace to the war-torn Sa'ada, is the tribal blood feuds between tribesmen who are divided in terms of loyalty between the government and the Al Houthi rebels.
For instance, a senior military officer was killed Tuesday when a group of Al Houthi rebels attacked a checkpoint in Al Jawf province, southeast of Sa'ada, according local and security sources.
The five gunmen of Al Houthi rebels attacked and killed Colonel Ali Darban, 51, while he was performing his duty in the checkpoint between the area of Al Samoom and Al Zaher, in Al Jawf province.
The officer belongs to Shulan tribe (loyal to the government) and the attackers belong to Al Ashraf (loyal to the Al Houthi rebels), and the two tribes had an unsolved blood feud for about 30 years.
The government considered the incident as a breach of the cease-fire, while Al Houthi said it was only a tribal dispute.
Such exchange of accusations started only hours after the two side declared the cease-fire when Al Houthi rebels tried to assassinate the top security official in Sa'ada city, Mohammed Al Kawsi, and killed two soldiers.
The government said Tuesday, in a statement disseminated by the state-run media, that Al Houthi rebels exploded a courthouse and five other houses and plundered properties belonging to Al Othman tribes in Bakem area, far north of Sa'ada.
However, independent sources said that before Al Houthi rebels did this, a group of gunmen from Al Othman had killed a number of rebels in an ambush made in Bakem.
A tribal feud between Al Othman and Al Houthi loyal tribesmen in the district of Bakem erupted even before the war between the rebels and the government troops.
These two incidents, in Al Jawf and Bakem, show how difficult it is for both sides to implement the six conditions of the cease-fire while there are tribal groups who are not under their control.
There are tribesmen loyal to Al Houthi rebels and others loyal to the government, but they care only for their own interests.
Despite these difficulties, some observers are optimistic about a permanent end of the war.
Ahmed Al Sufi, political analyst and chairman of the Yemeni Institute for Democratic Development said the decision of ending the war was a strategic for both sides.
"Two things imposed the end of the war: The government came out from the London conference with many commitments to solve its problems in Sa'ada, south, and with Al Qaeda. Al Houthi rebels have almost finished all their resources, even the Iranian support stopped, and they were almost to be defeated," Al Sufi told Al Ahram Weekly.
"The President Saleh was shrewd enough to declare the end of the war, and he is now a winner as a State, but loser as a military commander."
"For Al Houthi, he wants to be a winner politically, but he is almost defeated militarily."
The governor of Sa'ada, Taha Hajer, said Tuesday that the displaced people started to return to their villages and houses in Sa'ada.
The governor, who accused the rebels of being slow in responding to the mechanism of implementing the six conditions of ending the war, also said that the government officials, especially the heads of the districts , returned to their offices and started working on Monday in four districts out of 11 under the control of the rebels: Ketaf, Razeh, Al Hashwah, and Al Safra.
Despite breaches and exchange of accusations, the four field committees, in which Al Houthi rebels are represented, have been working on reopening the blocked roads, removing mines, and lifting checkpoints and barricades since Friday February 12, when the cease-fire was announced.
The committee in the borders with Saudi Arabia, the chairman Mohammed Al Hawri, said they visited the areas of Shada and Razeh after the rebels removed barriers, mines, and barricades.
But, Al Hawri said no new about the Saudi prisoners issue which is the most important issue for this committee in particular.
Zaid Al Shami, chairman of the committee in Al Malahaid far west of Sa'ada, said also that he met with Al Houthi representative Yousef Al Faishi, and that they reopened the road which led to Al Malahaid after removing the mines, and barriers and barricades.
The chairman of the committee in Sa'ada city, Ali Abu Hulaikah said he met with the representatives of Al Houthi rebels, Saleh Al Sumad, and Taha Al Madani, and reopened the roads from Sa'ada, Al Okab, Al Mahather, Al Ain, Suk Al Lail, Al Amashia reaching to Harf Sufyan.