By Nasser Arrabyee/24/08/2010
Qatari-sponsored peace talks are being held in Doha to end a six-year old war between the Yemen government and Al Houthi Shiite rebels in the north of the country.
But another war is being launched against Al Qaeda in south. More than 18 Al Qaeda operatives were killed including three foreigners mainly Saudis over the last three days.
The battles started when Al Qaeda operatives killed more than 15 soldiers in an ambush in Lawdar district, Abyan province south of Yemen on Friday August 13th , 2010. The government forces have been surrounding the town of Lawdar where more than 60 Al Qaeda operatives are barricading in some houses.
On Tuesday, August 24th, the government said in a statement the campaign would continue to “break the back” of terrorism . the mountainous district of Lawdar , about 350 km south east of the capital Sana’a, is the home district of top leader of what’s called Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Nasser Al Wahaishi.
These developments came after three security officials were assassinated by Al Qaeda militants in less than a week in the province of Abyan.
Also, earlier in the month , four Al Qaeda operatives surrendered and arrested after the government tightened the noose on them. Hezam Mujali, and Ali Hassan Al Tais were probably the most important two . Mujali was one of the 23 who escaped from the Sana’a intelligence prison in February 2006. And Al Tais joined Al Qaeda after he had returned from Guantanamo detention in 2007.
The Lawdar town is considered to be one of the most important strongholds not only for Al Qaeda militants but also for the southern separatists . The two groups (Al Qaeda and separatists) have been exploiting the poor and unemployed young men of this remote and almost lawless area to get more and more recruits.
The government says the separatists are cooperating with Al Qaeda fighters while the latter say Al Qaeda is used as a justification to strike the southern separatist movement.
The southern opposition politicians outside Yemen condemned Tuesday the government’s strikes and siege imposed on Lawdar saying that was only to strike the southern movement not Al Qaeda.
“The strike on Lawdar is an attempt to gain international support,” said the former President of the south Ali Salem Al Baidh on Tuesday August 24th, in a statement from his exile in Germany. Al Baidh calls clearly for independence of the south.
On Tuesday also, two more leaders said in a joint statement the government targeted the southern movement not Al Qaeda.
“What’s happening in Lawdar has nothing to do with Al Qaeda, but it is a war on the south, the human, the land, and the will,” said the joint statement which was issued by Ali Nasser Mohammed in Syria and Haidar Abu Bakr Al Attas in Saudi Arabia. Both of them disagree with Al Baidh about separation and they call only for solving all problems of the south within the framework of unity which was proclaimed in 1990. They say the southerners were excluded and marginalized after the civil war of 1994 when Al Baidh failed in his separation attempt.
The situation in the north of the country is not better. At least 10 people were killed on Monday in clashes between Al Houthi rebels and tribesmen loyal to the government in Houth area in Amran province. These clashes come while Qatari-sponsored peace talks begin in Doha on Tuesday August 24th, 2010, to end a 6-year old sporadic war between Al Houthi Shiite rebels and the Yemeni government forces.
Two delegations from the Yemeni government and Al Houthi rebels hope to bring peace to the war-torn Sa’ada.
Ali Bin Ali Al Qaisi heads the government delegation which includes , Mujahid Ghuthaim, chairman of the military intelligence, Jalal Al Ruwaishan, deputy chairman of the national security agency.
The chairman of the delegation, Al Qaisi, is the head of the supervisory committee in charge of supervising the implementation of the six conditions set by the government and accepted by the rebels earlier on February this year to end the war.
Yousif Al Faishi heads the delegation of Al Houthi which includes Dhaif Allah Al Shami and Germany-based Yahya Al Houthi.
The Doha will focus on the practical details of implementing the government’s six conditions which include the rebels going down from the mountains and handing over the weapons and releasing the detainees from both sides.
None of the six conditions was implemented since February 12th, 2010, when the two parties announced a fragile truce and desire to implement the conditions of ending the war.
Al Houthi rebels claim they are politically, socially, economically, and religiously discriminated against.