Thursday, 16 September 2010

Yemeni tribal chief warns Houthi rebels

Source: the National , By Mohammed al Qadhi, 16/09/2010

SANA’A -A prominent tribal chief has warned Shiite rebels of a “ruthless reply” if they interfere in the affairs of tribes in northern Yemen.The warning by Hussein al Ahmar to Houthi insurgents and their leader, Abdulmalaik al Houthi, comes amid a fragile truce in the country. “We warn the Houthi and his followers of the consequences of interfering in the affairs of the tribes and attacking their chieftains,” he said. “Any interference of such kind would be faced with a ruthless response.”

A spokesman for the Houthi rebels was not available to comment on the warning. Mr al Ahmar denied claims made by al Houthis last week that his tribesmen were holding at least 70 people from the Huth region in the northern Amran provinces.“The captives are held in the state prisons,” he said. “They are rebel elements who have tried to take the insurgency to Huth, but it was repulsed with the help of the joint efforts of all the people in the region.”

Four tribesmen and six rebels were killed three weeks ago in fighting between the Houthis and pro-government tribesmen in Huth, about 100km north of the capital, Sana’a.Local media reported that some houses in Huth were destroyed by the tribal militants, who belong to Hashid, Yemen’s biggest tribe.The Houthis have described the Huth confrontation as an “ethnic cleansing” by the army who, they say, are targeting Hashemites.

Tensions in the north continue despite an agreement signed between the government and the rebels in Doha in late August. It followed a fragile truce reached in February to end a conflict that has left thousands dead since it began in 2004.

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