Monday, November 9, 2009

Saudi's still fighting with Yemeni Houthi rebels

Saudi Forces are still fighting with Yemeni Houthi rebels in the Jizan border area between the two countries. On Saturday prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdel-Aziz, the Saudi assistant minister of Defense and Aviation, who is in the Jizan area, had said that everything was under control. On Monday however, he said that operations continued and that Saudi forces were arresting all people who were connected to the Houthi-rebels in the area. Also he said that an area as wide as 10 km from the border was still being attacked with artillerie and from the air. The whole area ( including several villages)  had been evacuated in the past days, so that anybody who would be found  inside was considered to be an infiltrator with whom would be dealt harsly, he said. (On the pictures, above: arrested Houthi rebels are taken away - don't they look like kids? Down: evacuated inhabitants from the area temporarily live in tents).
 According to medical and official Saudi sources seven Saudi's have been killed in the fighting, among them four women who died when a house was hit by a rocket. Some 78 people were wounded. As for the rebels the number give  varied wildly. Some sources mentioned that 40 had been killed, while scores would have been arrested.

Abdel-Malik al-Houthi, the revel leader contacted the newspaper the Yemen Observer on Thursday by email and told that the Houthi's occupied the Jebel Dukhan area inside Saudi territory also last October, but left after a deal with the Saudi authorities that the Yemeni army would not be allowed to enter that position. 'However, earlier this week the Yemeni army attacked us from there,' he wrote. According to Al-Houthi the rebels after that took control of the area. On Tuesday they clashed with a Saudi bordr patrol during which one Houthi and one Saudi border guard were killed and 11 border guards were wounded. That was the beginning of the present round of fighting.
On Sunday the rebels also reported that they shot down an airplane of the Ye,meni airforce. The plane, a Sukhoi-bomber, was the third one in several weeks. According to the government in Sana'a, however, it went down due to a mechanical malfunction. In Sa'ada, the antique northern city from were the Houti's stem, the government destroyed with artillerie and tank fire a number of houses in which a number of rebels had taken shelter.

The Houthi-rebellion started in 2004 with an police-action to arrest the former parlementarian Hussein al-Houthi. The action soon escalated into a full scale rebellion of the northern region, which is predominatly Zaidi (sevener shiíte), as opposed to the Sunni government in Sana'a. This was the region from where before the 1962 coup the Yemeni rulers came, but nowadays the North feels that it is neglected and under-represented. Early in the fighting in 2004 Hussein al-Houthi was killed but his brother Abdel-Malik took over. For five years the war went off and on, with large scale destruction - sometimes whole villages have been leveled - and huge numbers of displaced persons (human rights organisations estimate their number on 150.000 so far). Since August of this year the fighting entered a new intense fase, after the government started a campaign called scorched earth.    

No comments: