Written By: Nasser Arrabyee
Article Date: May 13, 2007 - 9:35:42 PM
Yemeni tribesmen from the war-stricken Sa’ada region in the north of the country demanded Thursday that Yemen cut off relations with Libya and close its embassy in Yemen, over that country’s alleged support for the armed rebellion in the Northern Province. “We repeatedly call upon the political leadership, and the government to dry up the sources of the support of this gang,” said a statement that was sent to local media in the name of the tribal sheikhs, social figures and intellectuals of Sa’ada province, where fierce battles have been going on between government troops and armed rebels loyal to the Shiite cleric Badr al-Deen al-Houthi.
“We witness the increase of this support day by day. And we also witness that the terrorists under the leadership of al-Houthi spend a lot of money, praising their main supporter, Muammar al-Qadafi, president of Libya,” the statement added. The people of Sa’ada, who have been suffering war atrocities and agonies for about four months now, accused Libya of supporting the rebels and of not respecting the sovereignty of Yemen.
“The cutting off of relations with Libya has become our demand because Libya is a state that does not respect the independence and sovereignty of Yemen and because it supports the killers of the Yemeni citizens in Sa’ada,” they said in the statement. A media representative at the Libyan Embassy in Sana’a said he was not at liberty to respond to the allegations. The Yemen Observer tried several times to contact the Libyan Embassy but could not get through. Yemen has recalled its ambassador from Libya, in the wake of the accusations against Libya, according to the website of the General People’s Party.
The statement also mentioned the efforts made by the state to convince the rebels to give up violence and surrender their weapons, before the war broke out earlier this year. The relatively long statement, which was published in official and non-official media, explained the sufferings of the Sa’ada people as a result of the war. Earlier this year, the newly appointed Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Mujawar accused Libya of supporting the rebellion as well as “possibly” Iran. Both countries at that time denied any involvement in the al-Houthi conflict.
Sheikh Abdullah Bin Hussein al-Ahmar, Speaker of Parliament and chairman of the largest Islamic opposition party (Islah), addressed a letter Thursday to the tribal sheikhs and social figures of Sa’ada, urging them to side with the government against the al-Houthi rebels. “Brother sheikhs of Sahar, Juma’a , Khawlan bin Amer, Manbah, Razeh, Ghamer, Shada, Bani al-Harb, and all clans of Khawlan bin Amer, peace be upon you, What is happening now in your areas displeases us and displeases you and it is your historical responsibility, and the blame is on the sheikhs of the tribes, and those reckless and rash [al-Houthis] who offend your reputation and presence, they have no base but your silence and feebleness, and you are Khawlan Bin Amer with your great history,” said al-Ahmar in his letter from Saudi Arabia, where he receives medical treatments.
Al-Ahmar, the Yemen’s most influential tribal sheikh, used in his letter a line of poetry reminding the Khawlan bin Amer of their great ancestors. “Khawlan bin Amer should not be lost because of a handful of adolescents and dreamers who want to make the wheel of the history move backward. For this I call upon you, a tribal call, and also the call of brotherhood between us that you agree on one word to cleanse your areas of those saboteurs and may Allah bless you, and peace be upon you,” said al-Ahmar in his letter, which was published by official media.
Press sources said that al-Ahmar’s letter came after President Ali Abdullah Saleh had requested al-Ahmar to write it, especially after the troops had failed to end the war. Further, some of the tribal sheikhs of Sa’ada province are believed to be failing to cooperate fully with the army. Some political observers say that the brief Wednesday visit of the Emir of Qatar to Sana’a, which lasted a few hours, had something to do with the war in Sa’ada.
The officials, however, denied that the Emir of Qatar had come to mediate between the state and the rebels. “The state has expressed its position toward the rebellion and the solution will only be that the rebels surrender their weapons and then return to their homes safely, and it is unreasonable that another country mediates between a state and its citizens who break the law,” said an official who preferred not to be named.
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