YEMEN - Many districts in Sa'adah have been cleared of Houthi rebels and their weapons stores destroyed by Yemeni armed forces, said a source at the Defense Ministry on Monday.
The defense source said that the end of the Houthi rebellion is drawing near. "The district of al-Safra has been cleared of all rebels," said Mohammed al-Imad, Secretary General of the Sa'adah local council.
Thousands tribesmen from all of the country's governorates are heading to Sa'adah Governorate to take part in the fight against the Houthi rebels, said a military source last Monday.
The military-run 26sep.net quoted tribal sources saying that the Houthis crimes have provoked them to defend Yemen's security and stability, as well as the innocent citizens of Sa'adah.
Well-informed sources said that businessmen and merchants have begun donating money to the security and armed forces fighting against the rebels.
Hundreds of thousands of youth have announced their readiness from different governorates to battle to the insurgents in the Governorate of Sa'adah, according to the website.
The Defense Ministry affirmed that members of the insurgent groups in Sa'adah received painful strikes on Sunday by the armed forces, noting that many rebels have been arrested. Furthermore, the armed forces announced the death of the rebel leader in Harf Sufyan district of Amran Governorate, Hussain Kazmah, last Saturday.
Government forces increased their military offensives against the al-Houthi rebels in Sa'adah, paralyzing their movement and arresting some rebels, the Minister of Defense said.
Last Sunday, al-Houthi rebels broke in to a camp for displaced people at al-Anad, said sources at aid and relief organizations working in Sa'adah, expressing their fears that al-Houthis are using civilians as human shields. Sources at the aid organizations who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the area has witnessed severe clashes in the past several days.
Six soldiers were injured last Sunday in the clashes with the rebels and were rushed to hospital, said the Interior Ministry.
In the same context, The Defense Ministry denied the news reported on Iran Radio Station that the Saudi Air Force has taken part in the attacks against Houthi rebels in Sa'adah, describing the news as false and fabricated.
Defense sources said that the information reported on the Iranian Radio Station has no credibility and accuracy, expressing regret towards the false information reported by official Iranian media to promote such misleading information.
"Iranian radio was supposed to commit itself to neutrality and to not be taken by lies. This puts Iran in a suspicious position that raises many questions about the possible ulterior motives it pursues in reporting such information," said the source.
In the early hours of Friday morning, five Yemeni soldiers and 16 Houthi rebels were killed in clashes between the Yemeni military and Shiite al-Houthi rebels in Sa’adah Governorate.
In clashes between the warring parties on the fifth day of fighting, government forces tightened their siege around Sa'adah. According to official sources, the al-Houthi rebels have opted for violence and rejected all calls for peace.
The Governor of Sa'adah, Hassan Mana'a, accused al-Houthi rebels of kidnapping 15 local aid workers working for the Red Crescent when they attacked the refugee camp in al-Anad district.
Al-Houthi sources in a response to the official media reports that the real confrontations have not started yet and that their military plans are still kept for the right time. Al-Houthi office told newsyemen that the district of al-Safra is still far from the clashes and that they have gained control over two military location in al-Malhedh.
The al-Houthi followers attacked the Agriculture Office in the al-Anad district on Friday, damaging equipment, furniture, and an irrigation network which distributes water to hundreds of farmers, said Mana'a.
As a result of the war in the area, around 17,000 families have been forced to leave their villages in 10 districts of the province's total 15 over the past four days.
Military sources said that al-Houthi rebels killed four tribal chiefs and 15 civilians, women and children among them.
Days ago, the army launched some of the strongest offensives seen in the conflict’s four and a half year history against the rebels, who have continuously violated past agreements.
In the same context, why has the war in northern Yemen erupted now, for the sixth time, despite the fact that President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced one year ago that it would stop forever? Will the government's military actions end the conflict and the five-year Shiite rebellion this time, unlike the previous five rounds that have occurred since 2004? And who is supporting the al-Houthi rebels in this war which has cost Yemen a great deal in human and material losses over the past five years?
The Yemen Observer has tried to find answers to these questions from experts and from people in the field.
Najeeb Ghallab, researcher and political analyst at Sana'a university, says the war has erupted now because of al-Houthi's expansion strategy, which has included increasing their dominance over Sa'adah and gaining new supporters in areas like al-Jawf, Amran, and Sana'a.
"Before this military strike, al-Houthi rebels blockaded military camps and arrested a lot of soldiers, so it was either let them expand until they attack Sana'a, or strike them with an iron fist and enforce the sovereignty of the state," Ghallab said. “The military option, however, may impose the control of the State, but it will not necessarily solve the problem,” he admitted.
After imposing the control of the State, he said, the ultimate solution will be for the tribesmen of Sa'adah to take a unified position against the rebels.
"The tribesmen should tell the rebels clearly in a tribal conference, for instance, 'we will all be against you if you do not lay down your weapons and descend from the mountains,'" he said.
Concerning who is behind the al-Houthis, Ghallab stated that the Iranian Mullas have a big hand in supporting the al-Houthi rebels.
"Iran has strategic goals for their support. They believe an army will come from Yemen to support the long-awaited 12th Imam al-Mahdi," he said. He added that, "The collapse of the state in Yemen will threaten Saudi Arabia, the only force that can confront Iran. So Iran wants this collapse to happen.”
Yahya al-Mukhafi, a lawyer from Sa'adah, disagrees with Ghallab, saying that Houthi rebels are receiving their support from inside Yemen, not from outside.
"The strength of the Houthis comes from the weapons they captured from previous wars, and also from the sympathy of a lot of people throughout the country, especially from the Hashemites, because the war was declared against the Hashemites at the beginning," said al-Mukhafi, who is himself a Hashemite and close to the al-Houthi family. He concluded by reasserting, "I do not think there is any external support, and if there is any, it is only from sympathetic organizations and individuals."
For his part, Sana'a University Professor Ahmed al-Daghashi, author of the book "The al-Houthi phenomenon," says the problem in Sa'adah has very complicated dimensions, which span ideology, politics, geography, and development. "Although the military option is very important at the moment, it will not end the problem without addressing all these dimensions," he explained.
Al-Daghashi believes there is internal and external support for the rebels and that there is external support from some officials of the State.
Concerning this support, he describes it as being more political than ideological. "I believe the regional political conflict is the main reason behind the external support," he clarified, going on to say, "I think there is only some coordination and cooperation, because of the similarities, but this does not mean that there is concurrence between the Houthis and Iranian Shiites about the belief of the 12th Imam, Twelver Shiite."
The government began the offensive against al-Houthi rebels last Tuesday. On Wednesday, the government announced conditions for a ceasefire which was rejected by the rebels. The conditions included that the rebels withdraw from all districts of Sa'adah, eliminate checkpoints, and hand over their weapons.
Battles between the al-Houthi rebels and the government started in 2004 when rebels started to form militias and interfere in the local government's duties.
In 2008, a truce was reached between the two sides and confrontations ended until skirmishes started again earlier this year.
Recent reports note that the rebels have killed and injured about 172 people and have destroyed thousands of homes since the truce was declared in July.