Written By: Shuaib Al Mosawa
Article Date: Feb 5, 2013 - 2:01:31 AM
Jamal Benomar, the UN special envoy tasked with negotiating with the Yemeni powers to engage in the National Dialogue, visits in December 2011 the Houthi group leader in Sa'ada province, the main stronghold of the group.
A sectarian dispute between the Shiite Houthi group and Salafis left six people dead in the northern province of Sa’ada, a province that has experienced sporadic fighting since 2011.
The fighting started Monday at noon when two Salafis riding a motorbike fired at a Houthi checkpoint inthe Kitaf area, according to a source close to the Houthis.
Simultaneously, Salafis riding a motorcycle fired at a car decorated with Houthi slogans in the Damag district, where concentrated Salafis are based, studying at a Salafi school. The Houthi slogan, which has gained popularity recently across Yemen, reads “Death to America, Death to Israel. Victory to Islam curse on the Jews.”
The Houthis have battled with government forces supported by Salafi fighters for seven rounds of wars that started in 2004 over accusations that the group was an Iranian ally. The last round ended in 2010 in a truce after Saudi Arabia briefly fought with the Houthi in a bordering area.
The Houthis, according to the source, retaliated by killing two Salafis and took two more captive.
The Houthi -Salafis sectarian war has been raging in Sa’ada province for two years. While Salafis accuse Houthis ofdiscriminating against them based on religious differences, Houthis accuse Salafis of being used by Saudi Arabia as a proxy to gain an influential role in the ongoing upheaval Yemen has been through since popular protest broke out in 2011.
The source, who works in a child protection organization in the nearby province in Hajjah, said that the reason behind the recent clashes was a renewal of the Houthi protest camp in the province of Hajjah, where Houthis enjoy a large following.
“Yesterday, the Houthis called followers [in Hajjah province] to renew their activities calling for the downfall of the regime,” said the child protection worker in Hajjah province.
The Houthis have rejected calls for starting the National Dialogue, a second part of a GCC brokered deal aimed to address the grievances by political powers that were excluded in the first phase of the deal. The US-backed deal, signed in 2011 in Saudi Arabia, aims to resolve the rivalries between political powers amid the popular protest that swept the Arab world in 2011.
The Yemen observer website new :address: http://www.yemenobserver.com