Source: Yemen Times
Amid the arrival of a mediation committee on Saturday to Al-Jawf governorate, the Houthis and the Islah Party traded blame and put forth differing views on whether a ceasefire is in effect.
Mubarak Al-Abadi, director of Islah Party’s Media Department in Al-Jawf, claims the fighting ended and both parties have been abiding by the ceasefire since the arrival of a mediation committee on Saturday.
However, Mohammed Al-Bukhaiti, a member of the Houthi’s Political Office, said the committee is still negotiating with the warring parties to reach a ceasefire agreement.
The committee was created by President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and includes the governor of Al-Jawf as well as several sheikhs and community leaders from the governorate.
Clashes between the Houthis and Islah-affiliated tribesmen in the governorate renewed at the beginning of July. The tribesmen gained control over strategic locations in Al-Safra and Al-Humaida, which had been controlled by the Houthis since 2011.
Al-Abadi asserts that the Islah Party and its allied tribesmen are willing to hand over their positions in Al-Safra Military Camp to the state. Al-Safra is of strategic importance because it connects Al-Jawf with other governorates.
Al-Bukhaiti said the Houthis are ready to abide by the agreement as soon as the Islah Party demonstrates its commitment. He claims that members of the Islah Party broke the ceasefire agreement by shelling Houthi locations in Al-Ghail, Al-Safra, and Al-Hajr, which Al-Bukhaiti says should be run by neutral military units.
The clashes have caused residents to avoid travelling through Al-Jawf, and have displaced many within the governorate.
Abdulsalam Shihat, a tribal sheikh in Al-Jawf, said that several people in the area of conflict have left their houses in recent days and moved to other areas inside the governorate, asserting that several people from both sides have been killed.
“The same thing that happened in Amran may happen in Al-Jawf but we will not allow this at any cost,” Shihat said.
The clashes follow previous rounds of fighting in June between the Houthis and military units backed by pro-government tribesmen in Amran and Hamdan, to the north of Sana’a.
Earlier in July and following two months of clashes, the Houthis took control of Amran City and the headquarters the 310th Armored Brigade, and killed its commander, Brigadier Hameed Al-Qushaibi.
“I feel it is a conspiracy because the government only participates with us sometimes. It keeps sending us mediation committees and we are waiting for Al-Jawf to be controlled by the Houthis just like Amran,” the Akhbar Al-Youm newspaper quoted Sheikh Al-Hassan Abkar as saying. Abkar is the head of the Al-Jawf and Marib Federation, a tribal federation opposing the Houthi’s expansion.
Abkar asserted that they will gather all tribesmen in Yemen to fight the Houthis. “We warn President Hadi, the defense minister, and all conspirators inside and outside Yemen, that ignoring the Houthi expansion, blood shedding, and looting of properties will cause Al-Jawf to turn to Al-Qaeda.”
“We back the military in its fighting against Al-Qaeda but we are paying for this support. Al-Jawf will never be controlled by the Houthis,” he added.
Al-Jawf is a vital governorate due to its proximity to the oil fields in Marib.