From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Wed Sep 30 2009 - 05:01:21 EDT
Huthi Field Commander Abdul-Malik al-Huthi Talks to Asharq Al-Awsat
Interview by Arafat Madayash in Sa'dah
[Asharq Al-Awsat] First of all, would you brief us on the latest
developments on the situation in the field in the provinces of Sa'dah and
Umran and on your human and material losses?
[Al-Huthi] Reports published by the office give briefings on the situation
in the field as soon as developments occur. As for human and material
losses, the majority of the casualties are usually civilians due to the
heavy shelling of the villages and towns and on areas where they are
concentrated in the camps. Our losses in the field are limited thanks to
divine providence and our accumulating combat experience.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Recently, the Yemeni authorities have been talking about a
major military advance accompanied with artillery bombardment pounding your
strongholds. How can you say that your casualties are limited?
[Al-Huthi] These are baseless allegations without any evidence. It is clear
that the situation is opposite what they claim. With God's assistance and
kindness, we scored a major advance in confronting their aggression. In our
media reports, we often provide illustrated scenes that prove what we say.
However, they rely only on mere rumors.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Where are you now in the field, not physically or
personally but as in control of certain specific areas?
[Al-Huthi] We are present in many places.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] In your opinion, what are the true and complete reasons
for the eruption of the sixth war with the government forces?
[Al-Huthi] The regime has been eager to go to war since the cessation of the
fifth war. It did not halt the war out of concern for peace or the interests
of the country but for military and political circumstances that forced it
to do so. After the fifth war, its attacks did not stop on Ghumar, Razih,
Shada, Al-Hasamah, Saqayn, and other areas. The regime then capped its
aggressions with an all-out war when it thought that the political
circumstances and the regional support were in its favor.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What are the border regions with Saudi Arabia that you
[Al-Huthi] The Province of Sa'dah and Al-Jawf are Saudi border areas.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] You are accused of receiving financial, material, and
moral aid from Iran. What is your response?
[Al-Huthi] These are false accusations. The regime is confused and its
confusion is apparent in statements made by the foreign minister - who
withdrew his earlier accusations - and in the official stand of the
president himself. The authorities do not have any evidence to prove this.
It is obvious that it is the regime that is depending on foreign assistance
in confronting us and is fomenting fears among the regional sides in order
to receive unlimited support. Some forces exploited this support openly
against the Yemeni people. We do not accept to be an extension of any
international or regional side on principle. We rely on God and we can
dispense with anyone else. Many, however, do not understand this logic. When
we talk about reliance on God they do not appreciate the value of this in
the confrontation. They do not realize that our reliance on God alone and
not on any other side and our acceptance of support only from Him influences
our sovereignty and independence and our stands, decisions, and moves in
general. We attach great importance to our freedom, independence, stands,
and decisions more than any other consideration.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How can you function on an information and media level
with Sa'dah cut off from the lines of communication?
[Al-Huthi] There are other ways and means; we do not think it is to our
advantage to divulge them.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] If you are not backed by Iran or anyone else, from where
are you getting your arms and funds?
[Al-Huthi] The Yemeni people have always been armed. This is something very
well known. The arms markets are available in various provinces; the Yemeni
people have a large stockpile of arms. Any visitor of the northern provinces
can see this clearly. As for funds and resources in general, it is well
known that nations facing oppression or occupation can use their own
resources to confront any challenges. Anyone who knows history and knows the
current situation understands this. The Yemeni people are not penniless;
they have their wealth and capabilities but the authorities are squandering
much of it.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How true are the reports that differences exist between
you and your brother Yahya in Germany?
[Al-Huthi] There have been no reports on a dispute between me and my brother
Yahya. We both have the same cause and we both have the same grievances.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Why did the truce with the army collapse less than 48
hours after it was concluded? Who is to blame?
[Al-Huthi] The authorities were not serious about the truce; they wanted to
exploit it militarily. This became obvious when it launched a military
attack while the mediation committee was in the district of Sufyan. It thus
surprised the mediation committee that had gone there to open the main road.
The army put the lives of its members in jeopardy during the shelling had it
not been for the brothers that immediately evicted the committee members via
safe military roads.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you trust the mediation committee headed by Sheikh
[Al-Huthi] We deal with the mediation committee on the basis of our
observations in the field. Even if we do trust the committee, we do not
trust the authorities and such trust does not do us any good. At any rate,
we deal on the basis of observing the situation.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is your reaction to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah
Saleh's speech in 19 August 2009 in which he threatened to uproot you from
[Al-Huthi] This logic is not surprising and this is not the first speech of
its kind. We heard a lot of threats from him against our people in the north
or the south and against the various political currents. However, such a
speech does not cause us any worry. This policy has shown its failure in six
wars and he is not in a better shape now. On the contrary, he is much weaker
and much more confused. His failure is apparent. We rely on God Almighty,
exalted be His name, and on peoples that are stronger. Oppressive and
tyrannical governments are more susceptible to extinction; they are more
exposed to God's wrath, aversion, and retribution.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Are you wagering on or expecting a specific external
intervention or domestic stands to end the war? How long can you stand fast
against the army?
[Al-Huthi] We are not wagering on any international or regional force. We
count on God only and on our people's moves. The people are rallying around
us day after day and their support is clearer every day. The maturity and
awareness of the Yemeni people is quite noted. However, we do not rule out
the possibility of intervention by international or regional quarters not
out of concern for the Yemeni people but for political exploitation or
political intrigues. The events in Palestine and elsewhere have shown that
nothing ends the oppression of any people or nation except their reliance on
God Almighty and on themselves to end any injustice. As for our ability to
stand fast against the army, peoples are stronger and can stand fast
indefinitely and through the generations. We are also optimistic that if the
war continues, victory will be ours. We say this out of our faith in God and
out of our belief that we are unjustly treated. We have many different
options to manage the war and the confrontation with patience and in a way
that will weaken and exhaust the enemy.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is your reading of the announcement that scores of
thousands of Yemeni tribesmen have volunteered to fight alongside the army?
[Al-Huthi] This is untrue. There is some limited activity by mercenaries who
act out of greed and no more. The stands of these in the war and in the
field are very weak because they have material motives only. As soon as they
sense danger, they run. Their stand does not pose any danger to us and they
do not represent a real power in the army. The issue is being exploited more
by the media than in the field. It is being given more importance than it
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Some prominent tribal leaders, such as Sheikh Sadiq
Abdullah Bin-Hussein al-Ahmar, the leader of the Hashid tribes, and Sheikh
Naji Bin-Abdulaziz al-Shanif, the leader of the Bakil tribes - two of the
biggest tribes in Yemen - are asserting that they stand alongside the state
against you. What is your comment?
[Al-Huthi] It is quite obvious that only the mercenaries from the Hashid
tribes are supporting the authorities. The honorable and freemen among them
- and they are quite a few - refuse to participate in an unjust and criminal
war that does not bring honor to anyone that participates in it. We have
fighters from the Hashid tribes and many from the Bakil tribes. We also
assert that even if any quarter or power moved in support of the regime, it
would not help it because God, who is more powerful, is on our side. We also
act in accordance with principles that make our stands stronger than those
that act for material gains and greed.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you believe in an Arab or US role in the recent war in
[Al-Huthi] This is obvious.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Could you not have informed the mediation committee of the
violations that you say the army is committing and dealt with the situation
without your military intervention?
[Al-Huthi] The issue did not stop at the violations but attacks on entire
areas. We used to inform the mediation committee immediately but to no
avail. When the authorities launched an all-out war we were obliged to
confront their all-out aggression. This is our legitimate right.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Some say that since President Saleh announced a halt to
the war on 17 July 2008 you have been acting as if the Sa'dah Province is
under your self-rule.
[Al-Huthi] This is not true; it is mere lies and allegations. In our moves,
we did not exceed our legitimate rights as citizens and on the basis of the
teachings of Islam.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] When was the last telephone conversation between you and
President Ali Abdullah Saleh and what was it about?
[Al-Huthi] There was never any direct contact between us. Normally, such
contacts are indirect and via the mediation committee. For sometime now,
most of the messages and indirect contacts did not include any solutions or
any positive suggestions or any important substance. They were mere curses
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What are the terms of the agreement that was concluded
between you and President Saleh to halt the fifth war? Were they written or
[Al-Huthi] There was an oral understanding to halt the war, end military
campaigns, and release the detainees. But the authorities did not abide by
any of that until matters reached this stage.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What are your suggestions or ideas to end the war and
radically solve the issue of Sa'dah?
[Al-Huthi] A radical solution requires the authorities to seriously review
its stand and correct its conduct. The authorities are dealing with us with
arrogance. They are not treating us as citizens but as slaves. This is
totally unacceptable. The regime is not treating its people on the basis of
a law or a constitution. This exacerbates the situation and does not bring a
solution. If the authorities review their stand, correct their conduct, and
deal with us as citizens with rights - including the right to adhere to the
teachings of Islam and its values and ethics that we refuse to budge from no
matter what the consequences - there would have been no problem.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Why are you refusing the government's proposal to lay down
your arms and descend from the mountains?
[Al-Huthi] The government's proposals are not fair. They do not lead to a
true solution and do not deal with the roots of the issue. We are carrying
weapons as we confront aggression. If the authorities stop the aggression we
will stop opening fire. As for descending from the mountains, most of the
areas in which we live are mountainous. They want to displace us from our
areas and this is unacceptable. We have asserted that if the attacks on us
stop and if the authorities stop targeting us we will stop the fighting and
end the "tamatrus" [doctrine whose proponents believe that it permits Muslim
fighters to kill other Muslims in the context of fighting an enemy]. But we
will never accept displacement.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] If the current war continues, will you expand it to areas
other than the Sa'dah Province and Harf Sufyan in Umran Province?
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How is your father the scholar Badr al-Din al-Huthi?
[Al-Huthi] He is in good health, praise is to God Almighty.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Are you truly seeking to rule the country and do not
recognize the republican regime? Do you consider the rule in Yemen as
[Al-Huthi] This is not true. We seek to establish justice; we are not
seekers of posts but we do not accept injustice and oppressors.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How is your organization structured? Is there a successor
to lead the battles if any harm comes to you?
[Al-Huthi] We are popular groups that organize themselves in a manner that
suits the situation in the country, the nature of the people, and the
requirements of events. In fact we see no reason to divulge details.
Regarding my personal status, there is no worry at all. There are many
brothers that can play a major role in confronting events. Our moves as
based on the people not on individuals, and the departure of any individual
will not stop the people.
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