[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 control?
[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 Faris Manna?
[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 Sa’dah?
[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 actually deserves.
[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 Sa’dah?
[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 and threats.
[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 oral terms?
[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 usurped?
[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.