Washington, Asharq Al-Awsat- Yemeni Parliamentary Deputy Yahya Badr al Din al Houthi told Asharq Al-Awsat that he had left for Libya before the clashes erupted again in the Saada Province in northern Yemen. He stated that his visit was prompted by an invitation by the Libyan leader, Muammar Qaddafi. Al Houthi added that Qaddafi was seeking to mediate between the al Houthists [followers of the deceased rebel preacher Hussein al-Houthi] and the Yemeni government. Furthermore, he said that this came following a personal request form the Yemeni President, Ali Abdallah Saleh.
Yahya is the deceased Hussein Badr al Din al Houthi’s brother the latter of whom was the founder of the Youthful Believers organization and who was killed in one of the confrontations with security forces in September 2004. Yahya al Houthi is responsible for triggering a diplomatic crisis between Sanaa, which wants him extradited, and Tripoli. Yahya’s brother, Abd al Malik al Houthi who is cleric Badr al Din al Houthi’s third son, is the leader of present rebellion in Saada which has left dozens dead, and the clashes remain ongoing. Sanaa is accusing Yahya al Houthi of orchestrating the rebellion from abroad.
Last Saturday in a telephone interview from Germany, Yahya al Houthi’s place of residence, he pointed out that the Libyan mediation attempt has failed because the Yemeni government did not fulfill its pledges. He added that the Yemeni military forces “have found in war a source to make them wealthy and a means to trade weapons. The Yemeni government regards the war as a means to draw foreign aid. This is why it has shirked from its obligations to mediators from Yemen and other foreign countries.”
Al Houthi said, “I met with members of my family in Libya after a long period in which we were not in contact. I have now returned to my place of residence in Europe. The president himself [Ali Abdallah Saleh] met with Qaddafi and they have discussed our issue. He requested that he [Qaddafi] intervene to settle the problem. Qaddafi only interceded to fulfill the president’s wish.”
Yahya al Houthi accused the Yemeni government of deluding international parties into believing that the al Houthists pose a danger to them as well as to Israel and the US. He pointed out that Yemeni Jews in the Saada province are not targeted in the ongoing clashes but that the Yemeni government was using them to serve its interest.
Al Houthi warned that the clashes could spread to other provinces, noting that his supporters had in fact opened up new fronts in Khulan Amer in the Saada province. He stressed that he cannot rule out the possibility of the confrontations spreading beyond the Saada Province. He denied that the Yemeni security forces, backed by Yemeni Army units, have succeeded in recapturing the locations, as the Yemeni media outlets have reported.
In response to the question as to his stand regarding the requests demanding that he be dismissed from the elected Yemeni parliament and revoking his parliamentary immunity, al Huthi said, “These threats are part of the psychological warfare. They do not scare me as I currently have international immunity after having obtained political asylum. I have European documents that prove that I have been subjected to persecution.” Commenting on the Yemeni government’s demand to the International Interpol to hand him over to Yemeni authorities, he said, “This talk also stems from the psychological warfare. The European countries know my status well, and such talk does not affect me.”
Al Houthi said that the Yemeni authorities arrested his son, Olwi, in Sanaa even though he holds a diplomatic passport, and detained him from leaving the capital. Other Yemeni nationals who were also arrested after having been formerly guaranteed safety by the authorities. He added, “I have received information that the Yemeni authorities torture prisoners in all the prisons, seeking the help of the so-called Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptians, Syrians and the Iraqi Baathists.”
Discussing US Ambassador to Yemen, Thomas Krajeski’s, statement supporting the Yemeni government’s confrontation of the rebellion, al Houthi said “If this statement were in fact true, it will be of little use to the Yemeni authorities in the arena because the US aid can be represented in supplying the regime with some weapons, and much of these weapons have fallen into the hands of our supporters. Previously, our supporters did not have heavy- or medium-caliber weapons, but now they have a lot.”
Regarding the US ambassador’s call to al Houthists to lay down their arms, al Houthi said that it is a matter to be resolved between them as Yemenis. He said: When our brothers can be sure that their lives are safe and that it is no longer necessary to bear arms, naturally, they will disarm. The US ambassador should fulfill his diplomatic duties rather than go to the markets to buy arms; it is a mission that we do not believe is part of his duties.