March 08, 2007
Yemen Declares Jihad on Yemeni Shiites
As I have previously reported, a variety of Salafi Jihaddist groups have gone to the Saada region of Yemen to fight on behalf of the Yemeni regime against a band of Shiite rebels. Those alligned with the Yemeni military include members of the Aden Abyan Islamic Army and specifically, Khalid Abul Nabi. Others who are joined in the fight on the government side include exiled Iraqi Baathists, and a variety of Egyptian, Saudi and Somali Jihaddists as well as some established homegrown Jihaddist groups. Well, now its officially a Jihad. There's an official fatwa being circulated by the government. There's other disturbing news.
A major Sheik has called 3,000 Salafya tribesmen to battle Shiite rebels (Houthis).
There's still no food for the local (Shiite) population because the roads are blocked for over a month.
There's mounting civilian, military and Houthi casualties.
Thousands of civilians have fled their homes to avoid the fighting; many are living in the mountains with little shelter.
The media war is heating up with the official press disparaging the Zaidi Shiites (not just the rebels) in general as Satanic.
Random citizens are being arrested.
And just when I'm starting to come around to the idea that the Houthis should surrender, the Yemeni government declares Jihad on its own citizens. The regional implications are staggering, especially for the Horn of Africa.
The Yemeni regime has not been working to co-opt the extremists; the extremist ideology has co-opted the regime and those with a jihaddist mentality regularly utilize the tools of the state to achieve their goals, one of which is killing US troops. The normal Yemenis generally speaking are a nice tolerant people and Yemen is a rather religiously pluralistic nation. But the Salyfia ideology dominates among many of the actual power brokers. The rest are corrupt.
Jihad. A government sponsored scholar is calling it a Jihad and providing religious justification to militarily engage the Houthi rebels who, they say, do not deserve to live because of their Zaidi religious beliefs. The regime previously framed the conflict in nationalistic terms, saying that the Houthis are traitors and enemies of the state. When they didn't get enough volunteers, bing, its a Jihad.
Read the whole sorry sad story here at the award winning Yemen Times.
Then of course there's the whole issue of how the US can be alligned with a regime that is engaged in a Jihad that targets among others Shiite civilians. And the US has expressed support for the Yemeni government in its battle against the Houthis, and generally speaking, the state should have a monopoly on the use of force. However when that state is framing its use of force against its own citizens in divine terms, it seems a bit problematic.
Oh I forgot to mention the military commander of the North West region who is leading the attacks against the Shiites is Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who reportedly recruited fighters for Bin Laden in the 80's and set up training camps in Yemen. He met with UBL in 1996 at an ariport in Yemen for six hours, I think the report was. He was involved in the kidnapping of the British tourists in 1998, exiles claim. Ali Mohsen is a reputed Wahabbist and reports indicate that he currently coordinating the training of Jihaddists who go to Iraq to kill our troops. In the earlier 2005 war between the Yemeni state and the Houthis, eyewitnesses told me that Yemeni tanks ran over wounded Houthi fighters, old women and children were killed intentionally and the Yemen Times reported that military vehicles were dragging around the dead bodies of Houthi fighters. It was a jihad then, and I said that, but now its official.
And now you know why they banned my website in Yemen, and my friend, the Yemeni editor, Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani's website. BTW, he's a Shiite and they don't like it what he writes either. But there's always Jawa.