The Yemeni government campaign in the Saadah region

الكاتب : Adel ALdhahab   المشاهدات : 461   الردود : 1    ‏2005-12-04
      مشاركة رقم : 1    ‏2005-12-04
  1. Adel ALdhahab

    Adel ALdhahab عضو فعّال

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    by Adel Al-Dhahab*

    In 2004 and 2005, there have been two significant military campaigns in Saadah, Yemen, that have been one of the strongest and most expensive in the nation’s history. The government and other concerned parties agree that the targeted groups belong to the Zaidi sect of Islam and to the Hashemite race. The government overwhelmingly claims that there are foreign powers behind the anti-government forces. Some opponents claim the government was running a genocide campaign. The particular group concerned is Believed Youth, which was led by Shiite scholar Hussein Bader
    Aldeen Alhouthi and after his death in September 2004, has been led by his father, Bader Aldeen Alhouthi. Extensive research found that these government campaigns were not aimed at a group of criminals, but rather a group of activists vying for change. Furthermore, it was found that there was a disproportionate abuse of power by the government.
    Assessment of the government’s campaign based on laws and facts
    First, the Yemeni government claims that Alhouthi’s group was planning a terrorist strike. There is no evidence that an actual attack ever took place, only accusations. By looking at the United States’, the European Union’s, and the U.N. Security Council’s list of terrorist organizations of the world, it is easy to see that Alhouthi’s Believed Youth is not listed. To give further proof, the United States’ 2004 human rights report also doesn’t mention that Alhouthi or Believed Youth are linked to terrorism in any way.
    Secondly, the government was unable to produce a convincing argument stating that Alhouthi was the one who incited the war. Government explanations constantly contradict each other so it would be difficult to buy the argument that Alhouthi was responsible for starting the war. To add to the government’s culpability, a research of Yemeni newspapers found that none of the nation’s independent papers confirmed that Alhouthi had something to do with starting the war.
    The question that must be asked is whether Alhouthi should surrender himself to the government. The logical answer is no because several human rights reports confirm that courts are subjected to much government influence in Yemen, and judges are harassed. Turning himself in would make no sense since there is great reason to believe that the judicial system cannot guarantee Alhouthi a fair trial.
    Since this conflict was both a political and religious conflict, it is important to determine what the stand of the union of religious scholars would be. They agreed with the government. However, this is not something out of the ordinary, since the union is not really an independent party, and there is a long history of them siding with the government and praising the president.
    Even the Committee on Dialogue sided with the government on this issue. Once again this committee, which claims to be independent, cannot be trusted for several reasons. First, the president is the one who selected the members of the committee so a conflict of interest is definitely present. Furthermore, the head of the committee is also the head of the Yemeni human rights organization, which is well-known to have ties to the government.
    The government has a difficult time justifying the campaign against the Believed Youth and Alhouthi because the accusations against them are incoherent. For example, the government claims the war started because Alhouthi claimed to be a prophet, then they changed that to a Mahdi, then an Imam, then being an agent of foreign powers, then being a terrorist, then being a fanatic who attacked checkpoints, and finally he was wanting to return to the old Imam regime by being a military wing for certain parties. Clearly, the government’s claims are inconsistent. Furthermore, one of the founders of Believed Youth, Mohamed Yahya Ezzam, was released in February 2005. If this group was a terrorist group like the government claims, then he would never have been released. Furthermore, most of what the government calls evidence against Alhouthi was provided single-handedly by the president. Finally, one of the accusations against Alhouthi is that he is Ethna Ashary Shiite. However, this is not a crime, but rather a way to manipulate some fanatics in Yemen who think everyone should worship in one way.
    Was the government’s campaign genocide?
    It is uncertain right now, but many facts point to genocide. Three elements must be present for it to be considered genocide: a protected group (religious or ethnic) is targeted, certain acts have been committed, and third, there is special intent to commit genocide.
    Although not all Zaidis or Hashemites were targeted, a significant part of them were. For example, the Believed Youth are either Hashemite or Zaidi. So they were targeted because of being Zaidi, Hashemite and anti-government. So it can be safely said that a protected group was targeted.
    The acts that were carried out in Yemen by the government were similar to what happened in the Darfur region of Sudan, and this was classified as genocide. For example, in Yemen 4,000 people were killed, more than 500 homes were destroyed, 22 schools were destroyed, 1,000 people were arrested and not put on trial for more than two years, there was torturing of these detainees, burning of books, targeting of religious scholars, and indiscriminate attacks which targeted civilians. All these violate international human rights law and fall under genocide.
    But was there intent to commit genocide? For example, many laws point to the systematic dissolution of the group. For example, Zaidis in Yemen were banned from announcing the call to prayer, high-ranking Zaidi scholars were arrested and some Zaidi activists were restricted from moving to the Saadah area such as Bader Aldeen Alhouthi. Laws were passed aimed at this group which would prevent them from establishing a political party if its principles contradicted the republican system.
    Furthermore, there is a lot of racist tone and hate speech present in the public media, similar to what was present at the time of the Nazis toward the Jews in Germany. For example, the military newspaper described the Hashemites as guests and strangers who are on Yemeni land temporarily. This is a clear indication that the Yemeni government was trying to incite ill feelings toward this group. Another example is when the government said Alhouthi was claiming to be a prophet. This is heresy in Islam, and it is evident that the common public would be aroused by this and develop a hatred for this leader and his group. Furthermore, an array of heavy weapons was used in the war, which showed the government’s determination to terminate the group. Also, according to the Geneva Conventions, there were a number of war crimes carried out, such as destroying mosques, targeting religious leaders, prohibiting certain religious activities, restricting humanitarian aid, taking hostages and banning water.
    So what does all this mean?
    Looking at the assessment, it can be concluded that the Alhouthis and Believed Youth are not terrorists or criminals, the Yemeni government started this unlawful war, the accusations against Alhouthi are incoherent, there are credible reasons to believe the Yemeni army committed war crimes, there was a direct and public incitement by the president to commit genocide against Believed Youth, and finally, there are plausible reasons to believe the Yemeni president breached the constitution by committing conspiracy by using the army for his personal agenda.
    Steps that can be taken to fix the problem
    Since Yemen’s judicial system is weak, the only party that could fairly investigate would be the U.N. Security Council by sending an independent committee or truth commission to recommend solutions. Furthermore, in order to prevent any such crimes from ever taking place again, it would be necessary for involved government figures to be frozen from practicing any authority, especially for anything related to this conflict. Yemeni bodies involved in this case such as judicial institutions, union of religious scholars, and Committee of Dialogue should be stripped of any authority.
    To help the victims of the campaign, immediate aid should be sent to the area and the victims of the military operations should be compensated. Prisoners should be released or given guarantees of a fair trial.
    The law banning the establishment of a political party against the republican system should be amended so that any party can achieve its vision through free and fair elections. Finally, the Yemeni parliament should practice the authority it is given in the constitution by investigating the president’s breach of the constitution.

    * Yemeni lawyer lives in Canada
  2.   مشاركة رقم : 2    ‏2005-12-04
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