New confrontations in Al-Hasaba threatened as tensions rise
The move came after the Republican Guards launched renewed attacks against the areas of Wadi Shara’a and Bani Jarmooz of Arhab, in the north of Sana’a. Republican Guard used tanks and artillery, whilst warplanes are being flown over the areas. The sources said that the latest attacks in Arhab left six people wounded.
The return of the tensions threaten the renewal of clashes between opposition tribal forces and forces loyal to the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh commanded by his son, Ahmed, and his nephews, Yahya and Tariq.
The clashes which broke out late last May and continued until November resulted in the deaths of about 1,500 people, including civilians, fighters of Al-Ahmar and the military and security forces. The Al-Hasaba conflict has also led to the displacement of thousands of families and the destruction of numerous houses and commercial buildings.
Tribesmen affiliated to Al-Ahmar said that they will stay in their barracks and behind sandbags until the military is reorganized. One of Al-Ahmar’s fighters said in a conversation with the Yemen Times that they are willing to put down their weapons and return home when the military reorganization outlined in the GCC Initiative is implemented.
“We will fight as long as Ahmed (Saleh’s son) and other relatives of Saleh hold the reins of the military,” one of the fighters said.
They accuse the Republican Guard of supplying weapons to Sagheer bin Azeez, a tribal leader loyal to Saleh who fought against Al-Ahmar’s fighters during the battles with Saleh’s forces.
They also said that snipers from the Republican Guards are still stationed in some of the residential buildings and hotels in Al-Hasaba.
Ahmed Al-Sofi, Saleh’s press secretary, denied the existence of snipers affiliated to the Republican Guards in a statement given to the Yemen Times.
“The military presence in Al-Hasaba is only by Al-Ahmar’s tribesmen and the first armored division,” Al-Sofi said.
He added that Al-Ahmar and the armored division “have only utilized the attack against Al-Arhab to go back to their military positions.”
One local of Al-Hasaba says that they still live in panic and constant worry, indicating that the sounds of shooting are heard from time to time.
A local source said that preparations by armed men affiliated to Sheikh Al-Ahmar come in anticipation of attacks similar to those currently being launched by the Republican Guard in Arhab.
“The delay of the military reorganization and fears of the political settlement failing could make the situation explode again,” the source added.
When a team from the Yemen Times visited Al-Hasaba, the streets in front of Al-Ahmar’s house were open. The team roamed the neighborhood that appeared largely destroyed, in particular the house of Sheikh Al-Ahmar, the buildings of Yemenia Airways and Al-Saeeda Airways, the office of the Standing Committee of Saleh’s GPC Party, and other government ministers and buildings.
The surrounding buildings seem empty of armed men who are now posted in front and back of Al-Ahmar’s house, whilst soldiers can be seen inside the government ministries.
The neighborhoods around the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and Al-Hasaba market are still largely empty of residents and the markets are closed. Some remaining residents are now leaving their houses as they worry that clashes will erupt again at any time.
Ahmed Al-Masnaee, a local citizen said that the current situation indicates that clashes will be renewed. He said that he must carry his personal weapon when outside the house, and that he will only leave it at home when he sees the existence of a real independent army.
Some soldiers centered inside government buildings said that the government ministries in Al-Hasaba are now completely empty of landmines. They warned, however, that the main market of Al-Hasaba is still not safe, and there are still landmines and explosive devices present there.
Locals from Al-Hasaba demanded that President Abdu-Rabo Mansour Hadi and the Military Committees take serious actions to end the fighting and restore peace and stability.
President Hadi held an exceptional meeting on Tuesday with the Military Commissions tasked with removing signs of the military from city streets and ending the fighting.
Hadi stressed the importance of settling a plan to unify the armed forces under one leadership, and imposing security and stability to complete the implementation of the GCC power transfer deal, and the 2014 UN Security Council Resolution.
A spokesman for Al-Ahmar denied that the armed tribesmen had returned to their previous positions, affirming that they are committed to the truce and the GCC deal.