Houthis accept dialogue, won’t put down arms
“We are not ready to put down our weapons, as they are part of our culture,” Saleh Habra, the Houthis’ spokesperson, said. “All Yemenis carry weapons, and we use them when we feel vulnerable to attacks by government forces.”
The Houthis have fought six wars with the Yemeni army, with Saudi Arabia involved in the last round of the fighting, ending in February 2010. The group rejected the GCC power transfer deal removing former president Saleh from office and the installing his deputy, Abd Rabo Mansour Hadi, as president.
However, they finally agreed to take part in the upcoming National Dialogue, intended to bring all parties together to decide Yemen’s future political landscape.
“We never said that dialogue is not the best way to end disputes among Yemenis,” Habra said. “Dialogue is a part of our culture.”
A five-member team from the National Dialogue Communication Committee, which was established May 6 by President Hadi, paid a visit to Sa'ada on Thursday to invite the Houthis to take part in the National Dialogue.
The team included Dr. Abdulkareem Al-Eryani of the General People’s Congress (GPC), Dr. Yaseen Saeed Noman of the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), Abdulwahab Al-Anisi of the Islah Party and Abulkadir Hilal and Nadia Sakkaf, two independent members of the outreach committee.
The Houthis' leader, Abdulmalik Al-Houthi, received the team with open arms, emphasizing his willingness to participate in a serious dialogue in order to work through the nation's problems and accomplish the goals of Yemen’s peaceful popular revolution.
He added: “We warmly receive the Communication Committee because we [Houthis] believe in the values of the revolution in addition to our desire to respond to the people's aspirations to build a just civil state, which all Yemenis contribute to building.”
The Houthis took control of Sa’ada governorate in March 2011 and appointed the arms dealer, Fares Man’a, as the new governor of the governorate, in coordination with local leaders.
Since then, the group has been accused of expanding their military presence in northern areas including Al-Jawf, Hajja and Sa’ada.
In November, the Houthis engaged in fierce clashes with local Salafi tribesmen in Hajja, Sa’ada and Al-Jawf. Many casualties were reported on both sides.