Friday, September 25, 2009

First hand report from Yemen

A person in the north of Yemen (who wants to remain anonymous) sent me this: "You were right about the no interest in the western media in the Yemen story. i have been here for three weeks trying to push the story in the west and it has been extremely difficult not even the humane story is catching their attention. Anyway, the Yemeni government is banning the media from entering Saada and there is no serious reporting of the fighting. Even Al Jazeera and Arabiya are just reporting from the lousy statements they receive from both Houthis and the government. They both have mass sms and email services sending conflicting reports about strategic positions they took over or number of houthis or army soldiers killed. The houthis are heavily armed and so is everyone in Yemen including the tribes who are now split between the rival parties. An informed source told me that the government is not serious about the announced cease fire and neither are the Houthis. I guess it is well know that Saudi Arabia is backing the Yemenis although there is no evidence of the Iranians backing the Houthis. It is said here that al houthi wants to take over the Malaheet to get into the coastal area so that he receives ammunition from Iran. In Sanaa, people dont even follow the news of the North and some even are unaware about the fighting although it is very likely that the conflict will spread outside Saada. The north is very underdeveloped with high illiteracy rates. It is a tribal area with no basic infrastructure. The people however are very passive to react. Al Houthi agenda has no appeal among the people and his demands are very vague. He does not raise social or economic issues and he is not popular among Yemenis. But neither is the government. The Yemenis are totally hypnotized by Qat all day long including government officials who chew during high level meetings. As for Saudi Arabia and the UN convoy stuck there. I know that the Saudis are very keen on allowing this convoy in lest an influx of Yemenis from Saada will get through the borders. They bluntly said that they will not open the borders to them as refugees (of course they are afraid of houthi elements coming along)."