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In pictures: The scars of North Yemen's wars
The northern region of Saada, on the Saudi border, bears the hallmarks of six years of conflict.
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2012 19:25

Saada, Yemen - People in this war-torn northern region of Yemen, bordering Saudi Arabia, felt hopeful at the start of the 2011 revolution, believing that change would bring life back to their forgotten governorate. After six years of wars that devastated the region amid quasi-indifference from the international community and a media blackout, Saada still bears the scars of conflict.

In 2004, the region's Zaydi revivalist movement - a Shia school of thought with theological similarities to Sunni Islam - whose members in this region are known both as Ansar Allah, or "Houthis", after their first leader, Hussein Badr al-Din al-Houthi - denounced their marginalisation at the hands of then-president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Government forces waged a war against the followers of their movement - the Masirah - accusing them of wanting to restore the rule of Islamic imams in Yemen, as had been the case under the Hashemite monarchy before the 1962 revolution. The Houthis' spokesperson, however, outright rejected these claims on numerous occasions.

Six rounds of on and off fighting continued, with the involvement of Saudi Arabia in the last war of 2009. During the wars, tens of thousands were killed, including women and children, and more than 340,000 people were displaced, according to the UN and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC).

A ceasefire was finally reached in February 2010 and, to date, it has been more or less respected.

While the official war between the government forces and the movement has ended, the aftermath is still far from over, and renewed violence is always a very real potential. Drones continue to hover over Saada city, and children say their sound reminds them of the past fighting, where wounded civilians filled the cities and homes were destroyed.

While the government's reconstruction fund has given some compensation to families, whose homes are most visible along this city's main road, the majority who live inside the old city are still waiting, and have not yet received any funds to rebuild.

Many of the civilians injured also did not receive financial support, and most have to travel six hours to Sanaa for treatment, due to the lack of medical facilities and doctors in the region. Mines and explosive debris continue to wound civilians.

"There is no week that passes without hearing of a new wounded person injured."

- Hamoud Ghabish, Physically Handicapped Society

"There is no week that passes wihout hearing of a new wounded person injured," explained Hamoud Ghabish, supervisor for the Physically Handicapped Society in Saada, who himself lost a leg in a mine explosion.

The continued marginalisation and perceived lack of justice for war victims has increased support and sympathy for the Houthi, many of whom believe that the former regime was implementing a foreign agenda against the interests of the country and its people.

Their green and red flag, with its slogan, "Allah is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Damn the Jews, Victory for Islam", has become a recognisable brand. It can be seen everywhere on walls, checkpoints, houses, stickers, clothes, books and pens. Despite the hatred of these words, Saleh Hibra, head of the group's political office, said the words targeted the policies of the West, not the people.

"Our interactions and numerous exchange of visits with people from around the world are based on respect," he said. "It proves that we are in harmony with people abroad, we are just against some of their policies."

During the 2011 uprising, as government security and military forces were busy in the capital, the Houthi took over Saada governorate, as well as some areas in neighbouring Hajjah and Al-Jawf, leading to territorial conflicts with armed tribesmen - which have been mistaken as purely sectarian.

IN DEPTH
  Interactive: Fractured Yemen

They also appointed their own governor and took charge of security measures in the region - but central authorities are still involved.

Photos of Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi, Yemen's president (formerly vice-president under the now-ousted Saleh), decorate government institutions - and most government employees, including police officers, teachers and the governor himself are still paid by the central administration.

The degree of autonomy which this region enjoys has yet to be formalised, but will be considered in the discussion on federalism at Yemen's post-uprising "National Dialogue", probably the most important component of the country's current transitional process.

The Houthis have said that they would participate in this dialogue, which is supposed to include all the various actors and groups involved, such as the traditional political parties, youth groups, women's groups and the Southern Movement - which calls for recognition of regional rights and hardships.

By addressing deep-held grievances, finding means for compensation and retribution for injustice, officials behind the national dialogue process want to prevent future conflicts in the region - as the UN special envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, told the Security Council in May: "The success or failure of the national dialogue is likely to make or break Yemen’s transition."


Benjamin Wiacek/Al Jazeera
Since they took over the region, the Houthis' pink checkpoints, decorated with flowers and their slogan, mark the entrance to their territories.


Benjamin Wiacek/Al Jazeera
It was in this breathtaking landscape, in the remote mountainous region of Marran, around 150 kilometres from Saada city, that the first war started in June 2004.


Benjamin Wiacek/Al Jazeera
In the Old City of Saada, an important Yemeni heritage site, the majority of the adobe buildings, housing families and built centuries ago, were hit during the sixth war in 2009.


Benjamin Wiacek/Al Jazeera
The three-floor home of photographer Abdulrahman Al-Mo'ayed was hit in 2009. After being displaced and impoverished, he and his family returned two months ago to live in the only section still intact.


Benjamin Wiacek/Al Jazeera
A mortar shell hit the Sabra family's rooftop, causing the 15-member family to be displaced overnight. More than two years later, their home and those of their neighbours are still in ruins - with no compensation.


Benjamin Wiacek/Al Jazeera
Flowers and plants decorate the graves of fighters and civilians killed during the wars as a way to honour them. Lots of cemeteries, like this one in Bani Harith, can be found in the governorate.


Benjamin Wiacek/Al Jazeera
Third grade students joyfully sing a tribute to those killed in the wars. Despite their smiles, the children bear the brunt of the trauma - as in every war. There is no psychotherapy centre in Saada to help them, however.


Benjamin Wiacek/Al Jazeera
The destruction of homes, shops, mosques, farming lands and clinics can be seen driving on the 25 kilometre road from Saada to Dahyan.


Benjamin Wiacek/Al Jazeera
The Sharm al-Sheikh hotel, where government military prisoners were held, was hit by an air strike by government forces in 2009. According to the Houthis, 120 Yemeni soldiers were killed and 40 injured.


Benjamin Wiacek/Al Jazeera
Badr al-Din al-Houthi (centre), the famous Zaydi scholar who died in 2010, is pictured with his two sons. Hussein (left) was the first leader of the armed group and was assassinated in 2004. Abdulmalek (right) currently leads the movement.


Benjamin Wiacek/Al Jazeera
In one example from the Houthis' "war on drugs", an estimated $13 million worth (4,200 kilos of hashish, two kilos of pure heroin and more than 10,000 pills) was set on fire on May 24, 2012, at a public ceremony.


Benjamin Wiacek/Al Jazeera
Protests continue each Friday in Saada, calling for the establishment of a civil state. On May 25, 2012, a would-be suicide bomber tried to blow himself up during the march. The sign reads: "No to violating Yemen's sovereignty. No to US-Saudi interference in Yemen affairs."


Benjamin Wiacek/Al Jazeera
The Houthis' slogan: "Allah is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Damn the Jews, Victory for Islam" has been used since 2004.


Follow Benjamin Wiacek on Twitter: @Nefermaat


images:
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captions:
Since they took over the region, the Houthis(***) pink checkpoints, decorated with flowers and their slogan, mark the entrance to their territories.;*;It was in this breathtaking landscape, in the remote mountainous region of Marran, around 150 kilometres from Saada city, that the first war started in June 2004.;*;In the Old City of Saada, an important Yemeni heritage site, the majority of the adobe buildings, housing families and built centuries ago, were hit during the sixth war in 2009.;*;The three-floor home of photographer Abdulrahman Al-Mo(***)ayed was hit in 2009. After being displaced and impoverished, he and his family returned two months ago to live in the only section still intact.;*;A mortar shell hit the Sabra family(***)s rooftop, causing the 15-member family to be displaced overnight. More than two years later, their home and those of their neighbours are still in ruins - with no compensation.;*;Flowers and plants decorate the graves of fighters and civilians killed during the wars as a way to honour them. Lots of cemeteries, like this one in Bani Harith, can be found in the governorate.;*;Third grade students joyfully sing a tribute to those killed in the wars. Despite their smiles, the children bear the brunt of the trauma - as in every war. There is no psychotherapy centre in Saada to help them, however.;*;The destruction of homes, shops, mosques, farming lands and clinics can be seen driving on the 25 kilometre road from Saada to Dahyan.;*;The Sharm al-Sheikh hotel, where government military prisoners were held, was hit by an air strike by government forces in 2009. According to the Houthis, 120 Yemeni soldiers were killed and 40 injured. ;*;Badr al-Din al-Houthi (centre), the famous Zaydi scholar who died in 2010, is pictured with his two sons. Hussein (left) was the first leader of the armed group and was assassinated in 2004. Abdulmalek (right) currently leads the movement.;*;In one example from the Houthis(***) "war on drugs", an estimated $13 million worth (4,200 kilos of hashish, two kilos of pure heroin and more than 10,000 pills) was set on fire on May 24, 2012, at a public ceremony.;*;Protests continue each Friday in Saada, calling for the establishment of a civil state. On May 25, 2012, a would-be suicide bomber tried to blow himself up during the march. The sign reads: "No to violating Yemen(***)s sovereignty. No to US-Saudi interference in Yemen affairs.";*;The Houthis(***) slogan: "Allah is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Damn the Jews, Victory for Islam" has been used since 2004. Daylife ID:
1341086040530
Photographer:
Benjamin Wiacek;*;Benjamin Wiacek;*;Benjamin Wiacek;*;Benjamin Wiacek;*;Benjamin Wiacek;*;Benjamin Wiacek;*;Benjamin Wiacek;*;Benjamin Wiacek;*;Benjamin Wiacek;*;Benjamin Wiacek;*;Benjamin Wiacek;*;Benjamin Wiacek;*;Benjamin Wiacek
Image Source:
Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
The aftermath of war in North Yemenhttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-YemenThe northern region of Saada, on the Saudi border, bears the scars of six years of conflict.en-usAl Jazeerafeedback@daylife.com10Sat, 30 Jun 2012 19:54:02 GMTSat, 30 Jun 2012 21:06:33 GMTCheckpoint.jpghttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=0dmddqN1WpbYNSince they took over the region, the Huthis‚?? pink checkpoints, decorated with flowers and their slogan, mark the entrance to their territories.Sat, 30 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=0dmddqN1WpbYNBenjamin WiacekAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesSince they took over the region, the Huthis‚?? pink checkpoints, decorated with flowers and their slogan, mark the entrance to their territories.Checkpoint.jpgMarran.jpghttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=09xl65t27w9GxIt is in this breathtaking landscape, in the remote mountainous region of Marran, around 150 kilometres from Saada city, that the first war started in June 2004.Sat, 30 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=09xl65t27w9GxBenjamin WiacekAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesIt is in this breathtaking landscape, in the remote mountainous region of Marran, around 150 kilometres from Saada city, that the first war started in June 2004.Marran.jpgOld City.jpghttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=09nC47pbeZ3yyIn the Old City of Saada, an important Yemeni heritage site, the majority of the adobe buildings housing families and built centuries ago, were hit during the sixth war in 2009.Sat, 30 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=09nC47pbeZ3yyBenjamin WiacekAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesIn the Old City of Saada, an important Yemeni heritage site, the majority of the adobe buildings housing families and built centuries ago, were hit during the sixth war in 2009.Old City.jpgAbdulrahman.jpghttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=00dw1ZXf6f7jxThe three-floor home of photographer Abdulrahman Al-Mo‚??ayed was hit in 2009. After being displaced and impoverished, he and his family returned two months ago to live in the only section still intact.Sat, 30 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=00dw1ZXf6f7jxBenjamin WiacekAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesThe three-floor home of photographer Abdulrahman Al-Mo‚??ayed was hit in 2009. After being displaced and impoverished, he and his family returned two months ago to live in the only section still intact.Abdulrahman.jpgBeit Sabra.JPGhttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=05xtbhabCo7qVA mortar shell hit the Sabra family's rooftop, causing the 15-member family to be displaced overnight. More than two years later, their home and those of their neighbours are still in ruins - with no compensation.Sat, 30 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=05xtbhabCo7qVBenjamin WiacekAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesA mortar shell hit the Sabra family's rooftop, causing the 15-member family to be displaced overnight. More than two years later, their home and those of their neighbours are still in ruins - with no compensation.Beit Sabra.JPGMartyrs Cimetery.jpghttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=0eAfcg81IlflwFlowers and plants decorate the graves of fighters and civilians killed during the wars as a way to honour them. Lots of cemeteries, like this one in Bani Harith, can be found in the governorate.Sat, 30 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=0eAfcg81IlflwBenjamin WiacekAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesFlowers and plants decorate the graves of fighters and civilians killed during the wars as a way to honour them. Lots of cemeteries, like this one in Bani Harith, can be found in the governorate.Martyrs Cimetery.jpgSchool.jpghttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=06E76rQ32I1pSThird grade students joyfully sing a tribute to those killed in the wars. Despite their smiles, the children bear the brunt of the trauma - as in every war. There is no psychotherapy center in Saada to help them, however.Sat, 30 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=06E76rQ32I1pSBenjamin WiacekAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesThird grade students joyfully sing a tribute to those killed in the wars. Despite their smiles, the children bear the brunt of the trauma - as in every war. There is no psychotherapy center in Saada to help them, however.School.jpgDahyan road.jpghttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=0b843cHbRC5PPThe destruction of homes, shops, mosques, farming lands and clinics can be seen driving on the 25 kilometre road from Saada to Dahyan.Sat, 30 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=0b843cHbRC5PPBenjamin WiacekAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesThe destruction of homes, shops, mosques, farming lands and clinics can be seen driving on the 25 kilometre road from Saada to Dahyan.Dahyan road.jpgSharm al-Sheikh hotel.jpghttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=0fv261LbnybY4The Sharm al-Sheikh hotel, where government military prisoners were held, was hit by an air strike by government forces in 2009. According to the Houthis, 120 Yemeni soldiers were killed and 40 injured. Sat, 30 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=0fv261LbnybY4Benjamin WiacekAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesThe Sharm al-Sheikh hotel, where government military prisoners were held, was hit by an air strike by government forces in 2009. According to the Houthis, 120 Yemeni soldiers were killed and 40 injured. Sharm al-Sheikh hotel.jpgHuthis family.jpghttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=0asj1SGfqd9YSBadr al-Din al-Houthi (centre), the famous Zaydi scholar who died in 2010, is pictured with his two sons. Hussein (left) was the first leader of the armed group and was assassinated in 2004. Abdulmalek (right) currently leads the movement.Sat, 30 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=0asj1SGfqd9YSBenjamin WiacekAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesBadr al-Din al-Houthi (centre), the famous Zaydi scholar who died in 2010, is pictured with his two sons. Hussein (left) was the first leader of the armed group and was assassinated in 2004. Abdulmalek (right) currently leads the movement.Huthis family.jpgHashish on fire.jpghttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=0dfW3O44SWesXIn one example from the Houthis‚?? ‚??war on drugs‚??, an estimated $13 million worth (4,200 kilos of hashish, two kilos of pure heroin and more than 10,000 pills) was set on fire on May 24, 2012, at a public ceremony.Sat, 30 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=0dfW3O44SWesXBenjamin WiacekAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesIn one example from the Houthis‚?? ‚??war on drugs‚??, an estimated $13 million worth (4,200 kilos of hashish, two kilos of pure heroin and more than 10,000 pills) was set on fire on May 24, 2012, at a public ceremony.Hashish on fire.jpgProtest.jpghttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=0dIz1ux5SW9M7Revolutionary protests continue each Friday in Saada city, calling for the establishment of a civil state. On May 25, 2012, a would-be suicide bomber tried to blow himself up during the march. The sign reads: "No to violating Yemen's sovereignty. No to US-Saudi interference in Yemen affairs."Sat, 30 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=0dIz1ux5SW9M7Benjamin WiacekAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesRevolutionary protests continue each Friday in Saada city, calling for the establishment of a civil state. On May 25, 2012, a would-be suicide bomber tried to blow himself up during the march. The sign reads: "No to violating Yemen's sovereignty. No to US-Saudi interference in Yemen affairs."Protest.jpgSlogan.jpghttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=05WBeuA81AbEIThe Houthis‚?? slogan: ‚??Allah is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Damn the Jews, Victory for Islam‚?? has been used since 2004.Sat, 30 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/The-aftermath-of-war-in-North-Yemen?image_id=05WBeuA81AbEIBenjamin WiacekAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesThe Houthis‚?? slogan: ‚??Allah is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Damn the Jews, Victory for Islam‚?? has been used since 2004.Slogan.jpg

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