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Middle East
Foreign states blamed in Yemen war
Accusations of Iranian and Saudi roles in conflict raise fears of regional instability.
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2009 16:04 GMT

Ongoing fighting between the Yemeni government and Houthi fighters is the work of foreign states, residents in Yemen have told Al Jazeera.

Battles have continued in the north, despite a mutual ceasefire being called days ago, leaving many citizens disenchanted.

Some people in the Zaidi village of Wadi Dahr, near Sanaa, the capital in the south of the country, support the Houthis.

However, there is a growing cynicism surrounding the conflict which the Red Cross has said has displaced tens of thousands of people in the north, primarily in the Saada province.

'Foreign agenda'

"The Houthis and their gangs are implementing a foreign agenda against the security, the economy and stability of this country," Ali Abdallah Al Haddad, a local, told Al Jazeera.

In depth

 

Video: Shaky truce in Yemen
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"It is a broad agenda to divide Yemen like they are planning to divide Iraq and Sudan."

The latest round of the five-year long war ignited last month and has drawn fears of regional instability.

The Houthis are from the same moderate sect that rules Yemen, being from the Zaidi branch of Shia Islam.

But over the last few years they have embraced a radical ideology some observers have said is evidence of Iranian influence.

Sanaa believes the Houthis are carrying a foreign agenda aimed at destabilising Yemen.

The government has threatened to cut off ties with Tehran, whom they accuse of supporting the Houthis with weapons and finance.

Saudi weapons

The Houthis, who have said their movement is a protest against discrimination and poverty, have accused Sanaa of being too close to neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

The Houthis have put on display ammunition seized from the army bearing Saudi Arabian markings.

The Saudis have raised concerns that Yemen is becoming the main recruiting ground for al-Qaeda and are worried that the conflict will cross into their Sunni kingdom.

Some Yeminis believe there is foreign interference in their country 
Hakim Al Masmari, a journalist at the Yemen Post, said: "The Houthis are loyal towards the Iranians, they are loyal towards Hezbollah and Hassan Nasrallah, but there are no proofs whatsoever that this loyalty has turned into funds and supports."

Ali Saif Hassan, a political analyst who has met with the Houthis in attempts to secure a peace deal, told Al Jazeera: "In the past an alliance formed by Saudi Arabia, [Sunni] Wahhabism and a powerful Yemeni tribe dominated political life in Yemen.

"But recently, a new alliance made up of Iran, the Houthis and a few Yemeni tribes is emerging as very active and ambitious and it is becoming a strong political force in the country."

Hashem Ahelbarra, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Sanaa, said the government was also facing instability from other quarters.

"A separatist movement in the south, and a very active al-Qaeda, are also seen as real challenges to the poorest nation in the Arab world," he said.

Zaidis are a minority in mainly Sunni Yemen but form the majority community in the north, some of whom want a return to the imamate, which was overthrown in a 1962 coup.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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