By National Yemen
Local Sources and witnesses say that the Salafis in Damaj have refused aid, which they describe as “just symbolic.” Aid was recently offered to Damaj Salafis by Sa’dah governorate authorities. The Salafis claim that his aid is merely intended to mislead public opinion. Witness sources have said that four military crews arrived in two small trucks carrying bags of wheat, oil, and cartons of beans, procured by the Yemeni Economic Corporation belonging to the Yemen Army. The delivery came at the order of governor Fares Manna.
Salafi groups refused the aid for a number of reasons. They say that the aid is insufficient, it will mislead public opinion, and it promotes the entering of Damaj by hostile forces that have surrounded it for a month. Sources also report that the aid isn’t helpful because it lacks milk for children, medical materials, or anesthetic drugs desperately needed by Damag’s residents. These residents number over ten thousand.
Journalist Rachida Alquili recently posted pictures on her Facebook page of vehicles that had been shot at by Houthis as they attempted to leave Damaj. Some of these vehicles belonged to activists and members of the Popular Commission.
Sheikhs and opponents have criticized the violence of the Houthis against Damaj, and Sa’dah citizens organized a protest last week on this issue in front of the president’s residence
Sheikh and parliament member Sagier Bin Aziz threatened to use weapons and violence against the sheikhs and tribesmen of Sa’dah, Harf Sufyan and the surrounding areas to defend themselves and help the victims of the Houthis crime, if the state fails to do it protective duties.
Bin Aziz was further quoted saying, “while I was participating in the protest in front of the president’s residence on Saturday, there were many people from Sa’dah’s and Harf Sufyan detained by the Houthis, and no one has known their fate since the fifth Houthi war.”
Tens of people were killed during the recent blockade after Houthis bombed Damaj using heavy weapons. Houthis justified their attack by claiming that Damaj was recruiting foreign fighters to the region.
This conflict has drawn the involvement of tribes who support the Salafis in Sa’dah. These tribes recently imposed a blockade in the city of Sa’dah in order to force the Houthis to lift their blockade on Damaj.
The Damaj area contains an Institute of Modern Science, run by the Salafis, and this center is considered the main cause of conflict between the Salafists and the Houthis. The region has witnessed intermittent clashes since 2011, and a recent truce failed between the two parties. The truce was sponsored by Presidential Commission responsible for ending the shooting between the two parties.
Thus far, the National Dialogue Conference has also failed to reach a solution to the conflict. The Red Cross recently announced the evacuation of 34 injured persons from Damaj; this is the fourth such evacuation by the Red Cross since October.