The tribes have granted Oman more time for mediation efforts, but are not hopeful
War looms between Houthis and Al-Baydha tribes
On Sunday, tribal sheikh and senior member of the General People’s Congress (GPC) party, Yasser Al-Awadhi, called on Al-Baydha governorate’s tribesmen to mobilize and prepare for an imminent war with the Houthis following their refusal to hand over the men who killed a young woman in Al-Baydha on April 27.
In a voice note circulated widely on social media and verified by Almasdar Online, Al-Awadhi states that mediation efforts led by the Sultanate of Oman to calm the situation had failed. “You have seen my tweets. You should inform each other. Do not rely on mediation. It is not going to work out,” said Al-Awadhi. “[The Houthis] are just trying to buy time.”
Al-Awadhi asked tribesmen, particularly those in Al-Awadh tribe, to prepare themselves and take their assigned positions, hinting that he may not be able to use a landline or mobile phone in the future for security reasons, given that the Houthis control telecom networks. “We met and set a plan and decided where each and every person is to be stationed,” he emphasized.
These developments came after the Houthis killed a woman from the Al-Asbahi tribe in the Taffah district of Al-Baydha governorate during a raid. The woman, Jihad Ahmed Al-Asbahi, was killed by the Houthi fighters as they searched her home for her father-in-law.
The murder has triggered widespread anger among tribes in several districts of Al-Baydha, which escalated after the Houthis refused to hand over those responsible for Al-Asbahi’s killing. The Houthis have mobilized and deployed forces to Al-Sawadiyah district in preparation for an attack on Al-Awadh tribes in the nearby Radman Al-Awad district where Yasser Al-Awadhi is leading the tribes.
Ahmed Mohammed Al-Asbahi, the father of the slain woman, said in a video circulating social media that the leader of the Al-Asbahi tribe travelled to Sana’a to inform the Houthi authorities of what had happened and to demand that those responsible for her murder are brought to justice.
“As Houthis had not responded appropriately to us, we went to Sheikh Yasser Al-Awadhi and other tribes and shiekhs of Al-Baydha,” he continued. “Our stance is the same as that of Sheikh Al-Awadhi, the Al-Awadh tribe, and the free Al-Baydha tribes from Mukayras to Rada’a because our honor is their [honor].”
“Sheikh Al-Awadhi represents us and every free person in Yemen. We will never accept anything other than what he says. Our stance is the same and I do not think that anyone from Al-Baydha will abandon this case.”
After being approached by the victim’s family, Al-Awadhi said in a tweet that justice would be granted at any cost. He initially gave Houthi leadership a three-day deadline to hand over the killers and remove their commanding supervisors from Al-Baydha. Supervisors, known locally as mushrefeen, are senior Houthi loyalists assigned to particular areas or institutions to advance the group’s interests.
In a series of tweets, Al-Awadhi revealed that the Omani authorities had intervened and asked for more time to work on a solution for the tensions in Al-Baydha between the tribes and the Houthis, following the passing of the three-day deadline.
“We, being keen about our ties with some good parties who resented what happened and showed solidarity with us, consulted with the victim’s family and sheikhs and decided to honor our brothers in Oman and give them more time -- yet hands are on the triggers in the barracks,” Al-Awadhi stated on Twitter.
“Sana’a decided to fill Al-Baydha with despots from Al-Shaaf,” Al-Awadhi said, referring to the de facto Houthi authorities in Sana’a who refused to turn over the supervisors who killed Jihad Al-Asbahi. The supervisors belong to the Al-Shaaf area in Al-Baydha.
“There is only one hair linking us to Sa’ada and we hope it is not cut,” said Al-Awadhi, who called on the leader of the Houthis to “hand in the suspects to the judiciary, fire wrongful supervisors or let the people of Al-Baydha handle the issue in their own way.”
On May 3, Al-Awadhi was skeptical that negotiations would prevent the impending conflict. “No mediation will be successful,” he said on Twitter, implying that Houthis have decided to go to war.
He called for the Al-Awadh and other tribes to prepare for war, implying that he would not seek support from the internationally-recognized Yemeni government or the Saudi-led coalition. He stressed that this war is to be fought by tribes only.
Edited by Ahlam Mohsen and Casey Coombs