Yemen ready to fight rebels for years -president

Source: Reuters

SANAA, Sept 26 (Reuters) – The Yemeni the army is ready to fight Shi’ite rebels for years if necessary, President Ali Abdullah Saleh said on Saturday, calling on the insurgents to accept a ceasefire proposed by his government. “We will not backtrack, even if the war takes five or six years … we will not stop,” he said on regional television. He was speaking at an event attended by senior military officials to mark the 1962 revolution that overthrew a Shi’ite Muslim state which officials say the rebels want to restore. Saleh called on the rebels to return to the “right path” and accept a truce to end the fighting in which hundreds of people have been killed since it broke out last month in the mountainous north of the poor Arab state. A rebel spokesman blamed the government for the continued hostilities. “The president has rejected mediators … and even thrown them in jail. We are the side calling for a solution, and the release of all detainees,” Mohammed Abdel-Salam told Al Jazeera television by telephone. U.N. agencies estimate the fighting has made a further 50,000 people homeless, mostly women and children, in addition to about 100,000 who fled their homes during earlier rounds of the violence which began in 2004. The international aid group Oxfam said this week Yemen could soon face a humanitarian crisis as a result of the escalation. The rebels accuse Saudi Arabia, whose Wahabi brand of Islam regards Shi’ites as heretics, of backing the government, while the government sees Iran’s hand behind the rebels. Sanaa says the rebels, members of the Zaydi sect, want to restore the Shi’ite imamate overthrown in 1962, but the group says it wants more autonomy and opposes the spread of Saudi-inspired Sunni Islam and Saleh’s ruling party. (Writing by Firouz Sedarat; editing by Andrew Dobbie)
spotted by RS

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