RIYADH: Condemning Iranian interference in Yemen and its support for the Houthi militia, tribal leaders of Yemen's Saada province expressed their unflinching support to the Arab military coalition seeking to restore the legitimate government in the war-torn country.
The Yemeni tribal chiefs attended the coalition press conference in Riyadh on Monday to convey a message to the world on behalf of the inhabitants of Saada province and the Yemenis in general.
“Saada region is an extension of the Arab tribes — a fact that strengthens our fraternal bonds,” said Fahad Al-Sharafy, a tribal leader.
He said Iran is bent on destroying these ties and is making efforts to drive a wedge between Arab countries using its proxies.
“The sons of Saada have always opposed Iranian designs. For a decade, we resisted Iran and offered stiff resistance,” he said.
Al-Sharafy categorically said Saada does not belong to the Iranian-backed Houthis.
“Saada does not follow a certain sect. Saada is for all of Yemen. Today, we stand hand-in-hand with our brothers from the coalition,” he said.
Abdul Khalek Bishr, another tribal leader, said “the sons of Saada’s governorate still raise the banners of sacrifice and struggle against the Iranian-backed militia, which has lasted more than a decade and half until now.”
“We appeal to our legitimate government and the coalition to continue the battle for Saada’s liberation.”
“We have opposed and resisted for years. The Iranian militia does not represent us and we do not accept the Persian interference,” he added.
Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki denied signing of a formal agreement with the tribal elders. He called it mutual cooperation that is necessary for “post-military operations.”
Al-Maliki said the Houthis are trying to portray the Arab military alliance as an occupying force. “Through effective communication, we wish to dispel this wrong image.” Al-Sharafy said the tribal leaders of Saada have agreed on a mechanism with their brothers in the coalition.
“Our message is that we are coming in peace, and for the reconstruction of buildings and the coexistence of all groups in Saada,” he said.
Al-Sharafy told Arab News that people of Saada had become used to the war before the intervention of the Arab coalition.
He said: “We stand by the coalition and resist all anti-Yemen forces.”
The coalition spokesman told Arab News that the tribal elders of Saada represented the views of other tribal chiefs in the war-torn country.
He said they wanted to inform the world about the atrocities committed by the Iranian-backed Houthis.