Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Yemeni terror suspects ask Saudi officials for freedom or trial

Yemeni terror suspects ask Saudi officials for freedom or trial
By Nasser Arrabyee/29/04/2009

A group of Yemenis being detained in Saudi Arabia for terror suspicion demanded that they be released or put on trial, Yemeni rights group said Wednesday.

The Yemeni National for Defending Rights and Liberties (HOOD) said it had received a complaint signed by 82 Yemeni detainees in Saudi Arabia in which they demanded their release.

"We were arrested inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for terror suspicion, five years ago without charges or trials," said the detainees from Al Kaseem political prison in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The names of the 82 detainees and periods of their detentions were shown in the complaint which was sent to the local Yemeni media by the rights group, HOOD.

The detainees said in the complaint they had been subjected to torture, inhumane and degrading treatments.

They also said that their prison is miserable and not suitable for human beings.

The detainees also expressed their surprise why Yemen has handed over many Saudi detainees to Saudi Arabia, but they were not released or handed to Yemen.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Soldier killed and others injured in Yemen clashes

Soldier killed and others injured in Yemen clashes
By Nasser Arrabyee/28/04/2009

One security man was killed and 14 others injured including four citizens when a group of gunmen clashed with security forces in Al Dhale'e south of Yemen, official sources said Tuesday.

The official sources said that two Members of Parliament were leading the armed group that attacked a check point between Al Dhale'e and Lahj.

"An armed gang of saboteurs led by the socialist MPs, Nasser Al Khubaji and Salah Al Shanfari and Shalal Ali Shaye'e attacked a check point at Habeel Al Raidah between Al Dhale'e and Lahj and fired at the security men killing one and injuring 14 others including four citizens," the official said.

On Monday, southern protesters calling for separation set fire to several commercial shops belonging to northerners in the coastal city of Mukalla but no casualties were reported.

Southern groups calling for independence of the south held on Monday a rally in Zunjubar capital of Abyan to mark what they called the "day of declaring the war against the south on April 27th, 1994"

Tareq Al Fadhli, a prominent tribal sheikh in Abyan, joined these groups, called south movement, only last month after he was one of the President Saleh's advisors since 1994 when he fought against the socialists in the south. Al Fadhli participated in Jihad with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan before he came back to take revenge on the socialists expelled his father in 1970s as a capitalist.

On the Monday's rally which was organized and sponsored by Al Fadhli in his home town Zunjubar, Abyan, he called for leaving behind all the differences among southerners and cooperating to "Drive away the occupation and have our own southern independence."

He said that former leaders of the south who are now in exile agreed with him on reconciliation and having the independence of the south.

The official media said that the Yemeni government had requested the governments of Saudi Arabia and Oman to hand over those leaders who are politically supporting the south movements.

In a similar rally held in the southern port of Aden on the same day Monday April 27th, the day of democracy as it was called by officials, bringing together the people from the three provinces of Aden, Lahj and Abyan, the vice President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, who is originally from Abyan, said," Those elements who lost their interests and became isolated should stay away from dangerous paths, and they should know that patience has limits. "

Further, on April 25th, 2009, the President Ali Abdullah Saleh warned from a civil war in his country.

"Yemen, All forbid, will not divide into two partitions, south and north, but into villages and small states, and people will be fighting with each other from door to door and from window to window," he said in a big rally bringing together all state's official military and security commanders.

"There are negative repercussions refused by every one in political forces, and these negative repercussions return us back to square number 1 before May 22, 1990, and the regretful war of 1994."He said referring to the south movement activities.

He refused the talk about referendum on the continuation of unity saying, "Any referendum should have been conducted before unity not now after 19 years since it was proclaimed."

He attacked the southern leaders in exile accusing them of trying to enter Yemen into new wars and of being agents to the British colony. "It's not the right of any one to claim guardianship on revolution, unity, or and the south."

The south movement emerged in 2007 when a group of retired southerners from civil, military and security institutions started to complain they were excluded and marginalized by the northerners after the 1994 civil war. They also complained that influential northerners plundered a lot of lands.

"We treated the issue of retired people with 52 billion YR (US$ 125,000,000) and that the south is not possession of any one, and nobody has the right to take lands from the south, and everybody is responsible for solving these issues," Saleh said.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Two sons of Guantanamo detainee killed in Yemen

Two sons of Guantanamo detainee killed in Yemen

By Nasser Arrabyee/22/04/2009

Two sons of a Yemeni Guantanamo detainee were killed in their house in the Yemeni capital Sana'a late Wednesday after a hand grenade went off, family sources said.

"Omar 10, and Yousef, 11, were killed while they were playing with a hand grenade in the house this after noon," Nabil Al Heelah, brother of the Guantanamo detainee, Abdul Salam Al Heelah, told Gulf News without giving anymore details.

Earlier, Abdul Salam Al Heelah told his family over phone that he does not believe in the promises that he and other prisoners will be released home.

"If Ali Abdullah Saleh and Obama come over to tell me about their promises, this will never change any thing in my situation. They just talk," said Al Heelah, who has been languishing in Guantanamo since 2002.

The US President Barack Obama ordered on his second day in office last January the closure of the detention in one year. Two days later, the Yemeni President Saleh said that 94 Yemenis will return home within 90 days. Saleh said at the time a rehabilitation centre will be built for the returnees.

"If I had a European passport, all Europe would have demanded my release and return home," Al Heelah told his family in Sana'a over phone from the Cuban bay of Guantanamo in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC.

Al Heelah, who is one of about 100 Yemenis among the 250 detainees remaining in Guantanamo, criticized his Yemeni government for not working on their release.

"The investigators, translators, and lawyers make fun of the Yemeni government, they say it's a beggar," He said in the conversation which was recorded and distributed by the family to media.

"Whenever they ask the government to receive the Yemenis, they say give us 10 million dollars, they beg in our names , they degraded us and degraded themselves," said Al Heelah who was a businessman in Yemen before being lured to Egypt in 2002 where he was kidnapped to Guantanamo.

About the rehabilitation centre, which the two governments speak about as a condition for the release of the men, he said "If every Yemeni pays 1000 YR, they would build 1000 centres, and we would not need the Americans, people should tell the President Ali Abdullah Saleh"

"They keep me in prison without charges or trials, and now they speak about rehabilitation, what rehabilitation," he wondered.

The family sources said, the mother did not speak to her son in the recent conversation, because she gets sad when she speaks with him over phone especially after he told her in one of the previous telephone conversations " See you in paradise, mum"

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Pakistani dies in Yemen's prison

Pakistani dies in Yemen's prison
By Nasser Arrabyee/20/04/2009

A Pakistani man died in a prison in Yemen where he was serving a 25-year term for trading drugs, the prison officials said Monday.

"Nabi Bakhsh Ibrahim, 52, has died on Sunday morning in Al Jumhury hospital after he was hit by cancer," said Mutahar Ali Naji, director of the central prison in Sana'a.

"We transferred him to the hospital for treatment from cancer, but he died," he said.

Ibrahim, from Karachi, was among 15 Pakistanis who were sentenced to 25 years in prison each early last March by the State Security Court that convicted them of trading and bringing to Yemeni waters about 10 tons of Hasish. The 16th Pakistani man, the leader of the group, was sentenced to death.

The court also ordered destruction of the quantity of drugs and confiscation of the boat of the convicted men.

The convicted Pakistanis, at the time, shouted with insulting words against the Judge and the prosecutor after the Judge recited the verdict.

Unjust verdict, unjust verdict, American verdict, they shouted.

One of them said, "Yemen is not Muslim, it has neither Islam nor laws."

The alliance of the International forces arrested the 16 Pakistanis last April in the territorial waters of Yemen and handed them to the Yemeni authorities who started trying them on October 2008.

Guantanamo detainee claims more abuses

Guantanamo detainee claims more abuses
By Nasser Arrabyee/18/04/2009

A Yemeni detainee in Guantanamo Bay said mistreatment against prisoners has worsened after the US President Barack Obama ordered the closure of the detention last January.

"Oppression has increased, torture has increased and insults have increased," said Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, a Yemeni national held since 2001.

"I have seen death so many times," he wrote in a letter to his American lawyer dated to April, a copy of which was sent to Gulf News.

"Everything is over; life is going to hell in my situation. America! What has happened to you," wondered Abdul Latif, who is one of about 94 Yemenis of the 250 prisoners remaining in the detention.

David Remes, Abdul Latif's lawyer, told Gulf News over phone from Washington that he had seen evidence of the alleged abuses on his client during meetings at the Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba. The last trip to Guantanamo made by Mr. Remes was last month.

"I've seen the marks on these men, I've taken inventories that show the scars, that show the open wounds, that show the rashes," said Mr. Remes who is the director of the Appeal for Justice, a human rights and civil liberties litigation firm.

"We have met with our clients, we know the men and the experiences are uniform and universal," he added.

"Abdul Latif has a badly dislocated shoulder blade. I've seen the evidence of physical torture and I've also heard about the evidence of psychological torture."

A big controversy has been going on over the Yemeni detainees, the largest group, since last January when US President Obama ordered on his second day in office the closure of the detention in one year. Two days after Obama's order, the Yemeni President Saleh, expected that 94 Yemenis will return home within 90 days. Saleh said at the time a rehabilitation centre will be built for the returnees. Neither the men were not released nor was the centre built until now.

The American administration hinted many times it would like to hand the Yemenis to Saudi Arabia to be rehabilitated, because it does not trust the capability of the Yemeni government to control the men and prevent them from joining terrorist groups once again. Only 15 Yemenis were released home, while most of the 230 Saudi nationals were released.

Yemen alone can not build the rehabilitation centre which may cost about $US12 million.

"If the government has this money, it will use it in building schools for children rather than building this centre," a senior official told Gulf News on condition of anonymity.

"We want our men to be released to Yemen not anywhere else, and the Americans should help us to rehabilitate and re-integrate them into society."

Friday, 17 April 2009

Beating drums of new war in Yemen

Beating drums of new war in Yemen
By Nasser Arrabyee/16/04/2009

The Yemeni government accused Thursday the Al Houthi rebels of beating drums of a new war in Sa'ada north of the country.

Earlier in the week, Al Houthi spokesman, Saleh Habra, said the problem of Sa'ada will be solved only by abiding by the Qatari-brokered deal between government and rebels which was made in 2007.

"Al Houthi and those outlaws with him like Habra, who beat the drums of war, were the first to refuse the Doha agreement and all peace efforts," said an official statement published by the government media.

"Saleh Habra was and still thinking that Doha agreement will bestow a lot of money and personal advantages on him."

On his part, Saleh Habra, in a statement sent to journalists, said, "If the Yemenis want a solution for Sa'ada problem, they should demand the government to abide by the Doha agreement."

"I'm sill adhering to Doha agreement and if the government does not want me as a person, it does not mean that the agreement is no longer valid."

He said they will defend themselves against any possible attack, warning all Yemenis from taking the position of lookers on.

"If everybody keeps just watching and doing nothing, then they all will pay the price for that attitude, and they will be held accountable to Allah. For us, we will defend ourselves." He said.

The government accused the rebels of violating the truce which was declared by President Ali Abdullah Saleh on July17th, 2008 to end a four-year sporadic war.

"Those deviant and astray elements are still doing banditry and sabotage acts, undermining security and social tranquility, plundering private and public properties, killing and assassinations of tribal sheikhs and social dignitaries from Sa'ada province," said the official statement.

Al Houthi and his subordinate Habra do not like the climates of peace and security, because they get a lot of advantages from wars, they get money and they mislead naive young people to the battles, the statement added.

The statement said the rebels built new trenches and ditches in the mountains like the Ghaflah in Galahad, and they are now building ditches and fortifications and refuges in the mountains which overlook the roads in Maran.

"The rebels kidnapped an employee from the communication building in Sakeen town, in Sa'ada, and bombed a house of a citizen there, and fired at the positions of the government troops in Lahman, Jaza'a and Mosoh mountains in Haidan and Malahaidh districts."

Meanwhile, the opposition parties called for a national solution for the armed rebellion in Sa'ada.

"The quick fix solutions are not enough; there should be national solutions based on good knowledge of the reasons behind this war," said Sultan al Atwani, the chairman of the supreme council of opposition alliance.

"The constitution and laws should govern the government and Al Houthis, interest of the nation should be above interests of individuals," he said.

These developments came after government accused Al Houthi rebels of killing two road workers and injuring two others in Al Mahather area in Sa'ada earlier this week. The rebels also were accused of assassinating a prominent tribal Shiekh and his son who are loyal to the government.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Efforts to reduce early marriage

Some 80 % of Yemeni women get married early, official report
By Nasser Arrabyee/16/04/2009

About 80 % of the Yemeni women get married early, said a recent government report.

Early marriage is one of the main reasons behind the economic, health and social problems facing the development in Yemen, said the report which was presented last week to the cabinet by the Minister of Social Affairs and Labour.

Some 24.6 % of the women get married when they are 10-14 years old, while 56 % of them get married when they are 15-19 years old, the report detailed.

The early marriage is a phenomenon in Yemen with respect to males and females, and it's widespread in both rural and urban areas, the report added.
Some 48 % of the women under 15 years old get married early, and about 45 % of males and females get married when they are about 10 years, the report said.

The report said steps will be taken to reduce the early marriage through a ministerial committee made up of the ministers of social affairs, justice, legal affairs, health, guidance and Islamic affairs, and human rights.

The steps will include support for making the minimum age of marriage 17 years for both males and females.

A controversy has been going on in Yemen since February 11th, 2009, when some Islamist MPs supported by some clerics refused as not Islamic the 17 years as the minimum age of marriage although it was voted for by the majority of the House of Representatives.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Dutch hostages released for ransom

Dutch hostages released for ransom

By Nasser Arrabyee/13/04/2009

The kidnappers of the two Dutch hostages said they released the couple on Monday to the local tribal mediation which will hand them to the government Tuesday April 14th.

"We handed the two Dutch hostages to the tribal mediation after agreement on our compensation," Chief kidnapper, Ali Nasser Seraj told Gulf News over phone from the mountainous area of Bani Thabyan where the two hostages were held for two weeks.

The couple will go to Sana'a on Tuesday, he said.

The tribal mediators paid the kidnappers 10 million YR ($US 50 million) and pledged to pay 55 million YR ($US 275,000) later, sources at the tribal mediation said.

The kidnappers had ruled tribally that the security forces that fired at them last year should pay 80 million YR, ($US 400,000 ), but they discounted it to 65 million YR ($US 325,000) in response to the demands of the mediation, the sources said.

Earlier in the day, the governor of Sana'a province, Noman Dowaid, expected that the two hostages will be released during the upcoming 24 hours.

The official said, "The security forces are tightening the noose on the kidnappers and their families and relatives."

"The government will not pay ransom and will not yield to the demands of the kidnappers," He added in a state-run TV interview.

The official's statements came after a tribal mediation between the kidnappers and the government reached a deadlock.

"The mediation did not achieve any success, but the kidnappers may surrender because of the blockade on them. They now demand only a presidential pardon to protect them from trials," said Abdul Rahman Al Marwani, a tribal sheikh who participated in the tribal mediation.

"The State would strike with an iron fist if the hostages were not released," said Al Marwani who met the hostages and the kidnappers in their hideout in the mountainous area of Bani Thabyan, about 90 km east of the capital.

Al Marwani, who runs Dar Al Salam, an organization for combating violence and kidnappings, said that the hostages were in a good health and being treated well when he met them last week.

He said kidnappers asked them to give as a guarantee four cars, and a tribal arbitration document signed by the minister of interior or chief of the central security. And also a written pledge from the tribal mediators to implement the decisions of the tribal arbitration, in addition to a presidential pardon that protects them from trials.

The chief kidnapper said he will no longer cooperate with any mediation that has not guarantees to meet his demands.

"The tribal mediation was not able to meet or understand our demands," said Ali Nasser Seraj said over phone from his hideout.

"We want compensation, and pardon," the kidnapper said.

The Dutch couple, Jan Hoogendoorn, 54, and Heleen Janszen, 49, were taken hostage from the outskirt of the capital Sana'a, on 31 March.

At the beginning, the tribesmen demanded compensation from the Yemeni government over an incident in which a convoy headed by the tribal chief came under fire from a security checkpoint last year.

This incident resulted in the wounding of a number of members from the chief's relatives.

The kidnappers also demanded that the security men and their boss at the checkpoint be held accountable for the shooting incident.

The Ministry of interior said it had arrested about 16 men from Bani Thabyan over kidnappings charges including six men who were involved in the kidnapping of the Dutch couple.

The main kidnappers of the Dutch couple were identified as Ali Nasser Taleb Seraj, Amer Ahmed Taleb Seraj, Ali Nasser Thela, and Ali Mohammed Al Zemar.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Terror behind Yemen's economic decline

Terror behind Yemen's economic decline
By Nasser Arrabyee/06/04/2009

The terrorism and rebellion were behind the slow economic growth in Yemen over 2006-2008 said the Yemeni Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Abdul Kareem Al Arhabi on Sunday.

"The slowness of the economic growth was because of the drop in oil production, terrorism, the Al Houthi rebellion in the north," Al Arahabi said in a conference to assess achievements of a socio-economic plan to reduce the poverty in Yemen.

The socio-economic plan of 2006-2010, was supported by $ US 5.5 billion by the GCC and international donors in a GCC-sponsored conference in November 2006, in London.

About $ US 3.7 billion came from the GCC countries which took a decision in 2005 to qualify Yemen for joining them in 2015.

Yemen has already joined eight GCC organizations in fields of measurements, industrial consultations, control and audits, radio and TV, education, health, labour and sports.

The plan aimed to achieve an economic growth of 7.1 %, but it was only 4.3 at the end of 2008.

It will not achieve the planned economic growth even at the end of the 2010.

"Over the two coming years, 2009-2010, we expect the growth to be 5.7 %, given the new exportation of the gas," Al Arahbi told about 250 participants in the third follow up meeting of the consultative group which was co-chaired by Yemen, WB, and GCC.

Al Arahbi said that the poverty was reduced from 41.8 % in 1998 to 34.7 % in 2006, but the inflation rates and impacts of the global food crisis affected those efforts of poverty reduction.

He said the overall assistance and aids given to Yemen was little compared to other less developed countries.

"Every Yemeni person takes only 13 dollars of all assistance and loans compared to 44 dollars in the less developed countries," he said.

The WB vice president for MENA, Daniela Gressani who co-chaired the meeting said," I believe the first and the second follow up meetings were very successful, and I hope this one will be equally fruitful."

The European donors, said in a joint EU statement read in the meeting, " There are other factors that impede Yemen's development: terrorism, piracy, refugees, and natural disasters, but we remain committed to work with Yemen on these challenges.

They expressed concerns over the approximately 50 % cuts of the state budget made by the Yemeni government after the drop of the oil price this year.

"We underscore the need for the government to present a sustainable plan to raise additional revenue and make expenditure cuts that do not negatively affect development in the country. We are concerned that there could be inadequate operational budgets to keep schools, health facilities and water supply running," Said the joint EU statement.

The UN representative in Yemen from her part, said," There risk that service delivery could further decline and would threaten even minimal livelihoods, thus leading to discontentment and social instability which could further destabilize an already precarious region."

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Corrupted judiciary behind repeated kidnappings

Corrupted judiciary behind repeated kidnappings

By Nasser Arrabyee/01/04/2009

The corrupted judiciary and absence of the rule of law are behind the repeated kidnappings in Yemen where a Dutch couple was taken hostages by tribesmen, said analysts Wednesday.

"The absence of justice, and dependence of judiciary and lenience of the government with the kidnappers are the reasons behind the repeated kidnappings," said Professor Mohammed Al Dhahri from Sana'a University.

He said that the tribesmen have used the kidnappings as a way to solve their disputes which take very long time in courts and sometimes remained unsolved.

"Meeting the demands of the kidnappers make this phenomenon spread more and more," he said.

The solution for this problem is the application of law and spread of justice through institutions of the state, he added.
The sociologist, Adel Al Sharjabi, on his part, said that the tribal affiliation of the individuals was behind the repeated kidnappings.

"The protection of individuals and their properties is still a collective affair of the tribe," he said "the members of this tribe use the kidnappings to press the government to take the right of one member or more of the tribe."

Two Dutch people, water and environment expert and his wife, are still being held in the mountainous area of Bani Dhabyan about 80 km south east of the capital Sana'a.

The Dutch couple was kidnapped from the southern outskirt of Sana'a last Tuesday, March 31st 2009, by four armed tribesmen from Bani Dhabyan, a tribe famous for kidnappings. The tribesmen were demanding the government the release of their relatives who are jailed for previous kidnapping issue.

Security sources said that Wadi Thana, where the hostages are being held, is surrounded by the security forces.

The security forces also identified the kidnappers as Ali Nasser Thala, Ali Nasser Taleb Saraj, Ali Mohammed Ali Al Ramaz, and Ahmed Taleb Saraj Amer.

Kidnapped foreigners have been often released unharmed.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Two Yemenis sentenced to death for spying for Iran

Two Yemenis sentenced to death for spying for Iran
By Nasser Arrabyee/31/03/2009

A special Yemeni court sentenced to death Tuesday two Yemenis for spying for Iran and acquitted the third.

Chaired by Judge Muhsen Alwan, the State Security Court passed the death sentence to Abdul Kareem Ali Laji, 33, and Hani Ahmed Dain Mohammed, 31, and acquitted Eskandar Abdullah Yousif, 57 because of lack of evidence.

The two defendants asked for an appeal through their lawyer Shatha Nasser.

The defendant Abdul Kareem Laji commented on the verdict by saying "It's a political verdict".

On October 11th, 2008, the three men were put on trial for charges of spying for Iran through illegal communication and delivering information on the security and defense situation in a way which damaged Yemen's interests.

The three men were arrested last year in the coastal city of Aden south of Yemen.

According to the prosecutor, the three men, Abdul Kareem Laji, owner of a printing press in Aden, Hani Ahmed Dain Mohammed, secretary of the director of the coast guards of Hudhrmout, and Eskandar Abdullah, retired officer, were in connection with the Iranian embassy in Sana'a and two other Iranian businessmen.

On March, 23rd, 2009, the same court sentenced a Yemeni and jailed two others for spying for Israel