Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Yemen looking for a way out, with minimum cost

By Nasser Arrabyee/01/03/2011

The Yemen third day of “Rage” has passed peacefully. No major violence cases were recorded in the capital Sana’a and Taiz and other provinces where tens of thousands of pro-and anti-government protesters took to the streets on Tuesday March 1st , 2011.

The opposition demonstrations, nearby the university of Sana’a demanded the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and those of the ruling party, in the main square of the capital, Tahrir Square, demanded dialogue and refuse chaos.

President Saleh was listening to demands of thousands of students and professors inside the Sana’a university, while protesters were chanting slogans against him outside the university on Tuesday.

The opposition previously called for the “Day of Rage” to condemn the violence in the southern city of Aden where about 10 demonstrators were killed and many others injured over the last week.
President Saleh formed a committee to investigate the Aden violence. Demonstrations in Aden and the south in general are different because of the separations demands by the separatist southern movement.

On the eve of “Day of Rage” , the spokesman of the Yemen opposition coalition, refused an offer by President Saleh to form a unity government for monitoring parliamentary elections and then presidential elections.

The spokesman, Mohammed Al Kubati, said , “ Saleh has only two options: either to be a former president, or a deposed president.”

Earlier on Monday, February 28th, 2011, the most influential cleric in largest opposition party, Islah, Abdul Majid Al Zandani offered to President Saleh in the name Yemen’s clerics , a 7-point initiative including formation of a unity government. Saleh agreed on it and added an 8th point, which calls for stopping protests.

Al Zandani and almost all Yemeni clerics from all provinces held a meeting with President Saleh in his 80-million dollar mosque, Al Saleh Mosque, nearby the Presidential Palace in Sana’a, to find a solution for rescuing their country from collapsing into chaos.

“Say the truth, say the truth, you will be responsible before Allah Almighty for what might happen, those (opposition) are riding the wave of foolishness,” Saleh told the clerics.

“I know, and almost all of you in this room know, who pays for those demonstrations and why and how , you should say the truth,” said Saleh in obvious reference to the billionaire Hamid Al Ahmar, who is widely believed to be supporting the anti-Saleh protestors while grooming himself for presidency.

“ We call for a unity government for monitoring the parliamentary elections, and then the presidential elections, and he who avoids the dialogue, hides evil against the nation.”

President Saleh said the opposition replied to his initiative of February 2nd, 2011, in which he said he would not stand for office when his current term ends in 2013, and his son would not succeed him, the opposition replied to it “ time for dialogue is over, now the word is for the street.

“I’m ready to leave the power but not through chaos, I’m fed up now after 32 years, but how to do that peacefully, and you scholars as heirs of the prophets, should say how.”

In an attempt to gain their support, President Saleh held dozens of meetings on a daily basis with the tribal leaders from the most powerful tribes including his tribe Hashed over the last few weeks, before he met the clerics on Monday.

The religious leaders and tribal leaders are the most effective players in such a conservative country like Yemen.
However, detractors of Saleh are also trying to gain the support of the armed tribesmen.

Sons of the departed, Abdullah Al Ahmar, who was the Yemen most influential tribal leader, and the second man after Saleh before he died two years ago, are viewed as the main detractors of Saleh, and not the top leaders of the opposition parties.

The late Abdullah Al Ahmar, was the head of the most influential tribe Hashed, and was also the top leader of the largest Islamist opposition party Islah. But he publicly voted for President Saleh in the 2006 presidential elections not to his party’s candidate, Faisal bin Shamlan. Four of his sons at least are in Saleh’s ruling party.

On Saturday, February, 26th, 2011, his son Hussein said he would join the young people in the streets who demand the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

“I’m announcing my resignation from the ruling party, party of corruption, and I will join the revolution of the young people until this regime is toppled,” Hussein Al Ahmar, a former close friend of President Saleh, addressed tens of thousands of tribesmen in Amran city, the stronghold of Hashed tribe.

Hussein has been in an on-and off word war with President Saleh since he lost his position in an internal elections of the ruling party more than three years ago.

Although Hussein Al Ahmar is only the brother of the historic head of Hashed, he was speaking in the rally in the name of the Hashed and Bakil tribes, the most two influential tribes in Yemen.
Earlier this month, Hussein said he would send his armed tribesmen to the capital Sana’a to protect the anti-Saleh demonstrators.

Many tribal leaders from the two tribes like Hamoud Atef, Abdu Rabu Rajeh, and Mohammed Naji Al Shayef, said in statements, Hussein Al Ahmar was “only representing himself”.

Al Ahmar’s rally of tens of thousands of tribesmen from Hashed and Bakil, who were chanting slogans against president Saleh, came only two days after a rally of tens of thousands of tribesmen from the same two tribes who were chanting slogans to support Saleh in the neighboring province of Hajja.

Many tribal leaders who attended both rallies, refused Hussein calling for ouster of President Saleh in the rally. “ We refuse his implicit call for violence, we are against violence, and we told him this after his speech and he told us: I was just excited in front of the masses, ” Sheikh Abdullah Al Jamili who attended Hussein’s rally from Bakil tribe, said.

Tribesmen say that Hussein receives about 5 million Saudi rials every month from Saudi Arabia that used to pay his father for keeping him a key tribal ally.

It seems that the tribesmen receives money from Al Ahmar’s wealthy sons and from President Saleh in such a difficult period which is called by some observers “Money season for tribesmen”
“Yes, tribesmen take money from both sides, but they know very well Yemen’s interest, and we would only side with Yemen,” Sheikh Al Jamili said.

The whole Yemen is divided into three main tribal confederations: Hashed, Bakil, and Madhaj.
Hashed, the most influential, was always the ruling over history, though the smallest in terms of population. Bakil is the second most influential with more population than Hashed. Madhaj is the least influential and least important, though the largest in terms of population.

The official head of Hashed is Sadeq Abdullah Al Ahmar, brother of Hussein. Sadek is trying to copy his dead father who used to play a balanced role between President Saleh and his detractors.

“I’m the brother of all,” Sadeq said last Monday in his father’s weekly forum, when he was asked, who he supports, President Saleh or the opposition.

Al Ahmar’s sons try to unite as a family, regardless of their parties, against their father’s ally, President Saleh.

Himyar Al Ahmar, brother of Hussein, who is the deputy speaker of Parliament, and member of the ruling part, said earlier this week, he thwarted an intelligence plan to assassinate opposition figures including his brother Hamid Al Ahamar, the most influential detractor of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Himyar said that the deputy of National Security Agency (intelligence), Ammar Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, nephew of President Saleh, was supervising the plan.

The billionaire brother Hamid Al Ahmar, the most influential opposition figure who clearly says the solution for Yemen’s crisis is only the ouster of President Saleh, unlike his Islamist party that dominates the opposition coalition, which until now is hesitating between demanding “serious reforms” and emotional support for the young people in the street who call clearly for ouster of Saleh.

The opposition coalition say they support the limited, but increasing demonstrations of the young people in the street. But they have not decided yet to take to the streets with them. Hamid Al Ahmar, known as the money man of the opposition’s hawks, expects the opposition coalition to take to the street soon.

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