Saturday, 30 April 2011

Yemen power transition deal faces last-minute snag

Source: Reuters, By Mohamed Sudam and Mohammed Ghobari

SANAA - A deal to end Yemen's political crisis hit a potential snag on Saturday as doubts were raised about whether President Ali Abdullah Saleh would personally sign an agreement that would have him quit power within a month.

But the country's main opposition coalition said it still hoped wealthy Gulf states who brokered the deal would be able to ensure a signature by Saleh, a shrewd political survivor who has faced three months of pro-democracy protests seeking his ouster.

"Until now, we still have hope that the efforts of the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council will succeed in persuading the president to sign," a prominent opposition leader told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Saleh, who has ruled the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state for nearly 33 years, had been due to sign the deal on Saturday in an agreement that, if implemented, would make him the third Arab ruler ousted by a wave of popular uprisings.

But in a last-minute wrinkle, a government official said talks were under way within the ruling party on whether Saleh would personally sign or leave it to senior members of his party. Such a move could throw the entire deal into doubt.

"There is discussion on the matter at the moment," the official said. Other officials previously said repeatedly that Saleh would sign on Saturday.

The United States and neighbouring oil giant Saudi Arabia want the Yemen standoff resolved to avert chaos that could enable al Qaeda's Yemen wing to operate more freely.

Saleh has in principle accepted the agreement negotiated by his oil-exporting GCC neighbours.

Yemen's mainstream opposition, which includes both Islamists and leftists, has also agreed to the deal, even as street protesters have rejected the agreement and demand Saleh step down immediately and face prosecution.

Saleh, long considered a U.S. ally against al Qaeda's Yemen-based wing, had already forced mediators to split the signing ceremonies over two days and has objected to the presence of Qatari officials.

Qatar's prime minister was first to state publicly the Gulf deal would seek Saleh's resignation, and its satellite TV channel Al Jazeera has been accused by Saleh of inciting revolt in the Arab world, now swept by pro-democracy demonstrations.

While the Yemeni leader was due to sign the pact in Sanaa, his party's vice president will travel to the Saudi capital Riyadh for Sunday's official signing ceremony by the opposition, which has warned that further bloodshed could derail the deal.


Violence broke out in south Yemen ahead of the expected signing when gunmen killed two police officers and wounded two more in the port city of Aden, state media said. Witnesses said the gunmen had attacked a police station. Gunfire also erupted outside a nearby prison.

Shortly afterward, security forces moved in to break up an anti-government protest in the same neighbourhood, killing two protesters and wounding 50 more, said Qassim Jamil, a doctor.

Protesters fled the scene, and tanks and armoured vehicles were patrolling the streets, the witnesses said. The wounded were being taken to nearby hotels for treatment because they could not reach hospitals, Jamil said.

Analysts say the government, which has been trying to contain separatists in the south and Shi'ite rebels in the north, fears secessionists may be trying to take advantage of Yemen's leadership crisis to renew a push for separation.

Protesters say they will stay on the streets until Saleh leaves. They also called for him to be put on trial for corruption and the deaths of the estimated 144 protesters killed since rallies began three months ago.

The GCC deal offers Saleh and his entourage, including relatives who run branches of the security forces, immunity from prosecution.

"The people want the trial of the murderer!" some anti-Saleh demonstrators shouted at a protest on Friday that ended in a funeral march for 12 protesters killed on Wednesday, thousands passing their wooden coffins from hand to hand to their graves.

Analysts say a 30-day window for Saleh to resign gives plenty of time for disgruntled forces from the old guard to stir trouble in Yemen, where half the population owns a gun and al Qaeda has gained a foothold in its mountainous regions.

Should the deal go through, Saleh would appoint a prime minister from the opposition to head a transitional government, which would set a presidential vote for 60 days after he leaves.

Many protesters, wary of the opposition due to its presence in government in past years, urged it to back out of the deal.

"They wouldn't lose anything because Saleh isn't going to stick to the agreement. If he can't find a reason to overturn it he'll spark a war," Sanaa protester Abdulsalam Mahmoud said.

Al Qaeda suspect with explosive belt was arrested in Hodeida

By Nasser Arrabyee/30/04/2011
An Al Qaeda suspect wearing an explosive belt was arrested with three others in the coastal city of Hodeida, local tribal sources said Saturday.
The 20-year old Adel Ahmed Al Sufi, from Al Marawah,  with a friend of his from the province of Abyan , were arrested in a check point south of the city of Hodiedah, the  tribal leader Essam Shuraim said.
“The two young people were arrested late Friday  at the entrance of Al Duraimah district south of the city of Hodiedah,” said Essam Shuraim, who is one of the tribal Shiekhs  of Al Duraima district.
The two young people were accompanied by two others who were working as soldiers in the security forces. “It’s not clear whether the two soldiers were helping the two young people who are almost working with Al Qaeda, or not,” Shuraim said.
“One of the soldier was from the navy, and other  was from the central security,” he added.  
All the four were handed over  to criminal  investigation bureau of Hodeida, said the tribal sheikh.

“It was not clear what target they were going to hit, but from primary investigations, the one with the explosive belt  at least was Al Qaeda member,” Shuraim said.       

Friday, 29 April 2011

GCC chief arrives in Sanaa Saturday

Source: Yemen official news agency,29/04/2011

Well-informed sources have said that that Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Abdul-Latif al-Zayani will pay a visit to Yemen on Saturday. 

During the visit, al-Zayani will invite the Yemeni government and opposition to attend the ceremony of signing an agreement of the GCC initiative to solve the Yemeni crisis on next Monday in the Saudi capital Riyadh. 

The ruling General People's Congress party has announced its agreement to the GCC initiative to resolve the current crisis, stressing that it conveyed to GCC officials its agreement, together with its allies, the National Alliance Parties, to the content of the initiative. 

The following is the complete text of the GCC initiative. 

The Basic Principles: 

-The solution that will stem from this agreement will lead to the preservation of Yemeni unity, security, and stability. 

-The agreement will respond to the aspirations of the Yemeni people for change and reform. 

-Power has to be transferred in a smooth and safe way within national accord that spares Yemen slipping into chaos and violence. 

-All sides have to commit themselves to removing the factors of political and security tension. 

-All sides have to commit themselves to halting all forms of vengeance, hunting down, and monitoring through giving guarantees and pledges for this purpose. 

The Executive Steps: 

-From the first day of the agreement, the president authorizes the opposition to form a national accord government with 50 per cent of the seats for each side. The government has to be formed within a period that does not exceed seven days from the date of authorization. 

-The new government starts to provide the climate suitable for achieving national accord and removing the factors of political and security tension. 

-On day 29 from the beginning of the agreement, the House of Representatives, including the opposition, ratifies the laws that grant the president and those who worked with him during his period in power immunity from legal and judicial prosecution. 

-On Day 30 since the beginning of the agreement, after the House of Representatives including the opposition ratifies the guarantees, the president submits his resignation to the House of Representatives, and the vice president becomes the legitimate acting president after the House of Representative ratifies the president's resignation. 

-The acting president calls for presidential elections within 60 days according to the Constitution. 

-The new president (meaning the elected president) forms a constitutional committee to supervise the drafting of a new Constitution. 

-Following the completion of the drafting of the new Constitution, it is submitted to a popular referendum. 

-If the Constitution is agreed in the referendum, a timetable should be drawn for new parliamentary elections according to the rulings of the new Constitution. 

-Following the elections, the president asks the leader of the political party that won the largest number of votes to form the government. 

-The GCC countries, the United States, and the European Union will be witnesses to the implementation of this agreement. 

Thursday, 28 April 2011

A civil war in Yemen, if power-transfer deal foiled

By Nasser Arrabyee/28/04/2011

If the Yemenis failed to implement a US-backed and Saudi-led GCC plan for transferring the power from President Ali Abdullah Saleh in one month, a civil could be the only other option.

The GCC deal that is supposed to be signed by the opposition and ruling party next Monday May 2nd, 2011, could be the last chance to avoid a civil war that would not impact the already conflict-torn Yemen, but also the neighboring GCC countries.

The young protesters in the street, who have been demanding the ouster of President Saleh for about 3 months, absolutely refuse the GCC deal although the majority of them belong to the Islamist party Islah that leads the opposition coalition which totally agreed on the deal.

While the protesters threaten to march forward to the Presidential Palace to force Saleh out, all conflicting parties in Yemen seem to getting ready for confrontations.

President Saleh and his supporters, the Islamist-led opposition, Al Houthi rebels in the northern province of Sa’ada, the secessionist movement in the south, and Al Qaeda and its sympathizers everywhere especially in the south and east.

Weapon pieces are distributed to sincere supporters of both the largest Islamist opposition party, Islah, and Saleh’s party in the neighborhoods of Sana’a city at least, according to people who already received their weapon pieces over the last few weeks.

Furthermore, about 2,000 students from El Eman fundamentalist University, run by the extremist cleric Abdul Majid Al Zandani, have been receiving weapons and military training in the 1st armored division of the defected general Ali Muhsen, according to some students who believe that doing this is Jihad.

“Yes, we joined training courses with Ali Muhsen about one month ago, now I have my gun and I safeguard as a sentry,” Said the 20-year old student who identified himself only as Jamil.

“I’m very happy to work with a straightforward and devout man like Ali Muhsen,” said Jamil who now works as a sentry close to his university El Eman which is adjacent to 1st armored division of Ali Muhsen at the northern outskirt of the capital Sana’a.

According to a security source, three Islamist militants were arrested earlier this week in Kilo 16 area close to the western coastal city of Hodeida while on their way to a military training belonging to general Ali Muhsen.

The three militants had permits from the general Ali Muhsen to have training courses in the Fighting School in Kilo 7 nearby Hodeida, the source said.

“They are leaders and the three of them are from Hodeida, this is why they were sent to Hodeida,” said the sources who also gave the full names of the three militants.

In a such a tense atmosphere, the US embassy in Sana’a called the conflicting parties in Yemen to avoid all provocative acts after about 10 Yemeni were killed in clashes between two rival demonstrations in the capital Sana’a Wednesday April 27th.

The embassy, in a statement sent to media late Thursday, urged all Yemenis to commit to peaceful demonstrations, marches, and speeches specially now as they are on the eve of signing the “historic agreement for peaceful transfer of power and having new elected president next July”

The embassy statement came after the opposition and the ruling party exchanged accusations on who was behind the violence that took place on Wednesday when the anti-Saleh protesters marched forward from their sit-in square at the gate of Sana’a university to the gate the Sana’a Stadium close to the state-run TV building where Saleh supporters have been camping out for about three months.

The ruling party accused the opposition parties of directing their supporters to march forward to the place of Saleh supporters with the aim of making violence to foil the US-backed and Saudi-led GCC plan that’s is scheduled to be signed next Monday, May 2nd, 2011.

The opposition coalition of Islamists, Socialists and Nasserites, said in a statement they would not sign the agreement on Monday if the US,EU and GCC did not condemn the violence of Wednesday and guarantee protection for protesters from further violence.

The opposition accused Saleh’s supporters of making violence to drag the country into a civil war.

What's better for Saleh to fight or quit?

Embattled Arab Leaders Decide It’s Better to Fight Than Quit
Source: New York Times

CAIRO — Arab leaders facing public revolt have increasingly concluded that it is better to shoot to kill, or at least to arrest and imprison, than to abdicate and flee.

That calculation appears to be based on the short-term results of the Arab Spring. Those who have left, namely Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, face the humiliation of a criminal investigation, a trial and possible imprisonment. Those who have opted to stick with the use of force, like the president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, have retained power and appear to have leverage to negotiate immunity should they leave, regional analysts said.

“I don’t think we’re going to see rulers run away, like Mubarak,” said Mustafa Alani, an analyst with the Gulf Research Center in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. “We passed this stage. They will not run or abdicate. They will take their chances.”

The wave of Arab uprisings, which began with popular protests that quickly ousted entrenched autocrats, has evolved into deadly confrontations in Libya, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, with leaders willing to use sustained lethal force against a public convinced that persistence is the key to victory. It is a face-off, a test of wills, which has left thousands dead and opened a dark chapter in what was initially called the Arab Spring.

Each side has drawn lessons from the early days of the Arab unrest and the popular push for change. The leaders have settled on a formula that consists of three elements: limited concessions; a narrative that blames a third party, like a foreign nation or Al Qaeda; and security forces that are authorized to take any steps necessary, including shooting to kill, to get people off the streets. In Bahrain, officials have tried to recast the narrative altogether by asserting that the protesters started the violence, while the government has imposed what amounts to martial law on a majority of the population.

The question surfacing now concerns the next stage of this unpredictable Arab season of protest. Can this repression prevail, and if so, for how long? There is no certainty, and there are competing indicators from moment to moment. Nevertheless, there are some reasons to believe that the leaders who turn to bloodshed may not, ultimately, win out, experts said.

The choice of sustained, violent repression has been most evident in Libya, Yemen and now Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have killed hundreds and his tanks have rolled into civilian neighborhoods. Those tactics of fear and force first succeeded in Bahrain, where the monarchy crushed a popular uprising. That was possible in large measure because it is a tiny nation with a small population that is more easily controlled, and because the United States was willing to look the other way to assist an ally. The United States Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain.

But that same impulse can also be seen with Saudi Arabia, which sent its tanks into Bahrain to help end the revolt there; in the United Arab Emirates, where government critics have been jailed; in Oman, where security forces have crushed protests; and in Jordan, where the police have attacked protesters.

“President Saleh was about to resign, but now he will fight and do everything he can in order to hold on to his seat so that he does not end up in the same position as Mubarak,” said Abdel Rahman Barman, a human rights lawyer taking part in the uprising in Yemen.

But, Mr. Barman added, the example of Egypt has also inspired the Arab street to persevere, the second half of the dynamic that for now is defining the second, bloody phase of the season of Arab unrest.

“What the revolution has managed to accomplish in Egypt by putting Mubarak and those around him behind bars has given us even more hope and a stronger drive,” Mr. Barman said. “Before,” he said, speaking of Mr. Saleh, “we demanded that he leaves. Now, we want him tried for the crimes he committed against the Yemeni people and for his corruption.” (Mr. Saleh has signaled a willingness to step down under a transition agreement, but only under certain conditions, including immunity.)

Under public pressure, Egypt’s ruling military council detained Mr. Mubarak, who is now in a hospital in Sharm el Sheik and is being investigated for accusations of corruption and for his role in the killing of hundreds of demonstrators. His sons have also been detained and are now being questioned along with the leadership of his former government and party.

That has spooked Arab leaders who now feel that Mr. Mubarak and Tunisia’s former president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, did not hold on long enough, said a high-ranking diplomat from the Persian Gulf region, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to discuss nations other than his own.

Mustapha Kamel el-Sayyid, a political science professor at the American University in Cairo said: “No Arab leader is immune from facing the prospects of Mubarak. If the pharaoh himself is going to stand trial, then the other nonpharaohs are likely to face the same prospects.”

In Libya and Yemen, leaders have indicated a willingness to fight on, while also signaling an openness to deal, although critics question their sincerity. In Syria, Mr. Assad has mixed an iron fist with airy promises of reform.

But also in the oil-rich Persian Gulf states, Abdulaziz Sager, chairman of the Gulf Research Center, warned last week in an essay in The Washington Post that repression ultimately would not work, and that the only way forward was through change. He was writing about the Gulf states, but his point could easily apply to the rest of the region.

“If the ruling families of the gulf want to maintain their legitimacy, they need to adapt quickly to the changing times and enact substantive political reform that reflects their people’s aspirations,” Mr. Sager wrote. “Time is no longer on their side. If they wait too long, their rule cannot be assured.”

But for now, leaders around the region and under the greatest popular pressure do not seem to see it that way. Instead, they have decided to open fire, leading to a deadly standoff.

“It shouldn’t happen this way, where there are hundreds or thousands killed,” said Shafeeq Ghabra, a political science professor at Kuwait University. “People are earning their liberation by their blood.”

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Islamists leading Yemen youth revolution

The Politicization of Yemen’s Youth Revolution
Source: Carnegei, by NADIA AL-SAKKAF,28/04/2011

For the last three years, Yemeni activist Tawakul Karman has led protests every Tuesday in the square in front of the cabinet building, which she nicknamed “Freedom Square,” holding banners making demands ranging from government reform to freedom of the press to the release of prisoners of conscience. But it was not until the beginning of this year that this movement gained momentum, specifically on February 3, the “Day of Rage.” 

This was initiated solely by young activists who connected online through Facebook groups.  These youth were acting with no guidance or involvement from the opposition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), and their level of organization and preparedness was very low. 

Three months later, the JMP reportedly will soon head to Riyadh to sign with President Ali Abdullah Saleh a deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council states that lays out a controlled transition. Saleh is to step down within 30 days, handing off power to a vice president and a coalition government.  Youth activists immediately rejected the initiative, which they view as providing the unpredictable Saleh with too much wiggle room, but so far they have been brushed aside. Today the youth protesters find their main demands unanswered, their future role in Yemen unclear, and a solution being decided by politicians who do not necessarily represent them.

After Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was ousted on February  11, the JMP equivocated for some time about whether to join the youth protests and in the meantime held a dialogue, albeit a faltering one, with President Ali Abdullah Saleh.  

Saleh took advantage of the division between the youth and the JMP, mobilizing a street campaign to push them further apart. New people known to be pro-regime appeared in street demonstrations, holding banners saying that youth were behind the revolution and accusing the political parties of hijacking it. Saleh then reneged on all his promises to the JMP, including one on February 2 when he promised to relinquish power before the end of the year.

Saleh thus unintentionally pushed the JMP to join the youth revolution. The youth were ecstatic and felt a sense of power they had never felt before, as the strongest opposition parties joined them instead of them joining the parties. With the help of the JMP, the first tent was erected on February 21 in the square in front of San’aa University, which they renamed “Change Square.”

Many of the activists of Change Square, including Tawakul Karman, Khalid al-Anisi, and Samiya al-Aghbari, had political ties and facilitated contact between the youth and the organized opposition.  At first, some of the youth who initiated the protests resented the involvement – and at times, the domination – of the JMP, and especially of the Islamist party Islah, which is the strongest and most experienced political party when it comes to mass mobilization. 

In early March, some young protestors quit the square due to the domination of Islah, with its conservative Islamic point of view.  The next day they returned, but their absence drew attention to the need to create a strategy to keep the protestors united. For example, in place of the traditional leaders of the political parties, younger party leaders started taking a higher profile. They were seen as the compromise between hard-line JMP leaders (especially Islah) and the modern youth of the revolution. 

These new leaders gave the various youth groups, and even the women’s groups, access to the stage for two hours every day. Moreover, the youth groups were consulted in the process of drafting statements and announcements from Change Square, despite the fact that the youth comprised as little as 30 percent of those in the square, which at times hosted up to 20,000 protestors.

Another defining moment in Yemen’s revolution was the sniper killing of more than 60 protestors on March 18, which turned not only many more Yemenis, but also the international community, against Saleh. The bloody clashes caused a backlash, and the thousands in Change Square turned to hundreds of thousands. This event also united the Yemeni opposition and highlighted the importance of organization. The youth realized how important it is to have medical equipment, adequate food, and good strategies. Change Square became a bee hive buzzing with organized activities. 

Although the youth were the ones to start Yemen’s revolution, they have been absent from high-level talks in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to address the crisis. Politicians on both sides say that this is because the youth are divided and do not have a unified leadership to invite.  Indeed, today there are some 72 activist groups represented in Change Square, many of which are active online, particularly on Facebook. There are attempts to merge them into larger groups, but these efforts are taking longer than anticipated.

The problem for Yemen’s youth is that they had never exercised democracy in any true organizational sense before now. Except for a few activists, who are still divided among themselves on ideological and intellectual levels, the rest of the revolution’s youth have no idea how to organize themselves or how to draft a political program.  Thus they remain easy prey for experienced politicians, whether they are pro-regime or opposition.

The JMP’s acceptance of the GCC initiative has shown how an organized political opposition can ride a wave of popular protest to reach positions of power. Moreover, JMP member and al-Haq party leader Hassan Zaid made a public statement on April 20 describing the youth’s role as purely revolutionary and claiming that “they should not have ambitions to be part of the new political system.” This statement angered many of the youth groups and deepened the divide between them and the political parties.

The youth’s lack of organization and leadership, as well as their insistence on strict conditions, has led to their marginalization by more experienced actors. Unless youth groups unify and define their goals and their role in the transitional phase quickly, they might find that the past few months will turn out to have been simply a waste of time and human lives.

At least 7 killed and 28 injured in rival demonstrations in Sana’a

By Nasser Arrabyee/27/04/2011

At least seven protesters were killed and 20 others injured when security forces opened fire to disperse anti-Saleh demonstrators who were clashing with pro-Saleh demonstrator nearby the state-run Tv building, demonstrators from both sides.

The anti-Saleh protesters were marching from their permanent square at the gate of Sana’a university to the northern 60 ring road where the ministry of information, May 22 Stadium, and the state-run Tv building are located.

The pro-Saleh protesters who are camping out in the May22 Stadium clashed with a small part of the anti-Saleh march at the gate of the Stadium.

“We were at the end of the march, after the majority of march passed the gate of the Stadium, Baltagis intercepted us, and then gunmen fired at us,” said Ala’a Khawlani, one of the anti-Saleh protesters.

“I my self saw seven dead, and about 20 injured,” he said.

Al Khawlani said that the pro-Saleh protesters attacked them only after the majority of the march passed the gate of the Stadium.

“Were were only about 500-600, at the end of the march, when the Baltagis attacked us,” said Al Khawlani.

However, Abdul Malik Saeed, from the pro-Saleh protesters who are camping out inside the Stadium, said that the anti-Saleh protesters who, at the end of the march, set fire to two cars carrying pictures of President Saleh before the clashes with them with hands and sticks.

“We would not intercept their way if they did not start to set fire to our cars,” said Abdul Malik Saeed.

“8 of us were injured,” Saeed said.

One of the anti-Saleh protesters also said some of them were trying to provoke the security forces at the three gates of the ministry of information.

“We agreed to be peaceful march, but some of us, unfortunately, were trying to things we did not agree on like stopping at the gates of the ministry of information, and the Stadium, and this caused the violence that happened today,” said of the injured protesters, who preferred to be named only as A. A. M. because he did not want to be misunderstood by his colleagues.

 “I refuse any kind of violence from any side,” He said.

He agreed with many protesters that the march was to the Saudi Arabia embassy to tell them their refusal to the GCC plan.

“But at the last minute, the march was directed to the street where the violence can happen,” the protester A.A .M said.

The opposition and the government are expected to sign Monday May 2, 2011, a US-backed- Saudi-led GCC plan to see Saleh step down in one month.

The young people in the street totally refuse the plan and demand the immediate ouster of Saleh.

However, the opposition is expected to convince the young people to commit to the plan after being signed. The Islamist party, Islah, is leading the opposition coalition, and majority of the young people in the street and their leaders belong to Islah party.

Al Qaeda kills two soldiers and injures five others

Source: Reuters,27/04/2011

Gunmen shot dead two Yemeni soldiers and wounded five others in an attack on a southern military checkpoint on Wednesday that was blamed on groups loyal to Al-Qaeda, a local official said.
The attack took place in Zinjibar, the capital of the southern Abyan province, where Al-Qaeda militants have been active. State control over Abyan has slipped during a three-month political standoff in Yemen over President Ali Abdullah Saleh's rule. 

Most of the " thirty dirty" AlQaeda fighters came from Yemen

Source: CNN, By Tim Lister   27/04/2011

 On December 15, 2001, Pakistani border troops came across some 30 al Qaeda fighters in a mountain pass. They had fled the U.S. bombardment of Tora Bora, Osama bin Laden's last stronghold in Afghanistan. The group turned out to be members of the al Qaeda leader's security detail, and U.S. intelligence swiftly dubbed them the "Dirty Thirty."

They were transferred to U.S. custody in Kandahar and then moved to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba early in 2002. It soon transpired most of the "Dirty Thirty" were from Yemen, a country where al Qaeda has an even greater presence today than it did before 9/11.
Analysis of many profiles of Guantanamo detainees suggest that becoming a member of al Qaeda in Yemen in the late 1990s was relatively easy, which may explain why (after Afghans and Saudis) Yemenis comprised the third largest group held there.

The documents, compiled by the U.S. Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay, show that:
-- A network of al Qaeda recruiters was able to operate in Yemen with virtual impunity.
-- Salafist religious institutes in Yemen influenced many to take up jihad and join bin Laden.

-- Many of the recruits had little education and few opportunities.
The documents were obtained by WikiLeaks and published this week.
Several religious institutes in Yemen were fertile al Qaeda recruiting grounds, according to the documents. They included Al Khair Mosque in Sanaa, the Dammaj Institute in Sadah and the al Furqan Institute. The founder of the Dammaj Institute, Sheikh Muqbil bin Hadi al-Wadi, is described in the documents as "one of the most influential Yemeni Islamic leaders who preached and financed jihad." (He was also an influence on bin Laden's thinking, but consistently opposed violence against other Muslims.)
From the Dammaj Institute, recruits were taken to a training camp in Yemen where they would learn assassination techniques and bomb-making. Rarely did the Yemeni authorities interfere. In fact, the documents suggest Yemeni officials could be bribed to provide medical releases and alter travel documents. Recruiters also had money to assist with airline tickets.
Al Qaeda expands presence in Yemen.

One of the recruiters was Sharqawi Abdu Ali al-Hajj, a Yemeni who "had access to the identities of many al Qaeda-related travelers and plausible knowledge of the detainees' travel times and locations," according to the documents. Al-Wadi, who died in 2001, and other radical imams in Yemen also provided money to several of the jihadists who would end up among the "Dirty Thirty."
Many of the young Yemenis who ended up in bin Laden's security detail were capable fighters but poorly educated. Mohammad al-Ansi failed 11th grade three times and worked as a bus driver before turning to jihad. Another detainee never made it past seventh grade, while Mahmud al-Mujahid finally got his high school diploma at 22. Several had odd jobs and felt unable to support their families.
Frequently, recruitment into al Qaeda was a family affair. Among those captured in that freezing mountain pass in Pakistan was a 21-year-old by the name of Uthman al-Rahim. His brother was also an al Qaeda fighter and he allegedly had ties to several al Qaeda members responsible for the attack on the USS Cole in 1998. Mahmud al-Mujahidand and his brother were both bodyguards to bin Laden.

2010: USS Cole crew praised at memorial 
The Yemeni recruits were given similar basic training before being deployed to the front near Kabul to fight against the Northern Alliance as members of al Qaeda's elite 55th Arab Brigade. They later became bin Laden's bodyguards, according to the profiles. The documents say several of the "Dirty Thirty" also took part in a close combat course that bin Laden used to select militants for special operations.

Some of the Yemenis were fast-tracked for advanced training. Mohammed al Ansi would later train for an aborted al Qaeda operation in southeast Asia to hijack airliners and crash them into U.S. military bases in the region. Bin Laden planned to use Yemenis in the operation because they could easily travel to the region, according to another detainee. Others ran training camps or safe houses. Hamza al-Qaiti was one; he was at large until 2008, when he was killed in Yemen.

The Guantanamo documents might be solely of historical interest were it not for Yemen's chronic instability today, and the growing presence of al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula in the provinces of Shabwa, Abyan and Hadramut.

Even though Yemeni security forces have stepped up operations against al Qaeda in the last year, U.S. officials describe al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula as the most effective operational arm of the group. John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, said in December the group was "increasingly active" in reaching out to find terrorist recruits, even in the United States, and was "the most operationally active node of the al Qaeda network."
It was in Yemen that the alleged Detroit "underwear" bomber was recruited and trained in 2009. Al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula militants have killed dozens of Yemeni soldiers and police; earlier this month Islamist militants briefly occupied a town in southern Yemen and raided an ammunition factory.

The Guantanamo documents suggest that Yemen remains a recruiting ground for al Qaeda, with one written in 2008 saying Yemeni sheikhs "continue to recruit Yemeni youth to participate in hostilities against U.S. and coalition forces."

That's perhaps why today so many Yemenis are left at Guantanamo. The risk of sending them home to a volatile country with a history of jail breaks and a vibrant al Qaeda franchise is too great. Of the 112 Yemenis taken to the detention center over the past nine years, nearly 90 are still there.

(The New York Times, which has seen all the Guantanamo documents, reports that 23 have been sent back to Yemen and two died in custody.
Few of those left are likely to be leaving anytime soon.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Signing GCC plan to defuse Yemen crisis very soon

Source: Reuters, 26/04/2011

By Mohamed Sudam and Mohammed Ghobari

SANAA - The time and venue for the signing of a Gulf Arab deal that would see Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh finally resign could be announced by a Gulf envoy in the coming days, an opposition official said on Tuesday. Mohammed Basindwa told Reuters the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Abdullatif al-Zayani, is expected to visit Sanaa within a few days to finalize a power transfer plan that requires Saleh to step down 30 days after signing the deal.

"We expect an arrangement and signing of a deal to be completed -- the sooner the better," he said.

Asked if the GCC-brokered agreement could be signed within the next few days, he said, "Hopefully. It's possible."

An opposition coalition of Islamists, leftists and Arab nationalists removed a key obstacle to implementing the deal when they agreed on Monday to participate in a transitional national unity government, reversing their initial refusal.

Yemen's Western and Gulf Arab allies have tried for weeks to mediate a solution to a three-month crisis in which protesters, inspired by the toppling of leaders in Egypt and Tunisia, have taken to the street demanding an end to Saleh's 32-year rule.

Washington and neighboring oil giant Saudi Arabia fear that a descent into further chaos or bloodshed in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state, long on the brink of collapse, would offer more room for al Qaeda's Yemen-based wing to operate in the country. It has used Yemen as a launchpad for attempted attacks on U.S. and Saudi targets in the last two years.

In the wake of daily mass protests and the defection of many army, tribal and political leaders, Saleh agreed in principle to the proposal by GCC foreign ministers to resign in exchange for immunity from prosecution for himself, his family and aides.

Opposition officials told Reuters they finally agreed to the plan on Monday after receiving assurances from U.S. diplomats in Sanaa that the 69-year-old leader would indeed step down in a month, once the deal is signed.

The opposition coalition originally had concerns that Saleh, a shrewd political survivor, could foil the plan if parliament did not accept his resignation -- it is currently packed with members of his ruling party.


Protesters vowed to continue marches until the resignation and trial of Saleh, who has backed out of previous promises in past years not to run for president.

They also worry that some opposition parties, many of them former allies of Saleh, are only cooperating in order to gain a greater share of power and not to ensure real change.

"This agreement disappoints our hopes. The president hasn't left power. He got what he wanted -- he and his supporters will leave without being tried for the killing of protesters and the money they've embezzled," said Hamdan Zayed in Sanaa, where thousands of protesters have been camped out for weeks.

"He has achieved victory over the opposition, but as for us, we'll continue our revolution. We won't leave the streets because of this embarrassing agreement."

At least 125 protesters have been killed as unrest swept Yemen, where many of the 23 million population are frustrated by rampant corruption and mismanagement. Some 40 percent live on $2 a day or less, and one-third face chronic hunger.

The Gulf transition deal provides for Saleh to appoint a prime minister from the opposition coalition, with presidential elections two months after his resignation.

Experts worry that the one-month window offers time for those disappointed with the deal, such as military leaders or tribesmen who could lose power, to become potential saboteurs.

They could be tempted to try to seize power by sparking clashes and causing further unrest in the country, which sits on a major shipping lane where 3 million barrels of oil pass daily.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Yemen opposition agrees to honored and safe exit for President Saleh after US pressure

Source: Al Jazeeranet, 26/04/2011  

Yemen's opposition has agreed to take part in a transitional government under a Gulf-negotiated peace plan for embattled leader Ali Abdullah Saleh to step aside in a month in exchange for immunity for him and his family.

A spokesman for an opposition coalition said on Monday that his group had received assurances in order to accept the deal.

"We have given our final accord to the [Gulf] initiative after having received assurances from our brothers and American and European friends on our objections to certain clauses in the plan," Mohammed Qahtan said.

He added that the Common Front, a Yemeni parliamentary opposition coalition, had notified Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) secretary-general Abdullatif al-Zayani of the decision.

But many pro-democracy protesters, who are not members of the coalition that agreed to the peace talks, appear to be unconvinced by the Gulf-proposed deal and have called for fresh demonstrations, as security forces continued their crackdown.

Yemen's Western and Gulf Arab allies have tried to mediate a solution to a three-month crisis in which protesters, inspired by revolts against autocratic regimes in Egypt and Tunisia, have demonstrated relentlessly for the end of Saleh's 32-year-long rule.

As opposition leaders met in Sanaa to discuss the plan, Yemeni forces killed at least two protesters at separate rallies outside the capital, witnesses said.

Immunity for Saleh

Under the Gulf proposal, Saleh can stay in power for a further 30 days before stepping down, and the opposition had earlier said it would stay out of a unity government.

But on Monday, the opposition coalition, made up of Islamists and leftists, had changed it mind.

The plan has yet to be formally accepted.

An opposition refusal to take part could stymie the plan, and opposition sources have told Reuters that the US ambassador had pushed the group to come on board fully in a meeting on Sunday.

Seeing political allies desert him en masse, the Yemeni leader agreed in principle to a proposal by GCC foreign ministers to step down in exchange for immunity from prosecution for himself, his family and top aides.

But analysts say that allowing Saleh to stay on for another month could leave a room for further trouble in the poorest Arab state long on the brink of collapse.

The risk of Yemen descending into chaos is a major worry for Saudi Arabia and the United States, which fear an active al-Qaeda wing could strengthen a foothold in the Arabian Peninsula.

Deadly clashes

Hours before the opposition bloc announced its acceptance of the GCC deal, two anti-government protesters are reported to have been killed in separate clashes across the country.

One man was shot dead in the city of Ibb after plainclothes security men opened fire on Monday to halt a protest march, the Reuters news agency reported quoting medical sources.

Another 30 demonstrators were wounded, eight by bullets and the rest by stones and batons, the sources told Reuters.

The second protester was killed in the province of Al-Baida in Yemen's south.

In Taiz, also in the south, 250 people were treated for inhaling tear gas and 50 were wounded - 25 by bullets and 25 by stones, medical sources said

Unrest Costs Yemen Economy $ 4-5 Billion , Minister says

Source: Yemen Post, 26/04/2011

Unrest which entered a third month in April in Yemen has cost the national economy $ 4-5 billion so far, Minister for Trade and Industry said on Monday.

In an interview with the mouthpiece of the ruling party Al-Mithaq Newspaper, Hisham Sharaf said that unrest has directly hit tourism, foreign trade and investments and Yemeni exports.

" I hoped that any crisis in Yemen would not affect the basic and daily needs of the people, especially gas, and that the political disagreements would not be negatively exploited at the expense of the people," he said.

Amid the acute gas shortage blamed on road closures in Marib province, the government had to buy gas from abroad, he said, urging to release the gas truck on Marib-Sana'a road.

I think everyone knows that 90 percent of the local supply of gas comes through Marib, he said.

Today, the people continued to close the streets in the capital Sana'a in protest at the gas shortage, days after the U.S. embassy was said to have intervened and reopened the main gas transportation route upon a request from the government and the opposition.

Furthermore, Sharaf said the fall of exports, mainly of oil due to the continuous road closures and bombing oil pipelines was the only reason for the climbing rates of the U.S. dollar against the Yemeni riyal as well as the shortage of hard currencies in the Yemeni markets.

When this crisis ends, the U.S. dollar rates will decrease, he said, pointing out that if the political rivals sit around the dialogue table, this will boost the national economy.

The GCC member states have assured us they will support Yemen after the crisis, he concluded.

Meanwhile, the dueling protests are continuing in most of the Yemeni cities at a time when the government is stepping up the crackdown on the protests calling for an immediate ouster of Saleh.

Yemen protests kill 3 as opposition haggles


Yemeni security forces shot dead three more protesters against President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Monday while opposition politicians debated whether to cooperate with a Gulf plan for the veteran autocrat to step aside.

The risk of Yemen, the poorest Arab state long on the brink of collapse, descending further into bloodshed is a major worry for Saudi Arabia and the United States, which fear an active al Qaida wing could strengthen a foothold in the Arabian Peninsula.

Witnesses said security men opened fire to stop protesters marching through the city of Taiz, south of the capital. They were trying to join a pro-democracy rally that would take them past a palace belonging to Saleh.

"There were thousands in a march who came from outside Taiz, but the police, army and gunmen in civilian clothes confronted them, opening fire with bullets and tear gas," said Jamil Abdullah, a protest organiser.

"They opened fire heavily from every direction."

Yemen opposition division delays US-backed-Saudi-led GCC plan for defusing crisis

Source: The Wall Street Journal, by By MARGARET COKER And HAKIM ALMASMARI,

Yemen's opposition is deadlocked about whether to join embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh in accepting a deal brokered by neighboring Arab countries in which the longtime leader would cede power after a 30-day period and receive immunity for himself and his close relatives.

The offer, intended to end the political stalemate that has increased the security vacuum in the volatile nation, follows a fierce bout of arm-twisting by Mr. Saleh's close allies, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, after he has tenaciously clung to power despite the towering array of politicians, army officers and tribal leaders intent on seeing him step down.

But the proposed deal so far has magnified divisions in the ranks, between the established opposition parties eager to ascend to power themselves and the student movements pushing for deep, democratic changes instead of what they see as a political life preserver thrown to the longtime leader.

Yemen's allies, including the U.S., have grown increasingly worried that the political crisis has reversed gains made by American and Yemeni forces to weaken the entrenched al Qaeda network that operates inside the Arab country. In recent weeks, as protests against the president have gained traction, more than half the country's U.S.-trained counterterrorism forces, which are commanded by Mr. Saleh's son and nephews, have left their posts in al Qaeda-infested areas of the country to help defend the leader's official residence in the capital, San'a.

The White House declined to comment Sunday. But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Saturday that the U.S. wanted to see "a peaceful transfer of power in Yemen that is responsive to the aspirations of the Yemeni people." The White House urged all parties to move swiftly to implement the terms of the agreement.

A lengthy holdout to the new political deal by the Yemeni student groups, perceived as the moral backbone of the protest movement, provides a fresh challenge for U.S. policy makers trying to find a balance between supporting democracy movements and defending national security. Diplomats involved in the Yemeni political negotiations say they would like to see elections held before the start of Ramadan, which begins in early August. That means that a political solution to the crisis would have to be announced soon—or student concerns with the latest deal be ignored—for polls to be held within that timeline.

"If we don't have elections before Ramadan, then we lose two more months," said a diplomat familiar with the negotiations. "That [political vacuum] is bad for us and good for al Qaeda."

Overwhelmed with the instability bubbling in Syria and Bahrain, Arab Gulf officials last week pushed more forcibly to find a solution in Yemen, according to two diplomats familiar with the situation. With the backing of the U.S., the Saudis and the Emiratis lobbied both Mr. Saleh and the opposition parties to accept a plan for political transition laying out a 30-day timeline for the president to step down and allow the opposition the chance to enter government, reform the constitution and hold new elections.

In return, the deal would give legal immunity for the longtime leader and top officials in his government and give him the right to name who would take over the transitional government that would rule the country until new polls.

The two-page draft political deal, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, doesn't mention defense or counterterrorism issues. People familiar with the document say that U.S. and Gulf Arabs expect that Mr. Saleh's son and nephews—who run the country's intelligence service, Republican Guard and elite Interior Ministry forces and are key counterterrorism liaisons for American officials—would remain in their positions until new elections. Mr. Saleh accepted the deal over the weekend, according to two close aides, a dramatic turnaround from previously defiant statements that he wouldn't leave office until the end of his term in 2013 and his rejection of several agreements negotiated over the past few weeks by his allies and the opposition to end his 32-year rule.

His about-face has exposed deep fractures in Yemen's wide-ranging opposition, which spent the weekend debating whether to accept the deal, brokered under the auspices of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the regional political group of Arab oil-producing countries.

The leaders of Yemen's established opposition parties, which have been denied positions of power during the three decades that Mr. Saleh has ruled, have been itching for a quick end to the crisis that began with the first street demonstrations in January. They were included in the negotiations with the GCC during the drafting of the current plan—but the student groups weren't.

The opposition is concerned about two major issues in the deal. The first is a clause that calls for immunity for the president and "his cohorts in rule," which opposition leaders say is meant to include Mr. Saleh's son and nephews and all key officials who have been associated with the regime.

The students have insisted on seeing the president prosecuted for the deaths of the more than 140 protesters who have died since the start of the national uprising, something the immunity clause would prohibit. "The revolution cannot be complete if corruption is not uprooted. Giving immunity to all [Mr. Saleh's] regime is helping the spread of corruption and destroying the revolution," said Adel Rabayee, one of the student committee leaders. "The youth are looking at the matter from a logical point of view, while the international community is looking at it from political interests."

The second divisive issue is the clause that would obligate the opposition to join a unified transitional government with Mr. Saleh's ruling party for the 30 days between the time that the agreement is signed and the leader must step down. Opposition figures both within the political parties and outside their ranks see that as objectionable because they would have to swear loyalty to the leader they have been trying to kick out of power.

Opposition parties sent emissaries to the student groups to try to negotiate a way forward. U.S. and European diplomats also met with the student groups, urging them to bend their demands and accept apolitical compromise. But by Sunday night, the student movement was strategizing further civil-disobedience campaigns against the regime.

In Washington, the U.S. State Department said that there must be "genuine participation by all sides, including youth, in an open and transparent process" that addresses Yemenis' legitimate concerns. These include "their calls to quickly bring all perpetrators of violence against protesters to justice" as well as their political and economic aspirations. "We will not speculate about the choices the Yemeni people will make or the results of their political dialogue," it added.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Yemen's tribes 'put differences aside' to protest for change


By Catriona Davies 24\04\2011

While Afrah Nasser, a 25-year-old Yemeni journalist, has been reporting on the protests sweeping her country over the past two months, one thing has surprised her more than anything else: the lack of tribal infighting.

She has been amazed to see people from different tribes protesting side by side with a common purpose of forcing the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power since 1978.

Nasser, the only female journalist on the Yemen Observer, said: "Tribes who have long-term revenge issues are coming to the protests peacefully and united.

"They are living in harmony with one voice and in agreement that they want Saleh out."

More than 100 people have been killed in violent clashes between pro- and anti-government demonstrators and security forces in recent weeks, according to estimates by Amnesty International.

The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council is trying to find a way to resolve the crisis, and the United Nations Security Council was unable to agree a joint statement when it met on Tuesday.

Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East and tribal loyalties often trump national identity.

In February, leaders of two prominent tribal groups, the Hashid-dominated National Solidarity Council and the Baqil tribe, said they would send members to join the protests calling for Saleh's resignation. Saleh is himself a member of the Hashid tribe.

Nasser Arrabyee, a Yemeni journalist for the Dubai-based Gulf Times and the Egypt-based Al Ahram, said: "The tribal leaders are the key players in society. Politicians in the ruling party are not as influential as the tribal leaders.

"A lot of the most influential tribal leaders have now declared their support for the opposition. However, Saleh still has the support of some people from all the tribes."

The tribal system is strongest in the north, where there are three main tribal groups -- Hashid, Baqil and Madhaj -- with many smaller tribes within them, Arrabyee said.

He added: "Over history, Hashid and Baqil are often described as the 'wings of the ruler.' Yemen has no good institutions and no rule of law, so tribal leaders are the real government."

Nasser added: "There are too many tribal leaders and each leader has their own supporters from the same village or area. These tribal leaders are usually older, wealthier people with influence over the younger members of their tribe."

Gabriele vom Bruck, a senior lecturer in Middle Eastern social anthropology at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, said: "The tribal system, at least in the north, has remained very entrenched and some tribes are quite independent of the government, with their own legal systems.

"It's less so in the south, where the tribal system was partly dismantled by British colonial rule."

Against this background, the tribal unity observed by Nasser during the protests could represent a dramatic shift.

Nasser said: "One thing that makes me optimistic is people are showing a new civilization and acting peacefully in the face of violence by the security forces.

"In normal circumstances, if a guy is killed, members of his tribe or family will go after whoever killed him for revenge.

"But in these days, family members are not fighting back, they are remaining peaceful and taking it as a sacrifice. It's a new experience for Yemen and it's really remarkable."

Bruck was more cautious on whether the bridges formed between tribes would last beyond the protests.

She said: "My worry is that the opposition's only common demand is that they want Saleh to go, but beyond that they have very little in common. Once Saleh goes there could be a return to the infighting."

Another key issue for the future of Yemen will be whether al-Qaida can be kept at bay.

Arrabyee said: "Yemen will become a better place if we can establish a modern secular state that will respect freedoms and rights.

"We also need a government that will continue to fight terrorism. Al-Qaida is a real threat in Yemen, not only because of the terrorists hiding in the mountains, but because of the sympathizers who are hungry and see corruption, poverty and unemployment everywhere."

However, Nasser said: "I believe the issue of al-Qaida is propaganda. If there's a violent act it's because of frustration. If you take a teenager with no education or prospects, he will be prey to anybody to buy him and tell him to do violent acts.

"The only bad thing is bad government causing a bad situation that leads people to be frustrated.

"We need democracy and for everyone to have their rights and equal opportunities."

President Saleh agrees to step down and opposition divided

Source:The New York Times,24/04/2011

Mr. Saleh іѕ a wily political survivor, аnԁ іt wаѕ unclear іf hіѕ offer tο step down wаѕ a real attempt tο сοοƖ thе political turmoil аnԁ growing demonstrations thаt hаνе rocked hіѕ public fοr weeks οr a way tο shift blame fοr a stalemate tο thе opposition.

 Hіѕ offer follows days οf unrelenting pressure, frοm Saudi Arabia аnԁ οthеr neighboring states fearful οf more instability , fοr hіm tο step up уουr sleeve.

Hіѕ announcement set οff a flurry οf political maneuvering аnԁ meetings, bυt bу thе еnԁ οf thе night, іt wаѕ far frοm clear thаt іt wουƖԁ еnԁ thе stalemate аnԁ ease hіm frοm power аftеr 32 years οf autocratic rule.

Thе agreement wουƖԁ demand thе opposition tο halt thе street protests аnԁ tο take раrt іn a coalition wіth Mr. Saleh’s ruling hаνе fun.

Thе opposition’s leader, Yassin Saeed Noman, ѕаіԁ hіѕ coalition accepted thе agreement іn principle, bυt rejected those conditions, preferring tο allow Mr.

Saleh’s hаνе fun tο govern іn anticipation οf hе resigns аnԁ thеn join a power-sharing government. Mr. Noman аƖѕο ѕаіԁ thе opposition lacks thе power tο force protesters frοm thе streets.

Thе opposition continued tο meet іntο thе night, past a midnight deadline thаt Mr. Saleh hаԁ set fοr іn agreement tο hіѕ terms.

Government officials derided thе opposition’s counter-proposal, noting thаt thе deal wаѕ crafted bу thе Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council аnԁ hаԁ thе backing οf thе United States аnԁ thе European Union.

“Thіѕ wіƖƖ bе ехсеƖƖеnt fοr thе president, bесаυѕе now іt’s clear thаt thе opposition hаѕ refused everything,” ѕаіԁ one presidential adviser, whο spoke οn condition οf anonymity.

“Thе opposition hаѕ shown thаt thеу ԁrеаԁ going іntο a coalition, аnԁ thеу аrе nοt ready tο deal wіth international initiatives. Thеу аrе divided аnԁ weak.”

A deadlock leaves open thе possibility οf more clashes іn Yemen, whеrе street protesters — whο hаνе occupied main squares іn Yemen’s Ɩаrɡеѕt cities fοr months аnԁ clashed repeatedly wіth government forces — mаԁе clear thеу wеrе deeply mіѕеrаbƖе wіth thе terms οf thе deal.

Still, іt іѕ nοt clear hοw long Mr. Saleh, whο hаԁ earlier agreed tο step down before hіѕ contemporary term ends іn 2013, саn hold οn — аnԁ thіѕ mаrkеԁ thе first time thаt hе wаѕ open tο leaving office before thе еnԁ οf thе year.

Well Ɩονеԁ rаɡе аt Mr. Saleh, widely perceived аѕ corrupt, hаѕ οnƖу grown.

United States officials hаνе grown increasingly alarmed аbουt thе breakdown οf order іn Yemen, whісh іѕ host tο one οf thе mοѕt active аnԁ deadly branches οf Al Qaeda.

 Yemeni counter-terrorism units, funded аnԁ trained bу thе United States, hаνе bееn largely grounded іn thе recent weeks οf political turmoil, аnԁ jihadists appear tο bе moving more freely іn ѕοmе areas.

Thе State Department reacted somewhat cautiously tο Mr. Saleh’s announcement Saturday. Acting Deputy Spokesman Mаrk Toner ѕаіԁ officials hаԁ seen news reports аbουt hіѕ acceptance οf аn agreement wіth thе opposition, whісh hе ѕаіԁ wουƖԁ bе salutation.

 Bυt hе added thаt “Thе participation οf аƖƖ sides іn thіѕ dialogue іѕ urgently needed tο reach a solution supported bу thе Yemeni public.

” Hе specified thаt thе nation’s youth ѕhουƖԁ bе brought іntο thе process.

Even іf United States officials hаνе long held up Mr. Saleh аѕ аn ally аnԁ a crucial partner οn counter-terrorism, thеу signaled earlier thіѕ month thаt thеу want tο see hіm ɡο.

Saudi Arabia аnԁ οthеr Arab states hаνе quietly mаԁе similar gestures.

 Thе foreign minister οf thе United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan, met wіth hіѕ Yemeni counterpart οn Saturday аnԁ urged hіm tο accept thе Gulf Cooperation Council’s proposal fοr Mr. Saleh’s departure.

Thе protest movement hаѕ drawn strength frοm high-level defections, including diplomats, ministers, аnԁ thе public’s top air force officer.

 Anԁ аѕ іn οthеr protests diagonally thе Arab planet, bloody clashes wіth street protesters hаνе fueled well Ɩονеԁ rаɡе.

In Yemen, аt Ɩеаѕt 130 public hаνе bееn kіƖƖеԁ іn confrontations wіth police, soldiers, аnԁ irregular forces around thе public.

Robert F. Worth reported frοm Cairo, аnԁ Michael Slackman frοm Krakow, Poland. Nasser Arrabyee contributed reporting frοm Sana, Yemen, аnԁ Thom Shanker frοm Washington.

Ships held by Somali pirates

Ships held by Somali pirates

Source:Reuters , 24/04/2011

Here are details of ships still held by Somali pirates after pirates said on Sunday they had released the Greek-owned MV Eagle.

The Eagle was seized last January en route to India from Jordan. It had a crew of 24 Filipinos.

* SOCOTRA 1: Seized on December 25, 2009 in the Gulf of Aden. Yemeni-owned ship had six Yemeni crew.

* ICEBERG 1: Seized on March 29, 2010. Roll-on roll-off vessel captured 10 miles from Aden. Crew of 24.

* JIH-CHUN TSAI 68: Taiwanese fishing vessel seized on March 30. Crew of 14: Taiwanese captain, two Chinese and 11 Indonesians.

* Three Thai fishing vessels -- PRANTALAY 11, 12 and 14 -- hijacked on April 17-18. Total of 77 crew.

* SUEZ: Seized on August 2. Panama-flagged cargo ship hijacked in the Gulf of Aden. Carrying cement. Crew of 23 all from Egypt, 1akistan, Sri Lanka and India.

* OLIB G: Seized on September 8. Maltese-flagged merchant vessel with 18 crew -- 15 Georgians, three Turks.

* CHOIZIL: Seized on October 26. South-African-owned yacht was hijacked after leaving Dar es Salaam. European Union anti-piracy task force rescued one South African but two other crew members were taken ashore and held as hostages.

* POLAR: Seized on Oct 30: Liberian-owned Panama-flagged 72,825-tonne tanker seized 580 miles east of Socotra. Crew of 24 -- one Romanian, three Greeks, four Montenegrins, 16 Filipinos.

* YUAN XIANG: Seized on November 12. Chinese-owned cargo ship captured off Oman. Crew of 29 Chinese.

* ALBEDO: Seized on November 26. Malaysian-owned cargo vessel was taken 900 miles off Somalia as it headed for Mombasa from UAE. Crew of 23 from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Iran.

* PANAMA: Seized on December 10: Liberian-flagged container ship en route from Tanzania to Beira. Crew of 23 from Myanmar.

* RENUAR: Seized on December 11: Liberian-owned bulk cargo vessel, 70,156 dwt, captured en route to Fujairah from Port Louis. Crew of 24 Filipinos.

* ORNA: Seized on December 20: The Panama-flagged bulk cargo vessel, 27,915 dwt, owned by the United Arab Emirates, was seized 400 miles northeast of the Seychelles.

* SHIUH FU NO 1: Seized December 25: Somali pirates appeared to have seized the Taiwanese-owned fishing vessel near the northeast tip of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. The vessel had a crew of 26 Taiwanese, Chinese and Vietnamese nationals.

* VEGA 5: Seized before December 31: Somali pirates hijacked the 140 dwt Mozambican-flagged fishing vessel about 200 miles southwest of the Comoros. There were two Spaniards, three Indonesians and 19 Mozambicans on board.

* BLIDA: Seized on January 1, 2011: The 20,586-tonne Algerian-flagged bulk carrier was seized about 150 miles southeast of Salalah, Oman. The ship, with 27 crew from Algeria, Ukraine and the Philippines, was heading to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from Salalah with a cargo of clinker.

* HOANG SON SUN: Seized on January 19: The 22,835-tonne bulk carrier, which is Mongolian flagged and Vietnamese-owned and had a crew of 24 Vietnamese nationals, was seized about 520 nautical miles southeast of the port of Muscat.

* SAVINA CAYLYN: Seized on February 8: The 104,255-dwt tanker, Italian-flagged and owned, was on passage to Malaysia from Sudan when it was attacked 670 miles east of Socotra Island. It had five Italians and 17 Indians on board.

* SININ: Seized on February 12: The Maltese owned and registered bulk carrier was seized with a crew of 13 Iranian and 10 Indian nationals in the North Arabian Sea. The 53,000 dwt vessel was on route to Singapore from Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.

* ALFARDOUS: Seized on February 13: The Yemeni fishing vessel was believed to have been pirated close to Socotra Island in the Gulf of Aden and has a crew of eight.

* DOVER: Seized on February 28: It was taken about 260 nautical miles north east of Salalah in Oman. The Panamanian flagged, Greek owned vessel was on its way to Saleef (Yemen) from Port Quasim (Pakistan) when it was attacked. The crew consists of three Romanians, one Russian and 19 Filipinos.

* SINAR KINDUS: Seized on March 16: The Indonesian flagged and owned bulk cargo carrier was pirated approximately 320 miles North East of Socotra in the Somali Basin. The ship, which carried a crew of 20, was quickly used to launch further attacks.

* ZIRKU: Seized on March 28: The UAE-flagged and Kuwaiti-owned oil tanker, bound for Singapore from Sudan, was pirated approximately 250 nautical miles South East of Salalah in the eastern part of the Gulf of Aden. The 105,846 dwt tanker carried a 29-strong crew including one Croatian, 17 Pakistanis, one Iraqi, one Filipino, one Indian, three Jordanians, three Egyptians and two Ukrainians.

* SUSAN K: Seized on April 8: The German-owned, Antigua and Barbuda-flagged vessel was traveling to Port Sudan from Mumbai in India when it was pirated 200 nautical miles northeast of Salalah, Oman. The 4,450 dwt vessel carried a crew of 10 from Ukraine and the Philippines.

* ROSALIA D'AMATO: Seized on April 21: The Italian-owned bulk carrier was captured 350 miles off the coast of Oman. The 74,500 tone bulk carrier was on its way to Bandar Imam Khomeini in Iran from Brazil with a cargo of soya. The crew consisted of six Italians and 15 Filipinos.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Opposition conditionally agrees on GCC plan

Sit-ins and protests must continue

By Nasser Arrabyee/23/04/2011

The Yemeni Islamist-led opposition coalition agreed late Saturday on the US-backed and Saudi-led GCC plan which wants Yemenis to have a new elected President within three months.

“But the sit-ins and protests will continue, because no one has authority on the young protesters,” said Yaseen Saeed Noman, the rotating chairman of the supreme council of the coalition which includes Islamists, Socialists, and Nasserites. One point of the GCC plan wants an end for the sit-ins and all kinds of protests.

Noman, who is the Secretary General of the Socialist party, said the coalition would allow the current acting government to run the country alone during the month before President Saleh steps down according to the GCC plan. The first point of the GCC plan wants both sides to form a unity government.

“We would concede our right to participate in this government,” Noman said after a meeting of the leaders of opposition coalition before announcing their position on the GCC plan.

Earlier in the day, the ruling party and its allies of the small parties, officially announced its agreement on the GCC plan.

Last Thursday, the final and non-negotiable GCC plan was officially handed over in Sana’a to both sides by the GCC Secretary General Abdul Latif Al Zayani.

The plan wants both sides to form a unity government immediately after the signing of the agreement by both sides. On the day 29th of signing, the Parliament should approve the laws that would guarantee immunity of prosecution of President Saleh, family and aides.

On the day 30th of signing, the President Saleh resign to the Parliament. The Vice President, who would be the legitimate President, should call for Presidential election within two months.

The new elected President should form a committee for writing a new constitution and then call for holding a public referendum on it.

Then, a timetable should be set for conducting parliamentary elections after which the a new government should be formed by the party that won in the elections.

However, the young people in the streets still refuse the GCC plan although the majority of them are belonging to the opposition coalition especially to the Islamists party, Islah.

The leading young protester Abdullah Salam says all the points of the GCC plan are good except for the point which calls for ending the sit-ins and protests.

“For us, we agree on the GCC plan as long as President Saleh will step down by it,” Said Abdullah Salam who leads a group of young protesters called “ Movement of Young People with the Uprising”.

“But we never ever agree on ending our sit-ins until we see with our eyes other points of the plan are implemented,” He said “ We do not trust this regime as long as security and army are under their control.”

The leading young protester Najib Abdul Rehman Al Sa’adi refuses the GCC plan because it totally ignores the young people in the street and talks only about the ruling party and the opposition.

“We do not accept it, because it ignores the real people, the young people who made the revolution,” said Al Sa’ada who leads a group of young people called “ February Movement of the Independent Young People”.

“The opposition coalition is a part of the problem and not a part of the solution, and unfortunately the GCC plan deals only with it (opposition).”

Adel Abdu Arrabyee, who also leads a group of young protesters called “ Union of Yemen Youth for Change” says they are waiting for a better plan from the GCC but not his one.

“We refuse the contents of this GCC plan because the step down was not immediate, and was not clear as we want, but we’ll keep appreciating efforts of our brothers in the Gulf to help us,” Arrabyee said.