Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Who misses the last chance in Yemen?

By Nasser Arrabyee/05/04/2011

The stage of violence has almost started in Yemen’s crisis after President Ali Abdullah Saleh ignored what the opposition called the “last, last chance” for him to step down and handover the power peacefully.

 Earlier this week, the Islamist-led opposition coalition offered a five-point plan for Saleh to immediately step down and handover all his power to his deputy, Abdu Rabu Manour Hadi.

Their spokesman, Mohammed Qahtan said, even before the plan was published by media, they would march forward to Presidential Palace if Saleh refused this “last, last chance.

 ” On Monday April 5th, 2011, just one day after the plan was announced, at least 15 protesters were killed and tens others injured in Taiz city in the central south, where three marches converged from three different

places in the city to storm the important buildings of the local government including the Presidential palace. “The troops started to kill the protesters when they started to occupy the buildings of the local government,” Said Ms. Bushra al Maktari, one of the leading organizers of the anti-Saleh protests in Taiz.

 “We were a million-man march converging from three different places to the government’s buildings and governor’s office, with the aim of occupying them, but peacefully and without weapons,” Ms. Al Maktari added.

The same happens in Hodeida city in the west and Aden in the south where protesters try to implement civil disobedience.

In Sana’a, the capital, the protesters have been unsuccessfully trying every day, from Sunday April 4th, to march in the streets around the important government buildings including the Presidential palace. In Sana’a they can’t march freely.

The defected army troops stop them or in the best case tell them where to go and when under their protection.

The army troops that prevent the protesters from marching belong to the defected army general Ali Muhsen who declared his support to the “peaceful revolution” against President Saleh earlier last month.

Although the defected Muhsen troops who surround the sit-in camps in Sana’a from all directions say to the protesters the prevention is for their safety, a lot of protesters refuse this and say they are fed up and want to come to the end whatever the results or the victims are.

“A lot of young people here are fed up of staying in these sit-in camps, they think that marching will topple the regime and finish everything,” The 32- year old Najeeb Abdul Rehman Al Sadi said in his sit-in tent.

 “But it seems that we are also blockaded by Ali Muhsen’s troops now, as we were blockaded by Yahya Saleh’s central security forces, from blockade to blockade, no difference,” Al Sadi complained.

But Sana’a is not always safe. At least two soldiers from Ali Muhsen’s troops and one tribesman were killed and several other injured on Tuesday April 5th, when troops clashed with hundreds of tribesmen at the gate of Ali Muhsen’s 1st Armored Division, few meters from the anti-Saleh sit-in camps nearby the university of Sana’a.

The tribesmen, who came from Sanhan tribe, the same tribe of President Saleh and his cousin Ali Muhsen, wanted to mediate and reconcile between the two “big brothers” of the tribe, Saleh and Muhsen.

 Earlier in the day, those tribal mediators including the brother of Ali Muhsen, were in the Presidential Palace with President Saleh who told them he wanted to save blood between brothers.

Muhsen’s troops control almost half of the capital Sana’a, the republican guards, under leadership of Saleh’s son, Ahmed, control the other half.

The Saleh’s government and Ali Muhsen welcomed Tuesday April 5th, a call from the Gulf Cooperation Council for representatives from the opposition and the government to come to the Saudi capital Riyadh for solving their crisis.

The spokesman of the opposition coalition which include Islamists, Socialists, and Nasserites, Mohammed Qahtan, he was ready to go and talk with new President, but not ready to talk with Saleh even about “how to run a school let alone running a nation”.

 United States and France supported the GCC States’ call for dialogue between the all conflicting parties in Yemen.

United States, which both Saleh and opposition are betting on its final word, has not yet said explicitly “Saleh should go”.

But, undoubtedly, it’s doing its best to secure the transfer of power from Saleh, to someone or government that would continue the fight on Al Qaeda, the biggest American concern.

Protesters here are disappointed by the American position.

They are waiting for the moment when US say “Saleh must go” like Mubarak.

The US ambassador in Sana’a, Gerald Fieriestien, works day and night to find out a peaceful solution accepted by all for transferring the power from Saleh.

The White House spokesman, Jay Carney, on Monday April 4th, urged all Yemen conflicting parties to sit for political dialogue over peaceful transfer of power.

 Earlier in the week, the Yemeni President Saleh called opposition to end the demonstrations and sit-ins and he would step down according to the constitution.

“We call the opposition to end the demonstrations and sit-ins and road blockings,” said President Saleh Sunday in a meeting with tribal supporters from Taiz province.

 “We are ready to talk about the peaceful transfer of the power in the framework of the constitution,” Saleh added “ but not by twisting the arms.

” President Saleh might have disappointed the opposition who were expecting him to accept what they called the “last, last chance” initiative, a new-five point plan for Saleh to immediately step down and hand over all his powers to his deputy.

Yasser Al Awadhi, senior official in Saleh’s ruling party commented on the opposition plan by saying “ if this plan is for discussing, it has what deserves discussions, but it is not for discussing, then I think nobody can dictate others only what he wants.

” The young people in sit-in square did not care very much about the plan.

“The plan belongs to the opposition, we do not care about it,” said Adel Abdu Arrabyee, member of the media committee of the young protesters in what they called the Change Square, at the gate of Sana’a university.

“The only thing we care about in this plan is the immediate step down of Saleh, and even though this was not clear enough to us.

” Despite attempts of escalation to press Saleh step down, there are many people in the opposition who still exert efforts to find an honored and respect exit for Saleh.

 “President Saleh served Yemen during the past period with his good and bad, and now time has come for him to go out, but we want him to have a safe and honored exit and we want him to be a former president,” said Dr. Mohammed Abdul Malik Al Mutawakil, the former chairman of the opposition coalition.

 Earlier in the week, the opposition agreed on a five point plan for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down and hand over the power to his deputy.

 1) The President Saleh should announce his step-down and transfer all his powers to his deputy, Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi.

2) Mr. Hadi should immediately re-structure the security agencies, the national security, the central security, and the republican guards, to make them function according to the constitution and laws far from nepotism (these three agencies are run now by two nephews and a son of Saleh).

 3) Reaching a compromise with the new president (Mr. Hadi) about the transitional power through the following :

A) A transitional council in which all parties and categories including the youth and women for conducting a comprehensive dialogue with everyone inside and outside Yemen, about all issues including the issue of the south, and creation of the civil state based on parliamentary system and proportional electoral system.

B) Formation of a committee of experts to do constitutional reforms in the light of the results of the dialogue.

C) Formation of a national unity government chaired by the opposition, in which all parties and categories including the young people should be represented.

D) A temporary council of respected military commanders in which all components should be represented including those military officers and commanders who were forced to retire after the 1994 war.

 4) Formation of high commission on elections and referendum, to conduct the referendum on the new constitution and conduct parliamentary and presidential elections.

5) Confirmation of the right to peaceful demonstrations and expressions, and investigations into the attacks on the demonstrators especially the massacres in Aden , Sana’a and Abyan, and put those responsible on trial and compensate the families of those who were killed and injured.

The President Saleh said on Friday April 1st, he would sacrifice himself for Yemen, a sentence which was widely understood, he would step down.

“I would sacrifice myself for you and for the Yemeni people,” Saleh told about 2 million of his supporters who rallied in the two big squares of the capital, Tahrir and Al Sabeen and all the streets and sub-streets around them.

 The state-run media estimated the people in the rally of AlSabeen Square at 4 million and those who participated in all provinces at 10 million.

 Saleh’s supporters, who called their Friday the “Friday of brotherhood and Tolerance”, were chanting “Yes for security and stability, yes for constitutional legitimacy.

 ” The Saleh’s supporters came almost from all over the country to Sana’a.

They were chanting “The People Want Ali Abdullah Saleh, the People Want Ali Abdullah Saleh”.

At the same time hundreds of thousands were chanting “ The People Want Ali Abdullah Saleh out, The People Want Ali Abdullah Saleh out” in the other side of the corner of the city.

The opposition media estimated their supporters in Sana’a at one million and a half and their supporters who participated in the “Friday of Liberation” in about 15 provinces at 5 million people.

However, the young protesters and opposition parties wanted him to sacrifice his post only not his life.

“We do not want him to sacrifice himself for us, we want him only to sacrifice his post and go,” said the 27-year Adel Abdu Arrabyee, a member of the media committee, at the sit-in camps, the Change Square, at the gate of university.

 “We , the youth of revolution, would assure President Saleh that we would not be with his political opponents, but we would be with the new Yemen, Yemen of freedom, Yemen of democracy, Yemen of the civil state.”

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