Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Small war in Yemen erupts

By Nasser Arrabyee/24/05/2011

The “peaceful” revolution has turned to a small war in Yemen. Now, it might turn to an all-out civil war overnight.

It started from the Palace of the opposition tribal leader Hamid Al Ahmar and his nine brothers in Al Hasaba area in the Yemeni capital Sanaá only one day after the President Ali Abdullah Saleh refused to sign a US-backed and Saudi-led GCC deal for peaceful transfer of power.

Heavy and medium-sized weapons were used by the tribesmen of Al Ahmar who leads the Yemen most influential tribe, Hashed, to storm and occupy all the government institutions around the Palace such as the ministry of interior, ministry of trade, headquarters of the ruling party, and state-run news agency Saba.

This news agency, which feeds all official media with the news, is almost not working anymore after the upper three of the six-layer building were shelled with RPGs from the barricades and trenches around Al Ahmar’s Palace which is only less than 500 meters away on Monday.

Only one journalist was injured out of some 100 who were blockaded for more than eight hours in the basement of the building.

Al Ahmar accused Saleh’s forces of turning all these official buildings into military barracks to target them in their Palace.

The very beginning of this small but very dangerous war was early morning on Monday May 23rd, 2011, when Saleh’s security forces clashed with Al-Ahmar militants who came to barricade in a public school close to the Palace, but already occupied by security forces. Al Ahmar said the school was turned to a store of weapons.

The war intensified all the day of Tuesday in the area of Al Hasab around Al Ahmar Palace where hundreds of tribal leaders came to mediate between Hamid Al Ahmar and President Saleh. At least three tribesmen were killed at the outer gate of the

Palace by a missile before mediators left empty-handed early afternoon Tuesday.
The chairman of intelligence Ghalib Al Kamish was among the mediators who failed to contain the deteriorating situation.

The leader of the Yemen second influential tribe, Bakil, Shiekh Naji Al Shayif, started a second mediation very late Tuesday in a bid to prevent an all-out war.

The defected army of general Ali Muhsen has not interfered yet, but it is expected to protect the enforcement tribesmen who might come from Khamer, the stronghold of Al Ahmar’s tribes in Amran province north of the capital Sanaa in case the Saleh’s republican guards try to prevent them from entering Sanaá.

These developments came after President Saleh refused Sunday in the last minute to sign the power transfer deal after five officials from his party and five from opposition parties signed it but in different places.

Thousands of Saleh supporters took to the streets of the capital Sanaá on Sunday May 22nd, 2011,and started to block roads almost everywhere expressing their refusal to signing.

They blocked even the high ways between the cities and they even surrounded the Emirates embassy in Sanáa to prevent mediation members who included the GCC chief Abdul Latif Al Zayani and Gulf ambassadors , US,UK, and EU ambassadors who were supposed to go to Presidential Palace to have Saleh sign.

They were evacuated by a military helicopter which took them to the Presidential office where only five officials from Saleh party signed but not Saleh.

The opposition signed the deal a day earlier.Saleh wanted the opposition leaders to come to him. “ How can we work with them for one month? over phone?, before whom they will take the oath,” Saleh wondered.

“ If they want a civil war, we will confront them with all means and they will be held responsible for the bloodshed,” He added.

After GCC chief returned to the Saudi capital, the GCC ministers who were in urgent meeting on Yemen, called the conflicting parties to be more patient to avoid a war.

The Saudi Arabia, who leads the mediation, however, urged Saleh to sign as soon as possible and said the GCC chief would come back to Sanaá for completing his task. Saleh is expected to sign on Sunday May 29th, 2011, if the current small war is contained.

US and EU urged Saleh to fulfill his promises by signing and implementing the deal and handing over the power. After what happened Sunday, the Americans ans Europeans hinted to other options including sanctions if he Saleh did hand over the power peacefully.

A Yemeni journalist was shot with a bullet in his feet when armed tribesmen belonging to influential tribal leader opposing the President Ali Abdullah Saleh, tried to storm government buildings nearby the palace of the tribal leader.

The spokesman of Al Ahmar’s Palace , Abdul Al Kawee Al Kaisi, said however, the militants of Al Ahmar only defended themselves when Saleh’s army and security forces tried to storm Al Ahmar’s Palace in Al Hasaba area, north of the capital Sanaá.

A source close to Al Ahmar’s family said, the militants of Al Ahmar were very angry when they saw Saleh’s supporters transfer a lot of weapons to the school of Al Ramah, which is not far from the Al Ahmar’s Palace.

“They realized that bringing such weapons to this school is only to target them,” the source said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
“What happened today, came after a long series of provocative acts by the Saleh’s Balatega , thugs.”

“The sheikh supporters want only to defend themselves, they do not want to attack any one,” the source defended.

The billionaire Hamid Al Ahmar, who is accused of orchestrating and funding the 4-month anti-Saleh protests, has been grooming himself for presidency since 2006 when he publically called for a revolution against President Saleh after his candidate Faisal bin Shamlan lost elections and Saleh won.

However, some of the anti-Saleh protesters, look at what happened nearby Al Ahmar’s Palace, as only conspiracy from Saleh and his supporters to divert the attention from the popular uprising .

“What’s happening is just a play from Saleh to portray the conflict as a conflict between him and Al Ahmar’s family and not between him and the whole people,” said Ameen Arrabyee, one of the leading protesters in sit-in square at the gate of university.

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