Thursday, 4 August 2011

'It's not Saleh's decision to step down'

By Nasser Arrabyee, 04/08/2011

The Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has not the right to step down without approval from the leadership of his party,the People's General Congress, said a senior official in the party.
"The President Saleh will lose if decides to step down without referring to the PGC," said Sultan Al Barakani, the assistant secretary general of the PGC.

Al Barakani played down the six-month protests saying protesters are just blindly copying what happened in Tunisia and Egypt.

However,he expected that the current crisis would end this month of Ramadan.

"I hope this crisis will be solved during Ramadan, Yemen is not like Tunisia, at least we have parliament,we have freedoms, we free and fair elections," said Al Barakani in televised statements on Wednesday.

Earlier in the week, President  Saleh said he would do  his best to meet the demands of the youth for change and development. 

He said dialogue between all political forces is the best and the only way for achieving aspirations of the people for better life.

"Only through dialogue we can reach a compromise that leads to achievement of aspirations of the Yemenis for change and development," Saleh said in a speech on the occasion of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting,which started on August1.

"Violence and conspiracies will never ever achieve the change," added Saleh who is still recovering in Saudi Arabia from injuries he sustained in a failed assassination attempt on June 3, 2011.

President Saleh's speech came only two days  after the UN envoy, Jamal Bin Omar warned of a  total collapse of the State if a solution through dialogue is not reached very soon for the six-month crisis.

The UN official who left Yemen early this week after 10 days of consultations with all parties,proposed that  UN,EU and GCC should sponsor dialogue for power transfer and conducting presidential elections by the end of this year as latest. 

The Islamist-led opposition coalition insisted , however, that President Saleh must step down and transfer power to his deputy before any dialogue.

The Saleh's ruling party insists that Saleh must continue as President until a new president is elected. 

The officials say Saleh would authorize his deputy Abdu Rabu Mansor Hadi to do the UN-sponsored dialogue with the opposition and supervise the elections rather than transfer all powers to him.

The UN official Bin Omar would brief the top UN officials on the results of his consultations with the Yemenis,and would get back to Yemen next September as he said at the end of his last visit to Yemen.

Meanwhile, pro-and-anti-government protests continue everyday and almost everywhere in the country.  More than 8 billion dollars is the  total  loss so far because of these protests according to official  statistics.

The anti-protesters demand an immediate outsert of President Saleh, although they are getting more frustrated and depressed by the division of their parties.

The pro-protesters who remarkably increased after the failed assassination attempt against Saleh and his top aides,demand that Saleh should stay until the end of his current constitutional term on 20 September 2013.

Security situation 

The Yemen government is now facing at least three fighting fronts because of the current political and economic crisis. 

The three fronts are directly or indirectly related to the largest Islamist opposition party, Islah, that apparently wants to increase the pressure on Saleh's regime through these military fronts.

One is in the north of the capital Sanaa, where  armed opposition tribesmen try to enter Sanaa, one in the south with Al Qaeda,and the third is in the central city  of Taiz  where  armed opposition tribesmen  want also to  control the city. 

Earlier this week,  the opposition tribesmen of Arhab in the north of the capital  threatened to strike the Sana’a international airport although they are not strong enough to do that.

The tribesmen said the “coming” attack on the airport would be in retaliation for the army attacks on their villages in Arhab area, about 30 km north of the airport of Sana’a.

“The barbaric aggression on our areas has reached its climax by the remnants of Saleh’s regime, they used against us all kind of weapons they have, tanks, artillery, missiles, and finally airplanes,” said the tribesmen in a statement.

“Therefore, we will strike the international airport of Sana’a with all  available methods of war in retaliation for that aggression.” 

One day before the threat,  about 100 tribesmen  and 20 soldiers were   killed when airplanes hit thousands of these tribesmen of Arhab while storming a part of the Sama’a camp of the republican guards, about 30 km north of the Sana’a airport.

The armed tribesmen from areas around the camps are led by the two Islamist prominent figures from Arhab district, member of parliament, Mansor Al Hanik and cleric Abdul Majid Al Zandani, who is wanted by the UN and US as a global terrorist.

The defected general Ali Muhsen supports the tribesmen of Arhab who use artillery and missiles in their battles against the three brigades of the republican guards camps  who have been based in  areas of Arhab for tens of years.

Tribal sources said that Sheikh Abdul Majid Al Zandani urged over the last few weeks the tribesmen in his tribe Arhab and other areas to join the tribal fighters against the army. 
A tribal mediation failed to stop the armed confrontations between the Islamist opposition and the republican guards.

A prominent tribal leader involved in the mediation said the tribesmen keep evading a truce in hope that the regime will collapse.

“The tribesmen who fight the army do not have a specific demand, every time we tell them there must be a solution or at least a truce, they ask for time for consultation and nothing happened after that,”   the tribal  leader,  Abddul Jalil Senan who is leading the tribal mediation in Arhab told the Weekly.

“They have not refused mediation and they have not agreed on a truce, but after the attack on the camp of Samaa, it became clear they were only buying time,” Senan said. 

In south where  recently a lot of tribesmen turned against Al Qaeda,   more than 40 tribesmen were killed  in mistaken airstrikes and clashes with Al Qaeda operatives earlier this week. 

The mistaken airstrikes happened after at least 15 tribesmen fighting with the troops  were killed by Al Qaeda operatives in a tribal check point close to Zinjubar in the southern province of Abyan.

Al Qaeda operatives attacked the check point in Shukrah, 48 km east of Zinjubar, at Friday night july 29, after the tribesmen killed an Al Qaeda fighter and arrested another in the same check point,  according to local sources.

Army troops and tribesmen are now the city of  Zinjubar, which was held by Al Qaeda late last May.
Al Qaeda is still controlling about half of the city. 

A military source said that guerilla war of Al Qaeda and their style of using the suicide bombings against the forces delayed army and tribesmen from totally controlling the city.

“We need some time to take some technical steps to avoid Al Qaeda suicide operations and also to weaken their abilities by blockading,” the military official said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to press.

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