Thursday, 18 August 2011

New opposition council declared just before President Saleh's return

By Nasser Arrabyee,18/08/2011

The Yemeni opposition groups declared an umbrella council to escalate their pressure on the defiant President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.
The opposition step came only one day after President Saleh vowed he would return very soon to end the political crisis.

The opposition say their umbrella, the national council, will only unite their forces and lead the revolution until all goals are achieved. Although it will not be a governing council at least for the time being, the officials say the opposition wanted to refuse the GCC deal and any kind of dialogue or peaceful ways to the end the crisis.

“The opposition declared the death of the GCC deal by this council,” said Tarek Al Shami, the spokesman of the ruling party. “ This means they do not want any peaceful solution, they want only to implement a conspiracy against the constitutional legitimacy,” he added.

A total of 20 members and chairman will be elected for the opposition council from among 143 members who were chosen on Wednesday July 17the, 2011.

The 143 includes all leaders of the main opposition parties which includes the Islamists, Socialists and Nasserites.
Youth and other opposition groups like Houthi, south separatist movement, and opposition abroad are represented in the list of 143. The list includes military and tribal figures like the defected general Ali Muhsen, three brothers of Al Ahmar.

However, some groups and individuals have already denied their approval and participation in the conference of Wednesday which was held in the university of Sanaa which is under the control of the defected army of general Ali Muhsen.

The opposition party of Ray, denied their approval and participation in thr council.
The top three officials of the Ray party were put in the list 142 of the council.

The tribal leader Naji Al Shayef,historic head of Bakil tribe,the second most influential tribe after Hashed, denied his approval and his knowledge of the council . His name was one of the 143.

More than 50 per cent of the 143 chosen members were absent from the founding conference of Wednesday.

The ruling party played down the importance of the opposition council.
In a statement, the party said some of those chosen for the council are high way robbers and criminals.
Earlier , the President Saleh said he would not handover the power except through elections or dialogue and compromise.

He said he would return to Yemen soon.

"See you soon, in Sana’a," Said Saleh in a televised speech he delivered to a conference of tribal leaders held in Sana’a to support him.
Saleh's supporters fired to air live bullets and fireworks after the speech to express their happiness over his return.

"I would not hand over the power to opportunists, war lords, and smugglers of oil," Saleh addressed his supporters from his royal residence in Riyadh. The prime minister Ali Mujawar and speaker of parliament Yahya Al Rayee, were sitting next to Saleh as he spoke.

"Dialogue is better than car bombs, attacking military camps, and mosques," said Saleh who looked and sounded normal in the forth public appearance in 10 days.

About 5,000 pro-government tribal leaders from all over Yemen held Tuesday a conference in the Yemeni capital Sana’a to support President Saleh who is preparing himself to return from Saudi Arabia where finished treatments from injuries he sustained in the failed assassination attempt of June 3, 2011 in the mosques of the Presidential Palace in Sana’a.

The tribal conference came only one day before the declaration of the opposition council.

Similar councils were previously declared by opposition groups within these parties but failed to do anything or have any kind of recognition.

The new thing in this council is that it has relatively big support from defected military commanders and tribal leaders. The politically ambitious and wealthy businesses man Hamid Al Ahmar is widely believed to be mainly behind this council.

Hamid Al Ahmar, who has been grooming himself for presidency since 2006, and has been orchestrating and mainly financing the anti-Saleh protests since early this year.

Hamid Al Ahmar is accused of playing an essential role in the failed assassination attempt against President Saleh and several other senior officials early last June.

Hamid and a senior official from Saleh's regime exchanged accusations just two days before such a council is declared.

Hamid said Saleh's sons were behind the failed assassination to justify their inheritance of the power after their father.

However, the official, Sultan Al Barakani, assistant secretary general of the ruling party, said Hamid was the main accused.

"There is no longer room for doubt that Hamid Al Ahmar is the prime suspect in the sinful assassination attempt to which the president of the republic and a number of officials were subjected," said Al Barakani in press statements on Monday August 15th,2011.

The results of the investigations, in which American investigators are participating, are not declared yet.

Hamid Al Ahmar and his brother Sadeq have been in on-and-off military confrontations with President Saleh's forces since last May.

Some young protesters are participating in the fighting which is now in a fragile truce.

The majority of Al Ahmar's fighters came from Hashed tribe, the country's most powerful tribe. President Saleh belongs to Hashed tribe.

Earlier this month, Sadeq Al Ahmar , who is one of Hashed's leaders, threatened that Saleh would not rule any more as long as he is still alive.

And with support from the defected general Ali Muhsen, Saded claimed that all the tribes of Yemen are with him.

General Muhsen , Saleh's cousin, belongs to Hashed tribe as well.

To respond to Al Ahmar brothers who are mainly behind the so-called national council, tribal leaders loyal to President Saleh from Hashed and all other tribes in Yemen held a meeting in the Yemeni capital Sana’a on Monday August 15th, 2011.

About 5000 tribal leaders from all over the country refused all kinds of violence and all attempts to overthrow the constitutional legitimacy. They declared their stand with Saleh.

Like Sadeq Al Al Ahmar, they claimed that they represent all tribesmen of Yemen.

"We are the tribal leaders of the whole Yemen, and we are here today to protect the constitutional legitimacy and to stand with the armed forces," said the chairman of the tribal conference, Mohammed Bin Naji Al Shayef.

Al Shayef is the top leader of Bakil tribe, the second powerful tribe after Hashed.
"We'll stand against those who refuse dialogue, and those who dream of taking the power by force," said Al Shayef whose palace is not far from Al Ahmar's palace in Al Hasaba area north of Sana’a where fighting erupted last May between Saleh's forces and and Al Ahmar's tribesmen.

Meanwhile, tensions remain high in Sana’a and other places where clashes happen from time to time despite all efforts exerted by the vice president Abdu Rabu Mansor Hadi to pacify the situation.

The government called the protesters camping out at the gate of university of Sanaa to go home like those in other cities.

"We call these protesters camping out at the gate of Sanaa university to return to right path and go hone like their colleagues in other cities who left squares and went home, and it's only the wanted for security who remained," said ministry of interior on Tuesday,16th, 2011.

Some of the protesters have either joined Al Al Ahmar fighters or the defected army after they lost hope that peaceful means would achieve their goals.

The Yemeni ministry of defense warned young protesters from joining army units led by the defected general Ali Muhsen who supports the anti-government protests.

The ministry said in a statement that those recruited in the first armored division (FAD) will be illegal.

"Recruitments in the first armored division are outside the law," said the statement.

About 25 percent of the young protesters , camped out at the gate of Sana’a university since February this year, have already joined the first armored division of general Ali Muhsen said military sources inside the FAD.

The FAD headquarters is located in the area of Sana’a university where tents of the protesters are extended in the area between the two gates of university and FAD.

The majority of those already recruited were students in the religious university of Al Eman which is also located in the same area.

Al Eman university is owned and run by the cleric Abdul Majid Al Zandani, who is wanted by UN and US as a global terrorist.

The general Muhsen and Shiekh Al Zandani have been allies since late 1980s when they worked together for sending young people to Afghanistan for fighting the Soviet Union.

"We accepted every willing student from Al Eman university first, and then we accepted other young people," said an officer working in the personnel department of FAD.

" About 25 per cent of those youth camping out around our headquarters have recruited since March," said the officer who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The officer confirmed that all those newly recruited are already working and participating in defending their colleagues, the anti-government protesters.

And they get paid monthly but not from the budget of the ministry of defense.

"the salaries of all those come from the budget of FAD, the ministry pays only for those approved by it," said the officer.

The salary they get is 50 per cent less than their counterparts in the army.

The FAD can not pay those individuals who defected from loyal units like central security and republican guards.

The ministry of defense cuts their salaries as soon as they quit their job.

However, those who defect from FAD are paid immediately as soon as they get to the camps of the republican guards.

To encourage more detections from FAD, the personal weapons of those who defect become their own possession and their salary is immediately transferred from pay roll of FAD to the republican guards, the highly qualified and trained units led by President Saleh's son, Ahmed.

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