Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Donors keep promising, Yemen needs 44 billion US$ for reform

By Samir Salama

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Yemen said on Monday it needed not only assistance from donor countries to finance development programmes but also jobs for skilled and semi-skilled Yemenis in the Gulf, according to a senior Yemeni official.

"Yemen wishes this meeting will address dire challenges in the short and medium terms, namely recruiting Yemeni skilled and low-skilled workers in labour markets of the GCC countries and financing development programmes," Hesham Sharaf Abdullah, Yemen's deputy minister of planning and international cooperation, told the inaugural Meeting of Friends of Yemen in Abu Dhabi.

Abdullah told reporters after the opening session that his country's fourth five-year plan (2011-2015) requires $44 billion in the form of grants, soft loans and investments.
Yemen has got great support for development programmes in London Donor conference in 2006, but approximately 30 per cent of the amount pledged at the conference was honoured, he said. Donors pledged to provide $4.7 billion to Yemen at the conference.

"Of the $2.5 billion pledges from the GCC countries, around 15 per cent was honoured and around 30 per cent is expected to be honoured this year," Abdullah said. This meeting will submit recommendations and the fourth five-year plan of $44 billion to Yemen friends' ministerial meeting to be held in Riyadh in May.

The group, which includes representatives Yemen's Gulf neighbours, the US, Britain and Germany as well as of intergovernmental organisations, was established at a high-level meeting on Yemen in London on January 27.

The UAE told the meeting, held at the experts level, the onus is on the Yemeni government to address its challenges.

"The role of the donor countries and the international community is supportive, but the onus is on the Yemeni government to overcome its challenges," said Khalid Al Gaith, assistant foreign minister for economic affairs.

He added the donor countries and international organisations, particularly the World Bank, have come to a conclusion that the security situation in Yemen is a major obstacle before achieving a quick economic growth.

Friends of Yemen is comprised of two working groups, one on "economy and governance," and another on "justice and rule of law."

Human Rights Watch urged the Friends of Yemen, to emphasise on improving the justice system and the rule of law, to reverse the deteriorating human rights situation in Yemen, and not to offer economic support unless human rights concerns are addressed.

The Yemeni official expressed the hope the meeting would come out with establishing an international fund for development in Yemen. Yemen is facing a rebellion in the north of the country; growing unrest in the south; and the threat from Al Qaida's regional offshoot.

Not to mention dire poverty, a population explosion and dwindling oil and water resources. The Yemeni official said his country will spare no effort to fight terrorism and boost security and stability in the country.

Separatists on trials, many sentenced to prison

By Nasser Arrabyee/30/03/2010

Two Yemenis were sentenced Tuesday to five and three years in prison after being convicted of abusing the national unity and calling separation.

Fadi Ba Oum, was sentenced to five years, and Hussein Al Akel was sentenced to three years by the State Security Court in two different sessions.

Both of the two defendants refused to ask for an appeal when their Judges asked them after pronouncing their verdicts.

"It's a political verdict, it will be a medal on my chest," Fade Ba Oum said, when his Judge, Muhsen Alwan asked him if he would appeal.

Fadi, a son of the ill prominent leader, Hassan Ba Oum, was arrested on April 27, 2009, for charges of inciting people to implement armed struggle for separating the south of Yemen from the north.

For the defendant Hassan Al Akel, he said," I refuse the verdict and the court and I hold you (the Judge) responsible.", when his Judge Redwan Al Namer asked him if he would appeal. The two sessions were held in two different rooms in the same court at the same time.

Al Akel, a university professor, who was arrested from Aden University in June 8th, 2009, was accused of spreading untrue news with the aim of harming the national unity and calling for separation.

Fadi Ba Oum was accused of inciting people to carry out sabotage acts and discriminating between the southerners and southerners.

At the end of the session of Ba Oum trial, the Judge Muhsen Alwan said," I swear by Allah Almighty, that will be merciful to none accused of harming the national unity."

The Judge Alwan also ordered the soldiers to take out the socialist Member of Parliament, Mohammed Al Kubati, who attended the session along a number politicians and human rights activists, after he repeatedly said the verdict is a political.

Earlier in the week, a former diplomat was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of calling for separation of southern Yemen from the north.

The State Security Court, chaired by Judge Muhsen Alwan, handed down the sentence of five years in prison to Kasem Askar Jubran, who previously served as ambassador of Yemen in Mauritania.

Askar refused to ask for an appeal saying," there is no justice, and if there is any, I would not have been here behind the bars."

Askar, from the south, was arrested in April 16, 2009, for charges of harming the national unity, calling for separation, inciting people to start armed rebellion against the government. He was a military officer and served as an ambassador in Mauritania from 2001 to 2006.

Last week, the same court handed down a sentence of 10 years in prison to the former Parliamentarian Ahmed Bamualem after being convicted of harming the national unity and calling for separation by armed struggle.

Ali Mohammed Al Sa'adi, activist in the southern movement which calls for separation, was also sentenced to one and a half year in prison and Kasem Al Dairi was acquitted of the same charges. The two defendants were charged with harming the national unity.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Blog First Anniversary

Like today, one-year back, on March 29, 2009, I started blogging here. Now, one year later, I am happy to have all these readers from all over the world. Thousands of readers visited my blog from 107 countries from the six continents, until today Monday.

United States come at the top of those countries in terms of the number of readers and regularity of the visits. Almost everyday, there have been readers from US since I started blogging, according to the counter on the blog.

Yemen, my country, comes at the second after US, while United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Saudi Arabia, France, Egypt and United Arab Emirates come respectively after Yemen.

On the first anniversary of my blog, I have all pleasure and honor to thank my readers everywhere for encouraging me by their interests in my blog's contents

I would like also to call them all to write their views, news, ideas and suggestions in the new window, which was added today on the first anniversary. The new window is (Write Views and News)

A new more window was added (Activities in Photos) to show some of the pictured activities inside and outside Yemen.

On the first anniversary also, a new link was added under the title (Articles). By clicking on this, you will find opinion articles mainly about Yemen written by western, Arab and Yemeni writers.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Diplomat jailed over charges of abusing Yemen's unity

By Nasser Arrabyee/28/03/2010

A former diplomat was sentenced Sunday to five years in prison after being convicted of calling for separation of southern Yemen from the north.

The State Security Court, chaired by Judge Muhsen Alwan, handed down the sentence of five years in prison to Kasem Askar Jubran, who previously served as ambassador of Yemen in Mauritania.

Askar refused to ask for an appeal saying," there is no justice, and if there is any, I would not have been here behind the bars."

Askar, from the south, was arrested in April 16, 2009, for charges of abusing the national unity, calling for separation, inciting people to start armed rebellion against the government. He was a military officer and served as an ambassador in Mauritania from 2001 to 2006.

The same court is scheduled pronounce a similar verdict on Monday, March 29, 2010, against a university professor from the south who was arrested last year and put on trial on charges of abusing the national unity and calling for separation by armed struggle.

Hussein Al Akel, professor at Aden university, was arrested on June 8, 2009, on charges of fomenting sectarian strife and calling for disunity by armed struggle.

Last week, the same court handed down a sentence of 10 years in prison to the former Parliamentarian Ahmed Bamualem after being convicted of abusing the national unity and calling for separation by armed struggle.

Ali Mohammed Al Sa'adi, activist in the southern movement which calls for separation, was also sentenced to one and a half year in prison and Kasem Al Dairi was acquitted of the same charges. The two defendants were charged with abusing the national unity.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Some 17 people injured in anti-unity demonstration

By Nasser Arrabyee/27/03/2010

More than 17 people were injured and some others were arrested when the security forces dispersed an anti-unity demonstration in Al Dhale'e, south of Yemen, eyewitnesses said Saturday.

The demonstrators, many of them armed, were carrying pictures and the former President of the south, Ali Salem Al Baid, flag of separation, chanting anti-unity slogans.

The demonstration coincided with the Arab summit in the Libyan city of Sert and the meeting of the Friends of Yemen to be held in Abu Dhabi next Monday, March 29, 2010 for supporting Yemen's economy, good governance, justice, and rule of law.

The security forces used tear gas and live bullets to prevent angry demonstrators from storming the hospital of Al Dhale'e north of the city, to take by force a dead body of man killed in a previous demonstration, according to eyewitnesses.

Security sources said the demonstrators wanted to uses the dead body to inflame the feelings of anger and hatred. The dead body was returned to the hospital by the family until the situation calms down, the sources said.

Increasing disgruntled groups complaining from being politically and socially marginalized, have been demanding separation of the south, which united with the north in 1990.

Last week, the exiled leader of the separatists, Ali Salem Al Baid, based in Germany now, called the angry groups in the south to continue struggle until the "northern occupation" gets out, and " we have the second independence" in reference to the independence of the south 1967 from the British colony.

The President of united Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh said today Saturday in press statements that "the culture of separation is very limited, isolated and rejected".

Friday, 26 March 2010

ANALYSIS-Yemen at risk of secessionist insurgency in south

By Cynthia Johnston

DUBAI, March 26 (Reuters) - Yemen risks a sustained separatist insurgency in the south, scene of increased tit-for-tat violence, unless it seriously addresses grievances of southerners who say their region is neglected by the state.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who a week ago declared that Yemen's separate war with Shi'ite rebels in the north was over, has offered dialogue with opponents in the south. But there is little evidence so far of a rush to the negotiating table.

"If the escalation continues it will be a big, big problem. It will be a war," Yemeni analyst Nasser Arrabyee said, but added he was optimistic Sanaa would strike a political power sharing deal to prevent further armed conflict. Sanaa came under international pressure to quiet domestic unrest and focus its fight on al Qaeda, a bigger global threat, after the group's Yemen-based arm claimed responsibility for a failed December bomb attack on a U.S.-bound plane.

But the president's limited offer for dialogue with the south has come hand-in-hand with a security crackdown and arrests campaign that left a trail of dead and wounded on both sides in recent weeks even as violence elsewhere in Yemen fades.

Security forces continue to occasionally fire on often provocative anti-government demonstrations. In one case, a protester was shot dead while trying to remove a Yemeni flag from a government building and replace it with a separatist one.

Deaths of protesters have typically sparked clashes, easily ignited in a heavily armed society where many civilians carry arms and state control is weak. The unrest has often targeted northerners, and northern-owned businesses have been set aflame.
Exiled southern politician Ali Salem al-Beidh, who briefly led a secessionist south Yemen in 1994, said Sanaa was turning its sights on the south after ending the northern war.

"What we fear is that they will push us from the path we have chosen, the peaceful path. Citizens will be forced to defend themselves. When you see a tank in front of your house, what do you do?"

Asked if an armed movement would emerge, he said: "We are not thinking of this, and we don't have an army."

North and South Yemen united in 1990, but many in the south -- home to most of Yemen's oil facilities -- complain northerners have seized resources and discriminate against them.


There have already been signs, such as recent ambush-style attacks blamed on separatists that have killed at least five people, that the southern conflict is becoming more and more like an insurgency and less a peaceful protest movement.

The protest movement, while not unified behind a single organisation, has been sophisticated in its approach, and wants to maintain the peaceful non-violent nature of its protest, analyst Abdul-Ghani al-Iryani said.

"But given the fact that the government has been non-responsive, I think they or some elements within the movement, have chosen to use violence in certain areas. And the pattern over the period of say the past two years ... has been escalating," Iryani said.

"The increase in violence in different areas has been uniform, which tells you there is a nucleus of planners who are quite sophisticated. And I wouldn't be surprised if they happen to be outside of the country," he added.

A Yemeni court on Tuesday sentenced a separatist leader to 10 years in prison. The judge said Ahmad Bamuallim, a former parliamentarian, had been calling for an armed insurrection.
Western countries and neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, fear al Qaeda is exploiting instability in impoverished Yemen to launch attacks in the region and beyond.

Saleh has placed limits on an offer for talks with the south, saying he would only speak with pro-unity elements, not secessionists. But the southern movement has no single leadership, and Sanaa would need to deal with a collection of disparate leaders, often with similar but not identical agendas.

Diplomats say previous talks offers have not been followed by concrete action to address southern complaints that Sanaa neglects the southern region and treats southerners unfairly, including in property disputes, jobs and pension rights.

A southern war could be averted if Sanaa takes steps to resolve key differences and makes progress on power sharing, with a national unity government or by naming more southerners to key roles in local government and security forces.

"It will be very difficult and a long process ... In the coming weeks there will be nothing. In Yemen we don't count by weeks, we count by years," analyst Ali Seif Hassan said.
Iryani hoped outside players such as the wealthy Gulf Cooperation Council, which Yemen hopes to join, could use its weight to press for a solution, and maybe play a mediating role. (Writing by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Samia Nakhoul)

Al Qaeda terrorists must surrender or be completely demolished: President Saleh

The Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said his government would continue fighting Al Qaeda terrorists in his country and that he would never retreat until they surrender or be completely demolished. Here is an interview President Saleh made this week with Margaret Warner of the American PBS Tv. The interview was aired today Friday, 26 of March, 2010:

MARGARET WARNER : Mr. President, thank you for having us. How do you think the fight against al-Qaida is going, your fight? Are you winning?

ALI ABDULLAH SALEH, president of Yemen (through translator): We are considering our fight against the elements of al-Qaida here in Yemen because of their terrorist actions either against the U.S. interests or against the Yemen interests.

We are hunting them down. And we are doing this in a relentless way. We are not going to retreat, never. And we will continue our fight against them, unless they announce their repentance or stop or abandon or relinquish completely the acts of terrorism and acts of violence.

MARGARET WARNER: Washington is very pleased that you have stepped up your fight against al-Qaida here on the security side. What prompted you to do that?

ALI ABDULLAH SALEH (through translator): Actually, our actions against al-Qaida is not new. We have been doing this since long time ago.

But we doubled our actions recently, because the pressure on us, on the security apparatuses and authorities, were reduced after the war in Saada has come to a halt in the north of this country. We were busy completely with the war in Saada. But our actions against al-Qaida are continuing. And, of course, the halt of the war in Saada will increase our efforts against al-Qaida.

MARGARET WARNER: Washington has been concerned that, in the past, your commitment has been episodic, intense at times, then less so. Are you saying it's different now? You really are going to stick with this?

ALI ABDULLAH SALEH (through translator): The position to follow up and to hunt down the elements of al-Qaida is a position taken in the past, in the present and in the future. We are going to follow up these elements until they surrender or demolish them completely, because they caused very severe acts of violence against the tourists and the Yemeni authorities.

Also, they damaged the security and the stability, the economy of Yemen. So, our political position is the same in the past, the present and in the future. We are not going to retreat.

MARGARET WARNER: Now, recently, however, you did also offer to talk to al-Qaida or negotiate with al-Qaida. What did you mean by that? What was your intention there?

ALI ABDULLAH SALEH (through translator): Actually, we are -- we have not closed the door of dialogue, but, at the same time, we are not seeking for dialogue with al-Qaida. But, if the elements of al-Qaida came to us, they want to surrender, of course, there will be no problem.

MARGARET WARNER: But that is a negotiation.

ALI ABDULLAH SALEH (through translator): If they come to us surrendering or handing themselves over -- even the United States of America is negotiating with some elements in Afghanistan with Taliban. If they are going to revert to peace, there is no reason to stop dialogue with them.

MARGARET WARNER: Now, the relationship with the United States, there's been doubling of military aid just in the past year. I think it's up 10-fold since 2008. Are you getting what you need from the U.S.?

ALI ABDULLAH SALEH (through translator): The U.S. assistance to Yemen and aid are symbolic. They focus on the exchange of information, in the field of training, providing some equipment, military equipment, and medium equipment to the Yemeni military at the cost of about 150 million U.S. dollars.

This is a good thing, a good cooperation, but, of course, such assistance and aid does not resolve the economic problem in Yemen.

MARGARET WARNER: You had an interview Friday night with Al-Arabiya, Arabic satellite television, where you made a point of saying there are no U.S. troops here in Yemen. Why? Why was that important to say?

ALI ABDULLAH SALEH (through translator): This is normal, because there are no U.S. troops on Yemeni territories, neither offshore or onshore. There are some elements who are going -- making training for Yemeni personnel.

I wanted to confirm to the world, to the Yemeni people that there was no U.S. troops. At the same time, we have no agreement; we have no treaty with the U.S. on the presence of U.S. troops in Yemen.

MARGARET WARNER: What would be the consequence if the Yemeni people thought there were U.S. troops either here or on the way?

ALI ABDULLAH SALEH (through translator): Actually, there's no reason that U.S. troops be in Yemen. And we don't have any intentions here in Yemen -- and we believe the same with the U.S. They don't have any intention to have their troops here in Yemen, because there is no justification for their presence here in Yemen.

MARGARET WARNER: Now, some of these military strikes that you have been able to target at al-Qaida hideouts, militant figures, have those been all Yemeni airstrikes, or have there also been American airstrikes?

ALI ABDULLAH SALEH (through translator): There is a cooperation in the field of information exchange. These strikes are almost -- most of them are Yemeni.

MARGARET WARNER: So, most of the airstrikes, but not all of them, have been done by Yemeni forces?

ALI ABDULLAH SALEH (through translator): I would say, most of the strikes are Yemeni, because all what I'm aware of is the Yemeni strikes that we launched.

MARGARET WARNER: As you know, there is great concern about the degree of corruption here. And that's one reason why the aid that was agreed to several years ago by the international community, most of it never came here.

What are you doing about that perception and, at least in the view of most international observers, the reality that a lot of money that is given here in assistance is not spent for the purposes it was intended, and does go to benefit the private interests of people in the government and inner circle?

ALI ABDULLAH SALEH (through translator): These are mere lies. This information are baseless, and it is not true. It's within the framework of a campaign of lies against Yemen, unfair campaign against Yemen, against the security and the stability and democracy of Yemen.

MARGARET WARNER: How do you see the United States? Is it an adviser now? Is it a partner? What word would you use?

ALI ABDULLAH SALEH (through translator): We look at it on two tracks. The U.S. is a partner in combating terrorism. And we are satisfied for the cooperation and coordination having with them. At the same time, we value the consultations that the U.S. is providing Yemen with in the fields of development, in the field of politics. And we welcome such consultations.

MARGARET WARNER: Mr. President, thank you very much.


Thursday, 25 March 2010

Journalist Al Makaleh released for health reasons

By Nasser Arrabyee/25/03/2010

The Yemeni authorities released Thursday a journalist after deterioration of his health during a period of more than seven months in custody.

The Journalist Mohammed Al Makaleh was released for health reasons, said the Yemeni Minister of Justice, Ghazi Al Aghbari, and in a statement published the state-run media.

Al Makaleh, the editor of aleshteraki.net, the website of the opposition socialist party, was arrested by Yemeni intelligence in September , 2009 for alleged links with the armed rebellion of Al Houthi in Sa'ada , north of the country. Last February he was put in trial for charges of cooperating with Al Houthi rebels.

The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate welcomed the release of Al Makaleh and demanded the release of other journalists who are still in prison for various issues.
The release of Al Makaleh came one day after the release of Hesham Ba Sharaheel, the publisher of the suspended Al Ayyam daily.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Controversy over child brides in Yemen

A big controversy is happening in Yemen now after a group of extremist clerics refused a draft law that bans child brides. Those who are against early marriage kept organizing demonstrations demanding the marriage age be 18 years. Oliver Holmes, of The Christian Science Monitor reports:

Sana'a, Yemen
Hundreds of Yemen women, veiled in the black niqab, demonstrated outside parliament on Tuesday in support of a fiercely debated bill that would ban the marriage of girls under the age of 17. According to recent studies, roughly half of Yemeni girls are married before turning 18 – and in some villages, they are wed at only half that old.

The government has enough votes to pass the child marriage bill, but President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s ruling party is caught in a delicate dance with the religious opposition.

The poorest country in the Arab world and a focus of international concerns about Islamist militancy, Yemen is held together in no small measure by the religious and conservative tribal leaders that govern its rural areas. Without these leaders’ support for the child marriage law, which many of them see as clashing with Islamic law, the ruling General People’s Congress (GPC) could falter.

“We have a parliamentary majority and the support of the president. We therefore have the ability to pass the law,” says Sameer Radha, a member of the president’s ruling party, standing outside parliament here in the Yemeni capital.

But in an interview with the Monitor, Dr. Radha says that President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s party, the General People’s Congress, is waiting for the support of the main opposition – the religiously conservative Islah party.

“If we wanted to go to war, for example, we could pass it straight through parliament, but this issue is much more sensitive as it is related to sharia law,” he explains. If the GPC moves ahead without Islah, he adds, the opposition party will brand the ruling party as “full of infidels.”

Protester drawn by Facebook invokes prophet Muhammad.

Child marriage is widespread in Yemen, particularly in rural areas, where girls as young as eight are married off by poor parents who see marriage as financial security for their children.

A study carried out in 2008 by the Gender Development Research and Studies Centre at Sanaa University found that 52 percent of Yemeni girls are married before turning 18, while a 2007 study by the International Centre for Research on Women put the figure at 48 percent. The latter study put Yemen 13th in the world for child marriage; the problem is also widespread in South Asia, especially India – where one child bride made headlines recently by saying, "I won't."

Yemen's movement against child marriage gathered strength after the 2008 furor over the story of Nojoud Mohammed Ali, a 10-year-old Yemeni girl
who managed to divorce her 30-year-old husband. Last fall, the issue resurfaced, with the highly publicized story of Fawziya Abdullah Youssef, a 12-year-old girl who died in childbirth after three days of labor.

In Yemen, women protest delay on child marriage ban.

Hundreds of women protested today in Yemen, urging the government to pass a fiercely debated bill that would ban child marriage. Roughly half of Yemeni girls are married before turning 18 – with some only half that old.

.“It’s a crime against human rights when a child gets married,” said Roaa Alef, a teenage Yemeni activist, during the protest on Tuesday. “There is a lack of education among parents on what they are doing to their children when they marry them off. The girls drop out of school and then has no opportunities; they’re stuck.”

Moheed Adel, a student who found out about the protest on Facebook, agreed.

“The religious groups argue that the Prophet [Muhammed] married a girl between 7 and 8 years old and therefore this is the acceptable age for marriage. But this was a divine act, not something to be followed by society,” he said.

Bill proposes big fine, a year in jail
The proposed law stipulates that parents who marry off their daughters before the age of 17 could face a hefty fine and the possibility of one year in jail.

In February 2009, the bill succeeded in winning a parliamentary majority but religiously conservative lawmakers said the legislation was un-Islamic, and sent it back to parliament’s constitutional committee for review. A decision is expected next month but supporters of the law are pessimistic. Several of Yemen’s most influential clerics issued a religious decree on Sunday opposing the ban, including members of the parliamentary committee.

Government officials are reluctant to challenge religious and conservative tribal leaders, including Yemen’s most influential cleric, Sheik Abdul-Majid al-Zindani, whose endorsements are needed to hold power in the impoverished republic.

Radha, a member of the parliamentary subcommittee on health, has been trying to educate religiously conservative lawmakers on the dangers of child marriage.
“Sharia law doesn’t specify the age and leaves it open for health specialists to decide the appropriate age for marriage,” he told the Monitor as a circle of protesters formed around him in support.

“Although a girl might reach puberty as young as nine, her body won’t be ready for childbirth until she is older,” he added. “The subcommittee on health is still gathering research from hospitals all around the country which cites complications such as stillborn babies and the maternal death of young mothers.”

'In my village, everyone marries at 9'
Today’s demonstration was a counterprotest after opponents of the bill came out yesterday to show support for the clerics’ denunciations of the child marriage ban on Sunday.

Some Yemeni analysts say the government is delaying passing the bill in order to label the opposition party as extremist and to keep the opposition Islah distracted from other issues such as corruption, unemployment and poverty.

Most protesters who showed up today, including members of the Yemen’s Women National Committee, appealed to President Ali Abdullah Saleh to disregard opposition and sign the bill.

But some Yemenis in support of child marriage came to the protest to argue with supporters of the proposed law.

“There is no problem with child marriage in Yemen,” said Lotf Saleh, a 20-year-old who married his wife when she was 9. “In my village everyone marries at 9; it is forbidden to be friends with girls in our society so we have to marry them young.”

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Yemen war with Al Houthi rebels is over: president

Source : Reuter , 20/03/2010
(Reuters) - Yemen's war with northern Shi'ite rebels has ended, the country's president said in a television interview according to a tape received by Reuters.

"We can say the war is over; not stopped or in a truce," Ali Abdullah Saleh told Al-Arabiya in an interview to be aired on Friday.

Sanaa, struggling to stabilize the country, has come under international pressure to end the northern war and focus on fighting al Qaeda, whose Yemen-based arm claimed responsibility for a failed attack on a U.S.-bound plane in December.

Western countries and neighboring Saudi Arabia fear al Qaeda is exploiting instability on multiple fronts in impoverished Yemen to launch attacks in the region and beyond.

Analysts say the truce deal between the government and rebels, called Houthis after the clan name of their leaders, is unlikely to last as it does not address the insurgents' complaints of discrimination by Sanaa.

But Saleh said there were positive signs of the rebels commitment to ending the war such as removing landmines, opening roads, removing road blocks and handing over administrative units which they had occupied.

He also pointed to the release of nearly 175 government soldiers and tribal fighters on Wednesday.

"These are considered positive indications to prove good intentions not to return to a new war," he said.

Saleh also said he would not have dialogue with the separatists movement in the South but he was open for talks with pro-unity elements.

"Dialogue is only with pro-unity elements (in the south) who have legitimate demands. But we don't have dialogue with separatist elements," he said.

"We have dialogue with those who have understanding and complaints about certain issues ... through political channels," Saleh said.

North and South Yemen united in 1990, but many in the south -- home to most of Yemen's oil industry -- complain northerners have seized resources and discriminate against them.

Friday, 19 March 2010

23 separatists arrested in the south


Yemeni authorities arrested 23 armed separatists in three different provinces in the south of the country where they were carrying out sabotage acts, official sources said Friday.

9 of them were arrested in a house in Al Dhaleé city after a successful raid by the security forces, the sources said.

5 were arrested in Hudhrmout atfer they attacked a school and smashed its windows in addition smashing windows of a car parking next to thepublic school which was empty.

Two more were arrested in Al Mukalla city, where one of them tried to the block the roads and destroy the traffic lights in the streets, and the other tried to set fire to clothes shop belonging to a northern citizen, the sources said.

A total of 7 were arrested in Lahj province where they were trying to undermine security and stability by riots and sabotage acts, the sources said.

Meanwhile, three men were released after being proved they had nothing to do with the sabotage acts.

To this regard, a man was killed and three others injured including two security men, when armed separatists fired at a group of security soldiers in the middle of Al Dhaleé city on Thursday, according to a statement by the ministry of defense.

The security arrested the the separatists who were trying to force the citizens to close their shops in the city.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Al Houthi releases 177 captured people in Sa’ada

By Ashwaq Arrabyee 18/3/2010

Al Houthi rebels have handed over about 177 captured people to the mediation committee in Saada city, security sources said Thursday.

The supervisory committee in Saada city received Wednesday 177 soldiers and citizens captured by Al Houthi rebels during the last war in Saada province.

The committee in Saada city has formed three sup-committees to visit districts to ensure the withdrawal of Al Houthis from government buildings and facilities and re-opening roads and removing mines.

The three supervisory committees, in charge of supervising the implementation of six conditions are continuing their work in the four main places, Sa'ada city, Harf Sufyan, Al Malahaid, and the borders with Saudi Arabia.

The spokesman of Al Houthi rebels said Wednesday that they have closed the file of the captured people completely by releasing 180 people captured during the sixth war in Sa’ada.

“We have released about 445 soldiers and government supporters since the beginning of the sixth war. Most of them are from Sa’ada,” said Mohammed Abdul Salam, Al Houthi rebels’ spokesman.

By this step we closed the file of the captured people and we, in return, hope the government would release Al Houthi prisoners since the first war, he said.

Earlier, the Security Supreme Committee accused Al Houthis of procrastinating in implementing the six conditions.

On his part, the rebels spokesman said the accusations of the security committee are unreal, saying “We have implemented serious steps on the field in addition to releasing captured soldiers and people, we have withdrew from 7 districts and Saudi bordered areas and government institutions.”

Yemen-American imam calls for US Muslim revolt

CAIRO — A Yemeni-American Muslim preacher known for his ties to extremists operating in the U.S. called on American Muslims in a new audio message to turn against their government because of its actions against Muslims around the world.
Anwar al-Awlaki's latest message, excerpts of which were aired on CNN Wednesday, described his own radicalization after U.S. operations against Muslims and called on those in the U.S. to follow his path.
"I eventually came to the conclusion that jihad against America is binding upon myself just as it is binding on every other Muslim," he said in his American-accented English.
SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist Web Sites, confirmed the existence of the audio message when contacted by The Associated Press.
"To the Muslims in America I have this to say, how can your conscience allow you to live in peaceful coexistence with a nation responsible for the tyranny and crimes against your own brothers and sisters?" he asked. "How can you have loyalty to a government leading the war against Islam and Muslims?"
Al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents, has used his personal Web site to encourage Muslims around the world to kill U.S. troops in Iraq. Yemeni security officials say they believe he is hiding in a region of the mountainous nation that has become a refuge for Islamic militants.
He was in regular contact with Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who is accused of killing 13 people in a rampage at the Fort Hood Army post in Texas. The two had 10 to 20 e-mail exchanges over several months last year.
Al-Awlaki also is believed to have been in touch with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian who attempted to blow up a passenger airliner in Detroit on Christmas day with explosives concealed in his underwear.
"Our brother, Umar Farouk, has succeeded in breaking through the security systems that have cost the U.S. government alone over $40 billion since 9/11," he said in an unaired excerpt of the tape provided by SITE.
U.S. authorities have been increasingly worried about the presence of Americans supporting jihad inside the country. Over the past week, a Pennsylvania woman, who went by the name "Jihad Jane," was accused in a plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist; a New Jersey man was held by authorities in Yemen; and five young Pakistani-American men from Northern Virginia were charged by Pakistani officials with planning terrorist attacks in the South Asian country.
More than a dozen Americans have been captured or identified by the U.S. government and its allies as actively supporting jihad, or holy war, in the past two years.
Al-Awlaki has for years posted messages online supporting violent Islamic extremism. A U.S. citizen himself, he has targeted his message, particularly in Internet postings, to the English-speaking audience.
On March 7, al-Qaida's American-born spokesman Adam Gadahn called on Muslims serving in the U.S. armed forces to emulate Hasan, whom he called a role model, and attack the military

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Yemen ups oil sector security on Qaeda attack fears

Yemen ups oil sector security on Qaeda attack fears
By Jamal al-Jaberi (AFP) — Yemen has beefed up security around oil and maritime installations for fear of retaliation by Al-Qaeda after several strikes against the jihadist network, the interior ministry said on Wednesday.
"Yemeni authorities have increased security measures around oil and maritime installations, in addition to securing the routes of oil tankers," the ministry website said.
"Firm orders have been given to security bodies and the coast guard to up their alert levels in order to counter any possible terror attack by Al-Qaeda elements," it added.
It said that attacks could take place "in retaliation for the qualitative and severe strikes that targeted terror hideouts in several provinces."
Security forces in the southern provinces of Abyan, Aden, Hadramut and Shabwa, as well as Hudayda and Taez further north, were ordered to "double coastal surveillance to spot suspicious boats that could be used by terrorist elements in revenge attacks," it said.
Al-Qaeda has in the past targeted oil facilities in Yemen, which produces less than 300,000 barrels of oil a day, more than half of which is exported.
The impoverished country also has a gas terminal in Balhaf, in the south.
Yemen said it killed three members of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula -- the local branch of the global network, in Sunday air strikes on suspected hideouts in Moudia, in Abyan.
It said the AQAP chief in Abyan, Jamil Nasser Abdullah al-Ambari, 25, who figured on a list of 152 wanted militants, was killed in the attacks.
The air force targeted a suspected Al-Qaeda training camp in the same area on Monday, the defence ministry said.
A brief statement said the raids were carried out in Moudia, but did not specify whether anyone was killed or wounded in the latest strike.
On Wednesday, the ministry elaborated that the Sunday air strike "targeted a terrorist cell in the village of Jizat al Qinan, in Moudia, which was plotting terrorist attacks."
It said that the "severe strikes" against AQAP were forcing militants to flee to "remote areas" claiming that the authorities have succeeded in "isolating the elements of Al-Qaeda in Abyan, Shabwa and Maarib, and other provinces."
"These elements are not able to leave their hideouts or appear in public," it claimed, warning that security forces "will hit hard wherever terrorist elements were to be found."
The air raids on Sunday and Monday were the first since January 20, when Yemeni warplanes pounded the house of Ayed al-Shabwani, a local Al-Qaeda chief in the province of Maarib, east of Sanaa.
Shabwani himself was believed to have been killed a week earlier along with five other suspects in an air raid in the north of the country.
AQAP had denied then that any of the six militants were killed in the attack on three 4x4 vehicles in a remote desert area.
Yemen has intensified operations against the local Al-Qaeda branch since December, when air strikes killed 34 suspected members of AQAP on December 17 in an attack on an alleged training camp in Abyan.
The same number of militants were allegedly killed in another strike on December 24 which targeted a meeting of AQAP militants in Shabwa.
AQAP claimed responsibility for a failed attempt to blow up a US airliner on Christmas Day.
Top US general David Petraeus said last month that Al-Qaeda is becoming less of a threat across much of the Middle East and south Asia with the clear exception of Yemen.
"Saudi Arabia and the other peninsula countries have continued to make gains with the obvious exception of Yemen," Petraeus, the head of US Central Command, told NBC television's "Meet the Press" program.
The United States has reportedly supplied Yemen with intelligence and other support in its operations against the jihadists.
But US President Barack Obama has said he has "no intention" of sending in troops

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Three Al Qaeda leaders confirmed dead by air strike

Three AlQaeda leaders, including a Saudi national, were confirmed dead after autopsy on those killed the Sunday's air strike on an Al Qaeda hideout in the Yemeni southern province of Abyan, said senior security official on Tuesday.
The security director of Abyan, colonel Abdul Razak Al Marwani, said that the leader of Al Qaeda in Abyan, Jamail Al Anbari, from Mudyah, Sameer Al Sana'ani, originally from Saudi Arabia, who was living, in Laudar, and Ahmed Um Zurrmah, were killed in the operation which was implemented on Sunday Yemeni fighter jets on a group of Al Qaeda members in Mudyah area Abyan province.
The security official, Al Marwani, who was appointed earlier this month, described the three dead men as '' dangerous leaders and wanted by security''.
Last December, the Yemeni government declared an open war against Al Qaeda which has been exploiting the disturbances of Al Houthi armed rebellion in the north and the separation calls in the south. The international community, US and Suadi Arabia in particular, support the government for uprooting Al Qaeda, the common enemy of the three of them.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Two Al Qaeda suspects killed in air strike in Yemen

Two Al Qaeda suspects at least were killed and several others injured in an air strike implemented by Yemeni fighter jets on a hideout of Al Qaeda in Abyan province south of Yemen, security officials said Monday.
The targeted group were planning to carrying out terrorist operations against strategic and vital installations in the southern provinces of Yemen where oil and gas is produced, said the officials.
The group was hiding in the Jasr area, about 3 km away from the centre of Mudyah district, in Abyan province. The leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Nasser Al Wahayshi, is from this province, Abyan.
The security director of Mudyah, Abdullah Ali Al Salehi, said the place was surrounded after the air strike, which, he said, was implemented after long and accurate surveillance on Al Qaeda movements in the area.
Al Salehi, who went to the site of the operation, declined to identify those who were killed and injured, but he said, they were leaders, and the operation was successful.

This is the second air strike on Al Qaeda in Abyan province after the December 17th, 2009 air strike which killed several AlQaeda members including a local leader. Last December the Yemeni government declared an open war on Al Qaeda which remarkably increased its activity during 2009 in Yemen which faces armed rebellion in the north and separation calls in the south.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Yemen minister under fire for moves to gag media

By Hammoud Mounasser

SANAA — An opposition MP said on Saturday he will seek to have the information minister grilled in parliament over moves to block live satellite TV coverage of the deadly unrest in south Yemen.

Information Minister Hassan al-Lawzi should be questioned over "the seizure of the transmission equipment of Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya," Abdul Razek al-Hajari told a meeting in Sanaa.

Hundreds of journalists, parliamentarians and civil society groups gathered in Sanaa to show solidarity with the channels whose transmission gear was seized by the information ministry on Thursday.
The ministry said the move was in response to the stations' coverage of the deadly unrest in south Yemen.

A source in Yemen's ruling party warned the authorities could shut down Al-Jazeera, accusing the network of a lack of objectivity in its coverage of the unrest, the official Saba news agency reported.

"We regret that Al-Jazeera has recently started to be partial and abuse its profession targeting Yemen's unity and reporting false reports... on the situation in the south," the source was quoted as saying.

The source said Al-Jazeera was also broadcasting "archive photos," stressing that such action could lead "to igniting the situation in Yemen and losing the credibility of the pan-Arab channel."

"We urge the TV office in Yemen to reconsider their programmes and adhere to objectivity when reporting in Yemen," the source said.

"If the office continues its misleading, Yemen will close it," Saba reported.
The information ministry said the equipment was confiscated because they were being used without clearance from Yemeni authorities.

Such equipment "should not serve to provoke trouble and amplify events in such a way as to harm public order, as has been the case with Al-Jazeera," a ministry spokesman said.
But Saeed Thabet, deputy head of the Yemeni journalists' union, insisted at the Sanaa gathering that the move was "illegal," appealing for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to intervene and have it reversed.

Other speakers charged that the government was trying to cover up its heavy-handed methods in the south, where unrest has been fired up by a secessionist campaign and charges of economic neglect.

"The authorities are trying to kill the witnesses... of a crime because the channels Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera are the best witnesses of their actions in Yemen," said an opposition Islamist MP, Fuad Dahana.

On Thursday, three activists were killed and five wounded as protests in southern towns sparked clashes with police, amid sympathy rallies in the north against an official crackdown, opposition sources said.

Pro-independence protests have multiplied in the south in the face of already impoverished Yemen's worsening economic problems.

South Yemen was independent from 1967 until it united with the north in 1990. An attempt to break away again in 1994 sparked a short-lived civil war that ended when the south was overrun by northern troops.

Friday, 12 March 2010

South Yemen still looking for solutions

Sources: Reuters
SANAA (Reuters) - Yemeni forces launched an attack Thursday to recapture a government building occupied by separatists in the south of the country, setting off a gunfight that killed two people, a local official and witnesses said.
Two protesters were shot dead as security forces tried to quash a separatist demonstration in another southern province. Elsewhere in Yemen, thousands gathered for demonstrations to demand an easing of the crackdown on the south.
Under international pressure to quell domestic unrest and focus its sights on al Qaeda, Yemen earlier this week offered to hold talks with southern separatists and hear their grievances.
The offer by President Ali Abdullah Saleh followed an escalation of violence on both sides in southern Yemen which left a trail of dead and wounded in recent weeks while insurgent violence elsewhere in the country has faded.
Crowds of demonstrators in several cities called for the military to withdraw from southern cities and for the government to halt a sweeping campaign of arrests.
In the southern town of Tor al-Baha, Yemeni forces launched an attack to recapture a government building occupied by armed tribesmen, sparking a gun battle in which two people, including a passer-by, were killed, a local official said.
Tribal gunmen closed off all roads leading to the center of the town and surrounded security forces, witnesses told Reuters.
"Large military forces launched a campaign this morning to retake the municipality building (in a southern province). But gunmen from the southern movement confronted them and the two sides exchanged fire," the local official said.
He said a large group of armed separatists had been occupying the municipal headquarters of Tor al-Baha for months.
While offering dialogue, Saleh also said the separatist flag would "burn in the days and weeks ahead." The separatists, who lack a unified leadership, have given no public response to the president's offer.
North and South Yemen united in 1990, but many in the south -- home to most of Yemen's oil industry -- complain northerners have seized resources and discriminate against them.
Diplomats say previous talks offers by Sanaa have not been followed by action to tackle southern complaints that the government neglects the south and treats southerners unfairly, including in property disputes, jobs and pension rights.
In the southern province of Dalea, two protesters were shot dead and four people were wounded, including two soldiers, and in the city of Taiz, security forces used teargas and water cannon to disperse demonstrators, an opposition source and witnesses told Reuters.
Mobile phone networks in some areas in the south, including parts of Dalea and in another southern province Lahej, had been shut down by the authorities, residents told Reuters. Yemeni media reported that the ministry of information had ordered networks in the south to be disconnected as a security measure.
Peaceful protests also took place in the capital Sanaa, and in the western province of Hudaydah.
Exiled southern leader Ali Salem al-Beidh said in a statement that security forces had opened fire on peaceful protesters in several areas and that clashes were continuing.
"We warn Sanaa against continuing its aggression toward our people and we call on Arab countries and the United Nations ... to condemn these ugly crimes and to pressure this murderous and criminal regime to stop killing civilians and the innocent," said Beidh, who lives in Germany.
Pressure increased on Yemen to concentrate its efforts on containing al Qaeda after the Yemeni-based regional arm of the militant group claimed responsibility for an unsuccessful attempt to bomb a U.S.-bound passenger plane in December.
Western allies and neighboring Saudi Arabia fear al Qaeda is exploiting instability in Yemen, where 42 percent of the people live in poverty, to use the country as a base from which to prepare attacks in the region and beyond.
Besides its conflict with the separatists, Yemen is trying to bring an end to a Shi'ite insurgency in the north which drew in oil exporter Saudi Arabia in November.
Some southerners say Saleh's ties to Saudi Arabia, Yemen's biggest donor, have led him to tolerate inroads by the kingdom's puritanical Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Two killed and ten injured in clashes in the south of Yemen

By Ashwaq Arrabyee

Two people were killed and ten others were injured including 6 soldiers in clashes between security forces and separatists in Al Dhale and Lahj, south of Yemen, local sources said Thursday.

A man was killed and two others wounded in a clash between security forces and some separatists who were trying to raise separation flags on a government building the district of Tur Al Baha, in Lahj province, local source said.

Another person was killed and 8 others injured including six soldiers when protest demonstration calling for disunity sparked into clashes with the security forces in Al Dhale province.

Southern Movement, which calls for separation of the southern Yemen from the north, is reportedly organizing protest demonstration every Thursday.

Earlier this week, the President Al Abdullah Saleh called to hold talks with southern separatists and hear their grievances. He also said the separatist flag would "burn in the days and weeks ahead."

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Yemen offers talks with separtists

DUBAI (Reuters) - Yemen, under international pressure to quiet domestic unrecst and focus its sights on al Qaeda, has offered to hold talks with southern separatists and hear their grievances, state media said on Tuesday. The move by President Ali Abdullah Saleh follows an escalation in violence on both sides in south Yemen that has left a trail of dead and wounded in recent weeks even as insurgent violence elsewhere in the country fades. North and South Yemen united in 1990, but many in the south -- home to most of Yemen's oil facilities -- complain northerners have seized resources and discriminate against them. "We say to them: Come talk with your brothers in the authority, and we will talk with you. We extend the hand of dialogue without (you) having to resort to violence or blocking roads or raising the flag of separation," Saleh said in an address at a military academy. "I am certain the flags of separation will burn in the days and weeks ahead. We have one flag we voted on with our free will. We welcome any political demands. Come to dialogue," he said, according to the Defense Ministry's online newspaper. Pressure mounted on Yemen to concentrate its efforts on containing al Qaeda after the Yemen-based regional arm of the militant group claimed responsibility for a failed attempt to bomb a U.S.-bound passenger plane in December. Western allies and neighboring Saudi Arabia fear al Qaeda is exploiting instability on multiple fronts in Yemen, where 42 percent of the population lives in poverty, to recruit and train militants for attacks in the region and beyond. The offer for talks with separatists was not Saleh's first. Diplomats say previous such offers have not been followed by concrete action to address southern complaints that Sanaa neglects the southern region and treats southerners unfairly, including in property disputes, jobs and pension rights. Some southerners also complain that Saleh's ties to Saudi Arabia, Yemen's biggest donor, have led the president to tolerate inroads by the kingdom's puritanical Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam. SHOW OF STRENGTH Yemen agreed last month to a truce with northern Shi'ite rebels to end a separate conflict there that had drawn in top oil exporter Saudi Arabia. Since that truce began, violence in the north has faded while clashes in the south escalated. Security forces have come down hard on separatist protests in recent weeks, and at least two demonstrators have been shot dead. Ensuing unrest sparked security sweeps that have netted 150-200 arrests and sparked sometimes deadly clashes. "They have to escalate before they start to negotiate," Yemeni analyst Ali Seif Hassan said of the government. "This is their style of doing things. Show them you are strong. You can do things. Then you start to negotiate." But he added the sides were unlikely to achieve more than a brief "cooling down" from the conflict in the medium-term. "I think it will continue for a long time," he said. Saleh said Yemen would form committees to talk with the separatists. Analysts say the fractured nature of the movement, without a unified leadership, makes serious talks difficult. Analysts said they believed the government was close to reaching a temporary truce with one southern tribal leader in Abyan province, but said that did not mean tensions would subside in other parts of the south. Meanwhile, a series of recent ambushes on security targets blamed on separatists has raised worries that what has been mainly a peaceful protest movement has the potential to morph into an armed campaign. At least five people have been killed in the ambushes. In fresh violence, five gunmen in a car forced their way onto the premises of a government building and opened fire, killing a soldier, state media reported on Tuesday. They blamed separatists for the attack, which took place late on Sunday. Separately, Human Rights Watch urged Sanaa to use caution when targeting militants to avoid civilian casualties, citing a December air strike against al Qaeda in south Yemen that Sanaa later acknowledged had also killed more than 42 civilians. Yemen's operations against al Qaeda have been focused in several southern provinces where separatist sentiment against the government is also prevalent. "Civilian deaths in counterterrorism operations can have a strikingly counterproductive impact," said Joanne Mariner, terrorism and counterterrorism director at Human Rights Watch. "The U.S. has learned the hard way that such deaths can anger and alienate people who normally would not support groups such as al Qaeda," she said. (Additional reporting bvy Mohamed Sudam in Sanaa and Mohammed Mukhashaf in Aden; Editing

Monday, 8 March 2010

Yemen – new front in the war on terror

by Simon Korner / March 8th 2010
21st Century Socialism

The catalyst for the recent intervention by the US in Yemen was the attempted blowing up of a US airliner on Christmas Day. Obama accused an Al Qaeda group based in Yemen of directing the operation. The Nigerian suspect is almost certain to face execution in the US.
Since then, pressure has been growing for full-scale military action in Yemen. Democrat senator Joe Lieberman has called on the administration to “pre-emptively curb terrorism in Yemen”, Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, has demanded the option of air and missile attacks, and Hillary Clinton has described the instability in Yemen as a ‘global threat’. The New York Times has joined in the interventionist chorus, saying that the “Christmas Day plot is a warning – we hope in time – of why it’s so important to head off full chaos in Yemen.”According to the Wall Street Journal: “The Obama administration plans to increase its counterterrorism support to the government of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh from $70 million in 2009 to roughly $190 million this year, and the U.S. and U.K. have agreed to jointly fund a new counterterrorism police force inside Yemen.” In 2006, the equivalent aid was $4.6 million.The Wall Street Journal continues: “The U.S. military’s direct involvement in Yemen has already begun to grow. In the weeks since the Christmas Day attack, the U.S. has increased the number of surveillance drones flying over Yemen, as well as the number of unmanned aircraft outfitted with missiles capable of striking targets on the ground… U.S. forces aren’t involved in direct combat within Yemen, but special forces troops are helping Yemeni counterterror personnel plan attacks against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula targets inside the country…”The US insists all ground assaults have been “Yemeni-led”, but even before Christmas, the US had carried out roughly 30 missile strikes on Al Qaeda targets in December, killing several suspected leaders. The number of US special forces now arriving in Yemen marks a significant increase on the 200 or so stationed there, and many will remain for long tours.Despite the Yemeni Foreign Minister’s calls for internal issues to be dealt with internally, the recent London conference on Afghanistan and Yemen set up a new forum, the ‘Friends of Yemen’, to “support Yemeni government initiatives to strengthen their counter-terrorist capabilities, and to enhance aviation and border security.” The West and the Gulf states will oversee a clampdown on dissent and draconian spending cuts, including a 75% cut in fuel subsidies, and the imposition of a general sales tax that will hit the poor; this after the IMF decreed that Yemen’s current austerity cuts do not go far enough to address the country’s projected deficit of 8-9% of GDP.Oil, trade routes and US global strategySuch punitive measures are not new. When Yemen was a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 1990 and voted against the US military drive against Iraq, the US immediately withdrew $70 million in foreign aid to Yemen while boosting aid to pro-American neighbours, as well as facilitating Saudi Arabian raids across the disputed border. At the same time the Saudis expelled a million Yemeni workers.The Americans have focused on Yemen since the attack on a warship in 2000 and the bombing of the US embassy in 2008. Obama adviser Bruce Riedel, a longstanding CIA man, believes the attempted blowing up of the Detroit airliner: “… underscores the growing ambition of al Qaeda’s Yemen franchise, which has grown from a largely Yemeni agenda to become a player in the global Islamic jihad in the last year.” Though US intelligence reports put Al Qaeda’s numbers at only 200 in southern Yemen, the return of 2,000 veterans of Musab al-Zarqawi’s anti-American Iraqi insurgency has strengthened it, and there is concern that Al Qaeda’s recent statement of support for the secessionist rebellion in the south may boost the Southern Movement and help expand its own base.Over the past year, the southern rebellion has grown into a broad nationalist campaign, due in part to the leadership of Tariq al-Fadhli, an ex-jihadist leader who fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, a former ally of President Saleh. A central leading body – the Council for the Leadership of the Peaceful Revolution of the South – has been formed, consisting mostly of MPs of the Yemeni Socialist Party (the ex-ruling party of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, now a social-democratic party), and ex-army officers. So far, the Southern Movement has denied any links with Al Qaeda, perhaps because it has little need, having a genuinely popular base, but the US fears the co-ordinating powers of Al Qaeda, particularly with its links to the Al Shabaab Islamists now asserting control of southern Somalia. Al Shabaab has announced it is sending fighters to southern Yemen, while last year saw a record number of attacks by Somali pirates, with a dramatic increase in the past three months, a likely indication of co-ordinated action. There has been a recent call by Al Qaeda for joint action to close the vital sea-lanes in the Red Sea.Meanwhile, there is also instability in the north of Yemen, where a Shi’ite tribal rebellion in the Houthi region is being put down using Saudi arms and direct Saudi intervention, backed by the US. Both the Yemeni and Saudi governments have accused Iran and the Iraqi Shi’ite leader Muqtada al-Sadr of arming the rebellion. The revolt has been further fuelled by the Yemeni military’s brutal methods, which have resulted in thousands of civilian casualties, the displacement of at least 130,000 people and indiscriminate detention without trial. Shias make up about half the Yemeni population. Giving an overview, dissident US author F. William Engdahl says: “The picture that emerges is one of a desperate US-backed dictator, Yemen’s President Saleh, increasingly losing control after two decades as despotic ruler of the unified Yemen. Economic conditions in the country took a drastic downward slide in 2008 when world oil prices collapsed. Some 70% of the state revenues derive from Yemen’s oil sales. The central government of Saleh sits in former North Yemen in Sana’a, while the oil is in former South Yemen. Yet Saleh controls the oil revenue flows.” Lack of oil revenue has limited Saleh’s ability to buy off opposition groups. The right-wing Center for a New American Security (CNAS) paints a similar picture of Yemen’s instability: “Facing an active insurgency in the north, a separatist movement in the south, and a domestic al-Qaeda presence, Yemen rests today on the knife’s edge.” The CNAS’s main worries are the knock-on effect of a radicalized Yemen on Saudi Arabia, and the danger to Suez oil ships: “The consequences of instability in Yemen reach far beyond this troubled land, and pose serious challenges to vital US interests… A destabilised Arabian Peninsula would shatter regional security, disrupt trade routes and obstruct access to fossil fuels… Yemen itself has limited oil reserves, but is strategically positioned adjacent to the vital sea lanes from the Middle East to Europe via the Suez Canal.”The size of Yemen’s oil reserves is a matter of dispute – Engdahl believes it may be sitting on some of the biggest oil reserves in the world and points to Total’s investment in developing Yemeni oil production as an indicator.It is the trade routes that are most immediately pressing to the US. The Bab el-Mandab seaway between Yemen, Djibouti and Eritrea connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. According to the US Government Energy Information Agency: “closure of the Bab el-Mandab could keep tankers from the Persian Gulf from reaching the Suez Canal / Sumed pipeline complex, diverting them around the southern tip of Africa. The Strait of Bab el-Mandab is a chokepoint between the horn of Africa and the Middle East, and a strategic link between the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean.”Engdahl makes this analysis: “An excuse for a US or NATO militarization of the waters around Bab el-Mandab would give Washington another major link in its pursuit of control of the seven most critical oil chokepoints around the world, a major part of any future US strategy aimed at denying oil flows to China, the EU or any region or country that opposes US policy. Given that significant flows of Saudi oil pass through Bab el-Mandab, a US military control there would serve to deter the Saudi Kingdom from becoming serious about transacting future oil sales with China or others no longer in dollars, as was recently reported by UK Independent journalist Robert Fisk. It would also be in a position to threaten China’s oil transport from Port Sudan on the Red Sea just north of Bab el-Mandab, a major lifeline in China’s national energy needs.”Revenge of historyYemen’s strategic position, with its port of Aden, has exposed it to foreign domination for hundreds of years. The British took Aden in 1839, ruling it as part of British India – Aden’s culture even into the 1950s was predominantly Indian rather than Arab as result. Britain was ousted from the southern region in 1967 by an armed uprising, while a bloody civil war raged in the north between Saudi-backed royalists, who’d ruled since the end of Ottoman rule in 1918, and an Egyptian-backed army coup. Of the two rival nationalist groups in the south, it was the more left-wing National Liberation Front (NLF) that emerged the stronger, partly because Egypt’s defeat by Israel in the 1967 war discredited Nasser’s model of nationalism. After independence on November 30, 1967, ties were strengthened with the USSR, Eastern Europe and China.The new state redistributed privately owned land to co-operative farms, under the authority of a peasant militia. The means of production were nationalized and central planning introduced, including in retail. In 1970 southern Yemen was renamed the People's Republic of Yemen (PDRY) and all political parties were then amalgamated into a communist party, which became the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) in 1978. Alongside the militia, other mass organizations of workers, youth, women and peasants covered most parts of the country. A Family Law, brought in to a chorus of protests by conservatives, began to transform women’s lives, making Yemen’s constitution the most feminist in the Arab world. Islam was marginalized, and religious endowments nationalized; the state paid the clerics’ salaries and controlled any foreign funding of the mosques. A mass literacy campaign was begun.The faction fighting that beset the PDRY was due in part to colonial pressures. The state was surrounded by reactionary feudal regimes, whose influence led to splits within the Party over how to relate to these countries. For instance, Abd al-Fattah Ismail, the Party’s leftwing ideologue, took an uncompromising stance against North Yemen and the oil-rich neighbours Saudi Arabia and Oman, as well as promoting clearly socialist economic policies. This line was challenged by prime minister Ali Nasir Muhammed, who forced Abd al-Fattah Ismail into exile and brought in a mixed economy, limited nationalization and rapprochement with neighbouring states. In spite of the instability within the party, the PDRY managed to produce half its food needs out of a mainly desert territory, eliminate unemployment, and provide free education. As with other populations that have experienced socialism, there is still significant support in southern Yemen for the gains made.With the defeat of the Soviet Union in the Cold War, unity with the north was forced through, and nationalized land in the south was returned to private hands. Women’s rights were removed and sharia became the basis of law-making. A civil war in 1994 ended in defeat for the southern secessionists, with returning Yemeni mujahedeen from the Afghan war enlisted by President Saleh to defeat the ‘socialist’ south. The regime is now fighting these very same forces, the jihadists and tribal leaders.Yemen is the 153rd poorest country in the world out of 192 nations. The Yemeni prime minister, in his keynote speech at the London conference, said that more than three million children in Yemen are not receiving education, and that half of the population is not receiving basic services like electricity, which only covers 42 per cent of the country, and water, only 26 per cent. 32 per cent of families in Yemen suffer from malnutrition and unemployment is at over 40 per cent. These figures are even worse for the million Yemenis expelled from Saudi Arabia. The recent doubling of the price of grain has pushed the country into a food crisis, and the government has pleaded for its foreign debt to be halved and for $50 billion of aid over the next ten years.This is the context for the upsurge of anti-colonial feeling in Yemen – expressed in a warning earlier this year by a group of prominent Muslim clerics, led by Sheik Abdul-Majid al-Zendani, that they will call for jihad if US troops occupy the country. Zendani, who has a large following in Yemen and is courted by the Yemeni government, told a news conference: “If any foreign country insists on aggression and the invasion of the country or interference, in a military or security way, Muslim sons are duty bound to carry out jihad and fight the aggressors… We reject any military occupation of our country and we do not accept the return of colonialism.”The BBC correspondent in Yemen has sounded a note of caution over current US strategy: “The government is corrupt and unpopular, so backing it to fight al-Qaeda is risky, while the use of US missiles and drones to kill al-Qaeda leaders is very sensitive. An overt US military presence is politically impossible, as Yemen is a conservative tribal society where hostility to the US runs deep.”But Conservative MP Mark Pritchard of the Parliamentary Yemen Group has urged Gordon Brown to take action to “shore up its struggling government”. With broad Western support for the re-imposition of colonial rule on Yemen, there are few signs that a bloodbath will be avoided.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Nasser Arrabyee participates in the US foreign policy

Ashwaq Arrabyee 07/03/2010

The author of this blog, Nasser Arrabyee, left Sana'a Sunday for a two-week visit to US for participating in the foreign policy program, which was organized by US State Department.

The program, which comes within the International Visitor Program, will shed the light on the role of media in US foreign policy and will take place in three States, Washington DC, New York, and in the city of Tampa, State of Florida.

During the five days in Washington, the participants, from all over the Middle East, will meet congressional representatives at the Capitol Hill, officials from both the US State Department, and the Pentagon.

The officials will brief the participants on the US federalism, role of journalists in US society, freedom of press and the foreign policy towards the Middle East.

While in New York, the participants will visit the major media outlets such as the New York Times and ABS, and others where they will meet with foreign policy experts and journalists from all parties and trends.

The participants will also meet with professors at the Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism for discussing the use of new media as a means of increasing awareness of international affairs.

The Committee to Protect Journalists will also host the participants for briefing them on its role in addressing violence towards journalists in the region.

In Tampa, Florida, the participants will visit mid-sized media outlets such as the St Petersburg Times, one of the major newspapers in Tampa Bay, and La Ga Ceta, which comes out in English, Spanish and Italian.

The participants will meet with the former Florida Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, as well as local journalist and NGO representatives.

At the end of the program, the participants will attend a final evaluation meeting with representatives from the Meridian International Center and US State Department.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Separatists clash with troops in southern Yemen

Source: Reuters


At least ten separatists and three soldiers were injured in clashes in southern Yemen on Saturday, an official said, as President Ali Abdullah Saleh's government steps up a crackdown on southern secessionists.

Escalating violence between troops and separatists in Yemen's southern provinces has left several dead on both sides in recent weeks.
The soldiers were attempting to arrest suspects in the killing of a local intelligence official in the province of Dalea, the government official told Reuters. He said seven separatist leaders were arrested in the operation.
Witnesses and southern media said Yemeni security forces had surrounded Dalea city from all sides at dawn on Saturday and raided a number of houses, sparking clashes with armed groups.
The violence spread to many parts of the city, southern news website Sahwa Net reported.
Residents in Dalea told Reuters loudspeaker warnings had been issued around the city of a curfew that would begin at 6 p.m. (10 a.m. EST) and last until further notice.
North and South Yemen formally united in 1990 but many in the south, where most of impoverished Yemen's oil facilities are located, complain northerners have used unification to seize resources and discriminate against them.
Yemen became a major Western security concern after the Yemen-based regional arm of al Qaeda claimed responsibility for a failed attempt to bomb a U.S.-bound plane in December.
Western allies and neighboring oil exporter Saudi Arabia fear al Qaeda is exploiting Yemen's instability to recruit and train militants for attacks in the region and beyond.
In addition to fighting al Qaeda, impoverished Yemen is also trying to bring an end to a northern Shi'ite insurgency. Last month, the government declared a truce in the long-running conflict that drew in Saudi Arabia when the rebels seized some Saudi territory in November last year.
The kingdom launched a major military offensive against the rebels, and declared victory earlier this year, but Riyadh said at the time that the release of all captured Saudi soldiers would help prove the insurgents were serious about ending the conflict.
On Saturday, Saudi Assistant Defense Minister Prince Khaled bin Sultan was quoted by the Saudi state news agency as saying the bodies of the last two missing soldiers had been received.
Yemeni Shi'ite rebels said last month the last two missing Saudi soldiers they were believed to be holding captive were dead.
(Reporting by Mohamed Mukhashaf in Aden and Mohammed Ghobari in Sanaa; Ulf Laessing in Riyadh, Writing by Raissa Kasolowsky; editing by
Noah Barkin)

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Mediation efforts with separatist leader may stop violent escalation

By Nasser Arrabyee/05/3/2010

Surprise calm has prevailed in the most unstable southern city of Zinjubar, in Abyan province after efforts of mediation with the most controversial separatist leader, Tarek Al Fadhli, local sources Friday.

No demonstrations took place in city on Thursday when at least six people were killed and injured in the demonstrations, which took place in Lahj and Shabwa.

Separation flags, anti-unity slogans and posters, and pictures of separatist leaders, were removed from the city and from the place around the Palace of Al Fadhli where demonstrations usually take place, the sources said.

This surprise change came after the security forces surrounded the Palace of Al Fadhli on suspicion that his followers were behind firing an RPG on an armored vehicle earlier this week inside the city of Zinjubar. The RPG missed the vehicle.

The siege on the Palace was immediately lifted after high-profile security and military officials contacted with Al Fadhli, whose sister is married to most influential military commander Ali Muhsen, cousin of the President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The change in the attitude of Al Fadhli, ex-jihadist in Afghanistan, came also after the trade of weapons and separatist leader, Ali Al Yafe'e was killed in his house in the city earlier this week.

Al Yafe'e, accused also by the government as an Al Qaeda operative, had hung and burned an effigy of the President Ali Abdullah Saleh last Sunday in anti-unity demonstration around the palace of Al Fadhli. Eyewitnesses said at the time, that Al Fadhli, quickly entered his palace when the effigy was being burned.

An unsigned statement was distributed in the city of Zinjubar accusing Al Fadhli of conspiring against the separatists. Al Fadhli fought against the separatists in 1994 with the armed forces of President Saleh who won the war.

A new security director was appointed Wednesday in the city after a visit by the two ministers of defense and interior.

Thursday which was quiet in Zinjubar, three people at least including two soldiers were killed and three others injured in clashes between security forces and armed separatists in Radfan and Shabwa, south of Yemen where secession sentiments are increasing day by day, local and official sources said.

A man was killed and three others injured when armed demonstrations, calling for disunity, fired randomly at the security forces who were removing a separation flag raised earlier by the separatists on the government's offices in Al Habeelin, Radfan, the sources said.

Two soldiers died when a military vehicle capsized because of high speed after armed demonstrators fired at a number of vehicles who came to disperse armed demonstrations in Mayfa'ah, Shabwah province.

Gunmen notably increased over the last two days in angry demonstrations organized almost daily by separatists after one of their leaders who called for armed struggle, was killed in Abyan.

Qasem Abdul Rahman, the deputy governor of Lahj said that the majority of the demonstrators in Radfan on Thursday were armed, and they tried to storm the government offices.

The official said the armed demonstrators raised the separation flag over the local authority offices in Al Habeelin before they clashed with the security men.

He said that the separatists killed more than 20 people and injured more than 70 others since April last year when they started to weapons in their demonstrations.

More 200 cars belonging to the government and to people from the north, were plundered during the same period, he said.

Three killed and three injured in increasing violence in the south of Yemen

By Nasser Arrabyee/04/3/2010

Three people at least including two soldiers were killed and three others injured in clashes between security forces and armed separatists in Radfan and Shabwa, south of Yemen where secession sentiments are increasing day by day, local sources said Thursday.

A man was killed and three others injured when armed demonstrations, calling for disunity, fired randomly at the security forces who were removing a separation flag raised earlier by the separatists on the government's offices in Al Habeelin, Radfan, the sources said.

Two soldiers died when a military vehicle capsized because of high speed after armed demonstrators fired at a number of vehicles who came to disperse armed demonstrations in Mayfa'ah, Shabwah province.

Gunmen notably increased over the last two days in angry demonstrations organized almost daily by separatists after one of their leaders who called armed struggle, was killed in Abyan.

Qasem Abdul Rahman, the deputy governor of Lahj said that the majority of the demonstrators in Radfan on Thursday were armed, and they tried to storm government offices.

The official said the armed demonstrators raised the separation flag over the local authority offices in Al Habeelin before they clashed with the security men.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

11 Al Qaeda suspects arrested, two killed

By Nasser Arrabyee/04/03/2010
A man was killed and a soldier injured in shoot-out between Al Qaeda suspects and Yemeni security forces who raided a hideout in the Yemeni capital Sana'a arresting a total of 11 Al Qaeda suspects, an official statment said Thursday.
The operation was in Sawad Hanash in Sana'a where the eleven Al Qaeda suspects were living in a house belonging to one of the them.

The owner of the house, father of one of Al Qaeda suspect, fired at the security forces while surrounding the house injuring one soldier before he was killed by the security men, the statement said.

U.S. Gives Yemen Arms, Development to Fight Al-Qaeda

Source: Bloomber By Peter S. Green and Khaled Abdullah
March 2 (Bloomberg) -- An American diplomat told Yemen’s president the U.S. will deliver more aid to help Yemen battle al-Qaeda through both arms and economic development, the State Department said today.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman met Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and said the Obama administration is determined to increase aid to boost Yemen’s security and anti-terrorism capacities.
Feltman delivered a “verbal message” to the Yemeni government that the U.S. will give the country $67.25 million in development and security assistance in the current fiscal year, which began in October, and that President Barack Obama has asked Congress for $106.1 million in 2011, said Megan Mattson, a State Department spokeswoman.
Earlier, Yemen’s state-run Saba news agency reported the offer of aid by Feltman had come in a letter from Obama. Mattson said “no letter changed hands.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Congress on Feb. 25 that the U.S. needs to strengthen Yemen’s institutions and “economic opportunities” available to Yemenis.
“We’re working at a united effort from the international community, aimed at going after the terrorists, strengthening the military capacity of Yemen, and creating a development strategy in concert with the Yemeni government,” Clinton said.
Yemen presented donors in London in January with a national development plan that included a “very candid assessment of their own problems,” Clinton said. “We’re hoping to build on what seems to be a new resolve from Yemen.”
Yemen has stepped up operations against al-Qaeda in the country since December, after the terrorist group’s local branch took responsibility for a plot in which Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was charged with trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight bound for Detroit on Dec. 25.
--With assistance from Henry Meyer in Dubai. Editors: Heather Langan, Edward DeMarco
To contact the reporters on this story: Khaled Abdullah in Sana’a at kabdullah2@bloomberg.net; Peter S. Green in Washington atpsgreen@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net.

Monday, 1 March 2010

President Saleh describes separatists as fascists

By Nasser Arrabyee/02/03/2010

The Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh launched an attack on the leaders of the separatists in the south of the country where secession sentiment has been in rise recently.

"They lost their interests, they were at the top of the State, but it's them who did that to themselves, not us, they wanted to go back to the time before 22 of May, 1990," said President Saleh in a meeting with a university students.

Saleh referred to the failed secession attempt of 1994, which was called for by the-then vice president Ali Salem Al Baidh, who is now calling again for separation from his exile in Germany. The South and North of Yemen united in May 22, 1990.

It's impossible to retract the unity, whatever the price is, Saleh told the gathering of students who were mostly from the war-torn Sa'ada province.

"Those who call for using the green flags, they should have used the green flags before the bloody massacre of January 13, 1986," Saleh said referring to the civil war in 1986 between two factions of the Socialist party which ruled the south before unity.

The faction of Ali Saleh Al Baidh won the war against the faction of the then-ruler Ali Nasser Mohammed who is now in the Syrian capital Damascus.

Last week, the German-based Ali Salem Al Baidh, who was forced to leave for Oman after the failed secession attempt of 1994, where he kept out of politics for more than 15 years, called the southerners to take to streets with green flags appealing the international community to help them have independence.

"Fascist forces who were used to conspiracies and killing each other," Saleh said.

Meanwhile, 28 southerners were arrested over the last two days in the two provinces of Hudhrmout and Al Dhale'e where anti-unity demonstrations were staged.

The Ministry of Interior said 16 men were arrested in Ghail Ba Wazeer in Hudhrmout where they made riots and attacked houses and shops belonging to northerners. Three were arrested in Al Shaher area after they implemented riot acts.

Nine men were arrested in Al Dhale'e for participating in unlicensed ant-unity demonstrations.

In this regard, a south-based organization, called Radfan organization for defending unity, said that the separatists forced the school students to take to the streets over the last two days.

The organization condemned these acts against students especially the girls and called for holding the perpetrators accountable.

The organization also called for trying Ali Salem Al Baidh for "massacres and major treason" he made against the nation.

Seven people killed in clashes between gunmen and security in south Yemen

By Nasser Arrabyee/01/03/2010

Seven people were killed including four soldiers when security forces raided a group of gunmen accused of supporting the separations calls in the city of Zenjubar, Abyan south of Yemen, local sources said Monday.

The separatist group was led by Ali Saleh Al Yafe, a local weapons trader, who is accused by the security forces of providing the separatists of weapons, the sources said.

The governor of Abyan, Ahmed Al Missari, however, said that only two soldiers were killed when the security forces stormed a hideout of a group of people wanted for the security.

Security sources, however, said two Al Qaeda operatives were killed in the operation.

The security sources said that weapon trader Ali Saleh Al Yafe and one of his comrades were killed in the operation. The sources also accused them of affiliating to Al Qaeda. Three gun men were arrested in the operation, the security sources said.

Four out of the six provinces of the south (Dhale'e, Lahj, Abyan, and Hudhrmout) have been witnessing increasing demonstrations and protests by disgruntled groups calling for independence of the south, which united with the north in 1990.

The restive groups, who call themselves the peaceful southern movement, although some of them take to the streets with guns and clash with security, claim they were socially and politically marginalized and discriminated against since after the failed separation attempt in 11994.

The failed attempt by the leaders of the socialist party, which ruled the south before unity, resulted in more than 70-day all out war which ended up in the defeat of the separatists.

Over the last two days, 27th and 28th of February, thousands demonstrators in the capitals of these four provinces took to the streets demanding the independence of the south. Those demonstrations came after the former leader of the south Ali Saleh Al Baidh called the southerners from his exile in Germany, to appeal to the international community to help them have their independence.

The demonstrations coincided with the donors' two-day meeting in the Saudi capital Riyadh to help Yemen maintain its unity, stability, and security by solving its problems of the armed rebellion in the northern Sa'ada and separations calls in the south and growing activity of Al Qaeda in between.