Friday, 16 August 2013

Why all these drone attacks on Yemen at once?!

Nasser Arrabyee, 16/08/2013
The Yemen Al Qaeda second man might have been killed in one of the 13 recent drone attacks on Yemen where more than 40 Al Qaeda suspects killed over 10 days. 
The Saudi national Ibrahim Al Rubaish, deputy head of AQAP, was the second target of those attacks that happened on July 30th, 2013 in Nakabah area, district of Sayeed district  of southern province of Shabwah.
Earlier this month, and amid the media frenzy about big imminent terror attacks, the Yemeni government published names of 25 men labeled as terrorists behind the security and military assassinations and those terror threats. 
The top of that list was the Saudi Ibrahim  Al Rubaish who replaced the slain Saudi Saeed Shihri as deputy of AQAP, though not yet officially announced as deputy. If death of Al Rubaish is confirmed, this would be a significant success for these  recent drone attacks. 
" I am not excluding the death of Ibrahim Al Rubaish in Nakabah drone strike, but we have to wait for statements from Al Qaeda," said Qaeda expert, Yemen researcher Abdul Razak Al Jamal who had access into inner circles and interviewed many leaders of Al Qaeda. 
Security sources said that 3 of the 25 were arrested  this week in neighborhood of Sunainah, western part of the capital Sanaa where young people calling themselves Shabab Mujahid, or Jihadist youth. There are at least 2 more similar neighborhoods in Sanaa city:  Musaik and Sawan known to many locals as neighborhoods of Jihadists activities. 
Yemen President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi met US ambassador to Sanaa Gerald Feiestein on Tuesday August 13th, the first day after Eid AlFetr holidays.  
Although US embassy was still closed due to alleged terror threats, the meeting between Hadi and Feierstien gave impression that the two governments felt they overreacted the threats to the extent that they helped Al Qaeda in a way or another. The embassy would remain closed even after such a meeting, according to diplomatic sources. 
The meeting was to  discuss the terror threats and alerts that led to closures of embassies and evacuation of staff from Sanaa, according to the official news agency.
The minister  of defense, Mohammed Nasser Ahmed shortly after the meeting of Hadi and Feierstien played down the terror threats as " limited" saying that security forces deal with them  wisely capably.
Security sources, however, said that authorities are taking serious  specific threats released this week by Qaeda top leader Nasser Al Wuhayshi to storm prisons and let his men go. 
The sources said that about 60 Qaeda prisoners were transferred from the intelligence maximum security prisons in Sanaa and Aden to secret places in the country as precautionary measures after such threats.
''We ask God to make us a cause for unlocking your incarceration and relieving your agony,'' said Al Wuhayshi in a statement published Monday by Qaeda-linked website that was described by experts as reliable. The words of this sentence indicate that suicide bombing can be used for breaking the jails where Al Qaeda prisoners have been languishing for a long time. 
The expert Al Jamal said the statement was important to say "We are still here"  to raise morale of remaining fighters and give hope for prisoners and sympathizes. 
Also  he belittled the terror threats came from the two governments of Yemen and US. 
" The US and Yemen  governments were very skillful in creating justifications for these drone attacks this time, only to reduce the reactions of the people," said  Al Jamal.
He said " The new thing this time is that the Americans with Yemeni cooperation recorded many targets and they wanted to strike them all at once , but before the strikes they were concerned about angry reactions," He said.
Al Jamal criticized the simi-ruling Muslim brotherhood and wondered why they kept silent after all these interventions and  violation of sovereignty.
"They were talking day and night about violation of sovereignty now they are not, if they  keep silent over drone attacks, they would be silent also over any direct American occupation," said Al Jamal.
The recent drone attacks caused a lot of anger and resentment especially after a lot of  Yemenis saw  with their eyes drones flying over their capital Sanaa during Eid holidays. 
Many activists of twitter and Facebook made a lot critical comments and jokes about President Hadi's last visit to White House. Drones started while Hadi was still paying  thar official visit to US late last July. 
The drone attack of August 7th killed three brothers in Damashekah Abeidah  Mareb, and the ministry of interior  labeled them as terrorists and identified them as :1- Abdullah Kayed Salem Afra, 2-Al Hassan Kayed Salem Afraj 3-Al Hussein Kayed Salem Aftaj, From Raghan, Dahm tribe, Mareb east of the country.
My local sources said  the older brother, Abdullah  is known to everyone as Qaeda member, he started by making money from Anwar Al Awlaki in return for easing his movements  between Mareb, Al Jawf and Shabwah. 
Local sources are not sure about the two younger brothers.
However, another source  from Mareb ( closer to the youth meaning Qaeda)  told me  that all the three brothers were with the "youth" meaning  Al Qaeda.
 For strike of August 6th, in Markha area of Shabwah,  the locals found only their man from the neighboring village of Naseen tribe, Sarhan Abdullah Ali Al Dhumluki.
 His family and tribe came immediately after the strike and found him only. Family and relatives buried Sarhan immediately. One of those who  attended the funeral said Sarhan was known as Qaeda local leader. 
Qaeda  men came before local residents and took 4 dead bodies, according to the locals. 
However, in the strike of August 1, Al Qaeda came after the strike and took all victims including a local young man who was given only a ride by Al Qaeda men who were driving nearby his village At Wadi Ser between Sayoun and Kutn. All the men were Saudis according to locals. 
Locals identified them as  Makdad Al Sayeri and two of his  brothers.
The local man, killed was from a known family called Ishak. 
Local residents from Al Kutn told me  that another Qaeda car came and  took all dead bodies including the local man, who had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. Until now the family of Ishak is looking for their son in his 20s not a  child  as reported by some media. 
" Although we need another way to fight Qaeda other than  the drones, but we are not angry at all, we do not know those people, they are Saudis and wanted by their government and they are doing problems to us by staying here," said Aref..

"For our son who was killed with them, that was his fate to be with them at that time," said Aref over phone from Al Kutn.

Drones war on defiant terrorists

By Nasser Arrabyee, 16/08/2013
Yemen is witnessing an unprecedented war from the sky. More than 40 Al Qaeda suspects were killed over 10 days by 13  US drone attacks mostly on moving targets in different places of the country.
 With this fact in mind, and with some observers saying Al Qaeda is getting weaker and weaker, the top leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen Nasser Al Wuhayshi threatened after all those  drone attacks that he would raid on maximum security prisons of intelligence to get out his "brothers" to let them  fight with him.
The unprecedented drone attacks on Yemen came after allegations based on intelligence leaks from both US and Yemen that Al Wuhayshi had been ordered by his boss Eyman Zawaheri to implement big terror operations on Western embassies and gas and oil facilities of Yemen.
In a statement attributed to Al Wuhayshi and published in Al Qaeda-linked websites on Monday August 12, 2013, Yemen Al Qaeda top leader said,''We ask God to make us a cause for unlocking your incarceration and relieving your agony." 
''Your brothers are pounding the walls of injustice and the thrones of oppression. These walls and thrones are coming down every day and victory is but one step. Victory is one hour of perseverance,'' said Al Wuhayshi who himself broke  the Yemen maximum security intelligence prison of Sanaa in February 2006 along with 22 inmates. 
20 of them were killed or re-arrested later except for Al Wuhayshi and two low-profile other men.
The Yemeni expert on Al Qaeda affairs, Abdul Razak Al Jamal commented on Monday to the Ahram Weekly that the statement aimed to raise the morale of Al Qaeda fighters and sympathizes after the painful repeated drone attacks.
"Al Wuhayshi wanted to say to his enemies: we are still here steadfast, and at the same time raise morale of his remaining  fighters and also giving hope to prisoners," said Al Jamal who met many of Al Qaeda leaders.
The recent drone attacks, between  July 28th, and August 10th, 2013, came during and after a White House meeting between Yemen President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and President Barack Obama for discussing Yemen Al Qaeda threats.
These attacks caused a lot of public anger especially the fact that the  drones continued flying over the capital Sanaa for two days day and night for the first time during Eid Al Fetr.
Despite their announced approval, President Hadi and his government were in a big embarrassing situation especially after US and western embassies closed and evacuated their staff. Violation of sovereignty by drones was the most controversial issue among Yemenis although they know of the government approval and cooperation and coordination.
" The US and Yemen  governments were very skillful in creating justifications for these drone attacks this time, only to reduce the reactions of the people," said  Al Jamal.
He said "This time, the Americans with Yemeni cooperation recorded many targets and they wanted to strike them all but before the strikes they were concerned about angry reactions," He said.
 Al Jamal believes that  they made two lies: The American lied about  the alleged  imminent threats and closures of embassies and evacuation of staff. And the Yemen lied about the oil facilities when they  said Al Qaeda was planning to destroy oil facilities. 
"The two sides were lying to justify the repeated  attacks," Al Jamal said.
His assessment for those killed by those attacks is that most of them were from middle level and at least 8 of the 40 killed were Saudi nationals.
The Saudi national leading member Ibrahim Al Rubaish might have been among them, and if confirmed this would be  big loss for Al Qaeda. Al Rubaish is the deputy head of Al Qaeda in Yemen  now replacing Saeed Al Shehri who was killed by drones early this this year and his death was confirmed by  Qaeda spokesman  Al Rubaish  only  in the middle of  last July.
The expert Al Jamal said Al Rubaish might have been killed in the strike of Al Nakaba of Sayid Shabwah on July 30th, 2013.
The last  drone strike killed 2 Al Qaeda suspects and seriously injured one  after they  left their car and escaped walking  in an area called Askaria between Yafe'e and Radfan in southern province of Lahj on August 10th. 
 The drone strike of August 7th, at Damasheka Abeida Mareb east of the county, three brothers fighting with Al Qaeda  were killed by drones and they are identified  by ministry of interior as the terrorists, Abdullah Kayed Salem Afraj, Al Hassan Kayed Salem Afraj, Al Hussein Kayed Salem Aftaj, 
From Raghan, Dahm tribe, Mareb.

Ahram Weekly local sources said the older brother Abdullah  is known to everyone as Qaeda member, he started by making money from  the slain Anwar Al Awlaki in return for easing his movements  between Mareb, Al Jawf and Shabwah.  Awlaki was killed by US drones on September 30, 2011.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Obama praises Yemeni leader, makes no mention of Guantanamo

Obama praises Yemeni leader, makes no mention of Guantanamo

Source: Reuters, 02/08/2013

White House-  President Barack Obama praised Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi for his work combating terrorism but made no mention of efforts to repatriate detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison in public remarks at the White House on Thursday.

Hadi met Obama in the Oval Office a day after he tried to persuade U.S. senators to send home dozens of Yemeni detainees held at the controversial U.S. facility in Cuba.

The Obama administration said last week it planned to repatriate two Guantanamo inmates to Algeria, resuming the transfer of detainees for the first time in nearly a year and raising expectations that the United States was moving closer to shuttering the prison, which Obama has promised to do.

Yemen's support is critical to closing Guantanamo because 56 of the 86 detainees who have been cleared for transfer or release are from the impoverished country on the Arabian Peninsula.

Al Qaeda's regional wing is active in Yemen, causing concern for U.S. officials, who fear that released prisoners would eventually join up with Islamist militants.

Obama promised in May to end a ban on transferring Yemenis back home, but the Republican-controlled House of Representatives recently voted twice to block the transfer of detainees to Yemen.

During remarks before journalists after the meeting, Obama thanked Hadi for his government's cooperation on counterterrorism.

"Because of some of the effective military reforms that President Hadi initiated when he came into this office, what we've seen is al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, move back out of territories that it was controlling," Obama said.

"And President Hadi recognizes that these threats are not only transnational in nature, but also cause severe hardship and prevent the kind of prosperity for the people of Yemen themselves," he said.

The United States sees Yemen as a front line in its war on al Qaeda and has used drones there for years to target the group.

Hadi noted that cooperation with Washington on counterterrorism had helped his country.

"As a result of the activities of al Qaeda, Yemen's development basically came to a halt whereby there is no tourism, and the oil companies, the oil-exploring companies had to leave the country as a result of the presence of al Qaeda," he said through a translator.

"So our cooperation against those terrorist elements are actually serving the interests of Yemen," he said.

Joint Statement by the United States and Yemen after Hadi met Obama

Source: White House press release, 02/08/2013

Joint Statement by the United States and Yemen

In their meeting today at the White House, President Barack Obama and President Abdo Rabu Mansour Hadi of Yemen affirmed their desire to broaden and strengthen the U.S.-Yemen relationship.  President Obama reiterated the United States’ support for the stability, security, prosperity, and unity of Yemen.  He also commended the Yemeni government and people for their commitment to an inclusive democratic transition and the progress they have made thus far.  President Hadi thanked President Obama for the United States’ steadfast support to Yemen during this critical moment in its history.  He also commended the President’s efforts to advance peace, security, and opportunity in the Middle East.  The two Presidents pledged to continue working together to help the Yemeni people realize their aspirations for strengthened governance, security, and the rule of law; protection of universal human rights; and enhanced economic opportunity.  Presidents Obama and Hadi reaffirmed their commitment to a strong and enduring counterterrorism and security partnership and agreed to cooperate closely to enable the return of Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo Bay who have been designated for transfer.
Political Transition
Presidents Obama and Hadi discussed Yemen’s efforts to implement the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Initiative and the strong support of the international community for its timely completion.  President Hadi recounted Yemen’s progress restructuring the military and undertaking a comprehensive National Dialogue, and affirmed that preparations for a new voter registry, constitutional referendum, and national elections were progressing.  President Obama commended the inclusive and representative nature of Yemen’s ongoing National Dialogue and the efforts underway to develop a shared vision for the country’s future.  He praised the vital role that women, youth, and civil society are playing in Yemen’s political transition, providing a powerful example to the region.  
Economic and Social Development
President Hadi highlighted the importance of social development and economic reform for Yemen’s political transition, as well as the country’s overall stability, security, and prosperity.  The two Presidents agreed to continue working together to expand economic opportunities and foster private sector development in Yemen.  President Hadi noted his productive discussions with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank regarding how to advance Yemen’s economic reform agenda while protecting Yemen’s most vulnerable, and President Obama expressed U.S. support for these reform efforts.  The Presidents urged donors to continue supporting Yemen as it addresses a serious humanitarian crisis and begins fulfilling its commitments to responsible governance and reform.  President Hadi thanked President Obama for unprecedented levels of U.S. humanitarian and development assistance. 
Security and Counterterrorism
Presidents Obama and Hadi reaffirmed their commitment to a strong counterterrorism partnership, discussing a range of efforts to counter the threat to both countries posed by al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).  They recognized the extraordinary sacrifices of Yemeni military and security personnel killed in the fight against terrorism.  They affirmed the importance of combating terrorism within the framework of the rule of law and of supporting Yemen’s efforts to build capable, effective, and professional security forces. 
Guantanamo Bay Detainees
President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.  He noted his decision to lift the moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen, and the two Presidents agreed their governments would work together to facilitate the repatriation of Yemeni detainees who have been designated for transfer.  President Hadi affirmed his intention to establish an extremist rehabilitation program to address the problem of violent extremism within Yemen, which could also facilitate the transfer of Yemeni detainees held at Guantanamo.  Presidents Obama and Hadi agreed to remain in close consultation on this critical matter.