Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fighting intensifies in Yemen, still no quick solution

July 5

SANAA, July 4 (Xinhua) -- The Yemeni government has denounced an opposition proposal to form a transitional ruling council, while tens of thousand of Yemenis fled the south as clashes intensified there -- no quick solution has yet to be figured out for the crisis in the impoverished Arab country.


A local army officer told Xinhua that fresh clashes broke out Monday evening between al-Qaida militants and the besieged 25th Mechanized Brigade in Yemen's southern province of Abyan, killing at least 12 al-Qaida militants and seven soldiers, and injuring dozens of others from both sides.

He said clashes were still going on across the northeastern outskirts of the al-Qaida-seized Zinjibar.

The army forces have engaged in fierce battles for more than a month with local al-Qaida militants after the latter took control of the Zinjibar city, the provincial capital of Abyan.

Military reinforcements will arrive in Abyan province in the next two days in order to strengthen and support the army forces in the fight against al-Qaida militants, according to local army officers.

Also on Monday, the Yemeni government issued a warrant for 59 members of the opposition coalition for allegedly killing several soldiers of the Republican Guards in Arhab district in Sanaa province.

Arhab, about 60 km north of the capital Sanaa, witnessed weeks-long clashes between a brigade of the Republican Guards stationed in the district and opposition-backed armed tribesmen since late May, killing dozens of people from both sides.


Protesters rallied in Sanaa and other major cities Monday, demanding the quick ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his sons and aides.

They hailed the opposition's appeal for establishing a transitional council based on a draft unilaterally released by the opposition coalition Monday.

"Due to obstructions by Saleh's aides and the lack of seriousness of the Gulf mediators to press Saleh's followers to implement the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative and accelerate the power transition to Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in accordance with the Yemeni constitution, it has been imperative for the opposition to form a transitional ruling council as soon as possible," the opposition said in a statement.

Protesters called for accelerating the process of announcing the council.

However, in a quick reaction to the opposition's move, the ruling party's spokesman Tarik al-Shami told Xinhua Monday that "what has been prepared by the opposition for unilaterally declaring a transitional ruling council is considered to be a coup against the Yemeni constitutional legitimacy and against the GCC-brokered peaceful power-transition initiative."

Al-Shami also warned the opposition leaders that "such a council will not be recognized by the Yemeni government, nor by the international community, because President Saleh is still the legitimate leader of the country until 2013, and he will return within the next few days to Sanaa to resume his duties as the president of Yemen."


Some 54,000 Yemenis have fled Abyan since militants took over its capital last month, a government official said Sunday.

A government official in charge of refugee affairs told a UN delegation visiting Yemen that tens of thousands had fled from Abyan to neighboring Aden, a port near a strategic sea lane through which ships carry some 3 million barrels of oil daily, Reuters reported.

Hundreds of families have also fled Arhab, where fierce battles took place.

The refugees, as well as severe food and water shortages, have worsened the country's humanitarian crisis

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