Saturday, March 12, 2011

Across Yemen, protesters demonstrate; 2 dead

By Mohammed Jamjoom

Sana'a, Mar 12, 2011- Security forces in restive Yemen fired live ammunition during protests Saturday in Change Square outside Sanaa University, witnesses claimed.

But a government source knocked down those accounts, asserting that the police used only water cannon and tear gas to disperse crowds, and that third-party provocateurs fired at the people.

This was one of at least five cities where protesters assembled to demand the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled Yemen since 1978.

One person died from a gunshot wound to the head at the square in Sanaa, according to Waseem Al-Qurashi, a doctor and head of the field medical team that was set up outside the college. Opposition medical officials in Mukalla said a protester was shot and killed there.

Casualties during protests this week drew stiff criticism from the United States on Saturday.

"The embassy is dismayed by reports of deaths and injuries at demonstrations in Sanaa, Aden, Taiz, and Mukalla in the past week," the U.S. Embassy in Yemen said in a statement.

"The U.S. government is strongly on record as defending the rights of citizens to demonstrate peacefully. We urge the Yemeni government to investigate these incidents and take all necessary steps to protect the rights of all Yemeni citizens."

In the capital, Sanaa, Abdullah Alansi, an anti-government protester, said security forces approached protesters soon after morning prayers.

"They told the protesters that they needed to remove their tents from the grounds and leave. The protesters refused. After that the security forces started attacking the demonstrators," Alansi said.

"About an hour after the security forces first shot live ammo and then threw gas at us, protesters started fighting back -- they started throwing rocks at the security forces," Alansi said. "Then the security forces retreated for about 15 or 20 minutes and then started attacking again."

Anti-government demonstrator Ala'a Al-Khowlani said more people came out to support the protesters after the attacks.

Al-Khowlani also said students were donating blood at field hospitals that have been set up, as wounded protesters are in "dire need of blood."

Sameer Sameie, a medic working in one of the field hospital tents set up at the square, said security forces used tear gas on protesters, entered the crowd and beat some demonstrators. He said officers entered the tent where he was working and roughed him up, along with others.

Sameie called for international aid and rights organizations for assistance because medics aren't able to properly treat the injured.

But a Yemeni Interior Ministry official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to comment, said riot police were under strict orders not to carry live ammunition and used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd. He said third-party instigators fired at the protesters.

More than 160 police, demonstrators, residents and bystanders were injured by bullet wounds, physical attacks and rocks, the official said.

He said residents in various neighborhoods complained to police that protesters forcefully erected additional tents in front of homes and stores. They said they felt surrounded and besieged and women were being harassed.

Residents warned that if police didn't confront the demonstrators, they would push back themselves.

Abdulkarim al-Aslami, a parliament member who resigned from the ruling party and joined the opposition, said the scene in the square "is very dangerous," and he saw many demonstrators beaten and gassed. He said lawmakers have appointed a committee to investigate what happened on Saturday.

"Things are taking a very dangerous turn here. The regime ended any chance of dialogue."

Ahmad Sufan, a former prime minister and parliament member with good ties to the president, said he doubted that police were behind the violence and unrest in the square and called for dialogue.

"We don't really know who to blame. If the security forces are responsible then they should be punished," said Sufan, who said it is unfortunate that political debate is taking place in the streets and not in government institutions.

Along with Mukalla and Sanaa, demonstrators took to the streets in Taiz, Maafir, and Mawasit.

In Maafir, witnesses said protesters raided a government and security buildings and set vehicles on fire.

A medical team said the forces fired tear gas and fired randomly at protesters, with 34 injuries reported. Witnesses said more than six people were injured by security forces and four suffered gunshot wounds.

Across Yemen, high unemployment fuels much of the anger among a growing young population steeped in poverty. The protesters also cite government corruption and a lack of political freedom.

On Thursday, Saleh -- who has promised not to run for president in the next round of elections -- pledged to bring a new constitution to a vote by the end of the year and transfer government power to an elected parliamentary system.

John Brennan, President Barack Obama's counterterrorism adviser, spoke with Saleh on Friday and welcomed his "initiative to resolve the political crisis in Yemen," according to a statement from the White House.

Brennan also said the government and opposition "share responsibility for achieving a peaceful resolution of the crisis."

Saleh said he hopes the opposition will engage immediately in a dialogue with the government and reiterated his assurance to not use violence against peaceful demonstrators, according to the summary of Brennan's call with Saleh.

Source: CNN

GPC official urges opposition to respond favorably to Saleh's initiative

SANA’A, March 12, 2011- A senior official in the General People's Congress (GPC) said on Saturday that the protests against the government was an attempt by some forces to justify their negative attitude and their failure to respond favorably to President Ali Abdullah Saleh's initiative.

In an interview with Doha-based al-Jazeera TV, Abdul-Hafiz al-Nahari, deputy head of the Media Department of the General People's Congress (GPC), said that ’’in the next few days, we expect an expansion of the Yemeni people's popular rallying around the president's initiative, especially since this initiative is providing a clear horizon and offering a roadmap for the Yemeni future’’.

‘’There is a large-scale popular discontent with the stand of the opposition, which has been marked by a sense of irresponsibility in its handling of such a refined and grand initiative. This initiative is meant to effect a comprehensive political reform of the political system of governance’’.

He added that millions of Yemenis staged demonstrations and marches expressing support for the president's initiative and calling upon the opposition to respond favorably to this initiative and to sit at the negotiating table.

‘’Meanwhile, the opposition, which is not offering an alternative, would drag the people into the unknown. The points of reference offered by those who took to the streets are transient, and they cannot remain as standing points of reference, as they would push people into sedition, conflict, and the unknown."

Source: (Saba)

Civil unrest hinders Yemeni children's education - Save the Children

SANA'A, March 12, 2011- The Emergency Education Cluster in Yemen voiced on Saturday concerns about recent reports indicating that children's school attendance has been disrupted due to civil unrest in some cities.

This came in a press release issued by Save the Children – Yemen, saying "Children have the right to education at all times, including during times of civil unrest, and schools are responsible for providing a protective and safe environment for children" .

The Emergency Education Cluster's members expressed their concern that "children's right to education is being violated and children's welfare is being put at risk".

The Education Cluster therefore urged all parties involved to protect children from being manipulated towards the achievement of political goals and take positive action towards children's safe attendance at school.

Source: (Saba)

FACTBOX-Yemen's energy industry

Sana'a, March 12, 2011- Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh, hoping to defuse increasingly violent protests against his 32-year rule, said on March 10 he would draw up a new constitution to create a parliamentary system of government.

The pledge came after thousands of protesters marched against government rule as unrest rumbled on across the oil and gas-rich Middle East and armed conflict between rebels and government forces raged in Libya.

Below are some facts about Yemen -- the world's 32nd biggest oil exporter and 16th biggest seller of liquefied natural gas (LNG) -- which lies at the mouth of a key global shipping route.


- An estimated 3.2 million barrels of oil a day (bpd) passed through the narrow Bab al Mandab strait between Yemen and Djibouti in 2009, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

- Disruption to the narrow shipping lane could stop Gulf oil and LNG tankers from passing through the Suez Canal to the Americas or Europe.

It could also prevent oil tankers from unloading at Egypt's Ain Sukhna terminal near the southern entrance of the Suez Canal which feeds crude to Sidi Kerir on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt via the Sumed pipeline.

About half of the Sumed crude comes from Saudi Arabia and is mostly shipped to Europe, according to the pipeline operator.


- Protesters have renewed calls for southern Yemen, which produces most of the country's crude oil, to go back to its independent status before unity with the north in 1990.

- Yemen had proven oil reserves of around 2.7 billion barrels at the end of 2009, equal to just 0.2 percent of global reserves, according to the BP Statistical Review.

Daily oil production fell to 298,000 bpd in 2009, or just 0.4 percent of the global total, continuing the steady decline in output from a peak of 457,000 bpd in 2002, according to BP.

- Falling oil revenues has hindered the government's ability to provide basic public services, which has stoked anti-government sentiment.

Increased gas exports could partially offset the decline when Yemen's LNG project hits capacity in late 2011.

- Oil reserves and production lie mainly in Jannah and Iyad in the centre of the country Yemen, Marib-Jawf in the north, and Shabwa and Masila in the south. The government estimates Masila holds about 84 percent of the national total.

- Yemen has five oil export terminals. Ras Isa is the main crude terminal offshore in the Red Sea, while the coastal terminal of Hodeidah handles small tankers. The Bir Ali facility handles crude from Shabwa, while Ash Shihr, operated by Canada'a Nexen ships oil from Masila.

- Oil is transported from Masila to Ash Shahir by a 90-mile pipeline with a capacity of 300,000 bpd, while a the 130-mile Shabwa-Bir Ali pipeline carries up to 135,000 bpd from the Ayad-Shabwa block to the Bir Ali terminal on the Gulf of Aden.


The state-operated Aden Refinery Company, which also manages Yemen's strategic fuel reserves, has an old refinery with a capacity of 130,000 bpd, while the Yemen Refinery Company's newer Marib can refine 10,000 bpd of crude.

Yemeni and Chinese officials have discussed upgrading the ageing Aden refinery to process Kuwaiti and Masila crude, which may cut Yemen's fuel imports and boost exports.


- Yemen has proven gas reserves of 490 billion cubic metres of gas, or about 0.3 percent of the global total, according to BP statistics.

- Most of the gas is found in the Marib-Jawf oilfields and it is mostly reinjected to enhance oil recovery. Gas production has been in decline since 2005.

- Yemen LNG's export facility at Balhaf, which opened in 2009 and is led by French oil major Total with three South Korea companies holding stakes, is the largest-ever industrial project in Yemen.

- It exported just 0.40 bcm of gas as LNG in 2009 (compared to nearly 50 bcm by world leader Qatar) but a production line added in 2010 and another expected to open in late 2011 is expected to boost annual capacity to 6.7 million metric tonnes, or 8.28 bcm of gas a year.

- One of the pipelines feeding gas from the Marib field to the LNG plant was attacked in 2010.

Sources: U.S. Energy Information Administration, BP Statistical Review, Reuters news, European Union energy portal, company websites. (Compiled by Daniel Fineren; editing by James Jukwey)

Source: Reuters

25% job seekers to be recruited soon

SANA'A, March 12, 2011- Minister of Civil Services and Insurance Yahya al-Shuaibi said on Saturday that directives of President Saleh, at the meeting of National Defence Council, recommended to employ 25 per cent of the total job seekers who registered at the ministry till 2010.

Speaking to Saba, al-Shuaibi stated that the cabinet will approve the operational mechanism to absorb this per cent in its weekly meeting on Tuesday.

He called on managers of civil service and insurance offices in all governorates to be ready to receive job seekers.

The minister pointed out that the ministry will employ those candidates by the end of March 2011.

Source: (Saba)