Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hundreds of thousands take to Yemen streets again

By Adrian Blomfield, Middle East Correspondent 30 Mar 2011

Hundreds of thousands of protesters again took to the streets in Yemen despite a new offer from the country’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to remain in office until the end of the year but only in a ceremonial role.

Yemen opposition officials negotiating with the president said that Mr Saleh’s offer would see him handing over the bulk of his powers to a transitional ruling council until elections can be held at the end of the year.

The opposition said it was still considering its response, but protesters on the streets accused Mr Saleh of stalling and seeking unduly to influence the appointment of his successor.

"The president throws his different cards here and there every minute and every day and manoeuvres... in an attempt to remain in power," said Mohammed Qahtan the parliamentary opposition's spokesman.

They also accused him of responsibility for an explosion in an arms dump that killed 140 civilians trying to steal weapons.

Last week, Mr Saleh reportedly offered to step down by the end of 2011, a proposal snubbed by the opposition. But his ruling party said on Friday he should serve out his current term until the next scheduled presidential election in 2013.

Yemen's Saleh Offers Concessions

By Theresa McCabe

Mar 30, 2011

NEW YORK (The Street) -- Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh proposed transferring his powers to a caretaker government in an effort to pacify the anti-government demonstrators in the country, according to reports.

Yemen's president made the concession offer at a meeting on Tuesday night with Mohammed al-Yadoumi, head of the Islamist Islah party, Reuters reported, citing an opposition source familiar with the matter.

"The opposition could pick a head of government of its own choosing and there would be parliamentary elections by the end of the year," the opposition source said of Saleh's offer.

According to the proposal, Saleh would stay in office until elections were held. The opposition is still considering its response to the offer, Reuters was told.

Yemen has been rocked by a popular uprising since the end of January. Yemen's main opposition groups continue to organize anti-government demonstrations in Sanaa and other cities calling for an end to Saleh's oppressive 32-year rule.

A coalition of protester groups gathered in the large public space near Sanaa University on Wednesday. The group said they refuse to leave until Saleh is removed from power.

"A temporary presidential council of five individuals known for experience and integrity should run the country for an interim period [of six months]," the Youth Revolution coalition proposed in a statement on Wednesday.

Saleh, the embattled leader, has offered his nation a number of concessions in efforts to quell the civil unrest.

In February, Saleh vowed that he wouldn't seek re-election in 2013, and pledged that he wouldn't hand over power to his son. A few weeks later the leader offered to organize a new presidential election by January 2012 instead of September 2013, when his term ends.

In the past weeks, a number of top commanders, ambassadors and tribes have turned on Saleh to join Yemen's anti-government movement, as he struggles to hold onto power.

Yemen's northwest army commander Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar decided to back the opposition after more than 50 civilians were killed in a violent crackdown by government forces on tens of thousands of peaceful protesters in the capital city Sanaa.

Anwar Al-Awlaki: Unrest in the Arab World will Enable Jihad Movement to Flourish

By Fatik Al-Rodaini

Sana'a, Mar 30, 2011- Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, (AQAP) said that the fall of the Arabs' regime will help the organization to extend everywhere.

In his article in the fifth issue of Al-Qaeda magazine, Inspire, Anwar Al-Awlaki, the American-born Yemeni cleric welcomed Wednesday the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia but questioned the intentions of the Western world. It also expects that the events will lead to a focus on Palestine.

Al-Awlaki expressed optimism regarding the future of the jihadist movement. He claimed that the unrest situation in the Arab world will enable the jihad movement to flourish.

He said that the spread of the unrest to Yemen and Libya "and especially the possibility that uprisings will break out in the Gulf countries, primarily Saudi Arabia" will open up new opportunities for jihad.

Al-Awlaki was designated as the most dangerous enemy of the U.S., with the CIA issuing in April a dead-or-alive warrant for him. The U.S. also says Al-Awlaki had links with three of those involved in 9/11 attacks.

Al-Qaeda welcomes revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, questions the intentions of the West

30 March 2011

BY: BNO News

SANA'A (BNO NEWS) -- Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) on Wednesday welcomed the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia but questioned the intentions of the Western world. It also expects that the events will lead to a focus on Palestine.

The statements were made in the fifth issue of Al-Qaeda's "Inspire" magazine, an English-language magazine that is distributed to its supporters online. The fifth issue has 70 pages and includes an interview with Anwar al-Awlaki, a senior al-Qaeda figure, and statements from al-Qaeda senior leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The latest issue, titled "The Tsunami of Change", focuses mostly on the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia and the ongoing protests in countries such as Libya and Yemen. It also addresses the conflict involving Palestine and Israel.

"The biggest barrier between the mujahidin (Muslim fighters) and freeing al-Aqsa were the tyrant rulers," Inspire Magazine editor Yahya Ibrahim wrote, referring to the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a coalition of Palestinian nationalist militias in the West Bank who have been designated as a terrorist group. "Now that the friends of America and Israel are being mopped out one after the other, our aspirations are great that the path between us and al-Aqsa is clearing up."

"There could be no freeing of Palestine with the presence of the likes of King Abdullah to the East, Hosni Mubarak to the West and al-Saud to the South," Ibrahim said. "The issue of Palestine is central to the Muslim ummah and now that the masses have spoken, there is no doubt that it will be back to the forefront."

Ibrahim said, now leaders in some countries are leaving, the issue of Palestine will be back on the table. But he questioned the Western world about its public support for the revolutions. "Do they really mean it? Or is it because they do not realize the reality of what is happening? Or is it just because they feel that they must join the bandwagon?"

Ibrahim further said that al-Qaeda welcomes the revolutions, and believes it is a positive development for Muslims. "Why would the freedoms being granted to the people be bad for al-Qaeda? If freedom is so bad for al-Qaeda, how come the West has been practicing a restriction on the freedoms of expression when it comes to the message of the Mujahidin?" the editor asked, while condemning laws in some countries that make it a crime to possess al-Qaeda material.

The magazine editor further said that al-Qaeda is not against regime changes through protests, but said it is against the idea that the change should only be made through peaceful means. "The accuracy of this view is proven by the turn of events in Libya. If the protesters in Libya did not have the flexibility to use force when needed, the uprising would have been crushed," Ibrahim notes.

He concluded that al-Qaeda is "very optimistic" by the turn of events and said it has "great expectations" of what is to come. "It is our opinion that the revolutions that are shaking the thrones of dictators are good for the Muslims, good for the Mujahidin and bad for the imperialists of the West and their henchmen in the Muslim world," he added.

Another section of the magazine described Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as a "clown" due to his "repeated contradictions, beating around the bush, hilarious conspiracy theories and pure stupidity." "We don't know what's funnier: his contradictions, quoting himself from his green book or how he opened the BBC interview with an arrogant laugh and then asked, "What is the question?" We have thus dedicated a place to laugh at this enemy of Allah."

Yemen’s Opposition Lists Key Demands as Demonstrations Continue

By Mohammed Hatem - Mar 30, 2011

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across Yemen to condemn an explosion at a weapons factory this week that killed more than 100 people and which the government blamed on al-Qaeda.

Members of the opposition, including organizations representing youth, held a press conference today in the capital, Sana’a, calling for an end to the 32-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and listing key demands. Anti- government protests in Yemen have been taking place for more than two months, inspired by revolts that overthrew the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt. A crackdown in Sana’a earlier this month killed as many as 46 protesters.

The demands, delivered by opposition representatives Thiyazan al-Hakimi and Abdullah Nsherm, include the removal of Saleh and a ban on his family from involvement in military and civil affairs as well as the abolition of the constitution and a six-month transition period during which parliament and the Shura Council are dissolved.

The demonstrators also want local councils, governors, the supreme judiciary council and the general prosecutor dismissed and a supreme constitutional court set up. They are calling for the creation of a national transitional council of five members -- including someone representing youth -- who had no affiliation to the Saleh regime.

Other demands include abolishing the Ministry of Information and permitting freedom of media ownership and independence as well as freedom of expression. They want the state security apparatus, national intelligence agencies and the national defense council dismantled and replaced by a national security organization under the Interior Ministry that is responsible only for investigating and preventing foreign threats to domestic security.

Source: The Bloomberg