Sunday, April 3, 2011

Yemen protester killed amid calls for Saleh to quit

By Hammoud Mounassar (AFP)

SANAA — Yemeni police killed one anti-government demonstrator and wounded scores more on Sunday, a day after the opposition told President Ali Abdullah Saleh to hand over power to his deputy.

The young man was shot dead while tearing up a poster of Saleh during a demonstration in the city of Taez, 200 kilometres (125 miles) south of the capital Sanaa, witnesses said.

At least 250 others were injured, some with live rounds, when police used tear gas and gunfire to disperse the protesters who were heading to the governorate headquarters.

Police continued to fire as security forces pushed back the demonstrators to a square where they have been holding a sit-in as part of nationwide protests demanding that Saleh end more than three decades in power, the witnesses added.

The opposition, which has led the more than two month old protests, called on the president on Saturday to hand over power to his deputy.

In a new "vision for a peaceful and secure transition of power," the opposition Common Forum urged Saleh "to announce his resignation, so that his powers pass to his deputy."

Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, who is from the southern province of Abyan, is a member of Saleh's ruling General People's Congress.

It was the first time the opposition had presented a proposal for the transition of power which it has been demanding since anti-Saleh protests broke out in late January.

Officials and ruling party members declined to comment on the proposal. State television continued to air footage of tribal chiefs renewing their allegiance to Saleh.

Young activists among the protesters appeared to distance themselves from the opposition's proposal, announcing at the podium of their main sit-in in Sanaa that their demand remained the "departure of the president and all the figures of his regime."

Under the opposition plan, the vice president would take over on a caretaker basis and embark on a reorganisation of the myriad security agencies, which are the backbone of Saleh's regime.

"An agreement would be reached with the temporary president on the form of power during the transitional period, based on national consensus," the opposition statement said.

It stipulated that a transitional national council should begin a wide-reaching national dialogue, and that a panel of experts should be formed to draft constitutional reforms.

It said a government of national unity should be formed to manage the transition, along with an interim military council made up of "officers known for their competence and integrity, and who are respected in the army."

A high electoral commission would be formed to oversee the holding of a referendum on constitutional reforms, as well as parliamentary and presidential elections.

In addition, the opposition stressed the "right to peaceful expression, demonstrations and sit-ins for all the people of Yemen," and demanded an investigation into the use of deadly force by security force personnel against protesters.

It said those responsible for the attacks on demonstrators "should be tried, while those wounded and disabled and the families of martyrs should be compensated."

In the face of more than two months of protests, which Amnesty International says have cost at least 95 lives in clashes with security forces, Saleh had offered to step down before his term runs out in 2013.

But he has hardened his stance since a massive pro-regime rally on March 25.

Protest leaders say the Yemeni strongman has been emboldened by US support for an ally seen by Washington as a key partner in its battle against Al-Qaeda.

Security forces injure hundreds trying to disperse Yemeni protesters

By the CNN Wire Staff
April 3, 2011
Sana'a, Yemen (CNN) -- Yemeni security forces attacked protesters at a square in Taiz on Sunday, injuring more than 300 people, including 20 who were in serious condition from beatings or tear gas, according to information from a field hospital.
None of the injuries involved gunfire, the field hospital information said.
Meanwhile, Yemen's Parliament Speaker rejected a transition plan by the country's largest opposition bloc, indicating continued stalemate over how President Ali Abdullah Saleh should have over power.
Saleh has offered to step down by the end of the year, after constitutional reforms and new elections. The Joint Meeting Parties bloc demands Saleh's immediate ouster, and the plan unveiled Saturday called for Saleh to hand over all authority to Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, a spokesman for the bloc told reporters.
Once power is handed to Hadi, he should change the structure of the security forces -- including the Republican Guard -- in a way that is "fair" and in accordance with Yemen's constitution, the spokesman said.
The bloc also wants Hadi, as president, to form a council that focuses on transparency in the military, a national transition council that will represent all factions in the country and a committee to oversee new elections, and to affirm the right of peaceful protests and investigate claims of brutality against opposition demonstrators.
Speaker of Parliament Yahya Al-Raee, who also is a senior officer of the ruling party, dismissed the bloc's plan, saying "it was prepared during a khat chew and has no value." Many Yemenis chew khat, a tropical plant that acts as a stimulant, as part of social and business transactions.
In Taiz, eyewitnesses said security police aided by riot policy moved in before dawn Sunday to try to disperse demonstrators who had gathered on Saturday. According to the eyewitnesses, some protesters were beaten, and when others tried to help them, the security police fired tear gas. Gunshots were heard, the eyewitnesses said, but there was no indication that shots were fired into the crowd.
On Saturday, at least five people were hurt during scuffles at one of Yemen's dueling, pro- and anti-government demonstrations. The protests brought tens of thousands of people to the streets of Aden and Sanaa.
The injuries occurred at an opposition march in Aden, where there were clashes with security forces. Witnesses report seeing tanks and armored vehicles in the Mansoora district, where thousands marched to demand that Saleh step down. Security forces tried to disperse the crowd using batons and tear gas, witnesses told CNN. Protesters threw stones at authorities, who responded by firing over their heads.
In Sanaa, opposition supporters took up positions outside Sanaa University. Tens of thousands camped at Change Square, pressing forward with protests against the government that have continued for weeks.
Tahrir Square, also in Sanaa, belonged to the president's defenders. Thousands gathered there to show support for Saleh.
Calls for Saleh's ouster have grown louder in recent weeks following revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.
Saleh has ruled since 1978 and has been fighting to hold onto power, arguing that he is best equipped to lead the fight against Islamists. He has been a staunch U.S. ally in the fight against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
The president has said he accepts opposition demands for constitutional reforms and holding parliamentary elections by the end of the year. Saleh has also promised not to run for president in the next round of elections.
But he said as recently as last week that he will not offer any more concessions. Saleh described the opposition as an alliance against the country's majority, according to Saba, the Yemen news agency.
Journalist Hakim Almasmari and CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom contributed to this report.

'Yemen can spark total PG change'

A wave of regime changes will sweep the entire Persian Gulf Arab states if the revolution in Yemen achieves its objectives, a Middle East expert says.

“A successful revolution in Yemen could mean the whole Persian Gulf region erupting into revolution,” Chris Bambery told Press TV.

“Yemen has been an important staging post for the Americans ... It is one of the major centers of the CIA in the region,” Bambery went on to say.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is an important ally for the US and the Saudis and they are trying to keep him in power to maintain their control over the Persian Gulf region, the analyst underlined.

Therefore, “There is no attempt [by the West] to reveal the realities of the Saleh regime: the torture, the repression, or the record of the Saudis constantly intervening in Yemen, carrying out bombing missions, etc.” he argued.

Inspired by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, anti-government protests began to sweep Yemen in January.

More than 82 people have so far been killed and hundreds of others left injured in the brutal crackdown by state security forces on the protests.

Saleh has been in office for more than three decades, with several opposition members arguing that his long-promised political and economic reforms have not materialized.

There are concerns that intermittent skirmishes between anti-government demonstrators and forces loyal to Saleh could eventually spiral out of control and trigger widespread violence.

Source: Press TV

Editorial: Trouble in Yemen

April 3, 2011

The tumult in Libya has made it hard to focus on events elsewhere in the Middle East. But for the United States, the stakes are particularly high in Yemen, where a branch of al-Qaida (al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP) maintains strongholds. AQAP has been linked to the foiled attempt by the “underwear bomber” in 2009, and to efforts to blow up two U.S.-bound cargo planes last year. Also, Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born al-Qaida leader based in Yemen, is believed to have inspired the accused Fort Hood gunman.

Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's leader for 32 years, is clinging to power but clearly must go. Protests against his rule surged after government snipers fired on demonstrators March 18, killing at least 52. Last week, outrage increased after an explosion at a munitions factory that had been abandoned by government soldiers. At least 78 people were killed and scores injured. Foes blamed deliberate maneuvering by Mr. Saleh to make his leadership appear irreplaceable.

During his long rule, Mr. Saleh has presided over a stew of contending forces that includes fractious tribal leaders, Shiite rebels in the north and secessionists in the south. He has maintained order (if barely) by playing them off against each other. By letting the U.S. bomb al-Qaida militants in southern Yemen, he has also made himself seem indispensable to Americans (all while accepting increasingly large sums of aid).

After two months of turmoil, numerous high-ranking officials, including military leaders, have now deserted Mr. Saleh. The U.S., joined by other nations, would do best to encourage an orderly transfer of power to an interim government. As much as possible, this government should include all parties and honor the student-led opposition’s push for a new constitution. At the same time, the U.S. should explore ways to promote development in this utterly impoverished nation, where so many are desperate for jobs.

The danger is that, under a weakened government, or a collapse into civil war, al-Qaida will be able to operate even more freely in Yemen than it now does. It is vital therefore that the U.S. step up its diplomatic efforts.

Source: PROJO

Politics should not eclipse food crisis in Yemen

Ashley Clements
Apr 3, 2011
The unstable situation in Yemen continues. But for ordinary people, everyday life must go on against a backdrop of protests, rising food prices and increased fuel costs. While attention focuses on the current turmoil, the needs of ordinary Yemenis are being lost in the midst of the political story.
Take for example a mother of five from the north of Yemen, who asked to be referred to as Umm Mohammad. Life has never been easy for her family, but in these uncertain times it is even more of a daily struggle.
Her husband has told her to cut the family's consumption of sugar and grain because food prices are rising. Some days the family even runs out of food - so she borrows from her neighbours, who have little enough themselves.
Umm Mohammad is just one of seven million people in Yemen who struggle to find enough to eat each day.
The unrest in the streets of Yemen has helped to focus international attention on the country. Last week, Valerie Amos, the UN under secretary general for humanitarian affairs, expressed serious concerns about the deteriorating humanitarian situation. For Yemen's most vulnerable, the crisis of food insecurity and malnutrition that threatens their daily survival is a long-term problem that requires a long-term solution.
Over the years, both donors and the Yemeni government have shared a responsibility to tackle the immediate needs of the Yemeni people, yet repeated calls for assistance have failed to achieve tangible results for the country's poor.
Yemen continues to be the Middle East's poorest country, with one of the lowest per capita incomes in the world. Oil production - Yemen's main source of revenue, on which it depends for foreign currency to import most of its food - is in decline as reserves dwindle, with experts giving the country as little as six years before it is no longer a viable source of revenue.
Painful economic reforms, water scarcity, a fluctuating currency and multiple conflicts further compound the country's many vulnerabilities.
Yemen is particularly exposed to rises in international food prices because it imports most of its staple foods. As food prices rise, Yemenis are increasingly going hungry. Many families now eat just two meals a day and some days that drops to one. Fuel costs are soaring and will soon become a luxury for some families.
According to the World Bank, Yemen has the third highest rate of malnutrition in the world, and more than half of Yemen's children are stunted because they are so malnourished.
The issues of food security and malnutrition in Yemen need to be addressed urgently by offering immediate assistance to the most severely affected through channels such as the national welfare agency and the United Nations.
Last September at a high-level meeting in New York, donors agreed on support for the government's welfare institutions. Yet little of this promise has been delivered and mothers like Umm Mohammad have seen no change.
With donor support, the Social Welfare Fund - which offers a lifeline to more than one million households across the country in the form of monthly cash handouts - could increase its coverage to provide a safety net for more of those households already identified to be in great need.
Long-term solutions such as these are underfunded but must not be put on the back burner because of the current uncertain situation.
Hopes continue to hang on proposals for a multi-donor trust fund for Yemen. Such a fund would enable significant and predictable investment in tackling the enormous development challenges facing Yemen's people. In spite of the turmoil, now is the time for donor governments to invest in the future of the country through secure channels which will mean the money will reach those most in need. Security priorities should not direct donors' interventions, but rather they should be dictated by the pressing humanitarian needs.
Umm Mohammad says she despairs when she thinks about what lies ahead. "I am frightened about the future. I don't know what will happen to me and my kids.
It doesn't have to be this way. Donors must step up to the plate. With enough well-targeted funding, as well as a long-term commitment to reform, the future of Yemen - and that of Umm Mohammad and her children - will be on a far firmer footing.
Ashley Clements is Oxfam's policy adviser based in Yemen
Source: The National

Yemeni Authorities Blocked Mareb Press Website

By Fatik Al-Rodaini

Yemen's most famous news outlet, Mareb Press website was blocked by the Yemeni government for covering the current news of the Yemeni youth revolution, which is demanding the ouster of President Saleh's regime.

Mohamed Al-Salehi, the editor-in-chief of told the Yemen Post that the Yemeni Authorities blocked the website due to its stance with the Yemeni youths in their revolution and the continuous coverage it gave it.'' He added that the website was working four days ago, but was blocked again.

Al-Salehi confirmed that web visitors abroad can visit easily the site easily. He added visitors in Yemen can enter the website, though blocked, through a specific proxy site.

He accused the Yemeni government of standing behind the blacking because the government does not want people to know what is going on inside the country.

As the popular uprising started to escalate in many part of the republic, more websites were blocked in the last few months including, and

Other websites that have been blocked and hacked include the mouthpiece of the Islah Party,, amid an intensified war against the electronic media in Yemen coinciding with the peaceful uprising demanding the ouster of the regime across the republic.

Management of said hacking its website was an attempt to prevent it from covering the popular revolution as hundreds of thousands have been conducting protests and sit-ins to call for the resignation of President Saleh.

Yemeni government has been putting more pressure on local media outlets.

An emergency law was called for two weeks ago, while the Ministry of Information threatened all media outlets to be careful when reporting about protests.