Monday, April 4, 2011

White ’12 wins Truman Scholarship for service

By Anjali Menon
Monday, April 4th, 2011
Haley White ’12 has been selected as the University’s sole 2011 Truman Scholar. The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation announced the 60 winners in a press release last Thursday.
The competitive scholarship, established by Congress in 1975 in memory of President Harry S. Truman, grants up to $30,000 for graduate studies to college juniors who have demonstrated a clear commitment to a career in government or public service.
For White, a Wilson School major, the preparation began last September when she applied to be one of the University’s four nominees for the Truman scholarship. After being nominated, she submitted an application to the foundation and was chosen as one of 197 finalists. The process culminated in an intensive 20-minute interview before a panel of five judges, which tested an individual’s ability to produce innovative policy solutions and speak intelligently about various issues under time constraints and mental pressure.
“At one point, one woman asked me, ‘You’ve traveled to all of these countries. Clearly, you’ve had a very privileged life. Do you really think you can understand poor people?’ You know, this was an awkward, big question,” White reflected.
White is also a former opinion columnist for the ‘Prince.'
White chose to take a gap year before her freshman year so she could enter Princeton with a clear mind and focus. She spent the fall working on a farm for Heifer International and later moved to a street market in Ecuador to work on an outreach program with an educational nongovernmental organization.
“It really just shaped my interests before I came to college,” White explained of her travel experiences. “Particularly, from these two experiences, I was really compelled by this idea of food. It is a necessary good, and we have so much trouble producing it.”
These experiences were especially helpful during her freshman writing seminar WRI 142: Refugees, Immigrants, and Social Justice, and her final research paper, which explored “so-called low-intensity conflict and drug-smuggling as factors in forced migration” was among the “most original paper topics,” lecturer in the Princeton Writing Program William Westerman, who taught White’s class, said in an email.
“The debates we had in Cafe Viv [on whether the exonerated Uyghurs in Guantanamo could qualify as Geneva Convention refugees] were some of the most challenging and fun moments I have ever had teaching,” he added. “Obviously I’m thrilled for her and very proud to be associated with her. But in her case, it’s also gratifying to see that they have not only recognized someone with a unique outlook on the world, but an outspoken commitment to social justice in ways that are going to challenge the status quo.”
In the summer after her sophomore year, she received a Dale Award to live with subsistence farmers in Central America, which later supported the research she conducted for her fall Junior Paper on agriculture and food security issues in Yemen.
Her junior advisor, Wilson School lecturer and former ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine, called White a “stand-out” in her fall policy task force on Yemen.
“Her issue — food security — is critical to an understanding of the structural problems facing Yemen and clearly articulated, innovative yet practical recommendations were critical to the crafting of a credible Joint Report,” Bodine said in an email. “Haley made a strong and persuasive case that the newly-instituted Feed the Future Initiative, managed by USAID and USDA, was an appropriate programmatic framework for [U.S. government] assistance,” she added.
Bodine has drawn on this research on Feed the Future in Yemen for her own diplomatic work with the U.S. Department of State.
Last winter, White was invited to be a delegate to the U.N. Commission of Social Development as a representative for the NGO SustainUS.
In addition to her academic work, White is also an advocate for public service and social development on campus. In addition to being co-chair of the Pace Council, which advises and connects student civic engagement leaders on campus, White is on the Priorities Committee that makes budgetary recommendations and led her own Breakout Princeton Civic Action Trip, which studied poverty and economic development in Buffalo, N.Y., the city with the third-highest poverty rate in the country.
White is also known on campus for spearheading the Banana Project, which campaigned for the bananas stocked by Dining Services to be replaced with Fair Trade-certified ones. She was inspired for the project by her participation in an earlier Breakout trip to Immokalee, Fla., that studied immigrants working in the tomato industry.
When asked whether she plans to pursue a career in government, White said she prefers more “nontraditional” means of getting things done. She also said she would like to be working actively in the field.
“I am interested in the idea of social enterprise,” she explained. “How do you take a social problem and find a profit mechanism that makes a solution sustainable? ... I could see myself working at a consulting firm that has opened up a social enterprise division or for an agricultural NGO.”
source: dailyprincetonian

The US and Yemen's President Saleh and the Failure to Close Gitmo: Today's Qs for O's WH

April 04, 2011
TAPPER: The White House has repeatedly said that President Saleh is a key ally, when it comes to combating terrorism, especially in the fight against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. If the administration is now supporting a transition process in Yemen, how confident is the White House, how concerned is the White House that whatever comes next will not be as helpful to the United States in fighting terrorism?
CARNEY: Jake, the -- our position with regards to working with the government of Yemen on counterterrorism efforts is that it is not and has not been focused on one person, nor should it be. We are obviously concerned that in this period of political unrest that al- Qaida and other groups will attempt to take advantage of that power vacuum, and that's one of the reasons why we urge political dialogue to take place and a timetable for this transition that President Saleh has talked about to be begun. And -- but we believe that we can and will work with the government of Yemen on these very important matters. And like I said, they're not focused on one individual.
TAPPER: What the Secretary of Defense told me a week ago yesterday was that the concept of a post-Saleh Yemen is of great concern to the United States.
CARNEY: It -- Yemen is of great concern to the United States. AQIP (sic) is of great concern to the United States, which is why we put so much work in our counterterrorism efforts with the government of Yemen and with those who can be partners with us around the region and the world in combating the terrorist activities of AQIP.
TAPPER: And lastly, on the president's promise to shut down Gitmo and to try as many terrorists as can be tried -- accused terrorists that can be tried in a civilian court, has there been any conclusion as to why that promise was not been able to be carried out? Is it -- did he over-promise? Did he not take into consideration? Did he not consult enough with Congress? Why is this -- as the president announces his reelection kickoff, why is it a promise that he has not been able to fulfill?
CARNEY: Jake, you know the history very well about this process and congressional reaction to some of the goals that were set out. What I will ask you to do is listen to what the attorney general has to say about this particular decision, 2:00 p.m. today, and then just tell you that the president remains focused on everything he can do every day to get the economy growing, jobs created, the priorities that the American set for him and that he takes very seriously.
TAPPER: I don't need to tell you, because you covered it in 2008, he -- this was a big issue that he brought up on the campaign trail. And it's obviously a failure.
CARNEY: Well, I would say that, again, the -- what has transpired over the last several years with regards to these issues is well-known to everyone. Congressional opposition to some of these decisions has created obstacles that made it very hard -- that became very hard to overcome, and the president's very focused on the need for justice for the -- to be brought with regards to those who are accused of participating in and planning those attacks.
-Jake Tapper

Central Security Forces Withdraw From Taiz Province

By Fatik Al-Rodaini
Sana'a, Apr 4, 2011- Private sources told the Yemen Post that Central Security Forces withdrew on Monday from Yemen's southern province of Taiz province and were replaced by army units.
The withdrawal came after clashes between anti-Saleh protesters and security forces took place in which 11 were killed and tens other injured.
According to a medical staff in Taiz Change Square said that 11 protesters were killed by gunshot wounds by security forces.
More than 500 have been injured today when security forces opened live fire on protesters and attacked them with batons and tear gas. Yesterday, 1760 protesters were injured when security forces attacked protesters.

Two Bad Options in Yemen

Gregory Johnsen on April 4, 2011

Following weeks of on-again, off-again negotiations, in which Salih appeared to back away from tentative deals to step down, forces loyal to his government opened fire on protesters today in Taizz, killing at least 15 according to al-Jazeera.

Other forces in Hudaydah also cracked down on protesters today, firing live bullets and tear gas and injuring more than 300 according to the breaking news tracker on Mareb Press. (Note: many of these injuries are the result of tear gas).

There are also early reports of renewed clashes in Sanaa.

All of this comes shortly after the New York Times published a piece today suggesting that the US is ready to abandon President Salih.

The piece is getting a lot of play on al-Jazeera, and on nearly every Yemeni news website.

It is unfortunate that the Obama administration's policy only began "to shift in the past week." Salih's demise has been self-evident for much longer than that, and consistent US refusals to see that and the resulting dithering and calls for negotiations (asking protesters to give up the only leverage they have) has only put US security interests more at risk.

Salih's last-ditch attempts to hold on to power have resulted in a security breakdown in other parts of the country, as parts of the military defected and others abandoned their posts. This breakdown has opened up a great deal of space for AQAP - anyone think they aren't taking advantage of the current situation?

I argued nearly a month ago that the US needs to ask more than just: what comes after Salih?

It should also be asking: what does Yemen look like if Salih stays?

I'm not sure if the US asked itself this question or if it just came to the conclusion that no matter what it did Salih was on his way out, I suspect the latter, but have no inside information.

We should be clear, both scenarios - Salih leaving or staying - are potentially dangerous for US national security, which is one of the reasons the Obama administration is so hesitant to withdraw its support from Salih.

If Salih leaves the US is worried that the next government won't be as willing to meet US requests in fighting al-Qaeda as Salih has been in the past 14 months (because when journalists talk about Salih being an ally of the US in the war against AQAP this is the period they are referring to).

If, on the other hand, Salih stays, in the current environment it would likely take him several months to reassert control over much of the country that he has lost in recent weeks if he ever could, meaning that AQAP would not be as opposed as it has been. Salih has often been mocked as the "mayor of Sanaa," a snide journalistic and diplomatic remark that often betrays more about the speaker's lack of knowledge about Yemen than it does Salih's authority.

But if he stays, this description could very well turn out to be true, and for a US that worries that if AQAP isn't under any pressure it will be free to plan and launch attacks on the US such a scenario is rightly frightening. (Personally, I don't believe that even if Salih remains throughout this term - an outcome I believe is unlikely - he will ever be able to reassert control over the whole of Yemen).

So that is where the US is at in Yemen: two bad options.

Recognizing at the same time that regardless of what course it decides to pursue much of Yemen's future will remain beyond the realm of human engineering. There will only be so much that the US and the future government of Yemen will be able to control and dictate.

I have argued that from strictly a US national security point of view and leaving aside all other considerations (an approach to foreign policy I don't believe is wise) that helping to push Saliih out is the least bad option.

In that scenario the US will have, as I suggested recently in the New York Times, a small window of opportunity to positively impact change in Yemen. I don't have great confidence that the US, the EU, Saudi Arabia, and the GCC will actually be able to take advantage of this but by pushing Salih out at least they will have a chance. And any chance is better than the no chance they will have if Salih remains.


Thousands March in Sana'a after Dozen Killed in Taiz

Sana'a, Apr 4, 2011- Thousands of people marched from downtown Yemen's capital Sana'a on Monday to the square of change outside Sana'a University where tens of thousands have been conducting a months-long sit-in to call for the resignation of President Saleh.

They chanted slogans calling for Saleh to step down and condemning the killings of the protesters in Taiz province earlier today.

At least 12 protesters were killed in Taiz and hundreds of others injured, some seriously, when the police intercepted a massive demonstration heading to the governorate leadership building, said medical sources, adding that the number was expected to rise.

The medical sources said some of those who are being treated were shot by live bullets and others are now suffering from cramps after nerve gas was fired at them.

Hundreds of thousands in Taiz staged the peaceful demonstration to intensify the pressure on Saleh, but the pro-government forces, some out of uniform, and pro-government thugs with batons and guns attacked the protesters and were firing at them for hours, a protester said.

" They attacked us directly and some fired at us from inside buildings in the area where the governorate leadership compound is located," said Abdul Jabar Abdul Karim. The protesters also condemned the deadly crackdown on the anti-Saleh protests after several people have recently been killed and hundreds injured in some cities including Taiz, he said.

" Whatever the regime does….even if they kill us all..we will continue our strife until the current oppressive and corrupt regime is ousted," another protester said. " We will not stop our protests, will not accept any offering from Saleh or others, and will not forgive the heinous crimes against the peaceful protesters in Yemen," said Khladoun Abdul Karim.

The killings and injuries in Taiz coincided with a deadly crackdown on the protesters who tried to reach the republican palace in the western province of Hodeida. Here, at least 8 protesters were killed and many others injured when the police fired live bullets and teargas at them.

Meanwhile, thousands of anti-riot police and central security forces have been deployed to the streets of cities to quell the protests as President Saleh clings to power.

In Sana'a and other cities, thousands of people condemned the attacks on the protesters in Taiz and Hodeida, vowing to escalate their protests until Saleh and his regime are out.

Source: Yemen Post

11 killed in Taiz by Yemen Security Forces

Sana'a, Apr 4, Medical staff in Taiz Change Square told Yemen Post that 11 protesters were killed by gunshot wounds by security forces. Two were killed yesterday while nine today. According to the source, more than a dozen are still in critical condition.

More than 500 have been injured today when security forces opened live fire on protesters and attacked them with batons and tear gas. Yesterday, 1760 protesters were injured when security forces attacked protesters.

In Hodieda, eyewitnesses say that security forces in civilian dress open live fire at protesters in Change Square Hodieda injuring more than 40.

Source: Yemen Post

GCC Urges Yemeni Government and Opposition Parties to Hold Dialogue

By Fatik Al-Rodaini

Sana'a, Apr 4, 2011- Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC urged Yemen's government and opposition coalition, the Joint Meeting Parties, JMP, to sit down for talks in a bid to overcome the current crisis which has been facing the Yemeni government since two months.

"The GCC calls on all parties in Yemen to return to national dialogue," GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani said at an emergency meeting of the GCC foreign ministers.

The GCC said that they respected the rights of all Yemen's people in choosing their future that ensure the country unity "We respect the Yemeni people's will and choices that would ensure the country's unity, security and stability," the GCC added.

The GCC foreign ministers agreed to contact with the Yemeni government and opposition coalition parties to reach a consensus.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh regime has been facing nationwide protests in 15 provinces demanding the fall of his regime since two months.

U.S. Shifts to Seek Removal of Yemen’s Leader, an Ally


April 3, 2011

SANA, Yemen — The United States, which long supported Yemen’s president, even in the face of recent widespread protests, has now quietly shifted positions and has concluded that he is unlikely to bring about the required reforms and must be eased out of office, according to American and Yemeni officials.

The Obama administration had maintained its support of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in private and refrained from directly criticizing him in public, even as his supporters fired on peaceful demonstrators, because he was considered a critical ally in fighting the Yemeni branch of Al Qaeda. This position has fueled criticism of the United States in some quarters for hypocrisy for rushing to oust a repressive autocrat in Libya but not in strategic allies like Yemen and Bahrain.

That position began to shift in the past week, administration officials said. While American officials have not publicly pressed Mr. Saleh to go, they have told allies that they now view his hold on office as untenable, and they believe he should leave.

A Yemeni official said that the American position changed when the negotiations with Mr. Saleh on the terms of his potential departure began a little over a week ago.

“The Americans have been pushing for transfer of power since the beginning” of those negotiations, the official said, but have not said so publicly because “they still were involved in the negotiations.”

Those negotiations now center on a proposal for Mr. Saleh to hand over power to a provisional government led by his vice president until new elections are held. That principle “is not in dispute,” the Yemeni official said, only the timing and mechanism for how he would depart.

It does remain in dispute among the student-led protesters, however, who have rejected any proposal that would give power to a leading official of the Saleh government.

Washington has long had a wary relationship of mutual dependence with Mr. Saleh. The United States has provided weapons, and the Yemeni leader has allowed the United States military and the C.I.A. to strike at Qaeda strongholds. The State Department cables released by WikiLeaks gave a close-up view of that uneasy interdependence: Mr. Saleh told Gen. David H. Petraeus, then the American commander in the Middle East, that the United States could continue missile strikes against Al Qaeda as long as the fiction was maintained that Yemen was conducting them.

“We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours,” Mr. Saleh said, according to a cable sent by the American ambassador. At other times, however, Mr. Saleh resisted American requests. In a wry assessment of the United States, he told Daniel Benjamin, the State Department’s counterterrorism chief, that Americans are “hot-blooded and hasty when you need us,” but “cold-blooded and British when we need you.”

The negotiations in Sana began after government-linked gunmen killed more than 50 protesters at an antigovernment rally on March 18, prompting a wave of defections of high-level government officials the following week. The American and Yemeni officials who discussed the talks did so on the condition of anonymity because the talks are private and still in progress.

It is not clear whether the United States is discussing a safe passage for Mr. Saleh and his family to another country, but that appears to be the direction of the talks in Sana, the capital.

For Washington, the key to his departure would be arranging a transfer of power that would enable the counterterrorism operation in Yemen to continue.

One administration official referred to that concern last week, saying that the standoff between the president and the protesters “has had a direct adverse impact on the security situation throughout the country.”

“Groups of various stripes — Al Qaeda, Houthis, tribal elements, and secessionists — are exploiting the current political turbulence and emerging fissures within the military and security services for their own gain,” the official said. “Until President Saleh is able to resolve the current political impasse by announcing how and when he will follow through on his earlier commitment to take tangible steps to meet opposition demands, the security situation in Yemen is at risk of further deterioration.”

In recent days, American officials in Washington have hinted at the change in position.

Those “tangible steps,” another official said, could include giving in to the demand that he step down.

At a State Department briefing recently, a spokesman, Mark Toner, was questioned on whether there had been planning for a post-Saleh Yemen. While he did not answer the question directly, he said, in part, that counterterrorism in Yemen “goes beyond any one individual.”

¶ In addition to the huge street demonstrations that have convulsed the country in the last two months, the deteriorating security situation in Yemen includes a Houthi rebellion in the north, a secessionist movement in the south and an active Qaeda operation in the southeast. Houthi rebels seized control of Saada Province a week ago, and armed militants have taken over a city in the southern province of Abyan where Al Qaeda is known to have set up a base.

Among Yemenis, there is a feeling that there is a race against the clock to resolve the political impasse before the country implodes. In addition to the security concerns, Yemen faces an economic crisis.

¶ Food prices are rising; the value of the Yemeni currency, the rial, is dropping sharply; and dollars are disappearing from currency exchange shops. According to the World Food Program, the price of wheat flour has increased 45 percent since mid-March and rice by 22 percent.

¶ Analysts have also expressed concern that Mr. Saleh is depleting the national reserves paying for promises to keep himself in power. Mr. Saleh has paid thousands of supporters to come to the capital to stage pro-government protests and given out money to tribal leaders to secure their loyalties. In February he promised to cut income taxes and raise salaries for civil servants and the military to try to tamp down discontent.

¶ “It’s not a recession, it’s not a depression, it’s a mess,” said Mohammed Abulahom, a prominent member of Parliament for Mr. Saleh’s governing party who now supports the protesters.

¶ The fact that the Americans are “seriously engaged in discussion on how to transfer power shows their willingness to figure out a way to transfer power,” he said.

¶ He said the Americans “are doing what ought to be done, and we will see more pressure down the road.”

¶ The criticism of the United States for failing to publicly support Yemen’s protesters has been loudest here, where the protesters insist the United States’ only concern is counterterrorism.

¶ “We are really very, very angry because America until now didn’t help us similar to what Mr. Obama said that Mubarak has to leave now,” said Tawakul Karman, a leader of the antigovernment youth movement. “Obama says he appreciated the courage and dignity of Tunisian people. He didn’t say that for Yemeni people.”

¶ “We feel that we have been betrayed,” she said.

¶ Hamza Alkamaly, 23, a prominent student leader, agreed. “We students lost our trust in the United States,” he said. “We thought the United States would help us in the first time because we are calling for our freedom.”

¶ Late Saturday night, Yemen’s opposition coalition, the Joint Meetings Parties, proposed an outline for a transfer of power that has become the new focus of the talks. The proposal calls for power to be transferred immediately to Vice President Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi until presidential elections are held.

¶ The young protesters have rejected the proposal, or any that would leave a leading Saleh official in charge.

¶ Late Sunday, the Gulf Cooperation Council, an association of oil-rich countries in the Persian Gulf, added its backing to the talks, issuing a statement saying it would press the Yemeni government and opposition to work toward an agreement to “overcome the status quo.” The group called for a return to negotiations to “achieve the aspirations of the Yemeni people by means of reforms.”

¶ So far the council, including Yemen’s largest international donor, Saudi Arabia, has not taken part in the negotiations, Yemeni officials said.

¶ There were also more clashes between security forces and protesters on Sunday in the city of Taiz. Hundreds of people were injured by tear gas, rocks and gunfire, and there were conflicting reports as to whether a protester had been killed. Witnesses said security forces fired at the protesters and into the air.

¶ Early Monday, security forces in Hodeidah, a western port city, used to tear gas to break up a protest march on the presidential palace there.

¶ According to Amnesty International, at least 95 people have died during two months of antigovernment protests.

Source: The New York Times