Sunday, April 10, 2011

WikiLeaks reveal fears about Yemen’s al Qaeda

Washington , April 10, 2011

The warning from two influential French senators was stark, but it suggested there was still time to “save Yemen so that it does not become the next base for al Qaeda.” Diplomats in Qatar, Kuwait and Egypt used words such as “frightened” and said al Qaeda was flourishing as Yemen faltered. But the most dire assessments came from Saudi Arabia, where officials said Yemen would be a more hospitable environment for terrorists than even Afghanistan and was already so infested that it should be considered al Qaeda's "main home."

In cold and unflinching language, dozens of previously secret US diplomatic cables betray a level of international concern about the terrorist threat emanating from Yemen that is deeper and broader than has been publicly revealed.

The cables, from 2009 and 2010, depict a country on the verge of becoming a failed state even before the recent uprisings; a leader who exploited the threat of al Qaeda to extract foreign counterterrorism help that he sometimes diverted for use against internal foes; and an al Qaeda franchise remarkably suited to thriving in Yemen's tribal culture and rugged terrain.

Mounting demonstrations against Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh have heightened US concerns about his country, disrupting counterterrorism operations involving US Special Operations forces, aerial surveillance from armed Predator aircraft and clandestine CIA operations.

The cables, provided by the anti-secrecy web site WikiLeaks, predate the Middle East uprisings by 10 or more months. Even so, they illuminate the stakes for the United States and its allies in a nation that, even when seemingly stable, served as a launchpad for attacks, including the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner in 2009.

Protester killed, dozens shot at

An anti-regime protester died of gunshot wounds as Yemeni security forces shot dozens of demonstrators in overnight clashes in the cities of Taez and Sanaa, medical officers said today.

"One protester died of his wounds late on Saturday," said a medic treating casualties at a makeshift field hospital in the flashpoint city of Taez, south of the capital.

A total of 43 protesters were wounded by live gunfire in clashes between security forces and demonstrators calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh's ouster that raged deep into the night, medics said.

(Guardian News Service)

Gulf ministers meet to review Yemen mediation


SANAA , Apr 10, 2011- Gulf Arab foreign ministers met in Saudi Arabia on Sunday to see whether an offer to mediate in Yemen's political crisis has a chance of success after a war of words between Qatar and President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saleh initially accepted an offer by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states including Qatar, as part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), to hold talks with opposition parties after two months of protests against his 32-year-long rule.

But on Friday, Saleh reacted angrily to comments from Qatar's prime minister and foreign minister saying the mediation would lead to Saleh standing down.

UNICEF Says 24 Children Killed In Yemen Clashes Amid Political Crisis

SANAA, April 10 (Bernama) -- The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) office in Yemeni capital Sanaa, said Saturday that 24 children were killed and another 638 wounded during ongoing clashes between police and government supporters and anti-government protesters in Yemen.

"As many as 24 children were killed and 638 others were wounded during the prolonged political crisis from Feb 18 to April 5," UNICEF said in a statement obtained by China's Xinhua news agency.

It said that another 49 children were killed and 55 others were wounded at last month's explosion of the ammunition factory in Jaar city of the southern province of Abyan.

The casualties of the blast brought the death toll among children to 73, while 693 others injured in Yemen recently, the statement added.

In the statement, the UNICEF expressed its concern about escalating violence in Yemen, particularly with the high casualties in children, urging the government to comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international human rights law, whether Yemen was in a state of emergency or not.

Qatar didn’t interfere in Yemen: PM

Sunday, 10 April 2011

DOHA: The Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, H E Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani, yesterday said that Qatar is not interfering in the internal affairs of Yemen.

Noting that the proposed initiative on Yemen is a GCC initiative involving the State of Qatar, he said the initiative was taken at the request of Yemen, where it agreed that the GCC states would draft an initiative to resolve the current situation, QNA reported yesterday.

The Premier said: “This initiative is a GCC one and not a Qatari initiative,” asserting that the State of Qatar respects Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

This the Prime Minister said while talking to to Al Jazeera TV Channel yesterday saying that the provisions of the GCC initiative were published before his reply to a question by a journalist during his presence in New York.

The PM said: “I am really surprised that the topic turned, as if there was a Qatari problem or Qatari interference, we respect any country, especially the Arab countries, we do not interfere in their affairs, but this initiative was at the request of Yemen to the GCC states, and Qatar is the part of the Cooperation Council.”

GCC Foreign Ministers will hold an extraordinary meeting at the GCC General Secretariat in Riyadh today to discuss developments in Yemen in light of the GCC initiative put forward for dialogue between the government and the opposition.

The meeting will be chaired by UAE Foreign Minister and Current President of the GCC Ministerial Council Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Meanwhile, Yemen recalled its envoy from Qatar yesterday.

“The ambassador is being withdrawn for consultations,” a Yemen foreign ministry official said.

Responding to a question on the one of leaders in the ruling party in Yemen saying that Qatar is punishing Yemen since the Gaza Summit, the Premier said: “The Gaza Summit was first requested by the Yemeni president from the Emir,” he added.

“We do not punish and we do not believe in punishment, and deal with Yemen as brothers, and they know perfectly well how much Qatar was sought after in a number of matters.”

The Premier expressed his belief that the task now is focused on resolving the current situation in Yemen in a peaceful way that leads to the stability of Yemen, saying that this stability is important for all the GCC states.

And whether there was any contact with the Yemeni side to explain the Qatari point of view, to inquire about the reason for this overlap between the GCC initiative the Qatari exception, the Prime Minister said: “I don’’t want to comment, why this overlap, but I think that characterisation is misplaced, because the initiative is a GCC one, not a Qatari initiative, I do not want to get into an argument, that is not intended to resolve the matter, so are looking for a solution to it, and not raise non sense problems,” he added.

With regard to the extent reached so far by the GCC initiative, the Prime Minister said that the GCC States’ ambassadors have presented the initiative to the Yemeni President and other opposition parties in Yemen.

“Tomorrow we have a meeting in Riyadh to discuss this issue among the GCC countries.”

On the Yemeni President reportedly saying about Qatar’s inference in the internal affairs of Yemen, the Prime Minister said: “I don’t understand about any interference His Excellency is speaking, of course, as I have mentioned now we have to focus on resolving the issue in Yemen, and help our brothers in Yemen by all GCC states, noting that there are many issues and committees that link Yemen to the GCC.

The Premier urged leaving the rhetoric aside and said, “The Yemeni president, and all the brothers in Yemen, they know that we respect them and value them, and that our goal now is to focus on assistance if they wanted assistance from the GCC states to resolve this issue only.” On the Yemeni position regarding the GCC initiative, as expressed by the Yemeni President, the Premier said: “If there is a solution, we don’t mind, it is important that there be a solution to this issue.”

About how to deal with different reactions coming from Yemen on the GCC initiative, the Premier said that the meeting to be held today, in Riyadh will discuss all these points and said, “I cannot express a view before the meeting, especially as any word I say will be sensitive to the situation in Yemen, and might have been the interpreted another way. “

The Premier noted that all efforts are made for peace in Yemen, calling for waiting for the outcome of the Riyadh meeting. QNA

Crackdown fears halt Yemen march toward UN mission

SANAA, Apr 10, 2011 - (AP) Tens of thousands of people are rallying in Yemen's capital to protest the deaths of demonstrators Friday in the southern city of Taiz.

The protesters in Sanaa had planned to march to the United Nations mission, which is not far from the presidential palace. But they stopped after being tipped that presidential guard units controlled by President Ali Abdullah Saleh's eldest son would crush them.

Hundreds of thousands also rallied Saturday in demonstrations across Yemen. The protests that day in Sanaa and Taiz turned violent. The director of a field hospital in Taiz said 580 people were injured there Saturday.

More than 120 people have been killed in Yemen since Feb. 11 in protests inspired by popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, according to an AP count.