Saturday, April 16, 2011

JMP Delegation to Meet GCC Foreign Ministers in Riyadh Sunday

Sana'a, Apr 16, 2011- A delegation from the opposition coalition, the Joint Meeting Parties, heads on Sunday to Saudi capital Riyadh to meet the GCC foreign ministers.

The rotating president of the coalition, Yasin Saeed Noman, told Aljazeera Satellite Channel that the delegation will brief the Gulf ministers on what is happening in Yemen.

Previously, the JMP informed the GCC member states that it wanted to explain the situation in Yemen before their second declaration that should complete the GCC proposal for a peaceful transfer of power, he said.

The regime was misleading our brothers in the Arabian Gulf and that was seen as a roadblock to explain the things here as they are being done as the situations are gravely deteriorating, he made clear.

The GCC states welcomed our explanation and the meeting will take place Sunday afternoon, he said.

Regarding the reports that there was a U.S.-EU vision for a timeframe for the ouster of the Yemeni regime in the light the GCC proposal, Noman said that there was a 'misconception'.

" The U.S. and EU thoughts for the Yemeni crisis were thrashed out even with the regime and they focused on the implementation of the first initiative, nothing else," he said.

Source: Yemen Post

AP Exclusive: al-Qaida in Yemen adapts to evade US

WASHINGTON, Apr 16, 2011 (AP) — On Christmas Eve in 2009, intelligence officials anxiously monitored dozens of al-Qaida members as they gathered for a meeting in southern Yemen. The U.S. and Yemen had stepped up airstrikes and raids the week before, and al-Qaida was regrouping under one roof to figure out how to retaliate.

With the right timing and a little luck, the U.S. could kill the group's leadership in a single blow.

The predawn missile strike killed scores of suspected terrorists but missed Naser Al-Wahishi, the country's top al-Qaida leader, as well as his deputy, Saeed Al-Shihri, and the radical U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

It was a close call, and its significance wasn't lost on the terrorists.

Their e-mails had been compromised. Their cell phone conversations no longer were secure. This hadn't been a chief concern for the al-Qaida affiliate operating in a Third World country with scattershot intelligence capabilities.

Suddenly al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula was up against the National Security Agency and the Predator drones that can hover out of sight and intercept phone calls.

So it adapted.

It went underground, enduring a monthslong U.S. led bombing campaign. It emerged as a more disciplined and professional organization. It ditched cell phones in favor of walkie-talkies and coded names. Information was passed through intermediaries. If someone needed to send an email, it was shielded by highly sophisticated encryption software.

Those changes left al-Qaida in good position to thrive amid government upheaval in Yemen. The country's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is an important U.S. ally but faces violent protests demanding his removal. The conflict has put CIA and military counterterrorism operations on ice, officials said, leading to fears that the increasingly sophisticated terrorist group will grow even stronger.

Current and former U.S. officials described al-Qaida's response to U.S. strikes on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss operational activities. The Associated Press is withholding some details about the cat-and-mouse game between al-Qaida and the CIA because it could jeopardize operations.

The group's ability to pivot quickly and seize the moment is not unprecedented. The Yemen offshoot of al-Qaida has shown itself repeatedly to be a nimble adversary, capable of staying one step ahead of well-funded U.S. intelligence agencies. Dating to the attack that nearly sunk the USS Cole in 2000 in Yemen's Aden harbor, the group has shown that its operational capabilities are not static, its thinking not stale.

"Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has ironically proven to be better than either Yemen or the U.S. as a learning organization," said Edmund J. Hull, author of the forthcoming book, "High-Value Target: Countering al Qaeda in Yemen." Hull, the U.S. ambassador to Yemen from 2001 to 2004, said the group "has consistently learned from its mistakes and adapted."

Since merging with al-Qaida's Saudi Arabian affiliate in 2009, the organization has used al-Awlaki and fellow U.S. citizen Samir Khan to deliver inspirational messages and attract Western jihadists. The group has demonstrated it can get explosives aboard cargo and commercial planes despite tight security. Such flexibility allows it to strike at its choosing and move outside the al-Qaida bureaucracy controlled by Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri.

After the airstrikes in 2009 and early 2010, al-Qaida, which was dispersed among a few cells, stopped using cell phones and began relying on hand-held walkie-talkies.

When an unmanned aerial vehicle picks up a cell phone call, it can identify the location of the participants and use the phone numbers to make a pretty good guess about who's on the call. Conversations on hand-held radios are more difficult to unravel. Further complicating things, the terrorists began identifying themselves using numbers, not names.

Frustrating U.S. intelligence, al-Qaida operatives in Yemen began employing couriers to pass messages by hand, or to duck into an Internet café to send emails. Those emails were encrypted using custom software written in the Gulf region by "cyberjihadists" or "virtual al-Qaida." The software is similar to, but more sophisticated than, off-the-shelf program used by Faisal Shahzad to disguise his emails in preparation for an attempted bombing in New York's Times Square last May, current and former officials said.

The political turmoil in Yemen has created uncertainty among counterterrorism officials in Washington. Before the protests, when it looked like Saleh would continue his decades-long presidency, the U.S. was planning to expand operations there. The CIA had bolstered its station and there were discussions about broadening airstrikes and working more closely with Yemeni counterterrorism officials on ground operations.

All that has come to a halt.

If the Yemeni government collapses, the concern is how al-Qaida, with its track record of adapting to new adversity, will adapt to new freedom.

Yemeni women: President is degrading us

By Hakim Almasmari and Mohammed Jamjoom

Sanaa, Apr 16, 2011(CNN) -- Thousands of Yemeni women marched toward the attorney general's office in the capital Saturday demanding legal action for what they called the president's attacks on their morality.

Similar demonstrations took place in other cities as well fueled by President Ali Abdullah's comments the day before.

In a short speech Friday, Saleh said women who were protesting against his regime were violating Yemeni cultural norms that prohibit mixing with men who are not direct relatives. He called it forbidden behavior in Islam and advised women to stay home.

Angry women activists said Saleh was trying to degrade them in public.

Prominent activist Tawakkol Karman said Saleh was shocked to see women leading Yemen's revolt.

"Saleh has finally shown the world his real face and his hatred against women," said Karman, a leading member of Islah, the largest opposition party in Yemen.

"Women have ruled Yemen on numerous occasions throughout Yemen's history" she said. "That is why he has tried to oppress women for the 33 years he has been in power."

The government said protesters "misused" Saleh's comments prompted by a belief that the opposition was using women and youth to promote their own agenda, and not the greater good of Yemen.

"Saleh is the first to support women's rights and has always shown interest in involving women in Yemeni politics," said Zaid Thari, a senior member of the ruling General People's Congress party. "Saleh was advising protesters and not acting against women in specific."

Anti-government demonstrators in Yemen have been calling for reforms and the ouster of Saleh for many week. Recently, women have shown their faces in greater numbers.

They took to the streets in 10 provinces Saturday, holding firm on their demands that Saleh step down. Karman said Saleh is scared he will be known as the leader overthrown by women.

Another prominent activist, Amal Basha, said it was Saleh who was using religion to prevent women's participation.

"I consider women protesters here as if they are doing holy work, a holy job," Basha said. "Why is he (Saleh) trying to demonize and undermine what they are doing? Saleh uses religion to give himself legitimacy and support his policies."

Yemen's largest opposition bloc rejected Saleh's stance against women. The Joint Meeting Parties said Islam grants women more rights.

"Saleh's comments against the purity of women protesters are a clear indication that his oppressive regime does not respect any rights of expression and wants women to be led by men at all times," said Mohammed Sabri, a senior bloc official.

Even the conservative tribal coalition of Mareb and Jawf warned Saleh against attacking women's rights, saying that tribal culture has always given women the right to lead if they so desire.

"Women ruled Yemen numerous times in the past with success," said Ali Obaid, a senior member of the coalition. "Yemeni women lead the Yemeni revolution and men follow."

Tens of demonstrators injured in clashes in Yemen's Taiz

Sana'a, Apr 16, 2011- Tens of people were injured Friday in separate clashes between pro and anti-government demonstrators in Yemen's southern province of Taiz.
Mohamed al-Alimy, a parliament member of the ruling General People's Congress party (GPC), along with five of his escorts and about 10 government backers, were wounded in clashes which erupted after anti-government protesters intercepted their convoy in downtown Taiz, a local councilman told Xinhua.
In a separate incident, 30 pro-government demonstrators were wounded Friday, including a child whose injury was critical, when they were attacked by their rival protesters in Taiz city, official Saba news agency reported.
"Elements of the opposition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) also smashed over 20 cars belonging to the pro-government demonstrators, " said Saba. Meanwhile, a key media outlet of the opposition JMP said at least 10 anti-government protesters were injured by gunshots from members of the GPC party on Friday in Taiz. Two of them were in critical conditions.
Taiz, some 200 km southwest to the capital Sana'a, is Yemen's third largest city. It has witnessed a deadly tension between pro and anti-government demonstrators that left dozens of people killed and many others injured since the start of the protest waves in mid February to press an immediate end to the 33-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Yemen's foreign reserves decrease by 13.6 pct amid escalating protests

April 16, 2011

Yemen's foreign reserves fell to 5. 1 billion U.S. dollars by the mid of current April, a decrease of 800 million U.S. dollars, or 13.6 percent, from 5.9 billion U.S. dollars in December 2010, the official Saba news agency reported on Friday.

The decline of international reserves came as the country's economy suffered from weeks-long protests demanding an immediate end to the 33-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The political crisis resulted in the deterioration of economy, security and stability after the government pulled the police out from some towns of major provinces.

The governor of the Central Bank of Yemen Mohammed Awadh bin Hammam told Saba that the bank used the amount of 800 million U.S. dollars to stabilize the foreign currency.

The Yemeni currency has hit the lowest record of exchange rate against the U.S. dollar since the start of anti-government protests in mid February. It traded at 240 Yemeni rial per U.S. dollar on Friday, according to exchange traders who warned that the depletion of Yemen's reserves may weaken the rial further.

Inspired by Tunisian and Egyptian protests, anti-government protests rattled Yemen since mid February, which recently turned to violence and confrontation with police in some provinces, leaving dozens of people killed and many others injured.

Source: Xinhua

10 Prisoners Break Central Jail in N Yemen

As many as 10 prisoners on Friday escaped from the central prison of northern Amran province, after they bribed some of the prison guards, a provincial security official told Xinhua.

"Seven of the group were captured then while the rest, including a killer of the Yemeni Jewish citizen, were still at large," the official said on condition of anonymity.

"A security campaign was underway to search for the three fugitives as security authorities are investigating the circumstances of the breakout," the official said, adding that "no prison guard was killed when the prison break occurred, but investigators found out that some of them took bribe."

The 40-year-old Abdul Aziz al-Obeidi was sentenced death penalty by Yemen's Supreme Court on July 24, 2010, after convicted of deliberately murdering the Yemeni Jewish citizen Masha Yaish Nahari in 2008 in Raydah town of Amran province, some 60 km north of the capital Sanaa.

Jewish citizens in Yemen numbered some 400 in 2009. Among them, about 250 dwell in the northern province of Amran, according to government statistics.

Yemen has witnessed weeks-long anti-government protests demanding an immediate end to the 33-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The political crisis recently resulted in deterioration of security stability after the government pulled the police out from some towns of major provinces under pretext of avoiding friction with protesters.