Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Parliament resumes sessions on Wednesday

SANA'A, April 27 (Saba) – The Parliament resumed on Wednesday its activities chaired by Parliament Speaker Yahya al-Ra'i.

The Parliament discussed the blatant assaults that harmed a peaceful demonstration of women supporting the constitutional legitimacy which was organized by the women's sector in Aden governorate on Tuesday.

Parliamentarians condemned the shooting by elements of the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), stressing the importance to stop such acts of violence against any peaceful march in any cities of the Republic's governorates.

They called on security bodies to carry out their legal responsibilities to refer any person or entity working outside the law or affecting people's lives, or harming public or private sectors to prosecution.

On the other hand, the Parliament reviewed a letter by Secretary General of Arab Parliamentary Union on the statement issued by Bahraini Shura Council over Iran's interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

The parliament issued a statement supporting Bahraini Shura Council over interference in its internal affairs, denouncing any interventions of any Arab county by any party whatsoever as it regarded an infringement of national sovereignty.

Security forces open fire on protesters in Yemen, sources say

By the CNN Wire Staff

April 27, 2011

(CNN) -- Eleven anti-government protesters were killed and more than 100 were injured Wednesday in Sanaa, Yemen, after they were attacked by security forces, two medical sources told CNN.

"We don't have enough medicine to treat the over 100 shot by the government. We call on the international community to give us medicine to save those the government shot from dying," said a senior medical staff member at Sanaa's Change Square.

The reported attacks represent one of the deadliest days in the weeks-long protests that have pitted demonstrators against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"The language of bullets and killing is what this regime wants to spread. It's a massacre against humanity and human rights. Eleven have been killed and the number is expected to rise," the medical staff member said.

Two protesters were also killed Monday.

Over the weekend, the protests spread across 14 provinces, despite Yemeni officials saying that Saleh had accepted a deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) under which he would step down.

Both Saleh and the Yemeni opposition have agreed to the deal in principle. But Saleh has yet to sign the agreement, which stipulates he leave office within 30 days and provides complete immunity for him and those who served in his regime, said a senior Foreign Ministry official, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

The agreement also calls for a unity government to be formed within seven days.

The GCC -- a bloc of six oil-producing Gulf nations -- has been working to ease tensions between Saleh and an increasingly restive opposition.

Violent anti-government demonstrations have erupted for many weeks across Yemen.

Saleh has been in power since 1978 and has served as a staunch U.S. ally in the fight against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Yemenis block port in protest against Saleh deal

By Mohammed Ghobari
SANAA, Apr 27, 2011 (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Yemenis stepped up protests Wednesday by blocking access to a key port as Gulf mediators appeared close to sealing a deal for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to cede power.
The protesters distrust the Gulf Cooperation Council's plan, supported by the government and the main opposition group, because it gives Saleh a month-long window to resign and grants him and his family immunity from prosecution.
"The people want a departure, not an initiative," the protesters shouted outside the Red Sea port of Hudaida, where maritime operations continued unaffected.
Clashes flared in south Yemen between security forces and anti-government protesters who blocked roads with burning tires. One protester and a soldier were killed, hospital and local officials said. Earlier reports put the toll at two soldiers.
The deal aimed at ending Yemen's political standoff was expected to be signed Sunday in Riyadh, three months after Yemenis first took to the streets to demand Saleh's ouster, inspired by revolts that toppled rulers in Egypt and Tunisia.
The balance of power has tipped against Saleh, who has been a key ally of the West against al Qaeda, after weeks of violence, military defections and political reversals.
In Hudaida, protest organizer Abdul Hafez Muajeb said the coastguard had welcomed demonstrators and had raised a banner saying they would not use weapons against the people.
"We will close the port because its revenues are used to fund the thugs," said protester Muaz Abdullah, referring to plainclothes security men who often use daggers and bats to break up protests.
The large turnout at protests show the ability of the mostly young protesters, including students, tribesmen and activists, to act as potential spoilers of the Gulf deal. They have vowed to stay in the streets until their demands are met.
It is also not clear that opposition parties, comprised of Islamists, Arab nationalists and leftists who have been in and out of government in recent years, could halt the protests even if required to by the transition agreement.
Washington and neighboring oil giant Saudi Arabia want the standoff resolved. They fear a descent into more bloodshed in the Arabian Peninsula state would offer more room for a Yemen-based al Qaeda wing to operate.
The Gulf deal provides for Saleh to appoint a prime minister from the opposition, who would then form a transition government ahead of a presidential election two months after his resignation. But the one-month window for Saleh to resign has sparked fears it may offer time for potential sabotage.
Mohammed Basindwa, a senior opposition leader regarded as a top candidate to lead a transition government, said he expected a deal to be signed without further negotiations, and said Saleh was not expected to attend the Riyadh meeting.
Saleh, who has ruled for 32 years, would sign the agreement in Sanaa while the opposition would sign in Riyadh in the presence of a government delegation, Basindwa said.
Asked if he was confident Saleh would step down after the 30-day window, Basindwa said: "The United States and the European Union and Gulf states guaranteed that all sides will stick to implementing the agreement."
Other clashes erupted in the main southern city of Aden when young protesters tried to enforce a general strike that has paralyzed the port city as most businesses and schools closed, a local government official said.
Strikes were also under way in Taiz, which has seen some of the largest anti-Saleh protests, and in Ibb, south of Sanaa.
Elsewhere in the south, gunmen shot dead two more soldiers and wounded five in an attack on a military checkpoint that was blamed on al Qaeda loyalists, a local official said.
Around 130 protesters have been killed as unrest swept Yemen, where some 40 percent of its 23 million people live on $2 a day or less, and a third face chronic hunger.

Protests, Civil Disobedience Campaign Keep Pressure on Yemen Government

Sana'a, Apr 27, 2011- Yemen's security forces again confronted protesters across the nation on Wednesday even as a deal loomed to end a political stalemate by ousting the long-serving president.
Two Yemeni soldiers and a protester were killed in a gunfight Wednesday as security forces tried to break up a demonstration in southern Yemen.
Doctors say three other protesters were wounded during the clashes in the city of Aden. Local officials say the soldiers who were killed had also been shot.
Security forces were confronting protesters who had set up a roadblock in a bid to enforce a general strike as part of demonstrations against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The Associated Press reported that residents in more than 18 localities have launched a civil disobedience campaign, closing schools, shops and government offices.
Demonstrations against Saleh continued this week despite an agreement brokered by neighboring Gulf Arab states for him to step down from power.
Yemen's main opposition coalition has agreed to the proposal, which would have Saleh leave within 30 days of signing the agreement and would establish a unity government that would include opposition members.
The deal would also grant the president and his family immunity from prosecution after he leaves office.
Many opposition activists, who have been demonstrating in the streets for two months, object to the deal, and want Saleh to resign immediately.
In another development, two Yemeni soldiers were shot dead in the southern province of Abyan Wednesday, in an attack blamed on al-Qaida militants. Officials say at least three other soldiers were wounded when gunmen opened fire on them in the city of Zinjibar.

Yemen remains al Qaeda's ultimate breeding ground

By Tim Lister, CNN

(CNN) -- On December 15, 2001, Pakistani border troops came across some 30 al Qaeda fighters in a mountain pass. They had fled the U.S. bombardment of Tora Bora, Osama bin Laden's last stronghold in Afghanistan. The group turned out to be members of the al Qaeda leader's security detail, and U.S. intelligence swiftly dubbed them the "Dirty Thirty."

They were transferred to U.S. custody in Kandahar and then moved to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba early in 2002. It soon transpired most of the "Dirty Thirty" were from Yemen, a country where al Qaeda has an even greater presence today than it did before 9/11.

Analysis of many profiles of Guantanamo detainees suggest that becoming a member of al Qaeda in Yemen in the late 1990s was relatively easy, which may explain why (after Afghans and Saudis) Yemenis comprised the third largest group held there.

The documents, compiled by the U.S. Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay, show that:

-- A network of al Qaeda recruiters was able to operate in Yemen with virtual impunity.

-- Salafist religious institutes in Yemen influenced many to take up jihad and join bin Laden.

-- Many of the recruits had little education and few opportunities.

The documents were obtained by WikiLeaks and published this week.

Several religious institutes in Yemen were fertile al Qaeda recruiting grounds, according to the documents. They included Al Khair Mosque in Sanaa, the Dammaj Institute in Sadah and the al Furqan Institute. The founder of the Dammaj Institute, Sheikh Muqbil bin Hadi al-Wadi, is described in the documents as "one of the most influential Yemeni Islamic leaders who preached and financed jihad." (He was also an influence on bin Laden's thinking, but consistently opposed violence against other Muslims.)

From the Dammaj Institute, recruits were taken to a training camp in Yemen where they would learn assassination techniques and bomb-making. Rarely did the Yemeni authorities interfere. In fact, the documents suggest Yemeni officials could be bribed to provide medical releases and alter travel documents. Recruiters also had money to assist with airline tickets.

Al Qaeda expands presence in Yemen

One of the recruiters was Sharqawi Abdu Ali al-Hajj, a Yemeni who "had access to the identities of many al Qaeda-related travelers and plausible knowledge of the detainees' travel times and locations," according to the documents. Al-Wadi, who died in 2001, and other radical imams in Yemen also provided money to several of the jihadists who would end up among the "Dirty Thirty."

Many of the young Yemenis who ended up in bin Laden's security detail were capable fighters but poorly educated. Mohammad al-Ansi failed 11th grade three times and worked as a bus driver before turning to jihad. Another detainee never made it past seventh grade, while Mahmud al-Mujahid finally got his high school diploma at 22. Several had odd jobs and felt unable to support their families.

Frequently, recruitment into al Qaeda was a family affair. Among those captured in that freezing mountain pass in Pakistan was a 21-year-old by the name of Uthman al-Rahim. His brother was also an al Qaeda fighter and he allegedly had ties to several al Qaeda members responsible for the attack on the USS Cole in 1998. Mahmud al-Mujahidand and his brother were both bodyguards to bin Laden.

2010: USS Cole crew praised at memorial Video

The Yemeni recruits were given similar basic training before being deployed to the front near Kabul to fight against the Northern Alliance as members of al Qaeda's elite 55th Arab Brigade. They later became bin Laden's bodyguards, according to the profiles. The documents say several of the "Dirty Thirty" also took part in a close combat course that bin Laden used to select militants for special operations.

Some of the Yemenis were fast-tracked for advanced training. Mohammed al Ansi would later train for an aborted al Qaeda operation in southeast Asia to hijack airliners and crash them into U.S. military bases in the region. Bin Laden planned to use Yemenis in the operation because they could easily travel to the region, according to another detainee. Others ran training camps or safe houses. Hamza al-Qaiti was one; he was at large until 2008, when he was killed in Yemen.

The Guantanamo documents might be solely of historical interest were it not for Yemen's chronic instability today, and the growing presence of al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula in the provinces of Shabwa, Abyan and Hadramut. Even though Yemeni security forces have stepped up operations against al Qaeda in the last year, U.S. officials describe al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula as the most effective operational arm of the group. John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, said in December the group was "increasingly active" in reaching out to find terrorist recruits, even in the United States, and was "the most operationally active node of the al Qaeda network."

It was in Yemen that the alleged Detroit "underwear" bomber was recruited and trained in 2009. Al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula militants have killed dozens of Yemeni soldiers and police; earlier this month Islamist militants briefly occupied a town in southern Yemen and raided an ammunition factory.

The Guantanamo documents suggest that Yemen remains a recruiting ground for al Qaeda, with one written in 2008 saying Yemeni sheikhs "continue to recruit Yemeni youth to participate in hostilities against U.S. and coalition forces."

That's perhaps why today so many Yemenis are left at Guantanamo. The risk of sending them home to a volatile country with a history of jail breaks and a vibrant al Qaeda franchise is too great. Of the 112 Yemenis taken to the detention center over the past nine years, nearly 90 are still there. (The New York Times, which has seen all the Guantanamo documents, reports that 23 have been sent back to Yemen and two died in custody.)

Few of those left are likely to be leaving anytime soon.