Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bin Laden's death will disrupt al-Qaeda's operations in Yemen

By Faisal Darem in Yemen



Yemeni researchers and politicians stressed that the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden would cause a major setback to the organisation, paralyse it in the near term and enhance efforts to combat terrorism and terrorist elements in Yemen.

Bin Laden was killed early Monday (May 2nd) during an operation carried out by U.S. forces in the town of Abbottabad, 50 km northeast of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

"The death of bin Laden at this time during a period of peaceful Arab revolutions may enhance the thinking of those who call for peace and the peaceful achievement of goals instead of by violence which al-Qaeda advocates," Mohammad al-Ghabri, a political analyst and an expert on Islamist groups, told Al- Shorfa.

Al-Ghabri said al-Qaeda may suffer from "hysterical madness" following the killing of its leader, and it may lose much of its power. He said that many individuals who recently joined may leave the organisation and abandon a life of violence that the organisation preached to them.

"The confusion that will occur within al-Qaeda may reveal many of its weaknesses, especially in this sensitive time for Arab revolutions which overturned the idea of achieving goals through violence," he added.

Mohammed al-Qaidi, the official spokesman for the Yemeni Interior Ministry, said Yemen is continuing its efforts and its partnership with the international community in the fight against terrorism. The death of bin Laden is of paramount importance, he said, and will strengthen the fight against terrorism because he was the spiritual leader of al-Qaeda internationally.

Al-Qaidi said the killing of bin Laden would cause great confusion within the organisation in the near term and will affect its operations.

"His elimination, however, does not represent the elimination of terrorism. Terrorism is a departure from the law and Sharia, and habits, traditions and customs, and terrorists will continue to be targeted by the regime until they are eliminated," he said. Al-Qaidi stressed the need for continued international efforts to combat terrorism.

Saeed al-Jamahi, a researcher on terrorist organisations, told Al-Shorfa that bin Laden's death will be a setback for the organisation that might prompt its members to retaliate and carry out operations against Western interests.

Al-Jamahi said, "Al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen will be affected the most because some considered that the organisation's future was in Yemen."

He added that bin Laden's death will trigger a phase of confusion.

"But the conflict the organisation leads is a military and ideological conflict. While the military conflict may stop, the ideological conflict will continue with the recruitment and targeting of foreigners for membership in the organisation," he said.

Al-Jamahi said the organisation received severe blows, directly and indirectly, from the Arab revolutions, and that the killing of bin Laden is a significant victory in the fight against terrorism because he was a spiritual leader for terrorists.

"The presence of rash and violent personalities such as (Ayman) al-Zawahiri will encourage the organisation to respond and avenge their leader in the fastest time to prove to its opponents that the organisation will continue with greater force than before." But al-Jamahi added that this possibility seems weak.

Judge Hamoud al-Hattar, a former Yemeni Minister of Endowments and Guidance, said more needs to be done to confront terrorism. He said that the killing of bin Laden will be a big shock for al-Qaeda and that all entities must co-operate at this time to fight the organization intellectually and ideologically.

Yemenis face growing fuel crisis amid protests

04 May 2011

* Main local refinery shut, long queues for fuel

* Southern clashes with militants kill seven

* Yemen government faces fuel, financial crises

By Mohammed Mukhashaf and Mohammed Ghobari

ADEN/SANAA, May 4 (Reuters) - Yemen faces a growing fuel crisis after its crude oil exports and its main oil refinery were shut down more than a week ago, even as it grapples with protests demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh's ouster.

Trucks and buses at petrol stations in major cities waited in queues at least 1 kilometre (0.6 mile) long to get diesel, which station workers said ran out two days ago. Stations were also rationing rapidly diminishing petrol supplies.

"I've been waiting here since six in the morning, and then when I got to the front of the line, the station worker said he was out of fuel. I waited three hours hoping for 20 litres of petrol with no luck," said Sanaa cab driver Ali Mohsin.

The shortages adds pressure on Saleh, already facing an unprecedented threat to his 32-year rule as daily rallies across the country demand his ouster. Even before protests, he was struggling to quell rebellions in the north and south and stamp out al Qaeda's foothold in Yemen's mountainous provinces.

In the capital Sanaa, many Yemenis have joined protests carrying empty fuel canisters emblazoned with the word "leave".

Though Yemen's oil exports are a modest 105,000 barrels per day, its cash-strapped government depends on the revenue to pay civil servants, its army and fund most state operations.

The fuel crisis started after tribesmen, who the government says are backers of anti-Saleh protests, cut a main oil pipeline in the central province of Maarib that supplies the local Aden refinery and the Ras Isa export terminal on the Red Sea.

"The Yemeni government is losing about 3 million dollars a day," a Yemeni shipping source told Reuters by telephone.

Armed tribesmen have blockaded Maarib, preventing trucks from leaving with fuel shipments as well, and ambushing any vehicles that have tried. Across Yemen, residents are suffering severe shortages in cooking gas, diesel and petrol.

Sanaa residents say electricity has been cut between eight and ten hours daily since last week. Cooking gas could only be bought on the black market where prices have quadrupled.

The shortages have not lessened the crowds on the streets, where tens of thousands have been camped out for weeks to demand Saleh's immediate resignation and trial for the deaths of some 130 protesters in clashes with security forces and gunmen.

Violence has also intensified recently the city of Zinjibar in Abyan province, home to suspected al Qaeda militants. On Wednesday, four soldiers and three civilians were killed and some 20 were wounded after being hit by a rocket propelled grenade, a local official said.

Witnesses in Zinjibar said they saw charred bodies in the streets and ambulances rushing those injured to hospital.


Employees from Aden Refinery Company told Reuters the refinery had been shut for at least a week, and said their director was in Sanaa to request financing to import crude oil.

A Yemen-based shipping source told Reuters Yemen already bought some 15,000 tonnes of diesel from Saudi Arabia to try and fill the fuel shortage. [ID:nLDE7431U]

An official in the commerce ministry, who asked not to be named, told Reuters the government was in a quandary as the fuel shortage intensified: "We could use a lot of money and buy crude, but if we did that, our finances would be hurt badly."

Yemen, facing rapidly diminishing oil and water resources, has already been grappling with a growing financial crisis.

The International Monetary Fund estimated in April its fiscal gap would widen to 6.4 percent of economic output this year, from 4 percent in 2010, after it boosted spending on social measures in the wake of unrest.

Yemen's economic woes were part of the impetus that drove many to protest -- some 40 percent of its 23 million people live on less than $2 a day and a third face chronic hunger.

Saleh and the country's main opposition coalition were on the verge of signing a Gulf Arab-brokered deal last weekend, but he ultimately refused to sign.

The government has blamed Yemen's political opposition coalition, the second party to the failed Gulf power transition deal, for its inability to convince Maarib tribesmen to relinquish their hold on the province to allow the oil pipeline to be repaired and fuel to be shipped out of the area.

Opposition leaders deny any responsibility and accuse the government of backing the tribes' blockade in order create shortages and turn Yemenis against them.

Source: Reuters

Yemen's Qaeda vows to avenge bin Laden

(AFP) May 4, 2011

ADEN, Yemen — A leader of Al-Qaeda's branch in restive southern Yemen on Wednesday vowed revenge for the US killing of the worldwide network's founder Osama bin Laden.

"We will take revenge for the death of our Sheikh Osama bin Laden and we will prove this to the enemies of God," he told AFP, contacted by telephone from Yemen's southern province of Abyan, an Al-Qaeda stronghold.

"They will see what they haven't expected ... We are preparing a plan to continue jihad in the coming period," said the Al-Qaeda leader, requesting anonymity for "security reasons."

"The martyrdom of Sheikh Osama does not mean that jihad (holy war) will end."

The official said that bin Laden had "prepared a thousand lions like himself and we will follow his path until we achieve God's promise to us -- an Islamic Caliphate."

The United States announced on Monday that US commandos had shot dead bin Laden in a raid on his sprawling villa near the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.

Residents in the Abyan towns of Mudia, Mahfad and Loder -- all of which are controlled by Al-Qaeda -- said the jihadist network's supporters, mourning bin Laden, put up black banners at their homes and along roads.

Saudi and Yemeni Al-Qaeda branches merged in January 2009 to form the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), posing a serious threat to US interests as well as Yemen's embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

While bin Laden's ancestral homeland of Yemen have hailed his death, his acolytes in the impoverished country called it a "catastrophe" and vowed to keep up jihad, or Islamic holy war.

In March, at least 150 people were killed in a massive blast and fire at an ammunition plant looted the previous day by AQAP in Abyan, after parts of the region slipped from Sanaa's control.

Washington has expressed fears that Al-Qaeda could take advantage of a prolonged political crisis in Yemen, where close ally Saleh has faced three months of mass protests calling for his ouster.

Six Soldiers Killed and Eight others Wounded in Abyan Province

By Fatik Al-Rodaini

Sana'a, May 4, 2011- At least six soldiers were killed and eight others were wounded in an attack by suspected Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen's southern province of Abyan.

Security sources said that suspected Al-Qaeda militants attacked a governmental patrol vehicle in the city of Zenjibar, killing at least six soldiers and wounding four others, two of them in critical condition.

Sources confirmed that another clashes between a patrol vehicle and Al-Qaeda militant took place in Zenjibar near a public markets in which four civilians were wounded.

Meanwhile, a senior in Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula vowed to revenge for Osama bin Laden's death, who was killed in a raid by American forces in Pakistan two day ago.

Analysts said that Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP, has increased its attacks against Yemen's forces since the rise of protests demanding President Saleh to step down.

Yemen in Danger of Collapse If Pact Not Signed, Eryani Says

By Donna Abu-Nasr -

Yemen is in danger of collapse if a Gulf-brokered agreement that calls for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down within a month is not signed soon, said Abdul-Karim al-Eryani, Saleh’s political adviser.

Yemen’s ruling and opposition parties were expected to sign the accord in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on May 1. The ceremony was canceled after Saleh said he would sign the accord as chairman of the ruling General People’s Congress and not in his capacity as president, according to the opposition.

“This is a technical issue,” al-Eryani said in a telephone interview from Madrid. “The world should not crucify Yemen on a cross of signatures.” He said he is still optimistic that the dispute will be resolved and “the signing will take place.”

The accord, brokered by members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, aims to end weeks of anti-government protests that began on Feb. 11, in which at least 100 people have died, according to the Arabic Sisters Forum for Human Rights.

GCC officials are seeking to avert an escalation of the violence in Yemen or a deadly military divide like the one in Libya. Rising social unrest also threatens to strengthen al- Qaeda as it seeks to use Yemen, the poorest Arab nation, as a base from which to destabilize neighboring Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of crude oil.

“Yemen cannot endure more weeks of protests,” said al- Eryani. “It should end soon or else the country’s economy and security will crash.”

Yemen’s opposition Joint Meeting Parties, which represents six opposition groups, wants Saleh to sign as head of state as stipulated in the agreement. Its members worry that Saleh may not abide by the terms of the accord if he signs only as chairman of the party.

“It’s a question of willingness,” Mohammed al-Mutawakkil, a member of the Joint Meeting Parties’ higher council, said in a telephone interview from Sana’a today. “Does he or doesn’t he want to sign? It’s all up to him.”