Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Yemen rivals cling to positions as GCC plan stalls

By Jamal al-Jabiri (AFP)

SANAA, May 17, 2011- The Yemeni regime and its opponents refused to budge on Tuesday as a Gulf mediator tried to keep up efforts to resolve the political crisis in the impoverished country.

"We have discussed with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary General (Abdullatif) al-Zayani the mechanism to implement a plan to end the crisis," ruling General People's Congress (GPC) spokesman Tareq al-Shami told AFP.

"This plan needs a timeframe to implement it," said Shami.

The six GCC states have proposed an exit plan that would see embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh out of office within 30 days.

"In these circumstances, President Saleh according to the constitution has the right to serve his term until 2013," and he might not resign before the opposition commits to the GCC plan which calls for an end to street protests.

But leading opposition figure Sultan al-Atwani slammed what he called "a new manoeuvre" by the regime. "The opposition is sticking to the agreement reached on April 21 and refuses to negotiate any new ideas," he said.

Chief opposition negotiator Mohammed Salem Basandou "has expressed our position to Zayani when he met him in Sanaa in the presence of European and US diplomats on Sunday and Monday," said Atwani.

Saleh has stalled by refusing to sign in his capacity as president, insisting on endorsing the agreement only as leader of the GPC, contrary to the demands of the opposition.

He says that under the constitution he should serve out his current term of office, which expires in 2013.

But Washington called on him last Thursday to sign the deal "now."

The Gulf plan, which has lost Qatar's support, proposes the formation of a government of national unity, Saleh transferring power to his vice president and an end to deadly protests which have shaken the country since late January.

The president would submit his resignation to parliament within 30 days and this would be followed by presidential election within two months. In exchange, Saleh and his top aides would be granted immunity from prosecution.

"The regime is not serious, it continues to stoke crises. It's up to the Gulf monarchies to" put an end to this, said Atwani.

Unless things change, "the uprising will be our alternative," he warned. "We respect the will of our people" who want Saleh brought to justice "and we refuse anything that goes against their will."

At least 180 people have been killed in clashes during protests against Saleh's regime that erupted in late January, according to a toll compiled from reports by activists and medics.

YEMEN: Timeline of protests since 5 April 2011

Source: Content partner // IRIN

SANA’A, 17 May 2011 (IRIN) - Several hundred people have been killed or injured since the start of a nationwide revolt against the 32-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the first week of February 2011. Below is a timeline of key events from 5 April to the present:

5 April: Three killed and more than 400 injured in renewed clashes between thousands of protesters and police in Sana’a and Taiz.

6 April: Tens of thousands of demonstrators besiege Taiz Governorate’s administrative HQ in protest against the firing of live rounds at them the previous day. Fifteen activists arrested in Aden following clashes with the police.

8 April: Hundreds of thousands of protesters take to the streets in about 15 of Yemen’s 21 governorates on a day the protesters call “Friday of Determination”.

10 April: Four killed, 43 injured in clashes between protesters and riot police in Taiz. Some 500 protesters taken ill after inhaling tear gas.

11 April: Saleh announces his acceptance of a 30-day exit plan offered by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states. The plan anticipates Saleh handing power to his vice-president in exchange for giving him and his family immunity from prosecution.

12 April: Hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets of main cities to protest against the GCC proposals.

13 April: Five soldiers killed, four injured in clashes between the First Armoured Division, which defected from Yemen’s army, and government troops. Two protesters killed in Aden.

15 April: Hundreds of thousands of protesters go onto the streets in about 17 governorates on what they call “Friday of Tolerance”. Some 13 protesters injured in Taiz.

17 April: GCC foreign ministers meet Yemeni opposition in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Two protesters killed, 45 others injured in Sana'a. “Ambulances taking injured protesters were attacked by pro-government thugs and their staff injured,” Mohammed al-Qubati, deputy manager of the field hospital at the Sana’a University protest site, told IRIN.

21 April: Fifteen people, including 13 soldiers, killed in clashes between a contingent of the Republican Guards, led by Saleh’s eldest son Ahmad, and armed tribesmen in the southern governorate of Lahj. “The clashes erupted after tribesmen moved to drive a Republican Guard contingent from a strategic position in their area,” Mohammed al-Khalidi, a tribal sheikh, told IRIN from Lahj Governorate.

22 April: Hundreds of thousands of protesters take to the streets of main cities on what they call “Last Chance Friday”. The president’s supporters rally in the Sabean area of Sana’a. Ten Republican Guards killed in an ambush by armed tribesmen in Marib Governorate.

27 April: At least seven killed and more than 100 injured in clashes between protesters and government supporters as the former advanced towards the state TV building in Sana’a.

29 April: Hundreds of thousands demonstrate in 17 of Yemen’s 21 governorates on what they call the “Friday of Loyalty with Martyrs”. Saleh dismisses Attorney-General Abdullah al-Ulifi for demanding there be an investigation into the former’s relatives who lead the Republican Guards, Presidential Guards and central security forces, over the killing of 52 protesters on 18 March.

4 May: Tens of thousands of people in Sana’a, Taiz, Hodeidah, Ibb, Dhamar and other cities demonstrate against the government’s bombing of Yafea District, Lahj Governorate. The government accuses the opposition of cutting off the tongue of a poet loyal to Saleh.

5 May: Tens of thousands of people demonstrate in Sana’a, Aden, Taiz and Ibb to press Saleh to step down. Protesters announce that 7 and 11 May are to be days of civil disobedience.

6 May: Hundreds of thousands demonstrate in almost all Yemeni governorates on what they call “Friday of Loyalty with People of the South” who were bombed from the air. Speaking to his supporters in Sabean area, Saleh vows to crack down on what he called “opposition-backed bandits” who hit oil pipelines and a power plant in Marib Governorate.

8 May: Three protesters killed, 20 injured in clashes with riot police in Taiz and Hodeidah governorates.

9 May: “Revolution youth” close government offices in Ibb, Taiz and Hodeidah. Four killed, more than 100 injured in Taiz after government troops try to disperse protesters besieging government offices in the city.

11 May: Twelve killed, more than 150 injured as thousands of protesters advance towards the Council of Ministers’ building in Sana’a. Another eight killed in Taiz, Hodeidah and Ibb.

13 May: Three protesters killed by police in Ibb city as hundreds of thousands take to streets in almost all Yemeni governorates on what they call “Friday of Decisiveness”. Speaking to his supporters rallying in the Sabean area on what they called “Friday of Unity”, Saleh says: “We will encounter defiance with stronger defiance.” He urges loyalists to align with the army and security forces in defending government institutions. Clashes between the First Armoured Division and Republican Guards in Ban Matar District, 40km west of Sana’a, leaving three soldiers dead.

14 May: Five Republican Guard soldiers killed in an ambush by tribesmen in Marib Governorate, 180km east of Sana’a. Six members of the government security forces killed in Rada city, Beida Governorate, 150km southeast of Sana’a when armed tribesmen attack a security checkpoint at the city’s eastern entrance.

Yemeni Tanks Block Streets in Taiz, Aden Before Planned Protests

May 17 (Bloomberg) -- Tanks from Yemen's armed forces rolled into the southern cities of Taiz and Aden in anticipation of marches to the local presidential palaces, activists said.

Troops were deployed in Taiz following several hours of power outages last night and armed men in plainclothes patrolled the city streets today, activist Bushra al-Maktari said by telephone. In Aden, the military fired warning shots in several districts to discourage demonstrations, Fawaz Sharabi, a witness, said by phone.

Protests in Yemen demanding an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh's rule are in their third month. At least 100 people have been killed by security forces in demonstrations that began on Feb. 11, according to the Arabic Sisters Forum for Human Rights in the capital, Sana'a.

The uprising has continued after the government and the Joint Meetings Parties failed to sign a Gulf Cooperation Council-brokered plan last month. Under the terms of the plan, Saleh would have ceded power within a month of signing the deal and would be granted immunity from prosecution.

Two Soldiers Killed in Suspected Al-Qaeda Attack in Hadhramout Province

By Fatik Al-Rodaini
Sana'a, May 17, 2011- At least three people were killed, including two soldiers and another wounded in Yemen's southern province of Hadhramout.
Private sources said that suspected Al-Qaeda militants attacked a governmental patrol vehicle at a checkpoint belonging to the Central Security Unit in Mukala, killing two soldiers and a civilian and wounding another.
Two days ago, at least one soldier was killed and several others were injured in an attack believed to be conducted by suspected Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen's southern province of Abyan.
Sources said that the attacked took place in the city of Zenjibar at the entrance of a public market, killing one soldier and wounding others.
On the other hand, suspected Al-Qaeda militants abducted an officer in the city of Lawder. The officer who is employed at the intelligence apparatus was kidnapped by an armed group in the city.
Meanwhile, a senior in Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula promised to revenge for Osama bin Laden's death, who was killed in a raid by American forces in Pakistan two weeks ago.
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.