Friday, June 17, 2011

Defected soldiers attack military base in north Yemen, one soldier killed

SANAA, June 16 (Xinhua) -- Defected military soldiers, who supported the anti-government protesters' demand of ousting Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, launched an attack on a government military base in the northern province of Hajja on Thursday, killing a soldier and injuring a passerby, state-run Saba news agency reported.

"The dissident soldiers headed by Abdullah Siraj launched an incursion into a military checkpoint stationed alongside the wall of the military base and a school nearby and attempted to occupy the base, killing one soldier of the checkpoint and wounding a passerby near the school," a provincial military official was quoted by Saba as saying.

"The government forces confronted the attack as the leadership of the military base exercised the maximum restraint to prevent further bloodshed," he added.

The official warned defectors of the consequences of persistent attacks against the government forces and military bases, Saba said.

Triggered by five-month-long protests calling for ousting Saleh, the impoverished Arab country has witnessed a string of deadly clashes between pro and anti-government forces across the country that killed hundreds of people, as fears soared that such conflicts could turn into a civil war.

Yemen's VP meets youth leaders

June 17, 2011

SANAA, Yemen, June 17 (UPI) -- The Yemeni vice president has asked for two more weeks to handle the evolving situation in the country, youth leaders said.

Youth leaders said they expect to continue speaking with Yemeni Vice President Abd al-Rab Mansur Hadi. He's met four times in the past two weeks with leaders of the protest movement and asked for more time.

Unnamed youth leaders said the vice president asked for two more weeks to organize "important matters" in the country, the Yemen Post reports.

"Youth leaders are expected to continue meeting with Hadi in order to reach an agreement that will honor the Yemeni revolution," the report read, adding there were no formal comments from the vice president's office.

Youth groups have led the uprising against Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is recovering from wounds suffered during a June 2 attack on his presidential compound. Protesters want a new government and the president's immediate resignation.

Youth leader reports echo earlier comments from members of the opposition al-Haq party. Hasan Zaid, secretary-general of the opposition party, had said the vice president was reluctant to reach a hasty settlement because of the security situation in the country.

Saleh is recovering in a hospital in Saudi Arabia. Conflicting reports emerged Friday regarding his return to Yemen.

He has refused to sign a deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council that calls for his resignation in exchange for immunity.

Revolutionist House Raided

Sana'a, June 17, 2011- Tawakul Karman, a leading Yemeni revolutionist, said that her house was raided and looted last night by security forces.

Karman was not in the house at the time of the raid.

Most of the valuables were taken and many household items were destroyed.

Her organization, Journalists Without Chains, was also raided and every thing inside was damaged, including the studio.

Karman blamed President Saleh's son Ahmed, and nephew Ammar for standing behind the raids and demanded the international community to help her seek justice.

Last week, her brother Tareq went missing while coming back from Taiz province. She is holding the government responsible for the kidnapping and safety of her brother.

Source: Yemen Post

Saleh needs to keep promise, begin transition in Yemen -- White House

WASHINGTON, June 17 (KUNA) -- U.S. officials continue to believe that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh needs to keep his commitment to sign the agreement brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that would begin a government transition in Yemen immediately, White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Friday.
"We think that is in the best interests of the people of Yemen, and we continue to work with our partners in the region to help that happen," Carney said during a briefing.
Carney was commenting on reports that Saleh will return to Yemen from Saudi Arabia within days.
"The issue is not about his return. The issue is about the transition that needs to take place," Carney added.

Presidency says Saleh will return home soon

SANA’A, June 17 (Saba) - An official source in the Presidency of Yemen denied Friday media reports saying that President Ali Abdullah Saleh will not return home.
Speaking to Saba, the source described those reports as false allegations by the French News Agency.
"The fabricated story is baseless", the source said, adding that President Saleh will return home soon.
Upon reports by medical sources in Saudi Arabia, the source confirmed that Saleh’s health was good and improving well.

Allies say Yemeni president to return home in days


June 17, 2011

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen's president plans to return home within days after treatment in Saudi Arabia for serious injuries in an attack on his palace, officials said, as hundreds of thousands of his opponents rallied in the streets Friday to say he would not be welcome back.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh was badly burned in the June 3 blast at his palace, which wounded other members of his senior leadership and killed at least 11 guards. In his absence, Yemen's opposition parties have sought to persuade the ruling party to join them in a transitional leadership that would effectively shut out Saleh, who has resisted tremendous pressure at home and abroad to step down.

But loyalists have insisted the president will return and resume his duties, and Saleh's powerful son Ahmed, who commands some of the country's best trained military forces, has remained behind in Yemen to help maintain his father's hold.

Ruling party official Yasser al-Yamani said plans to welcome the embattled leader are under way.

"He will return home after medical reports said he is getting better," he told The Associated Press Friday.

A statement quoting a presidential official said Saleh would return "in days."

Officials in Saudi Arabia said Saleh was completing his treatment and has been able to carry out a few simple physical exercises. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said Saleh intends to return home.

Much is at stake in Yemen's political turmoil, which began with anti-government protests in February. The country is the poorest in the Arab world, suffers numerous internal conflicts and is a potential source of instability for neighboring Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich parts of the Arabian peninsula.

For the U.S. and Europe, the main concern is the al-Qaida offshoot that has found refuge in Yemen's mountainous hinterlands and has been behind several nearly successful strikes on U.S. targets.

The months of protesters were inspired by successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. Crowds took to the streets to demand that the autocratic leader step down after nearly 33 years in power. The largely peaceful movement gave way to heavy street fighting when tribal militias took up arms in late May.

On Friday, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in what has become a regular outpouring after the week's main Muslim prayer service. Crowds cried out for King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to keep their president out of Yemen.

"King Abdullah, keep Ali Abdullah (Saleh)," protesters chanted in the capital, Sanaa. They also sang: "The people have already brought down the regime."

They carried banners calling for a transitional council to manage the country until elections could be held.

Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has been Yemen's acting president since Saleh left for Saudi Arabia. But Saleh's family and inner circle, who head elite security forces, are believed to wield significant power.

The U.S., which had relied on Saleh's cooperation in battling the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, has been pressing him to step down as a way to end the crisis.

"We call for an immediate, peaceful and orderly transition in Yemen that allows the Yemeni people to realize their aspirations, and we encourage all sides to engage in dialogue and peacefully move Yemen forward," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters in Washington on Friday.

In the restive southern city of Taiz on Friday, Republican Guard forces loyal to Saleh clashed with gunmen protecting protesters in the city center overnight. It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties.

The city's entrances were heavily guarded, preventing anyone from entering or leaving, witnesses said.

During Yemen's unrest, Islamic militants have demonstrated a greater freedom to operate, seizing control of two towns in the south.

Residents in the province of Abyan said there was a series of airstrikes Friday at the northern and southern edges of the town of Jaar, which has been under militant control. At least six people were injured in the strikes, including one militant, a medical official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release information.

A preacher at a mosque in Jaar urged worshippers Friday to denounce the militants' presence and called for a rally to expel them.

In response, dozens of militants fired weapons into the air and tried to storm the mosque, setting off scuffles with worshippers, witnesses said, speaking on condition they not be identified because they feared for their safety.