Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fighting between President Saleh's supporters and residents in Sana'a

By Fatik Al-Rodaini

Sana'a, July 21, 2011- At least two people were killed, including a woman, and tens others were wounded in fierce fighting between pro-Saleh protesters and residents in Al-Taherir district, where thousands of Saleh supporters have been camped out since the beginning of January.

Private source said that the main reason for the fighting is referred to the troubles that residents faced by the pro-Saleh protesters.

In return, some residents of the Al-Taherir district cut the streets which lead to the place of sit-in demanding Yemeni authorities to hand over the killers who killed their residents. No more details were reported.

Three killed in clashes in two regions of Yemen

By Mohammad Ghobari

Thu Jul 21, 2011

SANAA (Reuters) - Three people were killed in clashes in two regions of Yemen between forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his opponents, who are growing increasingly frustrated they have failed to oust him.

In Taiz, opposition sources said Saleh loyalists opened fire on protesters, killing one, when they tried to leave a city square where they have camped out for nearly six months calling for an end to Saleh's three-decade rule.

Saleh's tenacity has frustrated protesters who thought his time was up when he flew to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment last month following an assassination attempt, leaving impoverished Yemen in political limbo.

As the stalemate goes on, clashes have broken out between the Republican Guard, which is commanded by Saleh's son, and armed pro-opposition tribesmen who say they are defending the protesters.

Fighting between the Republican Guard and armed men on Thursday killed two people in Arhab, which has been the scene of shelling and gun battles during the past three days.

It was not known whether those killed had taken part in the fighting or if they had been hit in the crossfire.

Western powers and neighboring oil giant Saudi Arabia, both targets of Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, have tried to contain rising chaos by pressing Saleh to sign a Gulf-brokered plan to hand over power.

But he has backed out of the deal three times at the very last minute and has vowed to return to Yemen.

Yemen's economy

Up the spout

How turmoil is ruining an already rocky economy

Jul 21st 2011 | SANA’A

“IT’S shit, the situation in Yemen,” says a skinny man in a bakery in the old quarter of Sana’a, the capital. “Shit,” he says forcefully, as he walks out with a plastic bag of bread rolls, the price of which has soared by 50% in the past two months. Outside lorries trundle by, selling water at three times the usual price to the many households where the public water supply has failed. The occasional taxi sputters past, coasting downhill to save petrol and charging at least twice the usual rate due to fuel shortages. More firewood is being sold because cooking gas is now scarce.

Neglected for decades by the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s economy was deteriorating before the unrest began five months ago. But as the protests inspired by the Arab spring have widened in scope and become more violent, they have helped to send the economy into freefall. The currency is collapsing. Famine is looming in the country’s rugged interior.

Attacks by angry tribes on oil pipelines have made it more expensive to produce and transport food and water. The government now has to import fuel, doubling its monthly import bill to around $500m. The tax take, never large, has vanished. Central bankers are under pressure to raid reserves, said to be around $4.5 billion. Factories are shut because they lack fuel. Countless casual jobs have been lost.

While the economies of nearly all Arab countries have been hurt by protests, Yemen’s decline has been more dramatic because it was so poor to begin with. Mr Saleh, wounded last month in a bomb attack on his presidential compound and now in hospital in Saudi Arabia, has presided over an economy as centralised as it is corrupt.

Since the early 1990s two shocks have reshaped it. First, Yemen’s refusal to endorse military action against Iraq when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990 so annoyed the Saudi and Kuwaiti governments that they expelled a million Yemeni migrant workers, costing the country huge sums in remittances. Second, at around the same time, oil was discovered in Yemen, so that a population that had been economically autonomous began to depend heavily on a suddenly richer state. Mr Saleh had previously asserted his power via handouts to tribal sheikhs and political allies. With more money available, a culture of corruption took root.

“Saleh institutionalised bribery from the coast to the mountains, encouraging it rather than punishing it,” says a businessman in Sana’a. The Yemeni elite’s route to prestige, he explains, was to have a job in government and exploit it to make money, a problem that went right to the top. Even as the government subsidises petrol at a cost of around $2 billion a year, at least 10% of it (and perhaps more) is smuggled on to the international market. One of Mr Saleh’s former advisers allegedly used army vehicles to take the stuff to Saudi Arabia.

Corruption, the absence of properly enforced commercial law, poor security and a badly educated population have impeded business for Yemenis, scaring off most foreign investors. Mr Saleh was so preoccupied with securing his political base that he ignored economic development, appointing incompetent stooges rather than qualified technocrats to run projects such as a vaunted free-trade zone in the port of Aden, which has never taken off.

In any event the oil revenues that bolstered the government in the 1990s are disappearing fast, and reserves too. Mr Saleh’s patronage network has been torn apart as his power to pay off an increasingly resentful population has dwindled. Yemen has long looked to its big, rich neighbour, Saudi Arabia, to bail it out; 3m barrels of Saudi oil have arrived in Aden, which should ease things for a while. But Saudi resources and patience are limited. Aid workers fear that Yemen is too chaotic and geopolitically insignificant for large-scale aid and loans to come its way.

For years, it has been clear that Mr Saleh’s removal was a prerequisite for economic reform. Now that he is gone (although he may yet try to come back) Yemen is so utterly ruined that the upheaval following his departure is as likely to kill the economy as to cure it.

U.S. washes hands of Yemen's Saleh

WASHINGTON, July 21 (UPI) -- The only thing standing in the way of a peaceful political transition in Yemen is the country's president, an official at the U.S. State Department testified.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has clung to power despite mounting calls for his resignation. The Gulf Cooperation Council offered a proposal for his resignation in exchange for immunity, though he's refused to sign the deal.

Janet Sanderson, deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, testified before lawmakers in Washington that the GCC initiative was the best option for peaceful transition in Yemen.

"The GCC initiative (was) signed by both the ruling General People's Congress Party and the opposition coalition Joint Meeting Parties," she said. "Only President Saleh is blocking the agreement moving forward and we continue to call on him to sign the initiative."

Saleh is recovering in Saudi Arabia from wounds suffered during a June 3 attack on his presidential compound.

Sanderson said U.S. policy in Yemen was centered on a stable and effectively governed Yemen.

"We will be able to more effectively engage in Yemen once the Yemeni government initiates the political transition and identifies its way forward," she said.