Friday, July 22, 2011

Party of political crisis linked to President's murder attempt, official says

SANA'A, July 22 (Saba) - Investigations into the Presidential Palace's Mosque attack referred to the involvement of a party of the political crisis with the attack, Deputy Information Minister said Thursday.

Abdo al-Janadi told a press conference that the party was also linked to many armed confrontations occurring in the country, adding that some people, initial investigations indicated to their connections with the attack, have been arrested.

"Investigation is still underway and the findings will be declared right away" al-Janadi said.

The attack on the Presidential Palace's Mosque attack on June 3 resulted on wounding the President Ali Abdullah Saleh and many senior state officials, who are currently hospitalizing in Saudi Arabia.

Speaking on the visit of UN Secretary-General's Political Advisor Gamal bin Omar to Yemen, al-Janadi said that the government has welcomed his visit previously and still does.

He is authorized from the Security Council to run a dialogue between the crisis related-parties to reach an agreement that maintains Yemen's security and stability.

"We are looking forward to an effective role to be played by the UN official to encourage all parties to take part in the dialogue", he said.

Regarding the clashes between the armed and security forces and al-Qaeda members in Abyan province, he said that Shoqra city has been reinstated. The military forces will take over Zinjubar and Je'ar cities soon.

Some members of an opposition party have been found among the killed members of al-Qaeda, he said.

Concerning the murder attempt of the head of the Yemeni Islah Party, al-Janadi said that a jury headed has been formed to probe into the attack as soon as possible, asserting that the findings would be stated immediately.

AQAP pledges allegiance to Zawahiri

SANAA, Yemen, July 22 (UPI) -- Yemeni group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula announced that it swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden's successor Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Zawahiri assumed the leadership position of al-Qaida shortly after U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden at his compound in Pakistan in May.

In its latest publication Inspire, AQAP eulogizes bin Laden and vows to "continue to fight and lay down their lives" for al-Qaida under Zawahiri's leadership.

"We ask Allah to assist Sheik Ayman in this great task," the newsletter, AQAP's sixth, reads.

AQAP in the opening of its newsletter apologizes for delays in publication, blaming turmoil in Yemen for complications.

"The country is falling apart and our brothers are busy picking up the pieces," writes Inspire Editor Yahya Ibrahim.

Yemen is in the grips of political conflict. President Ali Abdullah Saleh, recovering in Saudi Arabia from wounds suffered during a June 3 attack, has refused to sign a deal to end his tenure.

"While the different parties (in Yemen) are bickering, the mujahedin are busy laying the foundations for the coming rule of Shariah (Islamic law)," writes Ibrahim.

Germany 'trying to convince Saleh to stand down'

(AFP) July 22, 2011

BERLIN — Germany is serving as an intermediary in a bid to convince Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to stand down amid a popular revolt against his three-decade rule, a newspaper report said Thursday.

Germany's daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported in a front-page article that Berlin had sent an envoy to appeal to Saleh to accept a proposal by the Gulf Cooperation Council and head off further bloodshed in the country.

Saleh has been hospitalised in Saudi Arabia since a bomb attack on June 3.

The report said a diplomat at the German foreign ministry, Michael Klor-Berchtold, delivered on behalf of Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle the message to Saleh "that the GCC initiative is currently the only way to prevent a possible escalation of tensions to armed conflict".

The stalled GCC initiative would see Saleh step aside 30 days after an agreement was signed in exchange for immunity from prosecution, and a presidential election to be held within 60 days.

A German foreign ministry spokesman confirmed that a "high-ranking diplomat" had conducted "political talks on behalf of" Westerwelle in Saudi Arabia and Yemen but declined to provide further details.

A German diplomatic source said Berlin was monitoring developments in Yemen with "great concern" as "political stasis presents significant risks for the country".

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Westerwelle strongly backed the GCC initiative as "the way to a peaceful and orderly transition" in Yemen.

The newspaper cited Yemeni sources as saying that Saleh was open to the initiative but that his family had dissuaded him from signing.

Klor-Berchtold was the second high-ranking diplomat to see Saleh in Riyadh after the chief counterterrorism advisor at the White House, John Brennan, visited earlier this month, the report said.

After meeting Saleh in Saudi Arabia, the German envoy travelled to Sanaa for talks with government officials and the opposition, according to the newspaper, which said the mission had been closely coordinated with Riyadh, Washington and key European allies.

Saleh has ruled Yemen since 1978 and worked closely with the United States on fighting Al-Qaeda, but cooperation has been sharply curtailed this year due to the turmoil.

Since January, protesters have been calling for Saleh to step down.

Yemeni security forces and government supporters have carried out bloody attacks on protesters, while opposition tribesmen have battled government forces in the capital Sanaa and elsewhere, and some military units have defected to the opposition.

Two Yemeni soldiers, 'Qaeda' member killed in south

(AFP) July 22, 2011

ADEN, Yemen— Two Yemeni soldiers have been killed and four others wounded in clashes with suspected Al-Qaeda militants near Zinjibar, the capital of the southern province of Abyan, a military source said Friday.

And tribal sources said armed tribesmen had killed one Al-Qaeda member and wounded another at the entrance of Mudiyah, about 80 kilometres (49 miles) east of Zinjibar.

A military source said "two soldiers were killed and four wounded in clashes centred on the entrance to Zinjibar Thursday night between the army and Al-Qaeda fighters," a toll confirmed by medical sources.

Other military sources told AFP sporadic clashes had occurred from Thursday into Friday as the army attempted to enter Zinjibar, much of which has been held by suspected Al-Qaeda-linked militants since May.

The tribal sources said the Al-Qaeda members were shot when they refused to stop at a checkpoint set up by tribesmen opposed to to the group.

Many members of Abyan tribes have had close ties to Al-Qaeda in the past, but have turned against the militant group after gunmen belonging to the "Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law)," a group suspected of links to Al-Qaeda, seized Zinjibar in May.

Fighting in the town between the militants and Yemeni security forces has displaced thousands of residents.

A military source and medics said on Thursday that Ayad al-Shabwani, a leader of Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and 10 soldiers had been killed during fighting in south Yemen this week.

And Deputy Information Minister Abdo al-Janadi said the United States had provided logistical support to the 25th Mechanised Brigade, which was besieged by militants in Zinjibar from late May.

Yemeni Women Find Voice in Revolution

Jessica Childs
July 22, 2011
When Yemen’s beleaguered President Ali Abdullah Saleh scolded women for violating Islamic law by joining men in demonstrations on the streets of Sana’a, more than 10,000 Yemeni women flooded those streets to denounce their president.
The women had joined the pro-democracy demonstrations in February 2011, the event that catapulted Yemen onto the world stage. The nation’s constitution gave women equal rights in 1994. But not until the national uprising and their April 16 march, could their veiled voices be heard. Their chants for the president’s removal echoed throughout Change Square.
Dr. Ahlam Mothanna, a medical doctor was one of 10 women who first joined the men in Change Square.
“Females in Yemen who participated in demonstrations were exposed to violence by military forces,” Dr. Mothanna said. In response, more and more women are demanding their rights be respected, she said.
Anita Kassem, a student from Aden and a friend, Madiha Ahmed, are two young women inspired by the revolution.
“We had to get out of our houses because our sons, our husbands, our brothers, and our fathers are dying in the square,” explained Anita.
She and her friend began working for charities as volunteers. They wanted to get more involved in the protests in Sana’a, but they had to calculate the political environment of the distant capital city, to get family permission to travel and overcome the fear of persecution.
Most women in Yemen are marginalized. Anita and Madiha said Yemen is unlike Iran and Afghanistan where the opinions of women are grounded in law, constitution, and religion. Instead, Yemen’s opinion of women is based on tradition and custom. By law, you can work, you can talk to men and you do not have to wear a burqa or a hijab. But while the law gives women these rights, husbands and parents usually forbid it.
Some women have begun to leave their homes to go to college and to become teachers, social workers, nurses, and doctors like Ahlam. That’s possible in the capital city, Sana’a, but it’s a new phenomenon for Anita and Madiha, who live in Aden.
Madiha says that before the revolution, women accepted the conservatism and traditions that bound them to the home. They accepted this subordination, she says, “because they were unsure of themselves. They lacked self-esteem, lacked self-respect, and lacked self-responsibility.”
Now, women in Sana’a and Taiz have joined the revolution, carrying food and water to protestors, teaching in the streets, or standing with the men, chanting, “The people want to overthrow the regime!”
Hamza al-Shargabi, a veteran of the protests, has watched women join his colleagues on the streets of Sana’a.
“Not so many people know that Yemeni women are very strong. They have been protesting in the streets with us since the first day," al-Shargabi said. "On the political level, the humanitarian level, and the logistical level, on the ground, women have stood beside men very, very naturally.”
It’s normal now to see a woman talking to men on the streets. They say they now have the support of their families and the respect of men. Proudly, Anita boasted that she and other women “… broke the chains of traditions and conservatism.” Women have proven that they are full citizens of the country who “stood hand in hand with men,” she says.
The pro-democracy revolution does not promise more rights to the women of Yemen, but the protesters believe women who joined the protests will be more than mothers and wives; they will be recognized as citizens of Yemen.
“The revolution demands equal treatment of one another,” said Hakim AlMasmari, editor of the Yemen Post. He thinks women have achieved greater equality -- and the men, as well.
“I do believe that Yemen will see more freedom after the revolution,” AlMasmari said.

Yemen tribes say they stop militant convoy in south

ADEN, Yemen | Fri Jul 22, 2011
ADEN, Yemen (Reuters) - Tribal forces working with the Yemeni army halted on Friday a convoy of militants heading to the southern town of Zinjibar where government troops are fighting to dislodge Islamists, a tribal source said.
One militant was killed and around 10 arrested, the source said, when the tribesmen intercepted the convoy at Moudiya in Abyan province on Yemen's southern coast.
Islamists control many areas in Abyan, prompting fears in the West and neighboring Saudi Arabia that al Qaeda's Yemen wing is exploiting a security vacuum during months of anti-government protests and while President Ali Abdullah Saleh is convalescing in Riyadh after an assassination attempt.
The source said tribes had secured the road from Shabwa province to Shaqra in Abyan, a main highway leading to Zinjibar.
A local official in Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan, said clashes continued there between the army and militants. The army had retaken control of a sports stadium outside the city, he said.
Violence has gripped Yemen since February when protests erupted calling for an end to Saleh's 33-year rule.
Security sources said this week that their forces had killed two al Qaeda leaders during an offensive in Abyan as it tries to regain areas seized by the Islamist militants.
But opposition groups and security analysts were skeptical, saying the government wanted to show it has the upper hand in Abyan, which has seen daily bloodshed since militants seized the city of Jaar in March and Zinjibar in May.
Saleh's opponents accuse him of letting his forces ease their grip around areas suspected of hosting militants, in order to convince foreign governments that only he stands in the way of a militant takeover.
Saleh's tenacity has frustrated protesters who thought his time was up when he flew to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment last month following the bomb attack on his palace, leaving impoverished Yemen in political limbo.
As the stalemate goes on, clashes have broken out between the Republican Guard, 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 this week. One protester was also shot dead in the city of Taiz, an opposition figure said.
A child died on Friday when a mortar fired by government forces landed on a house in Taiz, an opposition activist in the city said.
Western powers and Saudi Arabia 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.