Monday, July 25, 2011

Yemen Opposition Dismisses Government Road Map

SANAA/ADEN, July 25 (Reuters) - Yemen's opposition dismissed on Monday a government plan for talks aimed at easing unrest after months of mass protests demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh's overthrow, saying it had not even heard of any such "roadmap" for peace.

Vice President Abd-Rabbu Hadi Mansour, who is acting president while Saleh remains in a Saudi Arabian hospital after an assassination attempt, said on Sunday that a road map would be launched within a week.

Government spokesman Tareq al-Shami told Reuters the plan would centre on talks with the opposition. "The roadmap is based on all sides gathering at the dialogue table and discussing all the issues," he said.

But the opposition repeated its refusal to talk to the government until Saleh signs a transition plan brokered by Gulf Arab states which the 69-year-old president has backed out of signing three times.

"We knew nothing about the idea of a road map. There is no such thing, and we have decided not to enter any dialogue until the Gulf initiative is signed or power is transferred to the vice president," said Mohammed Basindwa, a leader in Yemen's political opposition coalition.

Saleh is trying to cling to power after 33 years in office despite a bomb attack in June that severely wounded him and forced him to seek treatment in Riyadh. He has frustrated opposition hopes that he would concede defeat, instead vowing to return to Yemen and lead a national dialogue.

The United States and Saudi Arabia, both targets of foiled attacks by al Qaeda's Yemen-based wing, have warily watched unrest rise as Yemen remains mired in political deadlock. They worry the turmoil gives more room to al Qaeda to operate.

But Yemen's wealthy Gulf Arab neighbours and Washington have so far been unwilling or unable to force Saleh into a transition plan. Some have welcomed the proposals for dialogue, but the political opposition and protesters in the street have vowed to resist, insisting on Saleh's overthrow amid growing chaos.


In the south, tribesmen on Monday said they routed militants from parts of the capital of the flashpoint Abyan province. Zinjibar lies east of a key shipping channel where some 3 million barrels of oil pass daily, and is one of several areas in Abyan seized by militants in recent months.

The tribes began backing a military operation to recapture Zinjibar in recent weeks, after accusing the army of being ineffective.

A tribal source said fierce clashes on Monday sent many militants fleeing north to Lawdar, where they were repelled again. Six militants were wounded and four others captured, he said.

Some 90,000 civilians have fled Abyan to escape violence as the army and tribesmen confront militants the government says have links to al Qaeda.

Meanwhile, an army brigade in Abyan, whose base has been attacked by militants since neighbouring Zinjibar was seized in May, sent a plea to the military for more provisions.

The besieged 25th brigade had called on Sanaa earlier this month to send reinforcements, who have since broken part of a militants' blockade around the base. An officer said despite the dwindling supplies, the troops had not given up their fight.

"Our food supplies are starting to run out. We need more provisions; we only have a small amount left," said an officer. "But we are steadfast against the militants."

Yemen says Saudi bomber targeted military convoy

(AFP) – July 25, 2011

SANAA — The suicide bomber who killed nine soldiers in Aden, Yemen's main southern city, was a Saudi member of Al-Qaeda, the official Saba news agency on Monday quoted an interior ministry official as saying.

"The suicide bomber who carried out the attack was Turki Saad Mohammed Qulays al-Shahrani," the official said, according to Saba, referring to Sunday's bombing in the port city.

Shahrani was "a Saudi national, explosives expert and a member of Al-Qaeda," Saba quoted the official as saying.

Soldiers said that the bomber detonated a pickup truck at the entrance of a military camp in Aden, and that the blast tore through military vehicles as they were leaving.

A military source on Sunday put the toll at nine soldiers dead and 21 wounded, while the defence ministry's news service in a text message said the blast killed four soldiers and wounded 21.

The soldiers said they had been heading for Abyan province, where security forces have for months been battling militants belonging to the "Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law), which is suspected of links to Al-Qaeda.

The militants took over Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan, in May. Fierce clashes there have displaced thousands of residents.

The Saudi and Yemeni Al-Qaeda branches announced in January 2009 that they had merged to form the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Dozens of hard-core Saudis fled a crackdown on Islamic militants in their own country in 2005-2006 and joined up with the Al-Qaeda cause in Yemen

Yemen's vice president suggests road map

SANAA, Yemen, July 25 (UPI) -- Yemen's vice president said the official government might lay out a plan this week that he claimed would solve "all" of the country's problems.

Insecurity and political conflict has troubled Yemen for much of the year. Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is recovering in Saudi Arabia from wounds suffered during an attack on his presidential compound June 3, leaving authority in the hands of the vice president.

Yemeni Vice President Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi said during weekend talks, which involved members of the ruling General People's Congress and lawmakers in Parliament, that a plan to end the political impasse was imminent.

"We may lay out a road map this week to solve all problems seriously and in order of priority," he was quoted by the official Saba news agency as saying.

He offered few details other than to say "all politicians" have a responsibility to "rescue Yemen from collapse."

Opposition leaders said they had their own road map that called for a national council to lead the country for one year.

Saleh for much of the year has endured calls for his resignation. He has refused to sign a deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council to end his tenure in exchange for immunity.

Mass rallies across Yemen demand regime change


The Associated Press

July 25, 2011

SANAA, Yemen — A powerful Yemeni tribal leader is warning against attacks on anti-government protesters as hundreds of thousands are rallying in the capital Sanaa and several other cities calling for regime change.

Yemen has been gripped by a six-month political crisis, with near daily street protests demanding longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down.

Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar, who joined the uprising against Saleh, warned the army Monday not to attack thousands of students camped out close to Sanaa University.

A youth group says the government is preparing to storm the camp.

A small group of Saleh's supporters, including women and children who live close to the students' camp, demonstrated in front of the presidential palace demanding the camp be emptied out.