Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Yemen opposition to form umbrella council

August 9, 2011 (AFP)

SANAA — The Yemeni opposition vying to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is recovering from bomb blast wounds in Riyadh, said Tuesday it will elect an umbrella "national council" aiming to take over power.

The parliamentary Common Forum opposition set August 17 for a meeting "to establish the (proposed) national assembly, which will form an umbrella for the revolution and choose members of a national council," it said.

The council aims to "lead the revolution forces to move ahead with change that will fulfill the aspirations of the Yemeni people," it added.

The opposition has been discussing the proposed council for months. It hopes to unite the parties of the Common forum, which include the influential Islamist Al-Islah (reform) party, along with young protesters who have led anti-regime protests since January.

It will also include representatives of civil society, members of the secessionist Southern Movement and the northern Shiite Huthi rebels, in addition to independent activists.

The council aims to support the protesters, coordinate between them and the parliamentary opposition, and to create a plan for overthrowing the regime, according to the opposition.

Members of the council will be chosen from more than 700 activists representing all pro-revolution political forces in Yemen, Common Forum alliance spokesman Mohammed Sabri told AFP.

Saleh was flown to Saudi Arabia for treatment after he was wounded in a bomb attack on his Sanaa compound early June.

Yemen's Saba official news agency said Sunday he had left the Saudi hospital, but was staying in Riyadh for recovery.

Saudi daily Asharq al-Awsat quoted unidentified US sources Monday as saying Saleh "has decided not to return to Yemen."

Saleh has made this decision "under pressures by the United States" and from "fear of being brought to justice like (former) Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak," whose trial began on August 3, six months after he was toppled by mass protests, the paper reported.

But Saba denied the report, insisting that Saleh will return to Yemen after "convalescence."

At least 200 people have been killed in the crackdown by Saleh's security forces and his loyalists on anti-regime protests.

UN raises concern at Yemen's worsening living conditions

Aug 9, 2011

New York - The UN Security Council expressed on Tuesday 'grave concern' at the worsening economic and humanitarian situation in Yemen following months of unsettled popular uprising.

The 15-nation council held closed-door discussions about Yemen, which included a briefing from UN officials with first-hand information on conditions.

India's UN Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, who is serving as the council president in August, read an official statement to reporters cautioning also about the worsening security situation resulting from 'the threat of al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula.'

'The members of the Security Council urged parties to ensure access for the provision of humanitarian assistance, expressed their concern about the interruption of basic supplies, and urged all parties not to target vital infrastructure,' Puri said.

The council called for all Yemeni parties to move forward urgently to an 'inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led process of political transition that meets the needs and aspirations of the Yemeni people for change.'

The political dialogue among Yemeni parties are being led by the Gulf Co-operation Countries (GCC), and a UN special envoy, Jamal Benomar, is representing the UN in seeking a solution to the unrest.

Gunmen kill soldier in Yemen's southern city Aden

Tue Aug 9, 2011

ADEN, Yemen (Reuters) - Yemeni gunmen attacked a security patrol in the southern city of Aden on Tuesday, killing one soldier and wounding another, a local official said, and unidentified assailants threw two hand grenades at a government building.

The attacks hinted at rising unrest in the strategic port city, which neighbours Abyan, a violence-prone southern province where Islamist militants, said by the government to have links with al Qaeda, are challenging army control.

More than six months of protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year rule have paralysed the Arab world's poorest state, plunging it into a crisis that has confounded international attempts at mediating a transfer of power.

While Saleh recovers in Saudi Arabia from a June bomb blast on his presidential compound, militants in Abyan have seized at least two cities, including the provincial capital Zinjibar.

Tens of thousands of Abyan residents have fled to Aden, which sits east of a strategic sea channel through which some 3 million barrels of oil pass daily.

Security forces had tried to buffer Aden from rising violence in the south by surrounding the city.

But last month, a blast in a booby-trapped car killed a long-time British resident of Aden, and four days later a suicide bomber drove his car into an army checkpoint just outside the city, killing nine Yemeni soldiers.

On Tuesday, assailants lobbed two hand grenades at Aden's provincial administration building, damaging an outer wall.

A loose coalition of troops and tribesmen launched an offensive in Abyan last month to try to dislodge Islamist militants but they have yet to regaining lost ground.

Opponents of Saleh, who previously earned U.S. backing by presenting himself as an ally in the West's counter-terrorism strategy, say he deliberately let militants take over parts of Yemen to show only he can keep al Qaeda's local wing in check.

Saudi Arabia and the United States have both been targeted by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and fear it is exploiting chaos in Yemen to expand its foothold in the impoverished state.

Washington and Riyadh have pressed Saleh to sign a Gulf-brokered deal that would ease him from power, but he backed out of it three times at the very last minute, leaving Yemen in a political deadlock that risks a descent into wider violence.

Yemeni president 'to return home'

State news agency says Ali Abdullah Saleh to return to Yemen from Saudi Arabia after recovery period.

09 Aug 2011

li Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's president, is to return to his country from Saudi Arabia after his doctors have determined the necessary recovery period for him, Yemen's official news agency reported.

The SABA news agency on Tuesday quoted an official within Yemen's presidential office who said Saleh will return "after a specified period of convalescence".

The official also denied a report published in Asharq al-Awsat, the London-based pan-Arab daily, that US officials had convinced Saleh not to return to Yemen.

Saleh was released from the military hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday, where he had been recovering for the last two months following an assassination attempt at the peak of the Yemeni uprising.

'Elements of terrorism'

Saleh appeared on television on July 7 for the first time since the June 3 bombing, covered in bandages.

He accused "elements of terrorism" of having targeted him in the bomb attack, without specifying the identity of the assailants.

Fighting broke out several months ago between forces loyal to Saleh and those of a powerful tribal faction, which backed the mass protests calling for him to leave his office after 33 years of rule.

Since Saleh's departure to Saudi Arabia, Yemeni vice president Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi has assumed power in Sanaa but without being designated as de facto head of state.

The opposition, meanwhile, has called for the creation of an interim council, to prevent the return of Saleh who has defiantly clung to power.

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

Political paralysis over Saleh's fate has brought the Arab world's poorest country to the brink of civil war and raised fears in neighbouring Saudi Arabia and the United States that chaos in Yemen could embolden the country's al-Qaeda branch.