Monday, August 29, 2011

Yemenis able to overcome current crucial stage, President Saleh

SANA’A, August 29 (Saba)- President Ali Abdullah Saleh said on Monday evening that the Yemeni people can find several constitutional solutions to overcome the current crucial stage of the country.

In an address to the Yemeni people and the Arab and Islamic peoples on the occasion of the Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, President Saleh said "As the important national role took by Vice President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi is successful, we can find many of the constitutional solutions to overcome this dangerous phase of the history of our people, which threatening our unity, freedom and democracy".

"The road is clearer to determine the priorities for the implementation of the next steps within the framework of respect for the Constitution and to comply with the maintenance of constitutional legitimacy", he added.

Saleh went on to say: "We Yemenis have correct and accurate knowledge to the best interests of the people and the country ..... and a clear view that has been declared and committed by us in previous initiatives, including the initiative of the Gulf Cooperation Council and a statement of the UN Security Council, to apply deferred legal and constitutional duties and prepare for free elections of a new president of the country".

President Saleh pointed out that he had authorized the General Committee of the General People's Congress to hold talks with the leadership of the Joint Meeting Parties, the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council member states and the US and EU ambassadors to Yemen for agreeing on an operational mechanism to apply the GCC initiative and sign it without procrastination or delay.

Qaeda chief tells Saudi prince to expel non-Muslims

Sana'a, August 29, 2011, A senior Saudi member of Al-Qaeda warned the interior minister that he should expel non-Muslims from the kingdom.

A senior Saudi member of Al-Qaeda warned the interior minister that he should expel non-Muslims from the kingdom, among other demands to stop considering him a target, in an online audio message.

Ibrahim al-Rubeish, a former Guantanamo detainee, addressed Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz with seven measures which he considered essential for "reform" in the ultra-conservative Gulf state and for the prince's own safety, SITE Intelligence reported on Monday.

The measures included expelling non-Muslims from the Arabian Peninsula, repealing all man-made laws and instituting (Islamic) sharia-based governance, the US-based monitoring service said.

They also included releasing prisoners, allowing preachers to speak with impunity and removing themselves as obstacles to those who wish to support Muslims in Iraq and the Palestinian territories, it added.

"This is the path if you wish to survive. If you do this, I will guarantee that the mujahedeen will not prepare another trap for you and that you will sleep safely in your bed and you will go as you please without fearing anyone," Rubeish said.

He was alluding to an incident earlier this month when a gunman fired at Prince Nayef's palace near the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah.

Saudi Arabia witnessed a wave of deadly attacks by Al-Qaeda between 2003 and 2006, which prompted Prince Nayef to launch a security force crackdown on the local branch of the jihadist network founded by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden.

Al-Qaeda remains very active in neighbouring Yemen, where the Saudi and Yemeni franchises of Al-Qaeda joined forces under the banner of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

A suicide bomber from the group blew himself up in August 2009 in an abortive attempt on the life of Prince Nayef's son, Prince Mohammed, who leads the campaign against Islamist militants in the kingdom.

In comments published by Saudi daily Al-Eqtissadiya on Monday, Prince Nayef said that terrorism would remain a threat to the kingdom.

"We will continue to be a target for terrorists, who will continue attempting to attack us, supported by other parties," the newspaper quoted him as saying.

How Yemen's revolution was thwarted

The Arab spring brought millions of Yemenis out on to the streets but Saleh's dynastic ambitions are intact. What went wrong?

James Spencer, Monday 29 August 2011

While the world focuses on events in Libya, less telegenic actions unfold in Yemen. There, rather than the plucky rebels vanquishing the dictator and his cronies, the ruling clique has succeeded in clinging to power.

Although Yemen had some activists before the Arab spring, most domestic politics was loyal rather than oppositional. This political stagnation continued until events in Tunisia and Egypt electrified the debate and brought the people in their millions on to Yemen's streets.

The regime responded in its customary fashion: offering interminable talks and promising concessions, but threatening and delivering violence. The slaughter of peaceful protesters in Sanaa caused a schism both within the ruling General People's Congress (GPC), and President Saleh's Sanhani clan. Senior politicians resigned and formed the centrist Justice and Development bloc. Key Sanhani military commanders, including the formidable Ali Muhsin Saleh, sided with the people, as did the leading family of al-Hashid (the most effective tribal confederation), potential rivals to Saleh's sons for the presidency.

The Gulf Co-operation Council, supported by the west, stepped up efforts to negotiate a solution, involving a phased transitional process and an amnesty for the president and his close circle. But Saleh refused to sign the plan.

A short and vicious conflict erupted between Hashidi tribesmen and Republican Guards commanded by Ahmed, the president's eldest son and heir apparent. Although a truce was called after a week's fighting, the Republican Guards' western training and weapons out-matched the Hashid tribesmen, much to the latter's surprise.

The political pressure on the president continued to mount, until an incendiary device exploded in the presidential mosque, killing seven people and grievously wounding Saleh and senior officials. Most were evacuated to Saudi Arabia for treatment, and the tension dissipated as all anticipated a post-Saleh era.

The presidential family had other ideas. While the vice-president Abdo Rabu Mansur Hadi took over titular authority and continued to delay and dissemble, Ahmed Saleh and his cousins occupied the presidential palaces and dared all-comers.

The Joint Meeting Parties (JMP, the formal opposition), plus dissident former insiders and representatives of the people, all tried to negotiate various separate transitional plans, but to no avail. The JMP lacked popular credibility, the dissidents lacked adequate combat power, and the people lacked political coherence. However the regime's trump card was that only the president had the authority to sign a deal – and he was conveniently quarantined in his Saudi hospital bed.

By the end of June, Saleh's family were confident that they had consolidated their control: Hadi had not attempted to exert his constitutional position, the tribes were still licking their wounds, and the security forces were purged of any suspect loyalties or ambitions.

From his sickbed in Saudi Arabia, the president agreed to reopen negotiations over the GCC plan – with the aim of drawing out the transitional period – albeit only with the ineffectual opposition parties, not the people. While the regime engaged in its customary political intimidation, the charred president appeared on state TV, promising Yemenis that he would return.

The people, without a focus for their ire, bickered among themselves. Then, a day after the international contact group recognised the national transitional council on Libya, a pragmatic grouping from the Yemeni people unilaterally declared a 17-member transitional presidential council of their own, consisting of established politicians from across the political spectrum. Three days later, the staid JMP also said it was forming another anti-Saleh coalition – the national council.

The ruling GPC, which some had suggested might fracture under a forced transition, went on the offensive: the acting foreign minister, al-Qirbi, announced that the president would "transfer power anytime … through the ballot box and by adhering to the constitution". Not long afterwards, the GPC's programme was leaked: Hadi would become "head of Yemen", followed by two years "during which amendments to the constitution would be approved and the regime changed until new parliamentary elections are held".

The transitional period – stretching out to 2013 – is the time required for Ahmed Saleh to reach the age of 40: the constitutional minimum age to hold the presidency. The GPC insiders have clearly picked their jockey and intend to back him, come hell or high water.

Membership of the JMP's national council was announced on 17 August. It was an agglomeration of political blocs and elites: beside the entire transitional presidential council and the Justice and Development bloc, there were three senior Hashidi brothers, two major sheikhs from the Bakil tribal grouping, two senior members of the Awlaki tribe, Generals Ali Muhsin Salih and Ali Uliwa, and a plethora of other established political actors (although not the Zaydi revivalist Huthis). This body is as ineffectual as the JMP itself, because it lacks popular legitimacy and a common cause beyond ejecting the president – and almost as soon as it was formed an exodus started.

On 24 August, the injured prime minister, Ali Mujawar, returned from Saudi Arabia. The president proposes to follow him soon, to continue with the intended transfer of power to the next generation. While Saleh promised not to hand power to his eldest son, none of the next generation have promised not to stand for office. Few Yemenis expect the ruling family to return meekly into obscurity.

The wound that almost took Ali Abdullah Saleh's life probably saved his presidency. It bought him time by removing him from the pressures of the political arena, insulating his "constitutional legitimacy" from democratic challenge. In particular, it has protected his dynastic ambitions, set in motion over a decade ago, for his son to inherit the presidency of Yemen.

Whether he will succeed or whether traditional Yemeni meritocracy will triumph, depends on the steadfastness of the Yemeni people, and on the political elite discovering self-interested altruism.

26 militants, 10 soldiers killed in Yemen fighting


August 29, 20100

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A new round of fierce fighting in southern Yemen killed 10 soldiers and 26 militants, military officials said Monday, the latest battle in a government campaign to retake territory from al-Qaida-linked fighters.

Another 38 militants and about 30 soldiers were wounded in the clashes that took place near the city of Dufas in the southern province of Abyan, they said.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with military regulations, said the fighting took place over the past 24 hours. Among the military dead was a colonel.

The U.S. and other Western powers have looked on with concern as al-Qaida gains a strong foothold in southern Yemen. The U.S. considers the Yemen spur of al-Qaida as one of the most active in worldwide terror. The "Christmas bomber" who tried to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear on a plane as it landed in Detroit in December 2009 was said to have been trained in Yemen.

Yemen has been wracked by internal conflict for months over popular protests demanding the resignation of longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The al-Qaida militants have taken advantage of that to take control of several towns and districts in the southern part of the country.

Saleh is still in Saudi Arabia, recovering from severe wounds suffered in a June attack on his palace but refusing to resign despite heavy international pressure, leaving the nation in political limbo. Even so, the Yemeni military has stepped up its attacks against the Islamist militants in recent weeks, killing dozens.

The largest battle over the past day erupted when militants intercepted government troops advancing on Dufas, with dozens of casualties on both sides.

Dufas is just west of Abyan's provincial capital of Zinjibar, where militants have driven out tens of thousands of residents. They have taken refuge in nearby cities.

Officials said warplanes attacked militant bases late Monday afternoon in areas around Zinjibar.

Also, military officials said army units were advancing toward militant positions in al-Mutalaa, eight miles (13 kilometers) from Zinjibar.

Mohammed Nasser, a resident of al-Code, a town near Zinjibar, said the military was bombing the area heavily, setting fire to militants' vehicles and equipment.

AQAP chief Nasir al Wuhayshi reported killed in southern Yemen

By Bill RoggioAugust 28, 2011

emeni military officials claimed that Nasir al Wuhayshi, the head of al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, was killed during recent fighting in the south. The report has not been confirmed.

Military officials in the 201st Brigade and medical personnel claimed that Wuhayshi's body was brought to the Basuhaib Military Hospital in Aden on Sunday. The body brought to the hospital "matches the features" of Wuhayshi, according to a report in Aden Online. No photograph has been released of the corpse that is thought to be Wuhayshi, however.

The 201st Brigade has been fighting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula outside Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan. Zinjibar and the southern Yemeni cities of Sharqa and Azzan, as well as vast regions in the south, are under the control of AQAP.

Wuhayshi is said to have been killed along with several other AQAP commanders and fighters in the Dawfas (or Dofes) area between the cities of Aden and Zinjibar. Fighting in Dawfas was reported today; four Yemeni soldiers and three "gunmen" were killed during the clash, according to AFP. The gunmen "were brought in by the army" to a military hospital in Aden.

Today's clash in Dawfas is the second in two days between Yemeni forces and AQAP. On Aug. 27, AQAP fighters killed seven Yemeni soldiers during an ambush in the area.

Wuhayshi has previously been reported dead by Yemeni military officials, only to resurface on AQAP propaganda tapes. In December 2009, the Yemeni military claimed that Wuhayshi, his deputy Said al Shihri, and Anwar al Awlaki, the American cleric who directs attacks against the US, were killed as they gathered for a high-level meeting at Awlaki's home. All three AQAP leaders re-emerged to deny reports of their death.

Before becoming the head of al Qaeda's affiliate in the Arabian Peninsula, Wuhayshi served as Osama bin Laden's aide-de-camp. He was one of 23 al Qaeda operatives to escape from a Yemeni jail in 2006. He is considered to be a top contender to take command of the global terror network if al Qaeda's central leadership based in Pakistan is decapitated, a senior US military intelligence official who closely tracks al Qaeda's network told The Long War Journal.

Wuhayshi was recently heard from, when he released an audiotape on July 26 swearing allegiance to Ayman al Zawahiri, the new leader of al Qaeda. Wuhayshi pledged that he and the AQAP fighters under his command would follow Zawahiri's orders and fight "the enemies without leniency or surrender until Islam rules."

Under Wuhayshi's orders, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has created Ansar al Sharia, the political front for its operations in Yemen. Ansar al Sharia is analogous to al Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq. On Aug. 20, Ansar al Sharia released a videotape of a suicide attack in Aden that killed five Yemeni soldiers.