Friday, September 2, 2011

Yemen opposition considers using military to out President Saleh

September 2, 2011

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- More than 2 million anti-government protesters gathered on Friday in Changes Squares across Yemen calling on revolutionary forces to take decisive action against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime and at any costs.

Protests took place in 16 of Yemen's 21 provinces.

Youth protesters in Sanaa chanted, "Escalation is a must for a quick ending of regime," and "Yemen will follow Libya's footsteps."

This comes as defected military general Ali Mohsen released a video statement on Tuesday threatening to use force to ensure that the Yemeni revolution succeeds. "We know that the revolution will need military interference, and we will work to make it happen," said Mohsen.

He also advised Saleh to not "follow the footsteps of Satan" and step down from power.

Saleh is currently in Saudi Arabia where he is being treated for burns sustained in an attack on his palace earlier this year. He has vowed to return to Yemen to finish his term as president.

Other opposition officials are also calling for military action against the Saleh government.

The Yemeni revolution will prevail only if the military is used said Hasan Zaid, the secretary general of the opposition Haq party. "No real revolution can prosper peacefully from history's experience," he said.

Fearing fresh clashes, heavily armed tribesmen loyal to the Ahmar family, chiefs of Yemen's most powerful Hashed tribe, started entering the capital and in large numbers. Eyewitnesses said that at least 200 entered Sana'a over the last 24 hours.

The tribesmen created checkpoint near the residence of tribal chief Sheikh Sadeq Ahmar's, and blocked all roads leading to the Hasaba district.

The Ahmar family waged a 12-day war with the government in June, which resulted in more than 200 deaths.

Military planes were seen flying over the residence of Ahmar family in Hasaba and Hadda areas of the capital.

On Thursday, the Interior Ministry announced that the Ahmar tribes killed a senior general in the army.

The ministry said that the attacks on innocent civilians are not acceptable and the Ahmar family will be held responsible.

Abdul Qawi al-Qaisi, the spokesman for Sheikh Sadeq Ahmar's office said that two of their tribesmen were killed when government forces attacked them.

"The government continues to attack our tribes and insist on escalating the situation in the capital Sanaa," said Qaisi.

Yemen's capital is seeing its strongest security presence since the Sanaa war in June.

Eyewitnesses said that more than 2,000 pro-government heavily armed tribesmen are stationed in the outskirts of Sanaa on a mission to cleanse Sanaa's Change Square from youth protesters.

"When we arrived to Sanaa today, they were in tents and said they were waiting for government orders to enter Sanaa," said Wissam al-Sabahi, a resident of Sanaa.

CIA or CKA – Central Killing Agency?

Volkhonsky Boris
Sep 2, 2011 Moscow Time
On September 6, General David Petraeus will be officially inaugurated as the new CIA chief. What legacy is he getting?
By coincidence or not, on Thursday, September 1, The Washington Post published a long article outlining in detail the new profile of the Central Intelligence Agency. By analyzing numerous examples from all parts of the world, and especially from the Middle East with a special focus on Yemen, the paper concludes that instead of collecting intelligence data, now the CIA is mostly engaged in finding and killing suspects without trial.
The agency has even designed a special unit – an agency within an agency – the Counterterrorism Center entrusted with the task to track and eliminate terrorists around the globe.
The change, writes the paper, “has been gradual enough that its magnitude can be difficult to grasp.” But the dry facts speak for themselves.
At the time of creation, the CTC had about 300 employees, but now its total staff is around 2,000 (about 10 percent of the total number of CIA employees) and exceeds the total manpower of Al Qaeda.
The tactics used by the CTC at the early stages of its existence seemed unthinkable and futuristic, but now have become just a matter of routine. This primarily concerns the notorious drone strikes that have killed more than 2,000 militants and civilians and irreversibly spoiled U.S. relationships with its have-been allies like Pakistan.
In fact, formerly the CIA’s main purpose was to collect data and work out advice for policy-makers, but now it has turned into what can be called a “lawlessness enforcement” agency and a kind of paramilitary force with man hunting as its primary occupation.
The transformation has already had its impact both internally and globally.
“Traditional” intelligence officers long for the times when the CIA’s job was purely analytical.
Human rights activists point at numerous violations of human rights and indiscriminate killings.
What makes too many in the U.S. and abroad worry is the fact that the CIA is acting in a manner of a “killing machine” without any transparent account to the supervising authorities. The worst nightmares of 20th century science fiction are coming true! And the CTC top officials seem to be proud of the fact. The Washington Post quotes the CTC chief as saying, “We are killing these sons of bitches faster than they can grow them now.”
What is most serious in terms of global geopolitics is the fact that the latest CIA activities have shattered the U.S. standing as a world leader. The Agency has spoiled relations with Pakistan. Despite all the casualties, it has not achieved any strategic aims in Afghanistan. On the contrary – prior to the U.S. troop withdrawal from that country things are getting worse and August became the deadliest month in the whole 10-year-long war. The CIA has alienated wide factions in Arab world, including Yemen which has been its primary focus, and where a revolution – not a democratic one, bur rather a radical Islamist one – now seems inevitable.
It looks like the shift was possible partly due to the fact that the former CIA chief Leon Panetta was an outsider to the system and not very experienced in intelligence matters. Therefore, the intelligence officers could feel their hands free to design a system that would be out of civilian control.
Now, there is going to be a new chief – a man with 37-year experience in the Army, but little or no experience whatsoever in intelligence. What could that mean for the gradually transforming paramilitary monster?
On the one hand, that could mean closer cooperation between the CIA and the Army. But that, in turn, could only lead to the strengthening and widening the scope of such operations as drone strikes, special forces raids on foreign territories (like the one executed by the Navy SEALS in Pakistan in May 2011), and whatever new techniques are invented in the coming years. But would that mean increasing civilian control? Can anyone answer?
And isn’t it the time to rename the CIA as the CKA – Central Killing Agency?

Thousands of Yemenis hold rival rallies

Sana'a, September 2, 2011- Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis staged rival rallies on Friday, with massive crowds demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down and as many people turning out in support of the ailing leader.

"The people want Ali Abdullah Saleh," pro-regime demonstrators gathered in Sabiine Square in Sanaa's southern district chanted, turning out in larger numbers than in previous weeks to mark what was dubbed "Yemen comes first" Friday, an AFP reporter said.

Vast crowds of anti-regime protesters also turned out further north in the capital in support of what the opposition dubbed the Friday of "escalating the revolt."

"Sanaa revolt revolt towards the presidential palace," they chanted. "The people want to settle" the revolt.

Similar pro- and anti-regime demonstrations took place in several cities across Yemen, including Taez, Ibb, Hudaydah, Aden, Saada, and Marib, witnesses said.

Saleh, who has been in Saudi Arabia since early June for treatment after he was wounded in a bomb attack on his Sanaa compound, on Tuesday accused his opponents of being corrupt and arms dealers.

He also accused them of exploiting youthful protesters demanding his ouster, in a televised address after he had vowed earlier in August to return "soon" to his impoverished country.

Despite his absence, Saleh has not transferred power to his Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, and his family members who lead strong army and security forces appear to be running Yemen

Gallegly: Ten Years Later, Terrorists Still Using Immigration Loopholes

September 2, 2011
The congressman suggests his Secure Visas Act would expand the Visa Security Program to provide more extensive screening in high-risk countries.
By Rep. Elton Gallegly
Terrorism and U.S. immigration policies are closely linked. We have made some progress since terrorists killed 3,000 innocent people in New York and Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, but clearly not enough.
All 19 of the 9/11 hijackers entered the country with valid visas. All had backgrounds that should have excluded them from getting visas. Yet 10 years later, the United States still does not conduct extensive screening in many countries with terrorist activities. The United States also still gives random visas through a lottery system rife with fraud.
Congress needs to change these policies. Terrorists have taken advantage of our lax immigration system several times since 9/11.
Currently, the United States only operates the Visa Security Program in 19 high-risk consular posts. The Secure Visas Act, of which I am an original cosponsor, would expand the Visa Security Program to provide more extensive screening in high-risk countries.
According to the Government Accountability Office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has not implemented its five-year expansion plan or even covered all high-risk posts. The Secure Visas Act would require Visa Security Units to be maintained at the 19 consular posts that already have them and expand these units to the posts that ICE has designated as “highest-risk.”
Some of these “highest-risk” countries include Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Morocco, Lebanon, and Algeria. VSUs are critical for national security: At VSU-staffed consular posts, 100 percent of applicants receive additional screening; at non-VSU posts, fewer than 2 percent of the applicants get extra screening.
The Secure Visas Act also would make it easier to revoke a visa.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 and kill over 200 innocent people on December 25, 2009, refocused attention on the responsibilities of the Departments of State and Homeland Security with respect to visa revocation.
Abdulmutallab was traveling on a valid visa issued to him in June 2008. The State Department acknowledged that his father came into the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, on November 19, 2009, and told State Department and CIA officials that his son had vanished and expressed concern that he had “fallen under the influence of religious extremists in Yemen.” According to news reports, the father’s visit with the U.S. authorities was arranged by Nigerian intelligence officials, who his father had contacted after receiving a call from his son that made him fear that his son might be planning a suicide mission in Yemen.
Despite the father’s visit and the warning he conveyed, the State Department made no effort to revoke the visa.
The case of Abdulmutallab demonstrates that clearly, we need a way to quickly revoke a visa.
I am also an original cosponsor of the SAFE for America Act, which would eliminate the visa lottery program, under which 50,000 individuals a year are chosen completely at random to receive immigrant visas.
The visa lottery, first implemented in Fiscal Year 1995, has long been a subject of concern for those of us who believe it important to have a credible immigration system. The program is riddled with fraud. The State Department’s Inspector General said so in 2003, 2004 and 2005. The Government Accountability Office said so in 2007. During a congressional hearing I chaired in April, we learned that it continues today.
Fraud is a concern because terrorists have already used the visa lottery as a means of entering this country. In fact, the Egyptian terrorist who murdered two Americans at LAX in 2002 was a diversity visa recipient after his wife was selected for the lottery.
In addition, a Pakistani national who received a diversity visa when his parents were selected for the lottery, pleaded guilty in 2002 to conspiring to wage jihad by plotting to destroy electrical power stations, the Israeli consulate, and other South Florida targets. He had reportedly told his friends that he wanted to wage war against the United States.
U.S. immigration policy should be based on something more than just luck of the draw.
We will never forget Sept. 11, 2001, or the people who perished in that wanton act of terrorism. We need to strengthen our immigration procedures so it makes it harder for terrorists to attack us again on American soil.

Libyan Embassy to Yemen Changes Flag

September 2, 2011,

The Libyan embassy in Sanaa took down the official Libyan state flag and hoisted the rebel flag Thursday, an official of the Interior Ministry told Xinhua.

"The staff of the Libyan embassy did not change and the Yemeni Foreign Ministry and Interior Ministry have been informed about the replacement of flags," the official said on condition of anonymity, refusing to provide further details.

The green banner of Muammar Gaddafi's regime was took down Thursday at the embassy and replaced by the crescent and star emblazoned red-black-green flag symbolizing the Libyan rebel National Transitional Council (NTC), witnesses said.

The Yemeni government has not publicly announced the recognition of the Libyan rebel NTC as the post-Gaddafi leadership.

Yemen has been in the grip of a political crisis since the eruption of protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33- year rule in late January.