Sunday, September 4, 2011

Yemeni opposition turns violent, ruling party accuses them of preparing for war

By: Nasser Arrabyee

Sep 4, 2011

The Yemen government troops closed all entrances and prevented people from entering to the capital Sana’a on Sunday after opposition threatened to use military actions to end the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

More troops were deployed in the streets of Sana’a as fighter jets were flying over the city since early morning. The republican guards, the main forces loyal to Saleh, which control all entrances of Sana’a, try to prevent armed opposition tribesmen who wish to enter the city to fight with the opposition protesters who seem to be turning to violent.

Earlier, the Yemen ruling party accused the opposition parties of preparing for a bloody military action after defected general threatened to use the Libyan style for ending the revolution.

“There are adventurous leaders seeking to commit a massacre either from among those left in the squares or of the citizens,” the ruling party website quoted an unnamed official as saying.

“Those adventurous leaders think that bloodshed will restore the vitality they lost by withdrawal of protesters from the squares,” added the statement.

Earlier the defected general Ali Muhsen threatened to use the Libyan style for bringing the peaceful revolution to an end.

In their weekly rally of Friday September 2nd, hundreds of thousands took to the streets in the capital Sana’a and other cities, to demand use of military action to end their 8-month long struggle to topple the defiant President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

One of the Islamist leaders said in the Friday’s rally the protests should move from squares to neighborhoods of the cities. His call was a similar another Islamist leader who said earlier in the year the protesters should march forward to the “bed rooms”. The two calls angered a lot of Yemenis causing an increase of Saleh’s supporters.

On the same Friday ,however, hundreds of thousands of Saleh’s supporters also took to the streets to refuse any military action and demand dialogue.

Thousands of protesters known as “Assomud Youth” who belong to the Al Houthi rebels withdrew from the Sana’a square ‘Change Square’.

The step was widely welcomed by the residents in 20 street close to the old university. The 20 Street became free from movement and traffic after Assomud left with their tents.

Assomud Youth, known also as Houthis, hate the defected general Ali Muhsen who led six sporadic wars against them in the northern province of Sa’ada over the years 2004-2010.

Soldiers of the defected general Ali Muhen replaced the Houthis in the 20 Street starting from September1, 2011.

Meanwhile, the top authority of ruling party is to hold a meeting this week to discuss the amendments of the US-backed and Saudi-led GCC deal for transferring the power from Saleh to his deputy.

The amendments include three main points: Saleh calls for elections to be held at the end of this year, transfers his powers to his deputy, formation of unity government chaired by opposition, and formation of a military committee to re-structure the army.

The US State Department updated a routing warning to American citizens not travel to Yemen because the threat is still high because of the “unrest and terrorist activities”.

Source: Yemen Observer

The New Terror In Saudi Arabia

September 4, 2011: Saudi Arabia is still at war with terrorism, but not the Islamic kind. The Saudis defeated al Qaeda three years ago, after a five year battle. Al Qaeda survivors fled to Yemen, and elsewhere. But the Saudi government kept arresting people. The Saudis claim they have arrested 5,700 terrorist suspects since 2003. But Saudi pro-reform groups claim that it may be more than twice that. This is because Saudi Arabia is ruled by Sharia (Islamic) law, which allows the police and courts to do pretty much whatever they want. They are accountable only to God, and the king.

Those arrested in the last three years are increasingly pro-democracy activists. Not criminals at all, except to royalists and Islamic conservatives (who believe democracy is un-Islamic.) And to the royal family and the clerics, these reformers are terrorists. But at least the royal family realizes that kingdoms are in decline, and that some accommodation will have to be made, eventually. But in the meantime, democracy activists are arrested, and held for months, or years, without being charged. Under Sharia law, the accused have none of the protections taken for granted in the West.

All this has been done very quietly. There have been no “Arab Spring” demonstrations in Saudi Arabia. Not for want of trying, but anyone who tries to organize such things gets turned in, arrested, and disappears. Most Saudis are quiet, having been silenced by the tried-and-true “stuff their mouths with gold” technique. The Saudi royals are not stupid, and they spread the oil wealth around to prove it. But many Saudis want more. They want what is forbidden, a say in how the country is run.

The royals also know how to fight, and see these pro-democracy activists as just another competitor to put down. The Saud family has been doing this for centuries. Al Qaeda and the Saudi government went head-to-head with each other from 2003 to 2008. The terrorists lost. After three years of terrorist violence, and police operations, which left over 200 dead, there was two years of relative quiet, with al Qaeda unable to carry out any attacks. But during those two years, the Saudi government kept coming after the Saudi Al Qaeda members, and broke the organization in the kingdom. The survivors fled.

The al Qaeda defeat was not a sure thing. The fighting between the government and al Qaeda was triggered by the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Before that, the Saudi government and al Qaeda had what amounted to a truce. Despite the events of September 11, 2001, Saudi Arabia did not tear the country apart to root out all al Qaeda supporters. The problem was that there were so many al Qaeda supporters in the country, and the majority of the population supported al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism. On September 11, 2001 there were spontaneous pro-terrorist demonstrations all over the country as the twin towers collapsed. American diplomats reported this to the American government. The American media played down the real mood of the Saudi population.

But the Saudi government, and a significant minority of the population, realized that Islamic terrorism was a dead end, and were desperately seeking a way to stem the growing popularity of the Islamic radicals. This has been a problem for centuries in Arabia, but with the September 11, 2001 attacks, the anger in the Western nations could get out of control, and bring down a catastrophe on Saudi Arabia and the Arab world. This fear even percolated down to most of the Saudi Islamic radicals, and there developed an informal truce, where the terrorists did not launch attacks in Saudi Arabia, while the government did not press their search for al Qaeda supporters, particularly if those pro-terrorism Saudis were discreet and not too open in their activities. But this meant that al Qaeda fund raisers still quietly circulated and took care of business. Pro-terrorist preachers continued to exhort Moslems to support the violence. Islamic terror groups could still recruit young Saudis for overseas adventures.

Then the U.S. went into Iraq. This was too much for the Islamic radicals in Saudi Arabia. The truce was tossed aside and al Qaeda began carrying out attacks. But the Islamic terrorists misjudged the resources of the government, and the depth of public support for Islamic violence. The al Qaeda attacks turned public opinion against the terrorists, and the police proved capable of using this shift to obtain tips and chase down the terrorist cells. The government went even further than that over the next three years. Needed personnel changes were made in the government, especially in the security forces, replacing "family favorites" with more competent officials. Because Saudi Arabia is a monarchy, members of the large royal family are favored for key jobs. That custom was suspended for a while.

The government had other resources that the terrorists underestimated. Since Islam is the state religion, the government closely supervises the vast clerical bureaucracy. The king and his key aides spend a lot of time maintaining close personal relationships with key clerics. When the king called on the clergy to preach against Islamic terrorism, most complied. And those who did not were coerced to comply, or retire. The clergy were also recognizing the shift in public opinion. Basically, a lot of Saudis were OK with Islamic terrorism as long as it happened somewhere else. But when the bombs began going off nearby, attitudes changed.

Still, it took three years for al Qaeda to be shut down in the kingdom, and then energetic counter-terror operations continued for two more years, with police arresting hundreds of al Qaeda fans each year. The Saudi counter-terror effort has also benefitted from the thousands of young Saudis who went off to Iraq to join the fight, and get killed, or come back disillusioned. Very few came back as "hardened terrorists." Despite all this, Islamic terrorism remains popular among many young Saudis. They have to operate covertly, otherwise they will get arrested and sent off to a rehabilitation facility (endless hours of lectures from anti-terrorism clerics and interminable discussions with counselors until there is convincing evidence of a change in attitude.) The rehabilitation often works, but it fails frequently enough to maintain the population of potential terrorists.

The police, and particularly the intelligence specialists, have changed their methods greatly in the last five years. The cops are quicker and more effective when they have to carry out raids. The intel people have developed elaborate informant networks, as well as Internet monitoring systems. Many Saudis fear that these new capabilities will make it even more difficult to introduce reforms in the kingdom. It's a lot harder now, to do anything the government does not approve up. Meanwhile, three years of no terror attacks has allowed pro-terrorism attitudes to return. Many Saudis still approve of Islamic radicals killing "infidels" (non-Moslems), and don't care if al Qaeda is doing it. What remains unpopular is Islamic radicals attacking fellow Moslems. Al Qaeda justifies this by asserting that any Moslem that does not agree with them is actually not a Moslem (and is thus an infidel). Many Moslems disagree with this logic, but not so much in Saudi Arabia. So while al Qaeda may be down in Saudi Arabia, it is not out. In the meantime, the pro-democracy “terrorists” are becoming the main target of government police.

Source: Strategy Page

Jordanian Students in Yemen and Syria to protest next Tuesday

AMMONNEWS- September 4, 2011- A group of Jordanian students in Yemen and Syria universities threatened to staged a sit- in in front of the Ministry of Higher Education and scientific Research building if the ministry does not solve their problem.
The Students expressed anger of what they called government’s ignoring their demands to except them in the Jordanian public universities.
Many Jordanian students in Syria told 'Ammon News' that they could not live in Syria, especially since the security situation had been very bad since the crackdown, and they were constantly exposed to danger.
They criticised the government for ignoring their demands relating to promptly placing them in local universities, they told Ammon News.
The students, returned to Jordan after protests broke out in Syria and Yemen. And they called on the government to accept all Jordanian students in Syria and Yemen at the beginning of the academic year in the same specializations that they had been studying in Yemen and Syria.
The Minister of Higher Education, Wajeh Owais, said that the students should return to their universities in Syria, and the students exception in the Jordanian university was not listed.

Troops deploy in Sanaa to prevent anti-Saleh protests

September 4, 2011- (AFP)

SANAA — Troops loyal to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh deployed in force in Sanaa on Sunday after opposition groups called new mass demonstrations demanding his ouster, an AFP correspondent reported.

The security forces closed off all access to the capital from Saturday afternoon while armed civilians loyal to the president also took to the streets, the correspondent said.

Sanaa has been without electricity since Saturday afternoon, while most fuel stations in the capital shut their taps suddenly, causing chaos at the few outlets which were still serving motorists.

The massive deployment by Saleh loyalists came in response to an opposition call for an intensification of protests against his rule amid a deadlock in the political process in the face of the president's long absence abroad.

Saleh has been receiving medical treatment in neighbouring Saudi Arabia for wounds sustained in a June 3 bombing in his palace.

"We have called for intensifying the challenge in order to move towards a peaceful solution," said Huria Machhur, spokeswoman of the opposition National Council, an umbrella group of anti-Saleh forces.

"The political process has reached an impasse because of Saleh's refusal to sign the Gulf plan," she said, adding that popular protests which began in January should continue "until the fall of the regime."

The Gulf plan proposes that Saleh transfer power to the vice president within 30 days in exchange for a promise of immunity from prosecution.

Saleh vowed last month to return "soon" to his impoverished country.

"We hope that forces loyal to Saleh do not use weapons to disperse the peaceful marches of young people," Machhur said, warning that army units which defected to the protest movement "are on alert to defend the protesters if they face acts of violence."

"We hope that there is no challenge... to avoid an armed confrontation with dangerous consequences," she said, urging the Gulf countries, the United States and the European Union "to increase pressure on the regime" to avoid a civil war.

Meanwhile, armed tribesmen clashed with Saleh loyalists in the elite Republican Guards at dawn on Sunday both in the south and in Taiz, Yemen's second-largest city, residents said.

Yemen's ruling party, the General People's Congress, accused the Common Forum parliamentary opposition bloc -- the main component of the National Council -- of a "plot" to "take power by force" by mobilising young protesters.

In a statement, it said it holds the opposition "responsible for the consequences" of an escalation of violence and called for the crisis to be resolved through a "serious and responsible dialogue."