Monday, October 10, 2011

Yemeni protesters urge UN to resolve crisis

By Hammoud Mounassar (AFP)

SANAA, Oct 10, 2011 — Tens of thousands of protesters marched in the Yemeni capital on Monday, calling on the United Nations to resolve the country's political crisis and force President Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign.

The demonstration came a day after the parliamentary opposition Common Forum said it would support a stronger UN role to bring an end to months of violence and political deadlock that have plagued the country.

"Oh world, why are you silent while the people of Yemen are getting killed?" the protesters chanted as they marched out of Change Square in central Sanaa, the base camp for the democracy movement.

"We are sending a message to the UN Security Council asking them to put pressure on Saleh and the remnants of his regime to leave power," a protest leader, Mohammad al-Assal, told AFP.

Those at the rally steered far from Saleh loyalists to avoid clashes, marching only in areas controlled by dissident troops who defected in support of the protest movement that has gripped Yemen since January.

On Sunday, Common Forum spokesman Mohammed Qahtan said his group supported stronger UN action in Yemen after regional efforts, specifically a Gulf initiative, have failed to force Saleh's resignation.

The UN, and in particular the Security Council, would be "more effective" in ending the crisis and serve as a "continuation of the regional efforts" already underway, he told AFP in a telephone interview.

The focus on UN action precedes Tuesday's planned report to the Security Council by Yemen envoy Jamal Benomar, who failed to secure an agreement on the Gulf Cooperation Council deal which aimed to end the crisis that has put the country on the brink of a wider conflict and crippled its economy.

Meanwhile, dozens of Yemeni journalists held a sit-in in Sanaa to demand the release of a colleague held by troops loyal to dissident General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, an AFP correspondent said.

Mohammed Sudam, a Reuters reporter who also works as an interpreter for President Saleh, was detained Friday night at a checkpoint manned by Ahmar's troops on the way home from the airport after a trip to Cairo.

The journalists, who held the sit-in at Sanaa's Change Square, called on Yemen's new Nobel peace laureate, activist Tawakkul Karman, to intervene on Sudam's behalf.

Mohsen, who defected in March to support the protest movement, said he was unaware that Sudam was a reporter and promised to release him later Monday.

"I didn't even know he was a journalist... he was detained based on the fact that he was the personal interpreter for President Saleh," Mohsen told a small group of reporters Monday.

He added Sudam was taken in response to the detention by Saleh security forces of relatives of an officer in Ahmar's First Armoured Division.

Kidnappings of army officers and government officials have become increasingly common since Ahmar's defection and the outbreak of clashes between his troops and Saleh loyalists in Sanaa.

Meanwhile, in Yemen's second city Taez, 40 women were hurt on Sunday night when regime supporters attacked an all-female street celebration of Karman's Nobel prize win last week, medical officials said.

Participants said they were attacked with glass bottles and stones.

Three others were injured in Taez in dawn clashes on Monday between the elite Republican Guard and tribal forces opposed to the embattled leader, medics said.

Residents said Guard troops, commanded by Saleh's eldest son Ahmed, tried to storm the Rawdah district in central Taez, which is heavily defended by anti-Saleh tribal fighters.

Taez, some 270 kilometres (170 miles) southwest of the capital Sanaa, has been a focal point of tension since protests against Saleh erupted in January.

Saleh, in power for 33 years, has so far rejected local, regional and international calls to step down and hand power over to his vice president.

40 Yemen women wounded celebrating Nobel win

Agence France-Presse

Sanaa , October 10, 2011

Forty women were wounded in Yemen's second largest city when regime supporters attacked an all-female street celebration of the Nobel Peace prize win of Tawakkul Karman, medical officials said Monday. The women were attacked on Sunday evening in the city of Taez as they marched in support

of Karman, the first Arab woman to win the prestigious award.

"We were attacked by regime thugs with empty bottles and stones," an organiser told AFP on Monday on condition of anonymity.

Medical officials confirmed the injuries.

The Nobel Prize Committee awarded Karman the 2011 Peace Prize recognising her role in the months of peaceful protests in Yemen that have called for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down after 33 years in power in Sanaa.

The prize was shared with two Liberian women, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and activist Leymah Gbowee.

In a separate incident early on Monday, three people were wounded in clashes between loyalist security forces and armed tribesmen opposed to Saleh in the central Rawdah neighbourhood of Taez, medical officials said.

Taez, some 270 kilometres (170 miles) southwest of the capital Sanaa, has been a focal point of tension since protests against Saleh erupted in January.

Al Qaeda group in Yemen confirms death of U.S. militant Awlaki

October 10, 2011

Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen has confirmed the death of U.S.-born Muslim cleric Anwar Awlaki in a U.S. drone strike last month, according to a statement posted Monday on militant Internet forums.

"We confirm to the jihadi ummah [nation] that is uprising against oppression the martyrdom of the ... heroic sheik Abu Abdul Rahman Anwar bin Nasser al-Awlaki,” Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said, according to a translation provided by the SITE Intelligence Group.

The militant group warned, however, that Awlaki had trained followers to continue his campaign against the West.

“The sheik -- may Allah have mercy on him -- has students who he taught and disciples who benefited from him all over the Earth, who will follow his steps and his path,” the militant group was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico and spoke fluent English, was a charismatic recruiter for extremist ideologies who reached disaffected Muslims in the United States and elsewhere via the Internet.

He was implicated in attempts to blow up U.S. airliners, including the failed Christmas Day bombing of a Detroit-bound flight in 2009. That same year, Awlaki was blamed for inspiring U.S. Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan to allegedly kill 13 people at Ft. Hood, Texas.

U.S. officials said Awlaki was killed Sept. 30 when his vehicle was hit in northern Yemen by a Hellfire missile fired by a Predator drone aircraft. The strike also killed three other militants, including Samir Khan, who grew up in New York and ran a pro-Al Qaeda website in Charlotte, N.C., before he moved to Yemen several years ago.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula identified the two other militants as Abu Muhsin al-Marbi and Salim al-Marwani, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant networks on the Internet.