Sunday, November 6, 2011

President Saleh urges dialogue with opposition to end current crisis

[06/November/2011] Saba

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,

Brothers and sisters, the citizens everywhere,

God's peace, mercy, and blessings be upon you,

As we celebrate the advent of the blessed the Eid al-Adha, I am delighted to extend my heartfelt blessings and sincerest congratulations on this great religious occasion which is dear to all Muslim men and women. I congratulate all pilgrims of the sacred House of God on the success and support granted to them by God to perform pilgrimage, one of the main pillars of Islam. Blessings be upon you for the efforts exerted and the hardships suffered for the purpose of attaining Almighty God's blessings and forgiveness.

I wish all pilgrims a successful and accepted pilgrimage, and a safe return home. I also ask God, on this great religious occasion, to bless the Arab and Islamic nation and grant it prosperity. May God bless our people and our nation with the end to all crises and place them on the path of progress, development, and prosperity.

This important duty, which is the fifth pillar of true Islam, transfers the Muslims from their narrow surroundings to open spaces within the Islamic nation to achieve a deep and tangible understanding of the unity of the Islamic nation and the greatness of its multiple components that are part of one closely knit inextricable religious family. The unity of the believers and the Islamic nation under one religious umbrella, including all communities scattered across the continents of our small planet, is all due to Almighty God.

A righteous religious life is not about prim and priestly rituals or acts of exaggeration; rather, it is about moderation, tolerance, propriety, and honorable ethics. This is what the great Prophet, prayers and peace be upon him, meant when he said: "Religion is man's treatment of other fellow-beings," and "I was sent to perfect righteous manners."

Religious life is when we embark upon God's path and embrace the natural disposition to relation we have with Almighty God, and when we have brotherly treatment of others without lying to them or controlling them. This religious life is also characterized by treating others as ordered by Almighty God in His holy book and the Sunnah of Prophet Mohammad, peace and prayers be upon him.

True Islam is about clarity, simplicity, and rationality in religion, faith, principles, ethics, and behaviour, and this is why it greatly spread across the continents of the world until the time came and populism, racism, and hatred spread among the Muslim people due to the political conflicts, sectarian strife, arrogance, and deeming others disbelievers and marginalizing them, which contradict with the essence of religion propagated by the honest Prophet who was sent by God to spread the divine message.

This stage necessitates going back to Islam and the pure sources of Islam, and holding on to the sincere and righteous faith that provides immunity to the people, and protects the societies and is considered the force that builds a united moderate nation.

This religious occasion comes while our country is living in exceptional circumstances that are extremely difficult and dangerous at the security, economic, social levels as well as living standards in general. These circumstances were brought about due to the stifling crisis that was caused by the forces that are illegally seeking power and carrying out ongoing aggressive measures against the government, political regime, and will of the proud Yemeni people.

They went as far as employing evil hands to help the outlawed, deluded, and vindictive elements carry out criminal acts. Also, they are employing the elements of extremism and terrorism from the al-Qaeda Organization to be part of the sabotage and destructive scheme that aims to undermine security and stability, spread terrorism and terror, weaken the structure of the government, and target the abilities of the government and local authorities. They also seek to destroy the national economy under the pretext of change, while failing to realize that change cannot be achieved through sabotage, chaos, violence, and spreading the culture of hatred, conspiracies, and sedition.

Those backward methods have perished with the end of totalitarian regimes and the rise of the dawn of unity that came to enforce the principle of peaceful transfer of power using democratic means adopted by all democratic countries; namely, the ballot boxes.

Power cannot be achieved through intimidation or chaos, nor through murdering, attacking, displacing, or looting innocent citizens. Those forces that are working on dragging the nation and the citizens to sedition, war, and struggle - which have unpredictable outcomes - do not adopt a national vision that would improve the nation and attain the desired change; instead they have a vision of vengeance.

They are the reason behind the obstruction of the development progress in all public and private sectors. They are also the reason behind the stopping of investments, constructions, business, and trade; they halted the work of many factories and farms had employed thousands of workers. Moreover, they cut off the livelihoods of citizens and disrupted the family life of the safe Yemenis, and spreading fear and terror. They blocked the public roads and blew up the oil and gas pipes. They caused power outages and cut off the citizens' water supply. They killed the children, women, elderly, and the youth whom they used as human shields to reach their exposed goals. They are seeking to reach their goals which they think would justify the criminal acts they are perpetrating to seize power.

For the said purpose, they have blindly imitated the events in other Arab countries, incited by their sick illusions to shed blood on the Yemeni land by their oppressive vision based on hatred, grudges, and revenge against the homeland and its achievements in development and democracy; against citizens, their choices and adherence to their will and right to defend their freedom and democracy. They bore malice against the special foreign relations that their country enjoys with both brotherly and friendly countries. Furthermore, they have shown blatant animosity towards the prestigious position that our country enjoys among all world countries.

Nevertheless, our great people have tolerated with patience and fortitude all the repercussions and complications of this crisis, during which they have shown exceptional resilience in confronting them and a rare kind of courage in dealing with ordeals, affirming their strength in the face of adversity. This distress has granted these people more determination to stick to the patriotic principles and cultural values that have been known since ancient times. This was reflected in their attitude and daily behaviour in spite of the storms of violence, chaos, and sabotage that targeted the safety, security, and unity of their homeland.

Our great Yemeni people, who triumphed for the sake of their revolution and unity, and offered many caravans martyrs for the purpose of deep rooting them and strengthening their bases, are able now more than ever to defend with ferocity the achievements and accomplishments in the various fields.

Our great and patient people - who are struggling in the midst of severe adversity with self-esteem and trust in the homeland's ability and their personal potentials - are grateful for the brotherly and noble humanitarian stances of solidarity with them and those who supported them out of this adversity and helped them overcome the many difficulties. They are aware of the good and loyal intentions towards resolving this crisis based on the efforts exerted for the sake of reconciling and adopting efficient and pertinent deals and such by encouraging all the parties to conduct dialogues and resume the discussions on the remaining pending topics with regard to the implementation mechanism of the Gulf initiative so as to honour everyone and reach the aspired demands to which we have already announced our compliance. We are working on meeting those demands and have taken many steps and respective presidential decisions so as not to avoid excuses and wasting time.

However, we are currently witnessing that some political and partisan forces are being supported by rebellious and dark forces. The current daily escalation and their failure to respond or meet the international community's call that stressed the importance of resolving the Yemeni crisis through a political settlement agreement based on the Gulf initiative are all evidence to their insistence to complicate the crisis and rejection of all initiatives suggested by the good forces in the world keen to preserve the unity, security, and stability of the homeland; namely, the GCC initiative which we have always supported.

We have also welcomed and have been committed to Resolution 2014. We have called on the opposition to conduct dialogue so as to complete the disputes on the implementation mechanism, proceeding from our firm faith that dialogue is the only and best way to end crises and that there is no replacement for dialogue among all the parties in the framework of the patriotic principles and constitution away from the infightings, revenge and animosity so as to avoid anything that would cause discord among the Yemeni people. Dialogue is the civilized way that all the free people must follow so as to achieve reform and change for the best.

On this occasion, we renew the call to all the parties to reject violence and extremism. Violence shall only engender violence, political conflict, and wars which victim and fuel is the citizen. We stress our determination to keep supporting the constructive efforts by vice-president Major General Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi in the light of the authorized delegation to complete the dialogue with the opposition and sign the Gulf initiative and its executive mechanism so as to achieve the immediate political participation among all the parties and achieve the legal, democratic, and peaceful transition in accordance with the constitution, in addition to public, free, direct, and early presidential elections.

What is more important is to ease the serious negative consequences of this crisis upon the citizens' lives, living conditions, and national economy. We call on the brotherly and friendly countries, particularly the neighbouring GCC countries, to support the security and stability of Yemen and to do their utmost to bridge gaps and narrow - even limit - differences. This should happen according to the commitment to initial solid stances which combine all in one trench of destiny, since our security is theirs and vice versa. The blessing of stability is a collective one which has no borders between neighbouring countries. We look forward to the hands of help and assistance to our people pertaining to the economic and developmental aspects. These aspects have become closely connected with security problems as is the case with the social suffering, of which poverty and unemployment are the most dangerous.

Despite the enormity of the outcome and the bitterness of the effects that continue to be caused by the growing crisis with all its repercussions, we can - through collective will - stop the devastating disaster that cannot be envisaged anyone, even by those who kindled its flames and suppose they will survive it.

We can come out unharmed from the midst of the crisis after they have spread ruin, death, and strife. Despite all this, the ones who proved their steadfastness, cohesion, and great ability to absorb all blows and shocks are the proud, struggling, persevering, and steadfast people. The Armed Forces and National Security are rightfully leading and are the mighty fortress for the free and dignified lives of Yemenis, gains, and achievements. The people and the armed and security forces have embodied their unwavering fundamental principle to preserve the safety and gains of the homeland, protect constitutional legitimacy; and demonstrate resilience to all risks that began to threaten the unity, security, and stability of the homeland. They can achieve the desired victory for the will to live as well as security and peace. The people, security, and armed forces have the most sincere feelings of pride and gratitude.

The most sincere and heartfelt congratulates on the occasion of this joyous holiday and on every occasion which, thanks to them, the homeland celebrates whatever the circumstances and bad conditions. These conditions will not last and will go away, God willing, through their steadfastness and efforts in the fields of development, construction, and defence as well as facing challenges and risks.

God has ordered us to hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah stretches out, resort to good talk, heed to reason and logic, and submit to the convincing pretexts. Today, the statement issued by the Muslim scholars is available to the Yemeni people. This statement explained in all sincerity and clarity, using legitimate and clear proof, the path that should be taken by everyone so as to resolve the current crisis and avoid the ravages of infighting and strife.

Our primary duty is to gladly accept this statement and honestly respond to what it offered. This will help both of us, the authority and the opposition, know the truth and take the path of victory, success, and salvation for all, including sparing lives, preventing bloodshed, and maintaining achievements and property.

Our proud Yemeni people will continue stand firm to their national aspirations and legitimate hopes and will work for them. The movement of building the new dignified Yemen of 22 May, which advances towards the rational and better era, cannot move back or entirely stop. The experiences of the current stage will strengthen the people's will and will not overcome it. It is due to the strong Yemeni people - the people of the revolution, unity, freedom, and democracy - that the achievements of the life which were chosen by the people will continue.

This life will protect their dignified and free present as well as their future. Let Yemen's status rank highest in the new era and civilization progress as sought by the high aspirations and strong wills of its people. This is the destiny which will be fulfilled by all Yemenis living in this homeland. The homeland will not forsake or renounce any of its people except those who renounce it and are actively involved in prostitution, terrorism, aggression, betrayal of its unity, sovereignty, and independence, as well as hatred of freedom, democracy, and its firm constitutional system.

I will not expatiate, as I only wanted to extend my heartfelt and sincerest congratulations to all the people of our proud and struggling nation as well as to all the pilgrims of the scared house of God. I ask God to accept their pilgrimage, reward their efforts, and forgive them for their sins. I would like to congratulate all the armed forces and security elements and leaders, both personnel and officers, in all their posts of sacrifice, heroism, and redemption.

May glory and eternity be to all innocent martyrs, who are alive with their Lord in the paradise and with the prophets, the saints, and the righteous. What a good companion!

Many happy returns,

May God's peace and mercy, and blessings be upon you.

Saleh: Committed to Gulf transition plan

BEIJING, Nov. 6 (Xinhuanet) -- Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced he will leave office in line with a Gulf-brokered power transfer plan, while also lashing out at opponents.

On Saturday, Saleh said the country's vice president is working to complete a dialogue with the opposition and sign the Gulf initiative and its operational mechanism. He said the goal was to achieve a legitimate, peaceful and democratic transition and conduct early presidential elections.

Saleh has three times agreed to sign a power transitional deal mediated by the Gulf Cooperation Council, only to back out at the very last minute each time.

Yemen uprising binds women from many walks of life

HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press

Sunday, November 6, 2011

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Early in Yemen's uprising, about 20 women with banners demanding equal rights marched into the heart of the capital, joining the thousands who were calling for the ouster of the president. They were greeted with cheers.

The women settled into a spot below the stage in the middle of Change Square. But as the days passed, "the women's section" became off-limits to men. A fence went up around it. Then straw mats were slung over the fence to conceal the women. Policed by bearded males, Yemen's traditional gender segregation had insinuated itself into the center of the revolt.

Women are fighting to keep demands for their rights at the center of Yemen's uprising and resist efforts to sideline them. The main goal of the protests is an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his regime, in place for nearly 33 years. But the liberals who launched the campaign nine months ago have always had broader hopes for blanket social change in a country where tribe and religion dominate, no matter who is in power.

Women's role in the uprising was recognized globally when Tawakkul Karman, a female icon of the protest movement, won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. But here in Sanaa, the reality is that every woman who joins the rallies has to rebel against the heavy pressure of social codes.

They also face the growing influence of Islamic hard-liners at Change Square, as activists have named the intersection where they have set up their protest camp. Islamic movements are richer and better organized than the secular side. They dominate Change Square's organizational committee and have attacked tents where men and women were gathered, seeking to undo the gender mixing that has been fostered by the revolution.

"They are systematically excluding us women," said Wameedh Shaker, who wears the hallmarks of liberal Yemeni womanhood — jeans, knee-length coat and a scarf covering her hair.

She remembers the exhilarating welcome for that first march.

"We felt like everything we can dream of will come true," said Shaker, a 31-year-old mother of one. "Coming into the square was like going to a paradise of respect and compassion. It was like the best men and women of Yemen gathered at one place."

About a fifth of those taking to the streets every day in protests are women — a level of participation that in itself represents a revolution for Yemen, where women are discouraged from inserting themselves into the public eye, much less the public debate.

In a poor nation of mountains, desert and few resources, women have had the poorest lot: female illiteracy runs at 70 percent, an average of eight women die every day because of poor health services or total lack of them. Men across much of the country marry girls as young as 10, with no legal minimum age for marriage. Only 7 percent of Yemeni women earn a wage, though in most cases they raise the children, tend the land, graze sheep and cattle, cook and clean. Protest, or even participation in public debate, is rare.

Somaya al-Qawas embodies the change.

She used to wear the most conservative of women's attire in Yemen, the khymar — an all-black tent that covers the body and head and hides the eyes behind a semi-translucent piece of cloth. It was what God wants, she believed.

In her early 20s, she took a small step toward moderation: She switched to the niqab, in which the veil has a slit exposing the eyes. And last month, at age 30, she marched into the makeshift hospital at the Change Square protest camp in a head scarf that exposed her face and a broad smile to the world.

"I told you I would, didn't I? Maybe you didn't expect it so soon," the mother of two said. "Am I the same person still? Yes. But some look at me as if I have become morally loose."

It was a dramatic leap in a personal journey of disillusionment with the ultraconservative version of Islam her family ascribes to. Her sisters were married at ages 11, 13, 14 and 16. She was the rebel: She waited until she was 23.

She pushed the strict confines of her marriage arrangements. She spoke to her husband only twice before their wedding — both times by phone after they were engaged. In their second call, she nearly broke up with him, angry because he too easily bowed to her family's warnings not to phone her.

She joined the revolution, and the revolution accelerated the change in her.

Her sisters, she said, "don't oppose what I am doing at Change Square, but they are clearly dismayed by it." She writes for an online newspaper and occasionally does live commentary for a private, pro-revolution TV station.

She has also grown away from Islah, the Islamist group that is Yemen's largest party and was always her political compass. She says the party instilled her principles in her, for which she's grateful, but "our revolution is broader than just one ideology. I can no longer exclude anyone who has different beliefs."

She also wants Islah to explain why it was a key supporter of the regime for so long, even if now it has latched on to the protests.

Al-Qawas says her businessman husband, Hesham al-Hameiri, backed her decision to join the protests. But Yemeni men in general are her adversary. "The next revolution in Yemen is a revolution against men's oppression of women," she says.

If al-Qawas came to women's empowerment from the outside, Hooria Mashhour fought for it from within Saleh's government through the state-run National Committee for Women.

Mashhour knew the organization existed mainly as a ruling party tool to bring out the women's vote, but she believed change had to come through the system. The widow of a top security official, she has a comfortable lifestyle in a luxury high-rise apartment in Sanaa.

The government's turn to violence to crush the revolution was too much. In March, at age 56, she quit the organization and started giving speeches and workshops at Change Square.

Now she works with an independent women's group focused on two demands: setting a minimum marriage age of 17 and a 30-percent quota for women in parliament.

In past upheaval, she says, women's rights took a back seat to other nationalist goals, like ending British colonial rule and feudal monarchy in the 1960s and unification of the two separate countries of North and South Yemen in 1990.

Now, she insists women's time has come. The post-revolutionary state, she says, "will have to include women in numbers that mirror the magnitude of their role in the revolution."

Jihad al-Jafri grew up in the once-independent south, where a socialist government tried to instill a more secular, less tribal society.

When she moved to Sanaa for college, she had to come to terms with its much more conservative attitudes. Here, she says, women are viewed either as sex objects to be covered up in the street or slaves at home.

Now married and settled in the capital, the 41-year-old psychiatrist has learned to adapt. She wears the niqab, for example, though she insists it's by choice, not by pressure.

"As women in the south, we went out to socialize only after sundown. But in Sanaa, women are home by sundown," she said.

Saleh's regime sought to reverse liberalization in the south, sending militant clerics to preach there, introducing a less woman-friendly family law and promoting a stricter dress code.

For al-Jafri, the uprising is a chance to roll back those changes.

She and her husband, a physician, have both been suspended from their government jobs for joining the protests. Piece by piece, al-Jafri sells off her dowry of gold jewelry so the family can eat and pay rent.

During a protest in April, al-Jafri volunteered to be a human shield for male protesters when security forces opened fire with live ammunition.

"I ran to the area where the protesters were targeted hoping that my presence there as a woman would stop the firing," she recalled.

The men noticed, she says, and respected what she did. "I can walk alone at Change Square at 3 in the morning and no one will bother me, not one bit."

Still she knows there's a long way to go.

"It will take 40 years to create a clean society in Yemen," she said. "There may well be other revolutions to strike roots for change and build a new Yemen, really new."

Yemen opposition claims foiling bid on key dissident's life

6 November 2011

Yemen's opposition on Sunday accused President Ali Abdullah Saleh's troops of attempting to kill a key defector, General Ali Mohssen al-Ahmar, during prayers marking the festival of Eid al-Adha, DPA reported.

The army's dissident First Division led by al-Ahmar said it had seized a truck loaded with explosives and intended to target him during Sunday's prayers in the capital Sana'a.

Al-Ahmar sided with anti-Saleh protesters in March and since then his forces have occasionally clashed with government troops.

"(Those) arrested in the aborted attempt admitted to having been tasked with the assassination of al-Ahmar by senior military and security commanders," the opposition website Mareb Press quoted a statement from the First Division as saying.

There was no immediate comment from the government.

In an address late Saturday marking Eid al-Adha, Saleh called his opponents "delusional and rancorous."

Millions of Yemenis have taken to the streets since February, demanding an end to Saleh's 33-year rule.