Saturday, November 26, 2011

Three killed in clashes in Yemen's north

Sat Nov 26, 2011
SANAA (Reuters) - Three people were killed in north Yemen on Saturday when Shi'ite Muslim rebels shelled positions held by Sunni Islamist Salafi fighters after the collapse of a week-old cease-fire, a Salafi spokesman said.
The conflict between the Shi'ite Houthi rebels and the Sunni Salafis is just one of several plaguing Yemen as it looks to elections to replace President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who agreed this week to step down after 10 months of protests to end his 33-year rule.
In recent weeks, the Houthis have skirmished with Salafist fighters, leading local tribesmen to broker a truce between them a week ago.
"The Houthis broke the cease-fire and shelled the town of Damaj," said the Salafi spokesman, who identified himself as Abu Ismail, adding two people were injured.
The fresh violence highlights the risk of civil war in a country that borders the world's largest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia. Washington and Riyadh fear a political vacuum in Yemen could embolden al Qaeda's Yemen wing and potentially threaten oil supplies.
Members of the Zaidi sect of Shi'ite Islam, the Houthi rebels led an uprising based in the northern Saada province that Saleh's forces struggled to crush, with Saudi Arabia intervening militarily in 2009 before a cease-fire took hold the next year.
The Houthis, who effectively control Saada, are deeply wary of Saudi Arabia's promotion of puritanical Sunni Salafi creeds that regard Shi'ites as heretics.
Saleh Habra, a Houthi leader, has accused the Yemeni government of supplying arms to the Salafis, who he said were trying to build a military camp near the Saudi border, and said his side was trying to keep arms from reaching their enemies.
"We are trying to cut off their arms supplies," Habra told Reuters last week.
Separately, Yemeni combat aircraft bombed sites used by anti-government tribal militants in northern Sanaa, killing seven people, tribal sources said on Saturday.
Those sources said tribal fighters were seeking to surround a camp used by the Republican Guard, a unit led by Saleh's son.

Yemeni warplanes kill 80 tribesmen

Sana'a, Nov 26, 2011- Yemeni warplanes have killed at least 80 anti-regime tribesmen in the northeastern region of Arhab in the space of 48 hours, security officials say.
A security official leaked the information to the media on condition of anonymity, AP reported on Saturday.
The reason for the heavy offensive is believed to have been that the tribesmen had taken over a military camp in the region a few days prior to the attack.
While there have yet not been any independent reports to confirm the event, a soldier from Yemen's 63rd Brigade who escaped the camp said that the tribesmen had overrun it.
Moreover, the soldier added that some 20 troops loyal to Saleh had been killed in the clashes.
Scores of tribesmen have lost their lives in military attacks on tribal areas since the beginning of the uprising against the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh in late January.
Moreover, hundreds of pro-democracy protesters have also been killed and thousands more injured by forces loyal to Saleh.
Saleh singed a power transfer deal proposed by Persian Gulf littoral states in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.
Under the deal, the Yemeni dictator transfers his presidential powers to his deputy, Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, who is expected to form a national unity government and also call for early presidential elections in 90 days.
The deal also grants Saleh immunity in return for his resignation.
However, protesters have rejected the deal saying they want Saleh prosecuted for the people his forces killed during the crackdown on anti-regime demonstrators.

Obama aide urges Yemen's parties to work together

WASHINGTON | Sat Nov 26, 2011
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's top counter-terrorism aide urged Yemen's ruling party Saturday to cooperate with the opposition after the vice president called presidential elections for February 21.
The White House said John Brennan telephoned Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to "commend" him for announcing the date of the election, struck under a deal to end violent protests against the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
"It is critically important for the ruling party and the opposition to work together in the weeks and months ahead and to devote themselves fully to the implementation of the agreement," the White House said in a statement about the call.
Washington worries al Qaeda militants may seek to exploit instability in Yemen to strengthen their network in the country and launch attacks against the United States.
Saleh signed the deal with the opposition Wednesday, transferring power to Hadi after 33 years in office and 10 months of protest against his rule.
"All parties need to refrain from violence and proceed with the transition in a peaceful and orderly manner," the White House said, adding Brennan and Hadi "agreed on the need to quickly implement the terms" of the November 23 deal.

President Saleh in Sana’a

SANA’A, Nov. 26 (Saba) - President Ali Abdullah Saleh returned on Saturday evening to Sana’a coming from the Saudi capital, Riyadh where he signed the Gulf-brokered initiative.
The signing of the implementation mechanism of the initiative took place also in Riyadh under the auspices of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz.

Yemen sets date for presidential vote

By Jamal Al-Jashini
Associated Press / November 26, 2011
SANAA, Yemen—Yemen scheduled early presidential elections for early next year on Saturday in line with a power-sharing deal aimed at ending a nine-month political crisis, according to the country's official news agency.
The agreement would make President Ali Abdullah Saleh the fourth dictator pushed from power this year by the Arab Spring uprisings, although it has been rejected by many protesters because it would grant the reviled leader immunity from prosecution and does not include far-reaching political changes like those brought about by the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
The U.S.-backed Gulf Arab proposal signed Wednesday in the Saudi capital Riyadh calls for Saleh to pass power to his deputy within 30 days, after a new government sworn in by the vice president passes a law protecting Saleh and his associates from prosecution. Presidential elections also were to be held within 90 days, well ahead of the original date in 2013.
It came after months of resistance by the leader of 33 years despite massive protests calling for him to step down. Saleh had agreed to sign the deal at least three previous times only to back out at the last minute.
Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi said Saturday that the vote will be held on Feb. 21 and no party has the right to annul or change the decree, SABA reported. He made the announcement after Saleh gave him "the constitutional authorities to carry out dialogue with the parties that signed the Gulf initiative."
While it was welcomed by the U.S., which fears instability in the country that's home to one of the world's most active al-Qaida branches, the agreement has failed to end the mass protests that have rocked Sanaa and other cities since February.
Thousands took to the streets on Saturday to demand that Saleh face trial for allegations of corruption and the killing of hundreds of protesters as his security forces brutally tried to end the uprising against him.
The deal doesn't explicitly ban Saleh from the country's political life -- raising fears he could continue to play a political role.
Violence also continued, with Yemeni warplanes killing 80 anti-government tribesmen who overran part of a military camp in the Arhab region north of the capital.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media, said that warplanes and artillery had pounded the armed tribesmen for the past two days.
The number of deaths was not confirmed. But a soldier from Yemen's 63rd Brigade who fled the camp said tribesmen had overrun it several days ago. He spoke by telephone from Arhab, asking not to be identified for fear of government reprisal. The soldier said the tribesmen killed about 20 soldiers.

Yemen opposition names top candidate

Sunday November 26, 2011
Yemen's opposition parties have nominated the head of their coalition to lead the first government after veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to quit in 90 days, a spokesman says.
Mohammed Basindawa, a former member of Saleh's ruling party, was chosen late on Friday to head a national unity government, Mohammed Qahtan, the spokesman of the opposition Common Forum said.
'His name will be presented today (Saturday) to Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi' who is now the executive president according to the Gulf-brokered deal signed on Wednesday, he said.
Saleh signed the exit agreement in Riyadh after months of dodging domestic and international pressure to step down after 33 years in office.
According to the Gulf- and UN-sponsored roadmap, Saleh hands to Hadi 'all powers necessary for proceeding with the Gulf initiative and its implementation mechanism and for organising early elections within a 90-day period which begins immediately after the signing.'
Saleh remains as an honorary president during this period, while the opposition puts forward a candidate to head a national unity government.
Saleh on Friday, however, appeared to continue to perform his role, ordering from Riyadh investigations into the shooting on protests in Sanaa by loyalist gunmen - in what was seen as a breach of the deal.
'We give President Saleh two days to stop those acts that are in violation of the agreement. In this transition period, the country is to be run according to the Gulf plan and its execution mechanism,' said Qahtan.
Basindawa who was chosen to head the 'National Council for the Forces of the Peaceful Revolution' after it was formed in August, served in governments under Saleh several times, including as a foreign minister.
Born in Aden, the capital of former South Yemen, Basindawa quit Saleh's General People's Congress some 10 years ago, becoming an opponent but without joining an opposition party.