Thursday, December 29, 2011

Yemeni civilian killed in Sanaa clash

Clash between government troops and supporters of Al-Ahmar Wednesday leads to the death of a civilian as a military commission attempts to remove barriers near the interior ministry
AFP , Thursday 29 Dec 2011
A Yemeni civilian was shot dead Wednesday in a shootout between the Republican Guard and gunmen loyal to dissident tribal chief Sadiq al-Ahmar, witnesses said.
The clash broke out when a military commission attempted to remove barriers near the interior ministry in Amran Street, Hasaba neighbourhood, in an effort to return the capital to normalcy following unrest.
Three others were wounded in the gunbattle, witnesses said.
The commission plans to complete the lifting of barricades from the northern district of Hasaba by Thursday, said General Fadhel al-Qawassi, a member of the commission.
The commission was formed by Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi who has been charged with managing the transfer of power and designated to serve as a consensus president after the expected departure of Ali Abdullah Saleh in February.
The aim of the commission is to restore stability, as well as reforming the security service controlled partly by Saleh loyalists, in accordance with the transition deal signed by Saleh in November after more than 10 months of protests against his 33-year rule.
Violence in Yemen has continued since the agreement was inked.

US officials fear they were “played” in Yemen strike

December 29, 2011
US officials suspect that Yemen fed them false intelligence for a 2010 strike against Al-Qaeda suspects that killed a local leader locked in a dispute with the president's family, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The disclosure of such an incident would complicate relations between the two allies at a time when Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is seeking to visit the United States amid months of popular protests demanding his ouster.
The May 25, 2010 US missile strike, launched on intelligence supplied by the Yemeni government, killed Jabir Shabwani, 31, deputy governor of the central Mareb province, whose long-standing relations with Saleh's family had soured.
"We think we got played," the Journal quoted an official as saying, adding that other officials do not believe there was a Yemeni plan to kill Shabwani.
Saleh has been a key ally in the covert US war on Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a group increasingly seen as a threat to the United States comparable to the global network's core leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Saleh has also faced months of massive protests demanding the end of his 33-year reign accompanied by growing unrest that further threatens stability in the impoverished and largely tribal country.
Earlier this month Saleh requested permission to visit the United States, setting up a dilemma for US President Barack Obama, who has relied on the Yemeni leader as an anti-Qaeda ally but has also voiced support for the pro-democracy revolts sweeping the Arab world.
The Journal said some US officials doubt the military was intentionally misled in the 2010 strike but said it raised troubling questions about the reliance on Yemeni security forces for intelligence.
The report also quoted Yemeni officials as denying that they had any knowledge that Shabwani was at the site of the air strike.

Government's new plan neglects economic development in Yemen

December 29th, 2011
Both political sides convened in parliament this week for the first time in more than a year following a boycott by the opposition that began weeks before anti-government protests took hold in January.
The parliamentary sitting was chaotic. Armed men protecting rival politicians clashed and the building was thrown into darkness by the familiar power outages that have blighted the capital for more than nine months. The purpose of the meeting was the presentation of the new government's draft two-year programme. The 38-page document, which aims to "restore political stability and security to achieve safe power transfer in line with the Gulf initiative", was read out.
Despite International Monetary Fund (IMF) predictions that Yemen's economy would contract by 2.5 percent this year, there was no mention of economic reforms in the draft document, a point that was noted by several members of parliament present. Nearly 11 months of unrest have left Yemen's economy on the brink of collapse. IMF forecasts put this year's budget deficit at more than US$4 billion (Dh14.6bn).
Hisham Sharaf, former industry and trade minister, said last month that the political turmoil had cost the economy more than $8bn. Analysts say half the country's workforce is unemployed. "The crisis has depleted all the country's resources, and without foreign financial support, the government will only be able to partially implement its proposed programme," said an independent MP, Naser Arman. The amount of foreign economic support the country will receive next year has yet to be determined. Last month, Yemeni officials met with the IMF in Jordan. In 2010 the IMF approved a $370 million loan for Yemen. That money will help repay government debt, among other pressing needs.
Further IMF assistance has yet to be approved and the IMF declined to comment on Yemen's situation following last month's discussions. The conditions for further monetary assistance appear to rely on Yemen's political stability and economic reforms. The government's primary source or revenue is oil, accounting for 60 percent of income and 90 percent of exports, according to IMF figures. This year production was halted as oil and gas lines where damaged by anti-government tribesmen.
The Ras Isa offshore oil terminal in the Red Sea, which usually produces 110,000 barrels per day of exports, ceased production in March, and the Aden refinery was closed. Yemen has since relied on donations from Saudi Arabia and the UAE for oil. Electricity supplies also have been hit with many areas, including the capital, where residents and business have been restricted to an average of three hours a day of power.
"For months now we have been living in darkness. The price of fuel, gas, water, everything, is making living almost impossible," said Mohammed Farhan as he sat in his candle-lit shop. "If a political solution is not found, the alternatives are horrible: a civil war and an economic collapse," predicted Ibrahim Sharqieh, the deputy director for the Brookings Doha Center, this year. Sanaa residents have staged regular protests against power cuts and the rising cost of fuel and cooking gas.
The GCC deal has now provided a fragile political resolution. But foreign donors appear to be waiting to see how successful the transition process is at maintaining stability and addressing corruption. "Instability links directly to investor confidence," said Mr Sharqieh, a delay that Yemen's economy can ill afford.

S. Arabia to donate 500,000T of fuel to Yemen-sources

DUBAI Dec 29 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia will donate 500,000 tonnes of oil products to Yemen, which has been struggling to get fuel as its largest refinery has been shut for over a month after several blasts on its oil pipeline halted crude flow.
State oil giant Saudi Aramco will buy oil products from the market but will ask the supplier to discharge the cargo in Yemen instead of in Saudi ports, industry sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
"There is a government to government agreement between Yemen and Saudi Arabia where Aramco is buying the gasoline and gasoil and paying for it," one industry source said.
This would be the second time this year that Saudi Arabia would be throwing a lifeline to its impoverished southern neighbour, which relied on 3 million barrels of Saudi-donated crude oil to run its refinery in June, when its main pipeline was again shut after blasts.
The poorest Arab country has been in chaos this year with 11 months of demonstrations demanding the end of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year rule.
Its main pipeline carrying high-quality sweet Maarib crude is shut once again, after consecutive blasts on it in October. The lack of crude flow in the pipeline has also forced the Aden refinery, which mainly produces to meet the domestic fuel demand, to halt operations.

Why Obama Shouldn't Let Yemen's President Come to the U.S.

By Paul R. Pillar
Dec 29 2011
The U.S. is considering hosting Ali Abdullah Saleh for medical treatment, but his country's transition is too messy to be stage-managed from Washington
The most delicate visa application the State Department has handled in quite some time comes from Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president who is supposed to be on his way out of office but doesn't seem to be in the mood for retirement. Saleh has become a prime Arab Spring target as a longtime strongman whose departure many Yemenis now believe is worth fighting for in the streets. If Saleh comes to the United States, it would ostensibly be for medical treatment.
He no doubt really does need additional medical treatment; he was seriously injured in an attack in June. Saleh himself, however, has most recently said he feels "fine" and that if he makes the trip it would be less for health care than "to get away from attention." The difficulty of the issue is reflected in split editorial opinion. The New York Times says let him come here; the Washington Post says keep him out.
The wiser course is to keep him out. Saleh's case is a prime example of a situation in which the perceptions of U.S. motivations and interests will differ substantially from actual motivations and interests, and in which the perceptions will matter more. If the United States admitted Saleh, it would be for the laudable reasons not just of tending to his wounds but of increasing the chance of a constructive political process taking hold in Yemen. With Saleh no longer in his home country as a target of wrath in the streets and as an on-scene manipulator, perhaps a modicum of stability would ensue. But that's not how most Yemenis and probably most Arabs would see the U.S. role.
Saleh's presence in the United States would be perceived as confirmation that he is America's man, and was remaining so no matter how much he had been rejected by his own countrymen. The United States would thus share in whatever opprobrium or hatred was directed at the former strongman. Any suspicion that Saleh was continuing to manipulate events in Yemen from afar would be accompanied by the belief that the United States was intentionally letting him do so. These perceptions would foster the image of the United States being on the wrong side of the popular tide that is the Arab Spring.
It would indeed be helpful to Yemeni politics for Saleh to leave the country, but that does not mean the destination has to be the United States. Nearby countries have even more of a stake in Yemen and possible spillover effects of instability there than the United States does. Saleh's medical records must still be in Saudi Arabia, where he initially went for treatment after his injuries. Pakistani president Asif Zardari recently took a politically convenient trip for medical care in Dubai. Let the peninsular Arabs be out in front on this one.
No one, the United States included, will be able to stage manage events in Yemen over the coming months. Any thoughts of trying to make a difference by controlling Saleh's actions or communications while in the United States should be dispelled. The basic U.S. goal should be to try to be avoid being muddied by what will inevitably be a very messy situation in Yemen.
This article originally appeared at The National Interest, an Atlantic partner site.