Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Yemeni minister survives murder bid

January 31, 2012

Yemeni Information Minister Ali al-Amrani has survived an assassination attempt in the capital Sana'a, his secretary says.

Abdel Basset al-Qaedi said unidentified gunmen attacked the minister's car when he was leaving the government headquarters in Sana'a after the weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The assailants fled the scene immediately and the Yemeni minister was not hurt.

Yemeni police have launched an investigation into the incident.

Amrani quit the ruling General People's Congress (GPC) party, led by Yemeni dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh, and joined the opposition following the outbreak of the popular anti-regime uprising in Yemen last year.

The Yemeni dictator signed a deal brokered by the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council on November 23, 2011, under which he agreed to transfer his powers to Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi and step down within 90 days in return for immunity from prosecution.

Hadi issued a decree on December 7, 2011, establishing a national unity government headed by Mohammed Basindwa, who was appointed as interim prime minister on November 27, 2011. Amrani was appointed information minister following the establishment of the coalition government.

The new cabinet posts are equally divided between the GPC and the opposition.

Saleh arrived in the United States on January 29 to receive “medical treatment” for injuries he sustained in an attack on the presidential palace in Sana'a in June 2011.

On January 21, Yemen's parliament approved a law that grants complete immunity from prosecution to Saleh for the crimes committed during his 33-year-long rule and only “political immunity” to anyone who had “worked with” him during his rule.

However, Yemeni anti-regime demonstrators reject the immunity law and hold Saleh responsible for the killing of hundreds of protesters during the popular uprising that began in late January 2011.

Six aid workers kidnapped in Yemen

January 31, 2012

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- Six aid workers were kidnapped Tuesday in Yemen's Mahweet province, the state-run Saba news agency reported.

Tribal militants intercepted the workers' vehicles and took them to an unknown destination, a senior Interior Ministry official told CNN.

Military vehicles were searching for the workers. They reportedly are two Yemenis, along with a German, an Iraqi, a Palestinian and a Colombian.

Qaeda militants killed in Yemen air strike: residents

Tue Jan 31, 2012

ADEN (Reuters) - At least 11 al Qaeda militants, including a number of local leaders, were killed in an overnight air strike in southern Yemen, local residents said on Tuesday.

They said an unidentified drone attacked the militants while they were travelling in two vehicles east of the city of Lawdar in Abyan province in southern Yemen.

A tribal leader said at least four of those killed were local al Qaeda leaders. Residents said no civilians were hurt in the air strike.

The United States has used drones repeatedly to attack al Qaeda militants in Yemen. Last September, a U.S. drone killed U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, described by U.S. officials as "chief of external operations" for al Qaeda in Yemen.

The latest attack could deal a blow to al Qaeda which has exploited unrest and protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh to strengthen its hold on remote areas in southern Yemen in recent months.

An opposition-led government has been set up in Yemen after Saleh agreed in November to transfer authority to his deputy ahead of presidential elections in February.

But protests have continued and activists are pressing on with demands that Saleh be tried for alleged killings of demonstrators and that the government is purged of members of his family.

Monday, January 30, 2012

PHL govt allows redeployment of OFWs to Yemen

January 30, 2012 3:50pm

The Philippine government on Monday allowed the redeployment of returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWS) to Yemen after it lowered the alert level in that country to "2."

In a news release, the Department of Foreign Affairs said President Benigno Aquino III approved its recommendation to lower the alert level to "2," the restriction phase.

"We anticipate that with the lowering of the alert level, the redeployment of returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Yemen will now be allowed. We also anticipate that Yemen-based OFWs, who wish to return to the Philippines for a vacation, will be allowed to return to Yemen," DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario said.

Previously, the DFA had raised the alert level in Sanaa to level "4" (mandatory repatriation) and "3" (voluntary repatriation) in the rest of Yemen.

The DFA said it has informed the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Governing Board of this development.

However, the DFA stressed the lowering of the alert level will not cover the deployment to Yemen of newly-hired OFWs.

The DFA said it also expects that the POEA Governing Board will issue a new resolution that will allow the deployment of returning OFWs to Yemen.

The DFA raised Alert Level 3 on the whole of Yemen on May 24, 2011 and Alert Level 4 in Sanaa on June 6, 2011.

At the time, it asked Filipinos who wish to avail of the Embassy's repatriation facility to leave the country due to the politico-security situation there

Floating Commando Base in Middle East

Monday, January 30, 2012

The United States Navy is in the process of placing a ‘mothership’ for Special Ops Forces in the Middle East, according to a Fox News report. The Pentagon is rushing to send a large floating base for commando teams to the Middle East as tensions rise with Iran, al-Qaeda in Yemen and Somali pirates, among other threats.

The USS Ponce was initially scheduled to be decommissioned in December 2011. Navy officials are now stating that the vessel will be converted into a convoy to be utilized by Navy SEALs. This change in decision stems from a standing request from the U.S. Central Command to the Pentagon for the base. The Central Command oversees military operations in the Middle East, and will be able to use the ship for high speed boats and helicopters. The Washington Post reports that the deployment of the floating base could also mark a return to maritime missions for SEAL teams.

A Military Sealift command market survey asked that the ship be able to support mine counter measures, as sea mines are a concern in the Strait of Hormuz if Iran does go through with closing off the vital oil passage.

The ship should be completely transformed in an estimated four to five months. Special Operations Command has wanted a transportable floating base for some time, and it could expand the range of commando squads operating in remote coastal areas.

Contracts and bidding documents for this project emphasize its urgency. Contract bids are due February 3, 2012. The Navy wants conversion work to begin on the Ponce no more than 10 days later. The ship is now docked in Virginia Beach.