Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ghost of war still looms

Yemeni politicians have a brief period to prove they can deliver, warns Nasser Arrabyee
An all-out civil war is still possible in Yemen despite the country having a new elected president. The only thing that has prevented war so far was a Saudi-sponsored Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Initiative supported by the US that led to a peaceful transition of power. Any war in Yemen now will be to the advantage of Al-Qaeda, and will certainly affect Saudi Arabia and the US.
The GCC Initiative formed a unity government, with former president Ali Abdallah Saleh's party having 50 per cent of the ministers of this government. The deal gave Saleh and senior members of his regime immunity from any future prosecution, and Saleh was allowed to continue to practise politics as the head of his party, which is now in coalition with the opposition.
The war might erupt any time if the new elected President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi fails to implement the deal which is supposed to last until February 2014 when free and fair presidential elections are supposed to be held.
If Saleh's party, the General People's Congress, is marginalised in any way, this would mean failure and would lead for sure to civil war. At least half of the 24 million population support Saleh's party which has the overwhelming majority in parliament and 17 ministers of the 34-member cabinet. The new elected President Hadi is still the secretary- general of this semi-secular party.
Former president Saleh warned of any failure in implementation of the GCC deal or any marginalisation of his party. "If the GCC Initiative is not implemented as agreed, then we will fight to the death," Saleh told thousands of young people from his party who marched to his house on Monday. Saleh was clearly referring to himself and his party and supporters who will not keep silent if marginalised. Saleh's son and nephews are still the top leaders of the army and security forces.
The failure may happen from two things: either by marginalising Saleh's party by firing its members from important positions of state one by one, or by amending the GCC deal in a way that would not give Saleh's party 50 per cent in everything and that would not give immunity to the Salehs and their henchmen.
For instance, Naji Al-Zaydi, governor of Mareb, was sacked by the new President Hadi earlier this month, but he is still holding his position under the protection of his tribesmen. Al-Zaydi is saying he is now preventing a possible war between his tribesmen and the tribesmen loyal to the newly appointed governor Sultan Al-Eradah.
"I am not refusing the presidential decree and I am not sticking to power, but I am sure this decree will not work, and I told the new governor who is my friend and the president himself," Al-Zaydi told Al-Ahram Weekly.
The new governor Sultan Al-Eradah is from Mareb also and his supporters are from the Islamist party Islah. Al-Zaydi, whose supporters are from Saleh's party, survived many assassination attempts this year and last year, and he accused the Islamist party of having planned and implemented those attempts.
"Even if I accepted the decree, my tribesmen would not accept and would do the same things that were done to us or worse, to those who were behind assaults against us," Al-Zaydi said, as he pointed to tens of gunmen sitting in the reception room of his luxurious house in the capital Sanaa on Monday.
Saleh's party wants the new elected president to fire the rebel General Ali Mohsen, after he sacked many military officials loyal to Saleh including two relatives, to keep the balance between the conflicting parties. Ex- General Mohsen supported the Islamist party Islah which was mainly behind the last year's protests which led to elections of the new President Hadi.
Al-Qaeda is the biggest beneficiary from any chaos in Yemen. It is recruiting and expanding to control Yemen and turn it into an Islamic state and use it as a launch pad to strike Saudi Arabia and supposedly the US itself.
Four soldiers were killed and 10 others injured in the south of the country in a suicide attack by Al-Qaeda. The suicide bomber, who was killed in the operation, was driving his car bomb in the area of Tharah north of Lawdar, before he exploded himself and his car in the military check point of the 26th brigade in the district of Mukairas, in Al-Baidha province, killing four soldiers and injuring 10 others including four passersby.
Earlier on Monday, Al-Qaeda vowed to implement 10 suicide bombings over the coming days in the southern province of Abyan, where fierce battles have been going on for two weeks now between Al-Qaeda and local tribesmen supported by government troops.
In the area of Al-Ain, close to Lawdar in Abyan province, Al-Qaeda performed the prayer of the dead for 10 young people, in a clear message that these 10 people have decided to kill themselves in suicide martyrdom operations against the troops and tribesmen of the so-called anti-Al-Qaeda popular committees, said the sources who saw the sermons of the prayer. The future martyrs asked for this prayer because their bodies are likely not to be found for prayers and burials.
Meanwhile, and in a signal of defiance, the anti-Al-Qaeda popular committees have started to distribute shrouds to their fighters, in a signal that they are ready to die for their villages and lands and they will never ever let the terrorists occupy their villages.
"If Al-Qaeda has 10 suicide bombers, for us, all our fighters are ready now to die for the sake of our properties and honor, and this is why everybody of us now has his own shroud as a part of his combat kit," said Hussein O, a leader of the anti-Al-Qaeda popular committees.
Al Qaeda has been holding two hostages in the southern province of Shabwah, which is beside Abyan. The first hostage is a Swiss woman who was kidnapped from the western province of Hodeidah last month, and the second hostage is a Saudi diplomat kidnapped from the southern city of Aden late last month. Al-Qaeda is demanding the release of prisoners from Saudi and Yemeni prisons in exchange.

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