Thursday, May 31, 2012

Houthis accept to participate in the comprehensive Yemeni dialogue

By Fatik al-Rodaini
SANA'A, May 31, 2012- Yemen's Houthi group in northern Yemen, said that it will participate in the comprehensive Yemeni dialogue according to the Gulf initiative and its mechanism and the UN Security Council Resolution 2014.
In a statement posted in the Internet by liaison committee said Hothis confirmed their participation in the comprehensive dialogue during its meeting with the leader of the Houthi group Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi. 
The statement said Al-Houthi welcomed the committee and stressed the importance of the national dialogue.
It also cited that the Houthi accepted the participation on the base of "healthy foundations that could end Yemen's crises and achieve the revolution's goals.''
The national dialogue is designed to settle down disputes between Yemeni political factions under the supervision of Hadi, in accordance with the GCC power transfer deal deal that eased former president Ali Abdullah Saleh out of power.
The eight-member liaison committee to start a planned national reconciliation dialogue as part of a UN-backed power transfer deal.
The Houthi-led rebels have been engaging in severe sectarian conflicts for several months with Sunni fundamentalists in Saada and neighboring provinces of Hajja and Jawf that left hundreds of people killed and forced thousands of residents to flee their villages.
Yemen has witnessed sporadic battles since 2004 between government troops and rebels. The government has been accusing the rebels of seeking to re-establish the clerical rule overthrown by the Yemeni revolution in 1962 that created the Yemeni republic.

Seven killed in militant raid on Yemeni town

SANAA | Thu May 31, 2012  
 (Reuters) - At least seven people were killed when fighters linked to al Qaeda attacked Yemeni troops guarding a town briefly seized by the militants earlier this year, officials said on Thursday.
The attack on Radda, a town in the al-Baydah province 170 km (105 miles) southeast of Sanaa, comes amid a major Yemeni army offensive on militant strongholds further to the south.
The Yemeni Defence Ministry said four militants and three soldiers died during the attack late on Wednesday night.
Fighters linked to the al Qaeda's Yemen branch, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), briefly seized Radda in January but left the town after striking a deal with the authorities.
AQAP-linked Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic law) said Wednesday's clash began after government troops surrounded the home of a resident named Nassr al-Hattam and pounded it with tank fire.
In an emailed statement, it said Ansar al-Sharia dispatched fighters who attacked troops surrounding the house and a Republican Guard checkpoint at the entrance of Radda. Several soldiers were killed or wounded, it said.
Washington has grown concerned over security in Yemen after militants overran several towns in the south of the country during a popular uprising last year that severely weakened central government authority and eventually toppled former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The Yemeni army has since regained control of some parts of Abyan, including parts of the provincial capital Zinjibar, and surrounds the town of Jaar, another militant stronghold, Yemeni officials say.
Washington, which sees AQAP as a threat to international security, has thrown its weight behind Yemen's new President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
The United States has stepped up drone attacks against militants it suspects may be plotting against it. It has also renewed military training to help Yemeni security forces against al Qaeda.
On Wednesday, an army official said 20 militants and seven soldiers died when government troops fought off an ambush by Islamist militants on the western edge of Jaar.

Tawakul Karman, Yemeni Nobel Laureate, Condemns U.S. Drone Strikes As Ineffective

DOHA, May 30 (Reuters) - Nobel Peace Prize-winning Yemeni opposition activist Tawakul Karman said on Wednesday U.S. drone strikes were ineffective because they were hitting mainly civilians in south Yemen rather than their intended target, al Qaeda-linked militants.
The United States and its Gulf Arab allies have watched with mounting alarm as Islamist insurgents, emboldened by political upheaval in Yemen, have launched a series of audacious attacks and seized swathes of territory including some major towns.
Washington is trying to counter the threat by stepping up drone strikes to kill suspected militants and training the Yemeni army to fight them and stop the country being used as a springboard for attacks on Western targets.
"We are against drone strikes because they will not kill the real al Qaeda, they will only target women and youth," Karman said in an interview in the Qatari capital Doha on Wednesday.
Tribal leaders in parts of Yemen where drone attacks aimed at al Qaeda have killed civilians say the strikes have been turning more and more Yemenis against the Sanaa government and Washington.
Backed by Washington, the Yemeni army has launched a major aerial and ground offensive in south Yemen where militants have gone on the rampage in recent months, looting ammunition depots and killing scores of soldiers.
Karman said former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who quit in February after a year of mass protests, was the "real hand" behind the strength of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula state.
"Fighting terrorists is a goal of our revolution, and we welcome the participation of the U.S. and the international community, but the only ones with the interest to combat al Qaeda in our country are the Yemeni people," Karman said.
Saleh long enjoyed Saudi and U.S. backing as their point man in fight al Qaeda militants based in Yemen.
But Saleh's opponents repeatedly accused him of manipulating the threat of militancy and even encouraging it to scare the United States and Saudi Arabia into backing him as a bulwark against al Qaeda and thereby help him cling to power.
"We were uncomfortable with the U.S. approach to combat al Qaeda with Saleh. I told them, 'You have to be careful with Saleh. Don't trust him.' I can't believe that (the U.S.) didn't know of Saleh's connection with al Qaeda," Karman said.
"Now with Hadi, we are confident he will stop al Qaeda."
Karman said she was happy with the transition under new President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who U.S. officials say is proving a more effective partner than Saleh against militants.
At least 20 militants and seven soldiers were killed in Yemen on Wednesday when government troops fought off an ambush on the edge of a southern town controlled by an al Qaeda-linked group, an army official said.
"We are happy and we see progress. That is our victory. He is the president the revolution chose, and we are satisfied. But we are not satisfied with the situation of the army and security forces. Until now, there has been no unification," Karman said.
"It's very important that the international community (exerts) more pressure. They haven't done enough. We need support in sacking all of Saleh's family from the security forces. They support al Qaeda," she said.
Karman said reform activists were focusing on rooting out corruption and restructuring the army and security forces.
"But we (protesters) are still in the squares. The tents are still there and we will not leave until we achieve all of our goals," she said.
Karman won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her role in leading protests against Saleh. She shared the prize with Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Liberian peace campaigner Leymah Gbowee.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cleric Al Zindani calls Yemen President for dialogue with al-Qaeda

May 30, 2012
Official source (Asked to remain  anonymous) attended the clerics meeting with  the Yemeni president Abdu rabu Mansoor Hadi last Tuesday said to YemenOnline that  the Yemeni cleric Abdul Majeed al-Zindani , the  most politically powerful religious and political leaders in Yemen called president Hadi to stop the war against the Islamic militia linked to al-Qaeda in southern Yemen and  hold dialogue with them.
Al-Zidani  was revered by many one of the most prominent educators is the Islamic world. In the struggle against the Western powers, he has called for armed jihad against Israel, and to oppose any US troops who may be sent to Yemen to fight al-Qaeda. In 2004, he has been identified by the US Treasury Department as "Specially Designated Global Terrorist".
 He had close ties not only to Osama bin Laden as one of his spiritual leaders,but also with Anwar al-Awlaki who was vice president of Zindani's Charitable Society for Social Welfare . Awlaki later was found to have unexplained associations with the 9/11 attackers and the Fort Hood shootings, eventually being targeted and killed because of his threats and connections to attacks against the US. Zindani's name is also on the UN 1267 Committee's list of individuals belonging to or associated with al-Qaeda. His Al Iman University reportedly cultivates militant Islamists.

National dialogue could make or break Yemen’s transition – UN envoy

May 30, 2012
Yemen’s national dialogue conference, slated for next year, will be crucial for the democratic transition underway in the country, which is dealing with serious security concerns, an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and many unresolved conflicts, a senior United Nations official said today.
 The success or failure of the national dialogue is likely to make or break Yemen’s transition,” the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, told the Security Council in a briefing.
He added that helping to ensure the success of the all-inclusive dialogue, initial preparations for which have begun, will be the UN’s top priority in Yemen in the coming months. The outcome of the conference will feed into the constitution-making process that is to conclude in late 2013, enabling general elections to take place in February 2014.
Warring factions in Yemen signed an agreement in November 2011 on a transitional settlement under which former president Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to step down, following widespread protests similar to those seen across the Middle East and North Africa as part of the so-called “Arab Spring” pro-democracy movement.
In his remarks to the Council, Mr. Benomar noted that the transition remains “largely on track,” with President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi Mansour, who came to power in February’s election, continuing to take important steps to advance the process.
At the same time, the transition is taking place against “a backdrop of serious security concerns, an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and many unresolved conflicts,” said Mr. Benomar. “The timeline for the transition is very tight and there is no time to lose.”
One of Yemen’s key challenges, he said, is to assert the authority of the State in an environment that is dominated by a multitude of armed non-State actors competing for power. Al-Qaeda, in particular, continues to pose a major threat, he noted, adding that underlying causes of tension remain in place.
 Obstructionist moves to impede President Hadi’s reorganization and control of the military and security forces could derail Yemen’s fragile transition process and could result in serious instability,” the envoy said. “All efforts must be made to keep the transition on track.”
Mr. Benomar said the national dialogue conference could be an essential step towards this end.
 If it is well prepared and gains legitimacy in the eyes of all Yemeni constituencies as a forum for shaping the framework of Yemen’s future, it could become an important vehicle for democratic empowerment and for creating a positive political dynamic in Yemen towards greater stability and security,” he said.
To be successful, the national dialogue process must be designed and driven by the Yemenis themselves, the envoy stressed. “While this will require strong international support, its footprint should be light,” he said.
Based on consultations with Yemeni actors, the UN will provide support in four key areas: political facilitation; technical support; capacity-building; and a public information and awareness campaign.
Mr. Benomar also reported that Yemen’s security situation remains a source of major concern, noting that military restructuring and steps toward a unified command will take time and sustained support.
The Government’s overall security capacity remains “limited,” he said, while also noting that “separatist sentiments” in the south have been on the rise and incidents of abduction, assassination and hostage-taking have increased in the past few weeks.
At the same time, the current scale of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is “unprecedented” and the figures are much bleaker than previously reported. Ten million people – almost half of the country’s entire population – are food insecure, with half of those severely food insecure and in need of immediate assistance. Almost one million children under the age of five suffer from malnutrition.
To address the growing humanitarian needs in Yemen, the UN’s humanitarian response has been significantly expanded in 2012, but delivery of assistance still faces a number of challenges, key among them are capacity, security and funding, said Mr. Benomar.
 Both the Yemeni Government and the international community must prioritize this acute humanitarian crisis,” he stated.
The $455 million Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan is currently only 43 per cent funded. However, since the original appeal, the number of people in acute humanitarian need has increased, and the financial requirements are being revised, he said.