Thursday, February 16, 2012

Boycott not to affect presidential election: says US ambassador

SANA'A, Feb. 16 (Saba) - The US ambassador to Yemen said on Thursday said that the Houthi group and southern movement's boycott would not affect the early presidential election to be hold on 21 February.
In a press conference held in the US embassy in Sana'a, Gerald Feierstein pointed to regional and international commitment to succeed the presidential election.
"We are working with the national reconciliation government for achieving the election successfully and ensuring as much as possible of participation in the voting day," he said.
He expected security challenges during the election, saying it would be "the beginning, and not the end, of the transitional phase."
Feierstein hailed the political parties' fulfillment of the Gulf initiative and the related achieved steps, topped by the actions taken by the government to secure the elections.
"Despite the political achievements, we have not seen any progress in the economic field", the US ambassador said, stressing the importance of ending the Yemeni citizens' suffering due to deterioration of basic services.
He accentuated the need of conducting the "national dialogue" between the various political parties, scheduled to be taken place after the presidential election, adding that the dialogue would address all legitimate demands including the issues of Sa'ada and the South region as well as adopting the constitutional reforms.
He expressed his optimism about Houthi group's participating in the dialogue. "We want Houthis to take part in the national dialogue, and abandon violence and armed action."
Concerning the armed and security forces, Feierstein said it would be restructured after the presidential election. "I will not name any person, but I expect the involvement of all leaders".
He criticized the protests within the government institutions, in particular military units, affirming the legal actions against any government leaders accused of corruption must be taken. "The accused should have the opportunity to defend themselves", he underlined.
Regarding the President Ali Abdullah Saleh's political activity, Feierstein said the US does not have any reservation about the President's political activities after ending his current presidential term, via leading the General People Congress Party.

Underwear bomber to receive sentence

DETROIT, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Convicted terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab will likely be given one last opportunity to speak Thursday in Detroit at his sentencing, legal experts said.
The Nigerian student who pleaded guilty in October faces up to life in prison for trying to use a bomb in his underwear to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it approached Detroit's Metro Airport on Christmas Day in 2009.
He will likely be sentenced to life in the Supermax federal prison in Florence, Colo., which houses foreign and domestic terrorists including Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, The Detroit News reported.
His legal adviser has argued that a life sentence is too harsh because no one was killed in the attempted bombing.
Abdulmutallab, who came from an affluent family in Nigeria, joined al-Qaida after watching Internet videos produced by radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, prosecutors said.
His parents arrived in Detroit on Tuesday. Adolph Mongo, a jury and media consultant who met with the family, said Abdulmutallab has refused to see his parents but the family was planning to attend the sentencing in support of their son, the newspaper reported.

Qaeda militant killed by brother in Yemen

Mohammed Ghobari Reuters
February 16, 2012
SANAA (Reuters) - A leader of al Qaeda's wing in Yemen was killed by his brother while praying in a mosque before dawn Thursday and the brother was then slain in revenge, tribal sources said.
Tareq al-Dahab, brother-in-law of slain U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed with five bodyguards by his brother Hizam and fighters from their Dahab tribe in al-Baydah province.
The killings illustrate the complexity of the security challenges facing Yemen as it prepares for a presidential election to replace the outgoing Ali Abdullah Saleh next week.
"Tareq al-Dahab and five of his bodyguards were killed in a mosque in the al-Manasih area near his home," said a tribal source. "His brother Hizam had three men with him and they killed Tareq and his men easily because they surprised them."
A security source earlier said Tareq was killed at his home.
His loyalists later blew up Hizam's house and killed him in revenge, tribal sources said, sparking a clash between the two brothers' followers. Two of Hizam's supporters were killed in the fighting, bringing the death toll to nine.
Fifteen men were also wounded before a tribal truce calmed the clashes. A third brother, Nabil al-Dahab, is now expected to take Tareq's position as al Qaeda's leader in al-Baydah.
Tareq and his brothers, who have been involved in a two-year struggle for the leadership of the powerful Dahab tribe after their father's death, have each backed different sides as Yemen's complicated political fabric unraveled in 2011.
Tareq, who led an al Qaeda assault on the town of Radda, 170 km (105 miles) southeast of Sanaa last month, was pipped for leadership of the Dahab tribe by his eldest brother Majid, who supported last year's anti-Saleh protests.
Tareq and his brothers had challenged Majid's right to lead tribe.
Yemeni al Qaeda analyst Saeed Abeed said Tareq's death was not a big blow to the group, but could cause a tribal backlash.
"Al Qaeda has lost more important leaders than him, (but) his absence will lead the (Dahab) tribe to take revenge on al Qaeda," Abeed told Reuters.
The Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has emerged as one of the network's most active and ambitious wings after setbacks to al Qaeda groups in Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Weakened by years of political upheaval, the government has lost control of swathes of Yemen, giving AQAP room to expand its foothold in a country that borders oil giant Saudi Arabia.
Yemenis go to the polls on February 21 to pick a leader to replace Saleh, now in the United Sates for medical treatment, amid concern that violence could reduce voter turnout.
Although he is the sole candidate, Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi needs a large turnout to give him the legitimacy he needs for a two-year interim period in which the armed forces are to be restructured and the constitution overhauled.