Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Gov't approves budget draft of over YR 2 tln

SANA'A, March 06 (Saba) - The government approved on Tuesday a draft of the State's general budget for the fiscal year 2012 of over YR 2.1 trillion.
In its weekly meeting chaired by Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa, the cabinet referred the draft to the parliament to finalize the required constitutional measures.
According to the draft, the approved general budget for 2012 estimated at YR 2,111,129,453,000, with a deficit expected to reach over YR 0.5 trillion (nearly YR 561,611,320,000).
Yemen's general budget for 2011 was amounting to over YR 1.5 trillion with a deficit estimated at YR 316.4 billion.

Death toll of Yemeni troops from al-Qaida assault rises to 185; army 'fearful' after defeat

Ahmed Al-Haj, The Associated Press Mar 06, 2012
 SANAA, Yemen - The death toll from an al-Qaida assault on a military base in southern Yemen has risen to 185 government soldiers, military and medical officials said Tuesday. Many soldiers' bodies were found mutilated, and some were headless.
The scale of the army's defeat in the Sunday battle, which appears to be the worst-ever suffered by Yemen's military in its 10-month campaign against al-Qaida in the southern province of Abyan, deals a major blow to efforts by newly-inaugurated Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to uproot the militant movement from the region.
The surprise attack and the mutilations have left government troops "fearful" and with "low morale," according to a senior military official who was part of the defeated force. Another 55 soldiers were captured and paraded through a nearby town by the militants, who lost 32 of their fighters in the assault.
Medical officials in the area confirmed the latest death toll and said some of the bodies of soldiers recovered were missing their heads and bore multiple stab wounds. They said that bodies packed the military hospital morgue to which they were taken, with some taken to vegetable freezers in a military compound for lack of space.
A senior military official said that the attack left his soldiers "fearful of al-Qaida because of the barbarism and brutality of their attack."
"Al-Qaida managed to deal a blow to the army's morale. Imagine how soldiers feel when they see the bodies of their comrades dumped in the desert," he said.
Military officials had earlier said that militants overran the base and captured armoured vehicles and artillery pieces, which they turned on the army.
The official said the soldiers were taken unaware.
"It was a massacre and it came by surprise as the soldiers were asleep," he said. Militants sneaked behind army lines and attacked from the rear where there was "zero surveillance."
The attack appeared to be a response to a pledge by President Hadi to fight the Yemeni branch of al-Qaida, believed to be the most active of the militant movement's subsidiary networks.
Hadi took power last month from longtime ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh as part of power-transfer deal backed by the United States and initiated by Arab Gulf countries.
The year-long uprising against Saleh had caused a deterioration of central state authority throughout the country, and allowed al-Qaida to seize Zinjibar in May and fight off repeated army offensives to retake it.
The U.S. had hoped that replacing Saleh would take some pressure off of Yemen's government and military, who also confront tribal and separatist insurgencies, and allow them to fight back more effectively against the militants.
Despite the defeat, and a surge of other attacks by al-Qaida, Hadi has continued to pledge to fight the militants. "The confrontation will continue until we are rid of the last terrorist, whether in Abyan or elsewhere," the Yemeni media quoted him as saying on Monday.
But he may not yet have the means at his disposal to do so: the military official in Zinjibar said the forces routed by al-Qaida on Tuesday were poorly equipped, and that better-trained, better-armed specialized anti-terrorist units needed to be brought to the front.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of military protocol or because they were not allowed to speak to the media.

Osama bin Laden's family members to leave Pakistan

March 6, 2012
Islamabad: Pakistani authorities have allowed family members of slain al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, including his widows and children, to leave the country, a media report said on Tuesday.
A Yemeni brother-in-law of bin Laden has arrived in Pakistan to take away his two Yemeni widows, the mass circulation Urdu language Jang newspaper quoted official sources as saying.
Bin Laden was killed by US special forces in an early morning raid in the garrison town of Abbotabad on May 2 last year.
He is believed to have lived in a compound near the elite Pakistan Military Academy for nearly five years.
A commission investigating the US raid and bin Laden's presence in Pakistan has allowed the al Qaeda chief's family members to leave the country as they are no longer required for questioning.
The commission's members had interviewed bin Laden's widows as part of the investigation.
Three widows and several children and grandchildren of the al Qaeda chief are in the custody of Pakistani security agencies.
The report said bin Laden's brother-in-law was busy preparing documents for the two Yemeni widows who will be taken back to Yemen.
There was no official word on the development. The daily further reported that bin Laden's family members had been shifted from a safe house operated by security agencies to an unspecified location in Islamabad.
Police commandos have been deployed to protect them and the family could leave Pakistan in a couple of days, the report said.
Saudi authorities have refused to accept the Saudi widow of bin Laden, the report said.
The US troops had handed over all the family members of bin Laden after the 40-minute operation on May 2.
One Yemeni widow has been quoted by the media as saying that bin Laden had lived in Abbottabad for five years.
Pakistani authorities razed bin Laden's compound late last month as it had become a security concern because hundreds of people were visiting it every day.
The compound was located just two kilometres from the Pakistan Military Academy, which was attacked with rockets in late January.
No one was hurt and the attack only caused minor damage to the wall of the academy.

U.S. defends killing Americans who join al Qaeda

By Andrew Stern
Mar 6, 2012
CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Obama administration asserted on Monday a right to kill Americans overseas who are plotting attacks against the United States, laying out specific details for the first time about a policy that critics argue violates U.S. and international law.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that Americans who have joined al Qaeda or its affiliates can be targeted for lethal strikes if there is an imminent threat to the United States and capturing them is not feasible.
In a speech to the Northwestern University School of Law, Holder did not refer directly to the CIA drone strike last year that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born Muslim cleric who joined al Qaeda's Yemen affiliate and directed many attacks.
"Any decision to use lethal force against a United States citizen - even one intent on murdering Americans and who has become an operational leader of al Qaeda in a foreign land - is among the gravest that government leaders can face," he said.
"The American people can be - and deserve to be - assured that actions taken in their defense are consistent with their values and their laws," Holder said.
U.S. officials have linked Awlaki to several plots against the United States, including the 2009 Christmas Day attempt by a Nigerian man to blow up a U.S. commercial airliner as it arrived in Detroit from Amsterdam with a bomb hidden in his underwear.
Holder received a standing ovation when he entered the crowded auditorium but departed to perfunctory applause as some in the audience expressed surprise by his remarks. A question and answer session was canceled, the event organizers said.
Civil liberties groups have decried the program as effectively a green light to assassinate Americans without due process in the courts under the U.S. Constitution, a charge that Holder flatly rejected.
Court approval for such strikes was unnecessary, he said, adding "the president may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign terrorist organization with which the United States is at war - even if that individual happens to be a U.S. citizen."
That drew sharp criticism from some in the audience. A third-year law school student, Russell Sherman, called such strikes "assassination". Scott Hiley, a language professor at Northwestern University, said Holder employed "endlessly circular reasoning" to try to explain the policy.
President Barack Obama and his aides have fiercely defended their stand on national security in the face of criticism from Republicans in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail that terrorism suspects are treated too leniently.
Holder said the use of lethal force against Americans abroad would have to comply with several principles governing the law of war, including ensuring the target was of military value and that steps were taken to limit collateral damage.
"The principle of humanity requires us to use weapons that will not inflict unnecessary suffering," he said, but added that "these principles do not forbid the use of stealth or technologically advanced weapons."
A U.S. official said that there was fierce debate within the administration about whether Holder should give the speech, questioning if it would assuage or irritate Obama's liberal backers who have been concerned that his policies were too close to that of his predecessor, President George W. Bush.
"The targeted killing program raises profound legal and moral questions that should be subjected to public debate, and constitutional questions that should be considered by the judiciary," said Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Security Project.
The United States has launched numerous strikes against al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan using drones, unmanned aerial vehicles that at times have killed and wounded civilians in addition to the intended target, provoking an outcry.
A U.N. special investigator in 2010 called on the United States to halt CIA drone strikes, though the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has avoided a direct condemnation and said it was up to governments and military authorities to decide.
Holder said the administration abides by "robust oversight" when targeting Americans abroad, informing senior lawmakers about its counterterrorism operations.
Like the Bush administration, Holder asserted that conducting counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda, the Taliban and their affiliates was the purview of the presidency, citing 2001 congressional authorization.
He said the president has constitutional responsibilities to protect and defend the country.
"Military and civilian officials must often make real-time decisions that balance the need to act, the existence of alternative options, the possibility of collateral damage, and other judgments," Holder said.
The ACLU last month sued the Obama administration in federal court, demanding that Holder's Justice Department release what the civil liberties group says it believes are legal memoranda justifying targeting Americans overseas using lethal force.

Intelligence report finds only 16% of released Guatanamo detainees rejoin fighting

Kimberly Dozier, The Associated Press
Mar 06, 2012
WASHINGTON - The Director of National Intelligence said Monday that far fewer detainees released from Guantanamo Bay rejoined terrorist activities than previously reported.
In a new report, the intelligence office says just under 16 per cent of detainees released — 95 out of 600 — were confirmed to re-offend. Some 12 per cent more — about 72 detainees — are suspected of having rejoined terror groups, and are being watched. It is the first time the intelligence community provided that level of detail, says Pentagon spokesman Todd Breasseale.
A Republican congressional report in February added those two figures together, coming up with a much more dramatic rate of 27 per cent of the roughly 600 detainees released returning to the battlefield.
The Republicans on a House Armed Services subcommittee cited Pentagon figures, because that was what was available at the time, Breasseale said.
This new report says that while the Pentagon has found what it considers clear proof that some detainees reunited with al-Qaida or other terror groups, an almost equal number are on a de factor watch list, their behaviour and who the associate with being tracked at almost all times. Breasseale would not say how the detainees are being monitored.
The intelligence report does warn that detainees released to countries that are unstable are more likely to re-offend, an apparent reference to those released in Yemen. It also warns that if additional detainees out of the 171 left are released "without conditions...some will re-engage in terrorist or insurgent activity." The report does not go into what conditions are needed to keep a watch on the suspects or on a statistical basis how likely the detainees are to re-offend.