Saturday, March 10, 2012

Germany says ready to help Yemen transition

March 10, 2012  
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle arrived Saturday in Yemen for a brief visit to discuss bilateral cooperation with the country's new president, Saba news agency said.
Westerwelle will hold talks with President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi on "fields of bilateral cooperation," the state news agency said.
It also quoted Westerwelle paying tribute to the "peaceful" transition which last month saw Hadi replace veteran strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh who ceded power in line with a Gulf-brokered deal following months of mass pro-democracy protests demanding his ouster.
The new president will be serving for a two-year transitional period and Germany has said it was ready to help Yemen rebuild.
On Saturday Westerwelle reiterated Germany's determination to "help the political evolution" Yemen and said Berlin also stood ready to provide financial aid to impoverished Arabian Peninsula country, Saba said.
Germany will attend a "Friends of Yemen" forum of aid donors in Riyadh in April, the foreign minister said, according to Saba.
The German Foreign Ministry said that Westerwelle was due to hold a press conference later in the day before heading to neighboring Saudi Arabia for talks that will focus on the violence in Syria.

U.S. preparing to restart military aid to Yemen

Mar. 10, 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon is planning to restart programs that would fund military training and equipment in Yemen, nearly a year after they were shut down because of escalating chaos in the embattled country.
While no agreements have been cemented, U.S. defense officials said as much as $75 million in military assistance could begin to flow later this year. The officials said the Pentagon and State Department are putting together a letter to send to Congress to request the aid be restarted.
The plan is in line with the Obama administration's intention to provide significant security and civilian aid to Yemen in 2012-13 as long as the Middle Eastern country continues to move toward a new government and funding is kept out of the hands of insurgents. One senior military official said discussions have begun over how best the United States can help Yemen, which is putting a new U.S.-backed government in place. The official said it may be difficult to relaunch the counterterrorism training that was suspended about a year ago because Yemeni forces are engaged in battle with the al-Qaida-linked insurgency.
Instead, the training program could shift to focus less on fighting tactics and more on how to plan combat operations and strategize against the enemy.
Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because no final decisions have been made. Yearlong protests across Yemen, coupled with pressure from the U.S., led to the ouster of longtime Yemeni ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh. U.S. leaders have said they believe that newly inaugurated Yemeni president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, will be a good partner to the U.S. The renewed effort come as the threat from al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula also goes through its own transition. While often described as the top terror threat for strikes inside the U.S., the group hasn't surfaced as a key player in any domestic threats for more than a year.
The killing in a U.S. drone strike last fall of Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born radical militant cleric, has set back the group's terror efforts outside Yemen. Al-Awlaki has been linked to the planning and execution of several terror attacks targeting U.S. and Western interests, including the attempt to take down a Detroit-bound airliner in 2009 and the plot to bomb cargo planes in 2010.
But it's hard to tell how long the lull may last.
"What we don't necessarily know is are they going to be focusing much more on Yemen, or is it a short term thing, to be able to build up time and capacity to be able to strike at a far enemy," said Frank Cilluffo, director of a homeland security studies program at George Washington University who served as White House domestic security adviser to President George W. Bush.
Officials warn that the group has taken broad advantage of the unrest in Yemen to expand its foothold in the south, capture weapons, ammunition and equipment and score successes against the Yemeni military.
Al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula "has been degraded by the strike and the loss of al-Awlaki, but that doesn't mean they are not a threat," said Stewart Baker, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security who is now with the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson. "Their talent pool was thin and made thinner."
But counterterror experts cautioned that the al-Qaida affiliate has proved that it is willing to attempt attacks and fail, in the hopes of getting one success through. And Cilluffo said the group still represents the most active and focused domestic threat to the U.S., largely because the group's bomb-maker Ibrahim al-Asiri is still alive and active.
The U.S. has poured more than $326 million in security and civilian assistance into Yemen since 2007, fueled by the escalating terrorist threat from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based there. The funding flow, however, was abruptly turned off last year as political and security unrest raged.
Initial plans by the Pentagon to send at least $150 million in aid to Yemen last year were shut down and no new military aid was approved.
Pentagon leaders have as much as $350 million to spend on military aid to foreign countries this year, and according to congressional restrictions up to $75 million can be spent on Yemen. Congress also requires the Pentagon and State Department to defend the spending, including assurance that any assistance will be properly used.
On the civilian side, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, under a directive from the National Security Council, have begun a new review to assess the situation in Yemen following the recent presidential election and to determine how best to provide development support, according to a newly released government report. Since 2007, Yemen has received about $316 million in U.S. civilian aid, including humanitarian, education, development and refugee assistance.
The military funding, in addition to providing counterterrorism training, has also paid for aircraft, radios, rifles, patrol boats, trucks and other equipment.

Interior Ministry Responds to Houthi Expulsion of Central Security Soldiers

March 10, 2012
Ministry of Interior accused the general manager of Ghamr directorate, Houthi members in Sada’a and others for their poor decision to expel Central Security soldiers in the area.
The ministry stated that it formed a committee to investigate the expulsion and will resolve all aspects of problems related to this issue. The Interior Ministry put the responsibility on the debacle on the director of security and the leader of Central Security for sending their members to the “dens of Houthis and humiliating them in front of citizens.”
The Houthis said that they sent the soldiers from the Central Security to the Al-Malaheedh district after taking their machine guns and military equipment.

Houthis: No Dialogue With Western Interference

By National Yemen
March 10, 2012 - Dhaif-Allah Al-Shami, a member of the Houthi political office stated “that different Yemeni parties who try to have a national dialogue should first get rid of the western custody that is dragging Yemen into serious conflicts.”
 “We adopted a hostile attitude towards the U.S.A and want all Yemenis to remove all aspects of the previous regimes that used to be a strong ally for them,” Al-Shami added.
According to him, the American Ambassador is trying to reproduce the former regime and the ambassador is acting as if he is the commander and mastermind of the previous regime.
 “Many in the government follow all the orders of the ambassador and have made him their spiritual father as he tries to change the beliefs of Yemeni people. We completely reject this,” Al-Shami said.
Al-Shami also was quoted as saying that Americans are trying to create a conflict in Yemen through their statements such as saying some members of Saleh’s family should retain their positions so they can fight Al-Qaeda.
In regard to the national dialogue the government is expected to hold, Al-Shami said that the Houthis are the first to support a national dialogue provided that it free from Western interference. Also, he stipulated that those who call for national dialogue should have the constitutional legitimacy. But, according to him, the government does not have this legitimacy and so it cannot have any valuable outcome as long as they implement the “American and Gulf” conspiracy.
According to Al-Shami, Houthis did not decide whether they are going to attend the national dialogue or not because “we will make our decisions at the right time. And if we decide to go, we will have our own conditions.”
Al-Shami also said that they refuse to be used as a party to fulfill the legitimacy of the national dialogue and that they know Yemeni people do not recognize the new government.
 “As we try our best to serve Yemeni people and their needs for security, we share our decisions with everyone, including neighboring countries, people in squares of change and southern people. However, we believe that the Preparatory Committee for National Dialogue, led by Hameed Al-Ahmer, returns us to square one,” Al-Shami said.
Al-Shami added in his speech that national dialogue should be held under no custody and that Yemeni sides should be masters to decide where, how and what principles the dialogue will include. “National dialogue should serve all interest of all Yemeni people and we will never think of our own interest at the expense of others.” he stated.
 “We are looking forward to building the new and civil country that cares for all civil and religious rights that were violated by the former regime.” Al-Sami said.

At least 25 militants killed in U.S. air strike in Al-Baydha province

By Fatik Al-Rodaini
Sana'a, March 10, 2012- US drones raided several hideouts of the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda wing in the southeast restive province of Al-Baydha on Friday night. At least 25 AQAP militants were killed, including senior AQAP figures, and several others were wounded, in an air strike conducted by the United States forces according to local website news.
Sources said that AQAP militants came from Qaefa district with their heavy weapons, gathering in Wadi Al-Makhneq district, Al-Baydha province in a readiness to fight against Yemen government forces in an attempt to expand its hold over province.
Recently the U.S. air strikes have been increased exploiting the political turmoil in the country. For years, President Ali Abudullah Saleh allowed the United States to regularly strike against AQAP in Yemen, and US Special Operations forces built up the specialized units to fight AQAP. Even after the departure of president Saleh from the power, the US counterterrorism policy and counterterrorism cooperation with Yemen are still almost the same.
The United States has scored major success in previous strikes, including the killing of Awlaki, who was described by U.S. officials as "chief of external operations" for Al-Qaeda in Yemen.
In December, a U.S. drone attack killed Abdulrahman al-Wuhayshi, a relative of AQAP leader Nasser Al-Wuhayshi. Wuhayshi was once Osama bin Laden's personal aide in Afghanistan. Two months earlier, two teenage relatives of Awlaki were among 24 people killed in an air strike in southern Yemen, sparking angry reactions by members of the powerful tribe.
Two days ago Yemen Interior Ministry said in its website that at least 1000 of AQAP operatives were deployed in many cities within the Al-Baydha province to carry out attacks against Yemeni targets, warning from surprise attacks which being planned by the group.
In related news, Yemen Interior Ministry said in its website that Yemen forces in Abyan province arrested a suspected Al-Qaeda militant. The Ministry stated that Mohammed Ali Al-Raess, 28, from Zanjabar city was arrested in Mothelath Al-Saleh city, Abyan province.

Moreover, two Al-Qaeda militants were killed in Modea district, Abyan province by an explosion belt. Security sources said that Moneef Hadi Harron Al-Hawi and Yasser Mohammed Salem Al-Hawi were killed immediately when their explosive-packed belt blew up as they were headed towards their targets.