Sunday, March 11, 2012

Germany pledges 265 ml euros in aid to Yemen

March 11, 2012
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Saturday pledged 265 million euros in aid to Yemen during a visit to the impoverished Arabian peninsula country, state-run Saba news agency said.
Westerwelle also held talks with Yemen new President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi during a brief visit to Sanaa before heading to neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
Westerwelle paid 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, Saba said.
The new president will be serving for a two-year transitional period and Germany has said it was ready to help Yemen rebuild.
"Developments in Yemen have shown that the political solution is possible. Peaceful transition is necessary and it must be understood by other countries," Saba quoted him as saying.
Westerwelle was apparently refering to Syria where at least 8,500 people have been killed in a regime crackdown on dissent, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.
The German foreign minister also announced that his country will provide 265 million euros to help rebuild Yemen.
Germany will attend a "Friends of Yemen" forum of aid donors in Riyadh in April, the foreign minister said, according to Saba.
Later in the evening Westerwelle travelled to Saudi Arabia where he is due to hold talks with officials on the violence in Syria, diplomats said.

Yemeni Forces arrest Four Somali Militants

By Fatik Al-Rodaini
Sana'a, March 11, 2012- At least four al-Shabab fighters, the Somali al-Qaeda wing were arrested by Yemeni authorities in Yemen's southern province of Abyan. Yemen Interior Ministry said in its website that the four Somalis were captured on the road between Lahj and Abyan provinces
Recent news mentioned that al-Shabab, the Somali al-Qaeda wing had sent 300 armed men to fight alongside the Yemen-based wing of the militant network. Residents in Abyan province confirmed the arrival of more than 300 Somalis to Shaqera, a coastal town over the past of two months.
Connections between al-Qaeda -linked militants in Yemen and al-Shabab insurgents in Somalia have taken place in the past. Al-Shabab has bought weapons and explosives from Al Qaeda contacts in Yemen using money from piracy and kidnap-for-ransom schemes.
The ties between the two groups have strengthened lately, after nearly a year of daily protests against President Saleh demanding his resignation.
The current unrest in both countries allowed the two groups to move freely across one another borders.
According to report published last year, said that the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula had provided weapons, fighters and training with explosives to a militant Islamic group battling for power in Somalia.
The report stated that the leaders of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen also have urged members of the hard-line Shabab militia to attack targets outside Africa for the first time.
Actually, the heads of Al Qaeda in Yemen, acted at times as Bin Laden's go-betweens to the Somali fighters. Among those who tried to forge the alliance was Nasir Wahayshi, an AQAP leader who previously operated as Bin Laden's personal secretary.
In January 2011, Bin Laden and his aides agreed to elevate the Shabab to the same status as Al Qaeda franchises based in Yemen, Iraq and North Africa. But the Shabab's leaders did not adopt the Al Qaeda brand name, fearing it would fracture the group and draw more attention from Western intelligence groups.

Pentagon aims to resume military help for Yemen

March 11, 2012
Associated Press
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon plans to resume programs that would pay for military training and equipment in Yemen, nearly a year after halting aid to the key counterterrorism partner because of escalating internal chaos.
While no agreements have been cemented, U.S. defense officials said as much as $75 million in military assistance could begin to flow this year. The officials said the Pentagon and State Department are putting together a letter to send to Congress to request restarted the aid.
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 makes progress toward a new government and the money is kept from 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 based in the country.
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.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because no final decisions have been made.
Widespread protests, coupled with pressure from the U.S., led to the ouster of longtime ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh. U.S. leaders have said they believe that new president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, will be a good partner to the U.S.
The renewed effort come as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula also is experiencing its own transition. While often described as the chief terrorist threat for strikes inside the U.S., the group hasn't surfaced as a main source in any domestic threats for more than a year.
The killing in a U.S. drone strike last fall in Yemen of Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born radical militant cleric, has set back the group's efforts outside Yemen. Al-Awlaki was linked to the planning and execution of several attacks targeting U.S. and Western interests, including the attempt to 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. He was 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.
Yemeni military officials said Saturday that two U.S. airstrikes killed at least 18 al-Qaida-linked militants in an evening attack on a central province that had been partly overrun by the group this year. A U.S. Central Command spokesman declined to comment on any American role in the strikes.
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 counterterrorism experts said the al-Qaida affiliate has proved willing to attempt attacks and fail, in the hopes of an eventual success. Cilluffo said the group still represents the most active and focused domestic threat to the U.S., largely because bomb-maker Ibrahim al-Asiri is 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 threat from the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. The aid abruptly stopped 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, as much as $75 million can go to Yemen. Congress also requires the Pentagon and State Department to defend the spending and assure the proper use of any assistance.
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 new government report.
Since 2007, Yemen has received about $316 million in U.S. civilian aid, including humanitarian, education, development and refugee assistance.
The military money, in addition to providing counterterrorism training, has also paid for aircraft, radios, rifles, patrol boats, trucks and other equipment.

Somali militants caught in Yemen

Sunday, 11 March 2012
By Al Arabiya with Agencies
Yemeni security forces, fighting a growing Islamist insurgency, said on Saturday that they detained four Somali men suspected of belonging to the al-Shabaab militant group near a site of an explosion that killed two.
Two men were killed in southern Yemen when a bomb they planned to use in an attack on government forces exploded accidentally late on Saturday, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
There was no indication that the men were linked to the bomb plot, the statement said.
The al-Qaeda-allied Somali group had sent 300 armed men to fight alongside the Yemen-based wing of the militant network, it said. The four Somalis were captured on the road between the southern provinces of Lahej and Abyan.
The two dead men were identified by the ministry as Yasser and Muneef al-Hawi. The statement said they were killed in Abyan province’s Mudiyah district.
It gave no further details on whether the men were associated with Qaeda.
U.S. which had helped Yemen to quell Qaeda in the country is planning to restart programs that would fund military training and equipment in the country, nearly a year after they were shut down because of escalating chaos in the embattled country.
U.S. drone attacks killed at least 25 Qaeda-linked fighters on Saturday in southern Yemen, where militants have expanded their operations during a year of unrest that ousted former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Saturday’s operation was the biggest since Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took office last month vowing to fight Qaeda.
Thirty-four Qaeda militants were also killed in a Yemeni air force raid on Friday in al-Bayda, the governor of the southern province was cited as saying by the defense ministry on Sunday. The death toll had previously been put at 20 militants.
The governor said two Pakistanis, two Saudi nationals, and one Syrian and one Iraqi were among the dead. Four of the men killed were senior militant commanders, he said, without giving further details of their identity.
Ansar al-Sharia, Qaeda-linked militant group based in southern Yemen, has exploited a year of anti-government protests that have severely weakened central government control over parts of the country to seize several towns in the south, notably in Abyan province.