Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Yemen Salafists form first ever political party

Wed Mar 14, 2012
* Salafists seen inspired by success of Egypt's al-Nour party
* New party wants talks with Yemeni militants to end violence
* Fate of new govt depends on securing stability
By Mohammed Ghobari
SANAA, March 14 (Reuters) - Ultra-conservative Salafists in Yemen have formed their first political party, urging recently elected President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to apply Islamic law to all areas of life and to reject interference by foreign powers.
Salafis, ultra-orthodox even among fundamentalist Muslims, have traditionally shunned politics. But the success of the Salafi al-Nour party in Egypt, which won the second highest number of seats in the first democratically-elected parliament in decades, may have changed that.
Salafists in Yemen said their new party would be called the Rashad Union.
"After months of studying and discussing the necessity of immersion in the political process, we have decided to found the Rashad Union," they said in a statement, describing participation as a religious duty.
They also called for talks with Sunni Islamist militants and northern Shi'ite rebels to end political upheaval that has pushed Yemen to the brink of civil war.
"It is necessary to open dialogue with the armed groups like Ansar al-Sharia and the Houthis to get Yemen out of the cycle of violence," said Abdel Wahhab al-Hamqani, one of the leaders of the Salafi movement.
Both Shi'ite Muslim rebels, known as Houthis, and militant Sunni Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) have exploited weakened central government control to grab chunks of the country over the past year.
The fate of Yemen's interim government depends, at least in part, on how it deals with these two groups.
Although parliamentary elections are not due to be held until 2014, the Rashad Union will be able to take part in a national dialogue.
The dialogue was agreed as part of a Gulf-brokered deal that allowed former president Ali Abdullah Saleh to leave office after a year of protests against his rule.
The Salafi suggestion of negotiating with the Houthis is unusual because they adhere to a hardline creed that views Shi'ites as heretics. Houthis and Salafis have been fighting each other on and off in the north of the country for months.
The Houthis, who have effectively carved out a state-within-a-state for themselves along Yemen's border with Saudi Arabia, have been invited to take part in the national dialogue. But the government has said it will not engage with Ansar al-Sharia, which is inspired by al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda itself is inspired by a puritanical strain of Islam akin to that of the Salafis.
In statements posted on Islamist forums by Ansar al-Sharia earlier this week, the militant group said its exclusion from the dialogue and the Houthis' inclusion was inconsistent.
The Rashad Union will vie with better established players on the Yemeni political scene, such as the opposition Islamist Islah party and the General People's Congress (GPC), which is headed by Saleh himself.

UN Warns of Hunger Threat in Yemen

March 14, 2012
(Prensa Latina) Around five million Yemenis are threaten by hunger and a similar number is in danger of falling into that situation, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) reported on Wednesday.
  A survey by WFP at the end of 2011 showed that food insecurity in Yemen reached alarming levels and poses a risk for a quarter of the country's population.
The same survey also warns about the worsening of the crisis by rising food prices and domestic conflicts, and that 22 percent of the population striggles to get food, almost twice as many as two years ago.
The UN agency increased to 3.6 million dollar the amount of assistance needed to help the vulnerable Yemeni population.
The survey also revealed an alarming situation regarding child nutrition, with levels of 28 percent of undernourished children in the province of Al Hudeidah, well above the 15 percent considered as an emergency by the World Health Organization.

UN-backed Measles Campaign Launched in Yemen

March 14, 2012
The United Nations is backing a massive vaccination campaign under way in Yemen, where a new outbreak of measles has killed at least 126 children under the age of five.
The campaign, supported by the UN Children`s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), will target an estimated eight million children under the age of ten following the most recent outbreak of the disease which has already caused a reported 3,600 cases.
This situation is unacceptable, " said UNICEF Representative Geert Cappelaere in a press statement released on 10 March. Measles is a preventable disease and Yemen was close to being declared measles free in 2010 with zero deaths, " he added.
According to reports, the disease is spreading quickly to highly populated areas as well as areas suffering from high levels of acute malnutrition " a factor which could increase the probability of death among those infected.
Measles is a big killer of children, " warned WHO Representative Ghulam Popal. Measles can be easily prevented by vaccination. The high rate of malnutrition and diarrhoea among children would increase the fatality of measles. Therefore, it`s very important to implement the national campaign to prevent thousands of deaths among children. "
The $9 million vaccination campaign will be implemented in phases, with the first targeting 1.5 million children in regions of the country with the highest reported incidence, including the governorates of Abyan, Al-Baidha, Aden, Dhamar, Lahj, Shabwa, and Sa`ada. The second phase, which will cover the rest of the country, will be launched at the end of the month.
In addition, the campaign will also provide polio vaccinations and vitamin A supplementation for over one million children.
This latest measles outbreak follows a drop in immunization rates prompted by the civil strife which afflicted Yemen last year as part of the larger unrest across the Arab world. Some areas of the country saw a decrease in immunization rates by up to 60 per cent, leaving children vulnerable to a range of preventable diseases, including measles as well as polio.

Yemen, KSA discuss resuming Saudi-funded projects

RIYADH, March 14 (Saba) - Yemen and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia discussed on Wednesday in Riyadh mechanisms to resume the implementation of Saudi-funded development projects in Yemen.
This came in a meeting gathered Minister of Finance Sakhr al-Wajih and Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Mohammed al-Sa'adi and Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf.
They also discussed the possibility of supporting the Yemeni economy immediately via reconsidering the Saudi amounts allocated Yemen in the 2006 donors conference to enable the government to face the difficulties in the economic, development and service areas.
The ongoing preparations for the meeting of Yemen friends group to be held in Riyadh on 23 - 24 April were also touched upon in the meeting, in addition to availing from the Saudi expertise in the area of development project management.

Car bomb detonated near Aden airport

ADEN, Yemen, March 14 (UPI) -- An explosives-filled vehicle was detonated near the Aden, Yemen, airport, killing the driver and wounding scores of others Wednesday, security officials said.
News of the explosion followed reports that al-Qaida would target the port city's airport, reported.
It wasn't known which al-Qaida-linked militant group was behind the blast, said.