Thursday, March 22, 2012

Yemen Threatened by Military, Humanitarian Crisis

March 22, 2012
 The government's forces on Thursday continue on alert after an explosion at a military base and clashes with Islamic rebels, while the humanitarian situation is deteriorating as a result of prolonged political instability.
 Military units were mobilized following the powerful explosion on Wednesday night in the barracks of the First Armored Division commanded by General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a senior officer who supported the revolt against Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Mohsen Al-Ahmar, Saleh's cousin, led the insurrection within the Army supported by young people who revolted on January 27, 2011, especially after more than 50 protesters were shot by the Republican Guard loyal to the former president.
Meanwhile, local media on Wednesday reported clashes in several areas of the central province of Mareb where members of the Republican Guard and Central Security Forces fought against rebels linked to al-Qaeda.
The entire region remains heavily guarded by soldiers loyal to the government of President Abdo Rabbo Mansour, Saleh's successor, who also faces internal political pressure due to delays in the dismissal of government officials linked to his predecessor.

Yemen troops threaten to defect … to al-Qaeda

Chiara Onassis | 22 March 2012
SANA’A: Yemeni soldiers based in Abyan a southern province of the country currently battling al-Qaeda militants as they try to regain control of the region, told that their living conditions were so appalling that they were now considering defecting in favor to the terror group.
Soldiers actually wrote a letter to the Deputy Defense Minister and President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi, in which they accused the Commander-in-Chief of allowing high ranking officers to carry on their abuses of power, retaining salaries and food rations for their own personal financial benefit.
Soldiers painted a very grim reality, saying that they were lacking everything: fuel, food stuffs and basic commodities, making their posting that much more difficult and overall disheartening.
 “How can they [the government] expect us to fight for them and lay down our lives when they treat us like slaves? We are at the bottom of the food chain here; thrown in hell to fight the terror militants. Al-Qaeda has said to be fighting to restore the rightful rights of the people of Yemen. Maybe we owe to listen to them. At least they feed their men properly,” said a disenchanted lieutenant who for security reasons refused to reveal his identity.
Although not all soldiers are threatening to defect to al-Qaeda, many troops across the country are warning that unless their commanders are replaced anew they would refuse to obey the Defense Minister command, underscoring the men’s deep resentment for the current apparatus.
“We need real change, not some cosmetic patch that equates to nothing,” said an air force pilot of al-Dalaimi military base in Sana’a, the capital.
With al-Qaeda seemingly gaining more ground as its men are spreading to all provinces, the armed forces cannot really afford a new wave of defections or even protests as unity is of the essence if the country is to stand a chance at fighting the terror enemy.

Seven killed in north Yemen in mine blast

By Fatik al-Rodaini
SANA'A, March 22, 2012-  At least 7 people were reportedly killed and 15 others wounded on Thursday in a landmine explosion in Al-Haza, a district of Yemen’s northern province of Hajah.
The explosion occurred when a local resident who had fled the area following the unrest returned to his residence. Many locals had to run because of the ongoing bloody conflict opposing al-Houthis, a Shia rebel group and the Salafis, Sunni fundamentalists.
Sources reported that many of the victims lost their limbs to the blast, while others managed to escape with minor injuries.
Residents accused al-Houthi rebels to have planting explosive devices near their homes as to hold back their enemies, with blatant disregard to local residents’ well fare.
For months, the Shia insurgents targeted local villages for they believe they had sided with their enemies, firing rockets and launching raids on farms despite the presence of women and children. Despite numerous calls for help to the government, Sana’a has yet to act on behalf of its citizens and bring them some sort of support and protection.
Many similar accidents left several people dead and injured including children and women since the war ended early this year in the province.
In Huta, the regional capital of the southern province of Lahj, soldiers opened fire early morning yesterday on a car which failed to stop at a checkpoint, killing a child and wounding his mother, security officials reported.
Following the incident, alleged al-Qaeda militants killed a Yemeni soldier and injured 2 others during an attack on a military checkpoint in the southern province of Lahj.

Saleh maintains power in spite of deal

SANAA, Yemen, March 22 (UPI) -- Yemeni officials are expressing outrage at former President Ali Abdullah Saleh's meddling in affairs of state months after agreeing to relinquish his power.
Saleh formally agreed in November of last year to step down from the office of president after his 30-year rule, passing the torch to his deputy. In exchange, he would be granted immunity from prosecution for his crackdown on political protesters.
However, Gulf News reported ever since Abd Rabboo Mansour Hadi was sworn in as president, Saleh has continued to issue decrees and maintain correspondence with other heads of state.
A spokesman of the Joint Meeting Parties, Abd al Galeb al Audaini, said the countries that brokered the Gulf Cooperation Council deal should step in to enforce Saleh's end of the agreement.
"His work as a president of his party shows that his is not committed to his promise. He can't have his cake and eat it too. He can't be a political figure and at the same time have immunity," Audaini said.

Yemeni journalist sets up media freedom group

SANA’A, March 22 (Saba)- The Freedom Foundation (FF) for media freedom, rights and development was inaugurated here on Thursday under the patronage of Human Rights minister H.E. Hooria Mashoor.
Established by award-winning journalist Khaled al-Hammadi, the Freedom Foundation is a Yemeni volunteer non-profit non-government organization.
Al-Hammadi has received the International Press Freedom Award 2011 from the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression as first ever Yemeni journalist get this award.
The Freedom Foundation also launched its website on internet (
It is working on media freedom, rights and media development to achieve its target of promoting human rights and developing democracy in Yemen.
It monitors anti-media freedom violations and seeks to develop and strength media capabilities as a vital actor in rising awareness and advancing freedom, democracy and human rights in Yemen.