Sunday, March 25, 2012

Yemen, Zindani and the United States of America

Chiara Onassis | 25 March 2012
SANA’A: US ambassador to Yemen, Gerard Feierstein expressed his concerns over the role played by Sheikh Abdel-Mageed al-Zindani within al-Islah party, Yemen’s Islamic political faction as he reminded President Abdu Rabbo Mansour in a meeting this Sunday that the prominent cleric was topping the list of America’s Most Wanted Terrorists and has been for several years.
Sheikh Zindani whose son, Mohamed called for a jihad against American intervention in Yemen, has for many years stated his fierce dislike for the White House, often accusing former President Ali Abdullah Saleh of collaboration with the enemies of Islam, as the latter was working with the US against al-Qaeda, an Islamic terror group operating in the Middle East.
The sheikh, who enjoyed President Saleh’s protection, as the autocrat refused to hand out the clerics to the Americans, fearing such a move would trigger a tribal uprising, was suddenly branded a pariah by the regime as he directly opposed Saleh’s rule last year, siding with the revolutionaries in their demands for change. An arrest warrant was issued for him, last year under Saleh’s order, but no action has been taken.
Suspected to be leading a reported 2,000 hardened jihadists, the sheikh is a not only a prominent cleric, a powerful tribal leader and senior leader of al-Islah party, he is also a key ally of Sheikh Sadeeq al-Ahmar, the mighty tribal chief of the Hasheed confederation of tribes, making him a mighty opponent indeed and a bit of a thorn in the side of the government, with nobody daring to directly attack him.
Moreover, the ambassador reiterated a warning against Tehran’s meddling in Yemen’s internal affairs, stressing that Iran was continuing to push al-Houthis’ insurgency movement and the southern secessionist movement in Aden to better destabilize the country and further its own political agenda for the region.
Feierstein called on President Hadi to stand the course of the power-transfer, urging all parties to fully commit and cooperate with the government as he said only through national dialogue would the country move away from the specter of civil war.

'Qaeda' gunmen kill three Yemeni troops: official

March 25, 2012
Agence France Presse
ADEN: Suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen have killed an army officer and wounded two soldiers in an ambush in southern Yemen, a military official said Sunday.
The ambush, which took place on Saturday, targeted an army convoy east of the city of Huta, in the province of Lahij, the official told AFP requesting anonymity.
The convoy was on its way to reinforce a checkpoint in the suburb of Hamra after it came under attack by Al-Qaeda-linked gunmen, who are active in the region, the official added.
A medical official at Aden's Basohayeb military hospital said the officer, Major Kamal al-Ashwal, died of a bullet wound to his stomach.
The Islamists have exploited a central government weakened by a year of anti-regime protests to strengthen their presence in Yemen, launching deadly attacks against security forces, especially across the south and southeast.
The United States says the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, is the most active branch of the global terror network.

US says Iran active in north, south Yemen

March 25, 2012
Business Recorder Logo Washington believes Iran is working with Shi'ite Muslim rebels in northern Yemen and secessionists in the country's south to expand its influence at the expense of Yemen's Gulf neighbours, the US envoy to Sanaa was quoted as saying on Sunday.
The pan-Arab daily al-Hayat cited Gerald Feierstein, in an interview in London, as accusing Lebanon's Hezbollah and Hamas of helping their backers in Shi'ite Iran at the expense of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), a bloc in which Sunni-led oil giant Saudi Arabia's influence is dominant.
"The Iranians want to build influence in Yemen...
both internally and more broadly in the region by establishing a foothold in the Arabian Peninsula," the paper quoted Feierstein as saying in remarks published in Arabic.
"It's something that's naturally regarded as a security threat to Saudi Arabia and the rest of the GCC states."
Feierstein told Reuters in an interview last month that there were signs of greater Iranian activity in Yemen, but did not specify where and how.
"There is evidence that Hezbollah and Hamas support this Iranian effort.
We are aware of a southern Yemeni presence in Beirut that has been used as a conduit for Iranian support for obstruction in southern Yemen," he said.
A spokesman for the US embassy in Yemen did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment on the published remarks.
Feierstein was referring to the resurgence of secessionist sentiment in the south, formerly a separate socialist republic which fought a civil war with the north in 1994 after four turbulent years of formal political union.
That sentiment, based in charges of economic and political marginalisation, gained strength in the final years of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh's rule, and the south saw a boycott of a vote last month to replace Saleh with his deputy.
That election was a key to a transition deal, crafted by the GCC with US and UN endorsement to avert civil war after mass protests against Saleh turned into fighting among a divided military and territorial gains by the country's al Qaeda wing.
Feierstein said the group had benefited from Yemen's political turmoil, but could be defeated by a reunited Yemeni military.
The US has backed units of the military led by Saleh's relatives as part of its campaign against al Qaeda, which has plotted abortive attacks abroad from Yemen.
"If we solve some of the political problems that created chaos in the Yemeni military, we will have improved the possibility of succeeding in our initiatives against al Qaeda," he said.
Washington has carried out a campaign of drone strikes - including one last year to assassinate a US citizen it claims played a role in plotting an attack - against alleged al Qaeda members in Yemen.
Its top "counter-terrorism" official has made co-ordination with a united Yemeni military a priority in relations with the administration of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
An attack claimed by al Qaeda killed at least 26 people hours after Hadi was sworn in, vowing to fight the group.
Feierstein refused to comment when queried about the present US role in airstrikes earlier this month that killed dozens in areas of south Yemen controlled by an al Qaeda-linked Islamist group.
"I can say that we are working closely with the security institutions of the Yemeni government regarding counter-terrorism initiatives, specifically those aimed at defeating al Qaeda," he was quoted as saying.

Yemeni President Receives Call from Assistant to US President for Counterterrorism

Sana'a, March 25 (BNA) - Yemeni President Abdo Rabu Mansour Hadi has received a phone call from John Brennan.
During the call, Brennan conveyed greets and felicitations of American President Barack Obama to President Hadi for the achievements attained in political settlement process in Yemen based on Gulf initiative and its executive mechanism as well as UN Security Council Resolution 2014, Yemen news agency (Saba) reported. He also confirmed the importance of cooperation among all Yemeni political powers to enter the second stage of implementing all initiative's terms and facing the overall challenges in peaceful ways. The American assistant went further by saying that whole international community is keen on Yemen's security, stability and unity. For his part, President Hadi expressed his appreciation for the interest of US for developments in Yemen and which attentively following up progress of current events in the country.

Kuwait Calls International Community to Support Yemen Human Rights Council

March 25, 2012
National Yemen
In the meeting held by the Human Rights Council, Kuwait called the international community to support Yemen as it works to overcome the economic challenges it faces during this critical stage of political change. Kuwait also asked the international community to gain a full understanding of the current situation in Sana’a regarding the issues of human rights.
The Kuwaiti news agency Kuna reported through Malik Hussien Al-Wazan, an adviser in the Kuwait Delegation to the United Nations, that Kuwait is concerned with the unity, security and stability of Yemen.
The adviser said in a recent speech that Kuwait would continue to encourage the completion of the political process according to the GCC initiative. Also, he stressed the role of enhancing cooperation with the United Nations and Human Rights Council and sent a call for the Higher Commissioner to visit Yemen.
Al-Wazan also praised Yemeni attitudes towards welcoming most of the recommendations of the Higher Commissioner and called the Yemeni government to inaugurate an office for the Higher Commission in Yemen.
It is worth mentioning that Human Rights Council is discussing the provision of technical support for Yemen to build its abilities in the field of human rights. This support aims to create a general timeframe for continuation of dialogue to enhance cooperation with the commissioner and the international community.

Yemeni President presides over exceptional Cabinet meeting

SANA'A: March 25, 2012- Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi presided over an exceptional meeting for the Cabinet on Saturday at the Presidential Palace in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a.
During the meeting, Hadi instructed the Ministers not to consider any instructions or orders from anybody out of the National Unity government and to make their only goal serving the nation’s interests.
He has scalded the General People Congress ministers who withdrew last week and refused to attend the Cabinet weekly meeting based on orders by former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is the head of their party.
The Unity government is the outcome of the GCC-brokered deal , it has nothing to do with parties as it has a national, regional and international duties related to the GCC agreement, its executive mechanism, and the UN resolution no.2014.
I held today this exceptional meeting to brief you the latest developments on the security and political situation in the country after the Presidential elections,” Hadi said.
He underlined the importance of the upcoming national dialogue, ordering them to put their country’s interests first.
Today there are new tasks for the National Unity government represented in implementing the second phase of the GCC-drawn deal and its executive mechanism with determination and resolve to overcome all challenges ahead, “ he said.
You have to carry out your duties and not to be rushed into taking decisions, look for personal interest, or sympathize with any one, as law is above all.
Our main goal now is to hold the national dialogue with all political actors and social factions be included,” he added.
Hadi confirmed that Yemen has gone a long way since the signing the agreement and has overcome many challenges.
Parties should change its policies and stop media war, he said, assuring that this government enjoys the support of the people.
Towards the end of the meeting, he demanded that all parties work in good faith and with the spirit of one team, and put past behind them.
Source: Yemen Post