Monday, April 2, 2012

Yemen’s General Mohsen to step down

Jawaher Asa’ad | 2 April 2012 |
SANA’A: Sources privy to the matter told that rebel General Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar would have eventually bowed to pressure and promised US ambassador Fierstein that he would retire from his position as the Head of al-Firkah.
Ever since the signature of the GCC brokered power-transfer the Americans sought to convince the veteran military man to leave the army, allowing Yemen to move away from the old guard. For three decades Mohsen was one of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s strongmen, a pillar of the regime before he decided to side with the revolution.
Fierstein who has been advocating for a swift restructuration of the army as per provisioned by the GCC initiative, is now believed to have successfully convinced Mohsen of the need for him to depart from power.
With tensions mounting throughout Yemen and more reports of armed clashes in between al-Qaeda and the armed forces as well as tribal elements opposed to the remnants of the regime, the international community and the GCC countries are now keen to push for a comprehensive national dialogue, hoping that it will prevent a bloody civil war.

U.S. avoids Yemen's internal conflicts

WASHINGTON, April 2 (UPI) -- The United States doesn't want to get bogged down by the internal conflicts simmering in strife-torn Yemen, a White House official said.
Abdu Rabo Mansour Hadi won a one-man presidential election in Yemen in February. His election followed a decision by long-time President Ali Abdullah Saleh to sign a deal in late 2011 to step down following nearly a year of protests in Yemen.
Some political figures in Yemen threatened to join the southern secessionist movement after Hadi's victory, however. The U.N. Security Council last week called on Yemeni authorities to settle their differences and prepare for general election in 2014.
The CIA is suspected of conducting air raids over Yemen as part of an effort to combat al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. A senior White House official told the Los Angeles Times on condition of anonymity that Washington wasn't keen on getting involved in Yemen's "internal battles."
The statement followed a meeting between Yemeni Minister of Information Ahmed Ali al-Amrani and Daniel Benjamin, a U.S. State Department coordinator for counter-terrorism issues.
Amrani told Benjamin that al-Qaida was threatening regional peace and stability, Yemen's official Saba news agency reports.
The International Crisis Group, in a monthly report, stated violence on the country's south had "increased significantly" since early March.

Bin Laden relatives sentenced to jail in Pakistan

April 2, 2012
Three widows and two daughters of Osama Bin Laden have been sentenced to 45 days in a Pakistani jail. The five women have been found guilty of staying in the country illegally.
However, they will only spend another 14 days behind bars, due to time already served since their detention on March 3. They were also fined around 80 euros each.
After finishing their jail-time, the women will be deported to their home countries. It is believed the three widows are from Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Following a 10-year manhunt, the head of al-Qaeda was shot and killed last May, as American special forces stormed his compound in Abbottabad, just over 60 kilometres from Pakistan’s capital Islamabad.
Bin Laden’s body was buried at sea within 24 hours of his death.

Yemeni army kills 7 militants in southern clashes

ADEN, April 2 (Reuters) - Yemeni forces killed seven Islamist fighters in overnight clashes in a southern city, local officials said on Monday, as the army struggled to gain the upper hand against militants emboldened by a year of political upheaval.
A military official said the army shelled parts of the city of Zinjibar in the southern province of Abyan, where militants have exploited weakened central government control to grab swathes of territory and several towns.
Among the dead militants was a Somali, local officials said. The interior ministry last month said Somali militant group al-Shabaab, which is allied to al Qaeda, had sent 300 armed men to join ranks with Islamist fighters in Yemen.
The impoverished state has seen a surge of attacks claimed by an al Qaeda-linked group that calls itself Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law), which has killed nearly 200 soldiers since President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took office in February.
In another sign of the declining security in Yemen's south, a local official said militants bombarded a disused military airbase near the port city of Aden on Monday.
"The holy warriors this morning bombarded the Badr military airport in Aden with mortar shells," read a text message purporting to come from Ansar al-Sharia.
The recent spate of militants attacks threatens to overshadow, if not derail, a transition away from the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was forced out of office by months of protests against him.
The United States and neighbouring Saudi Arabia threw their weight behind the Gulf-brokered power transfer plan under which he resigned, fearing protracted political chaos would strengthen al Qaeda's Yemen-based wing.

US asks to deploy troops to Yemen

Chiara Onassis | 2 April 2012
SANA’A: As more attacks by al-Qaeda militants against Yemen armed forces in recent weeks and the announcement of yet another defeat and the death of dozens of soldiers, the White House reached out to President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi asking him to approve the deployment of American troops in Yemen.
Only a month ago residents in Socotra, an archipelago off the coast of the Gulf of Aden told the press that American soldiers had temporarily used their islands, giving more credence to declarations made by the American Defense Department earlier this year that the US was working at establishing several mobile army bases in the region to fend off the Iranian “threat” and give more mobility to its troops.
With a presence of Marines in Sana’a, the capital and given Yemenis’ reservations towards more American intervention, President Hadi is looking over the potential repercussions of his decision.
Caught in between an enemy which has a reach that is expanding at lightning speed with more towns and villages falling everyday under the control of the Islamists, and the fear of popular outrage if foreign boots are to enter Yemen, President Hadi is facing his toughest challenge to date.
As tensions are rising in the capital, Sana’a with a return of armed militias in some parts of the city, the US embassy asked all their nationals to immediately evacuate the country, warning of a potential “meltdown.” The warning came after Americans were targeted by al-Qaeda militants, with the death only weeks ago of an American teacher in the southern city of Taiz, a flashpoint of the revolution and threats made against AMIDEAST, an American language institute in Aden.