Sunday, April 8, 2012

Yemen Says Attacks On Power Lines Cause Losses Over $153 Million

April 8, 2012       
Director general of the public electricity corporation has said the losses suffered due to persistent attacks on power lines including spare parts and those due to outages were estimated at more than YR33 billion, over $153 million.
In a press conference, Khalid Abdul Moula, said the authorities had reported about 141 attacks against the Marib-Sanaa power lines.
Most of the attacks took place in 2011 coinciding with the political crisis, which affected all sectors, and sent many cities in darkness, in most cases, more than 20 hours a day.
Since the power-sharing government was sworn in in December, it has been working on repairing power lines and rehabilitating power stations to put an end to the electricity problems in Yemen. The situation has improved, with few hour-blackouts reported a day now. But attacks by saboteurs and tribesmen on power lines persist amid the continuous impact of the political crisis in the country.
Continuous attacks affect equipment, mainly old generators and transformers, he said, pointing out that some stations, such as the 30-megawatts Kathib plant, and another 40-megawatts plant in Makha, have been out of commission as a result.
In the meantime, Yemen is seeking to build more power plants, including some which will be operated on natural gas.
The US-Turkish PEG Company has offered to build a gas-fired power station with a capacity of 1300 megawatts.
The government is considering this offer and recently officials at the Electricity Ministry have said if no offers from other companies emerge, the PEG's offer will be accepted.
Yemen currently produces about 300-400 megawatts, with part of this produced by contracted foreign companies.
Source: Yemen Post

US welcomes President's decrees

WASHINGTON, April 08 (Saba) - The United States has welcomed President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi's announcement of civilian and military personnel transfers.
The transfers are "part of the ongoing political transition in Yemen," US State Department acting spokesman Mark Toner said late on Saturday.
The changes signify the National Reconciliation Government's commitment to fulfilling the Yemeni people's aspirations and restoring stability to the country, he added.
"In spite of those who seek to derail the transition, President Hadi has demonstrated strong leadership by steadfastly implementing the agreed-upon political settlement," Toner added.
The US called on all Yemeni sides to cooperate fully with the presidential decrees for guaranteeing continual implementation of the peaceful transition of power regularly, he said.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani also showed the GCC's supports for Hadi and "backs all measures he takes to help Yemen exit its current crisis.

Interview: Yemen’s powerful General Mohsen at centre of political storm

By Michelle Shephard National Security Reporter
April 8, 2012
SANAA, YEMEN—Yemen’s main airport closed Saturday and all flights were cancelled amid fears that aircraft would be shot down, upping the tension in a capital already on edge with threats of terrorist bombings and political instability.
But travel to Yemen’s 1st Army Division, past the gates and down a well-paved road, beyond a phalanx of guards and inside an office resplendent with fake rose arrangements, bowls of almonds, raisins and candies, and there calmly sits Yemeni strongman Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmer, at the centre of the political storm.
General Mohsen leads a powerful branch of the army that defected last year to protect demonstrators who forced longtime ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.
He is also widely considered part of the country’s old guard and obstacle for true reform under Yemen’s new president.
During a wide-ranging interview with the Toronto Star Saturday, Mohsen said he has no plans — nor has he been asked — to leave his post.
 “No, nothing of this,” he responded when asked if there were negotiations for his removal.
Believed to be one of the country’s most powerful figures, General Mohsen has been described as everything from a kingmaker to a warlord; sometimes friend of Saudi Arabia, sometimes U.S. foe, and always a canny survivor who, like Saleh, has ruthlessly navigated Yemen’s tribal terrain.
 “Ali Mohsen’s name is mentioned in hushed tones among most Yemenis, and he rarely appears in public,” wrote Thomas Krajeski, a former U.S. ambassador in Sanaa, in a 2005 cable posted by WikiLeaks.
More recently, John Brennan, U.S. President Barack Obama’s Deputy National Security adviser, mentioned Mohsen in particular when calling on military generals to “set aside their political agendas, and to do what’s in the best interest of the Yemeni people.”
 “The time has come for the Yemeni military to be able to be a unified, disciplined, and professional organization,” Brennan said during a visit to Sanaa earlier this year.
Mohsen bristled at the suggestion Saturday that the U.S. found him “unhelpful” in the military’s restructuring, saying he enjoys “good relations with the U.S.
 “I didn’t hear this. I didn’t hear this at all,” he said. “On the contrary, we heard positive and excellent things,” adding that it is his forces that are “now fighting against terrorism,” not the U.S.-trained counterterrorism units.
Mohsen, however, listed terrorism as just one of Yemen’s problems — and not the greatest challenge.
 “Unemployment first of all,” he said of Yemen’s woes, adding “the population explosion and the economy in general.”
The U.S., however, regards Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) as the greatest threat facing the West and spent millions training Sanaa-based units under the command of Saleh’s nephew Yahya. Drone attacks in the southern provinces where the group is based have increased dramatically in recent months.
But the scope of AQAP’s influence is murky, as is its connections to a group calling itself Ansar al Sharia that is quickly occupying the south.
When asked to define Ansar al Sharia, Mohsen at first said he believed the group was mainly based in Somalia and moves frequently.
When asked directly: “Do you think Ansar al Sharia is a terrorist group?” he replied, “Yes. Their actions indicate terrorism.”
Yemen is often a place where people say it has to get worse before it gets better.
The year-long uprising, where as many as 2,000 were killed, ended this February when Saleh gave up power, honouring a Gulf sponsored power-transfer deal that gave him immunity. But critics say he is still working behind the scenes to protect his family’s interests.
And few expect the transition to happen peacefully.
The real challenge now for Yemen is how to deal with unpopular regime loyalists such as Mohsen and Saleh’s relatives who hold key military and security posts.
On Friday, tens of thousands of people were on the streets after midday prayers, calling for an overhaul of the military. By evening, it seemed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi had done just that — announcing the biggest military shakeup in this country’s history.
But as Gregory Johnsen, Princeton scholar on Yemeni affairs, wrote on Twitter Saturday, “For every action (in Yemen) there is a reaction.”
And among those to lose their jobs in the reshuffle was Saleh’s half-brother, General Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar, the head of the air force.
Several media reports stated it was his threats that forced the airport closure. The Associated Press reported that Saleh loyalists also hit the airport with anti-aircraft guns, while others disputed those claims as exaggerated.
There were also reports that Saleh, the disgruntled former air force commander, promised further chaos in Yemen unless General Mohsen and two other opposition members were removed from their posts too.
If true, these threats could be considered acts of terrorism, Yemeni analyst Abdul Ghani al Iryani suggested in an interview Saturday night.
But Mohsen dismissed the prospect of a military standoff, saying the problems could be “solved easily.”
Despite repeated questions, however, he could not explain how to avert fighting amongst rivals except to say he had no immediate plans to step down as part of the compromise.

Officer killed by gunman in Yemen's Taiz

By Fatik Al-Rodaini
SANA'A, April 8, 2012- An officer was killed in Yemen's southern province of Taiz and Yemen’s second most populous city by unknown armed man driving a motorcycle.
According to security sources in Taiz, Ismael Ba Alowei, an officer in intelligence division was killed on Sunday afternoon by gun man in Saena district.
Today incident came after less than two weeks after killing the American citizen teacher by suspected Al-Qaeda militants driving a motorbike in the same place.
The incident underscores the high level of lawlessness in this poorest country of the Arabic Peninsula, adding to the challenges faced by President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who took office in February after a year of massive protests that forced out predecessor President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Main Yemen airport reopens after protesting officers lift siege

April 8, 2012
SANAA--Yemen's main airport reopened on Sunday, a day after officers and tribesmen loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh forced it to close in protest at the sacking of the air force commander, a half-brother of Saleh.
The one-day showdown highlighted the continuing turmoil in the country despite a peace deal under which Saleh stood down after months of protests against his 33-year rule and was replaced in February by his deputy, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
In another sign of persistent violence in the country, local officials and tribal sources said rockets were fired, probably by a U.S. drone, at a suspected al-Qaida vehicle in central Shabwa province late on Saturday but missed their target.
As part of the agreement on Saleh's removal, Hadi had a mandate to restructure the armed forces to remove some commanders loyal to the former president.
His sacking of the air force commander, General Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar, enraged Saleh loyalists, and the Sanaa airport blockade on Saturday was a direct challenge to his authority, showing how Saleh's family can still influence Yemeni politics.
The state news agency Saba reported that flights at Sanaa airport had resumed, citing the head of the aviation authority.
A government official told Reuters the airport has been reopened after pressure by the United States and Yemen's Gulf Arab neighbors, which had brokered the deal for Saleh to quit after months of demonstrations that paralyzed the country.
 “(They) have told Saleh's relatives that Sanaa airport is a 'red line' and cannot be closed,” said the government official, who asked not to be named.
A source at Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC) party, which shares power with opposition parties, said the GPC was meeting Gulf ambassadors on Sunday, demanding the removal of General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar as the price for accepting the air force commander's sacking. Once Saleh's right-hand man, Mohsen and troops under his command turned against the then president last year, sparking clashes with Saleh loyalists.
Friday's reshuffle, which left Saleh's son and nephew in place as heads of key military units, was welcomed by the United States.

US Drones, Yemeni Warplanes Kill 24 in Southern Yemen

Yemen Denies Ataq Fell to al-Qaeda
by Jason Ditz, April 08, 2012
Strikes against “suspected” members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have killed 24 people across southern and eastern Yemen, with both Yemeni warplanes and US drones taking part in the attacks.
Yemeni warplanes killed 16 of them, with the attacks taking place near the Abyan Provincial capital of Zinjibar. The attack targeted what Yemeni officials termed an “extremist stronghold.”
The US drone strike, which targeted a vehicle and killed eight people, took place in the Shabwa Province. The slain were termed “suspected militants,” and the vehicle was heading from Shabwa to Marib.
Shabwa Province has been of considerable interest lately, with multiple US drones looming overhead at any given time. Reports claimed that Shabwa capital Ataq has fallen to militants, but local officials issued a statement denying that, and saying that all that actually happened in Shabwa was a “blown up pipeline.”