Friday, April 13, 2012

France to slap sanctions on Yemen

Chiara Onassis | 13 April 2012
SANA’A: Amidst more roadblocks to Yemen peaceful transition of power France Foreign Minister, Alain Juppe warned that his country would look into applying a set of sanctions against any officials who would willingly sabotage President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s attempts to appoint new military commanders or state officials.
The Foreign Minister sternly announced that an asset freeze was in the card.
Moreover, Juppe promised that France would assist Yemen financially by providing much needed food aid to the hunger ravaged nation, adding that he would attend the “Friends of Yemen Conference” and pledge funds towards Yemen’s reconstruction.
Tawakkul Karman, a women activist who was awarded last year the Nobel Peace Prize expressed her appreciation saying France had been a long standing ally of Yemen throughout the crisis and that she hoped both nations to continue on their political and financial partnership.
Always the activist she used this opportunity to attack President Ali Abdullah Saleh, accusing him of destabilizing Yemen. “The stay of Saleh inside Yemen pose risks and challenges to Hadi, citing that “Saleh spark turbulence and turmoil inside the state.”
Karman is currently sitting in the middle of a controversy as local newspapers accused her of “befriending” Israeli saying she had been invited to visit the Jewish state by a women rights group as to bridge the two communities and prove that human rights had indeed no border. Allegedly, Karman would have agreed to come, which widely angered her supporters.

Yemeni Authorities send to military reinforcements to Abyan Province

By Fatik al-Rodaini
SANA'A, April 13, 2012- Yemeni authorities sent on Friday armored vehicles, tanks, and hundreds of soldiers to Abyan province as military reinforcements to join battles of Yemeni army backed by tribesmen against Al-Qaeda militants in the province.
Military reinforcements, which included troops from Security forces and Republican guards units, were received by new governor of Abyan, Jamal al-Akel.
Furthermore, Yemeni air forces hit on Friday two air strikes against al-Qaeda militants in Modea district of Yemen’s southern province of Abyan where swaths of towns are controlled by the militant group, Ansar al-Sharia, an offshoot of al-Qaeda.
First air strike was hit al-Fredh area while the second was hit Sora al-Sheikh 15 km east of Modia district, no casualties were reported.
The clashes took place in Abyan province between Yemeni forces backed by tribesmen and Islamic militants in continued clashes for the fifth consecutive day in which at least 200 militants were killed and dozens were wounded.

Qaeda battles to create safe haven in Yemen

By: Hany Salahuldien
Friday, April 13, 2012
Zinjibar - Al-Qaeda, still smarting from the loss of its iconic leader Osama bin Laden, appears determined to capture the south Yemeni town of Loder in a bid to build itself a secure base in the Arabian Peninsula.
Its location between three provinces gives Loder strategic importance, and it can also provide a safe haven from bombardment from the sea, experts say, adding that the militant group is seeking to extend its influence across the region.
Despite the loss of an estimated 152 men in four days of fighting in and around Loder in Abyan province, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is still engaging Yemeni soldiers and local tribesmen in fierce firefights.
"Al-Qaeda has practically lost its refuges in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, after it was crushed in Saudi Arabia," says Mustafa Ani, an expert on jihadi groups.
He says that following Bin Laden's killing in Pakistan by US special forces on May 1 2011, the network he founded has been weakened and is now "seeking to establish a safe haven in southern Yemen.
"Such a refuge would allow them to set up training camps and centres for recruitment and selection of leaders."
Elements of Al-Qaeda, who call themselves Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law), already control large swathes of southern Yemen, notably the Abyan provincial capital of Zinjibar, which they seized in May last year.
Loder lies some 150 kilometres (95 miles) northeast of Zinjibar.
The militant group's task has been made easier by the weakening of central power in Yemen because of the challenge to the regime of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, tribal rivalries and the ambitions of southern autonomists.

200 Al-Qaeda militants killed in Yemen's Abyan

By Fatik al-Rodaini
SANA'A, April 13, 2012- Local official in Abyan province said that the latest battles between Yemeni government soldiers backed by tribesmen and Islamic militants since Monday led to the killing of more than 28 people of tribesmen and the wounding of 40 others.
The source mentioned that 5 people were killed and 15 wounded on Monday, while 15 others killed with 10 were wounded on Tuesday, on Wednesday 6 people were killed while 24 people from local committees were wounded, on Thursday 2 people were killed and 7 others were wounded during consecutive clashes in the province. According to the official 40 al-Qaeda militants were killed only on Monday.
At least 34 people, mostly Islamist militants, including 3 tribesmen, were killed near the southern Yemeni city of Lawdar on Friday in clashes between government forces and an al-Qaeda linked group, sources reported.
According to Yemen's Defense Ministry statement the latest clashes brought the death toll since Monday to more than 200 people.
Local committees in Yemen's southern province of Abyan arrested two al-Qaeda leaders during the clashes erupted on Friday."Rawf Nasseb and Jalal al-Sefi were arrested by pro-government tribesmen between Um Ein and Zora cities,'' local tribal sources told
Yemen's Defense Ministry said that military troops and armed civilians killed 28 al-Qaida-linked militants in battles in the southern part of the country.
In a statement released Friday that hours of fierce battles drove al-Qaida militants from a town called Zara in the south.
Moreover tribal sources confirmed to that the Yemeni army forces retook the strategic town of Um Ein in the southern province of Abyan during battles on Friday.
The fighting is the latest in a series of bloody confrontations between government forces and militants in southern Yemen where militants control a patchwork of towns taken mostly last year during the country's political turmoil.
According to analysts, al-Qaeda in Yemen is considered a serious and growing threat for Yemeni government and for the United States.
President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi vowed to fight al Qaeda and its affiliates when he took office earlier this year after his predecessor quit under pressure from anti-government protesters and foreign powers anxious to halt a slide into mayhem.
Militants have since stepped up their operations against the army, carrying out a string of deadly attacks that have cast a long shadow over the country’s first month’s post-Ali Abdullah Saleh.
In return, the Yemeni air force has launched air strikes on suspected militant strongholds and the United States has joined in with drones.
The United States and Saudi Arabia – both targets of al Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing – fear Yemen is becoming a major front in its campaign against the militant network, which has been dealt a number of blows over the past year, not least the killing of its founder and leader Osama bin Laden.

Armed men attack Yemeni journalist in Sana'a

New York, April 12, 2012--Prominent Yemeni journalist Muhammad al-Maqaleh was assaulted by armed men affiliated with a tribal group while visiting a government official's house, the journalist told the Committee to Protect Journalists today. Al-Maqaleh has widely reported on the activities of tribal groups in Yemen.
Al-Maqaleh, editor of the news website Aleshteraki for the Yemeni Socialist Party, visited Defense Minister Mohamed Nasser Ahmed's residence on Saturday in the capital, Sana'a, to inquire about the large presence of armed men dressed in military uniforms in the neighborhood, he told CPJ. When the journalist began speaking to the men outside the house--who were aligned with Yemen's most influential tribal group, the al-Ahmar family--they began attacking him with their rifle butts and threatened him repeatedly, news reports said. The journalist did not have any injuries, but the group broke the windshield of his car, al-Maqaleh told CPJ. Although the defense minister was present during the assault, he did not stop the men because he did not have authority over them, al-Maqaleh said.
Various armed elements have been stationed in residential areas in Sana'a for several months, claiming to protect citizens and officials, but actually trying to intimidate them, al-Maqaleh said. The journalist said he believed the men attacked him because they knew he was the journalist who had repeatedly criticized the activities of the armed factions affiliated with the tribal groups and were angered by him speaking out against them.
"The attack on Muhammad al-Maqaleh shows just how dangerous it is to be a journalist in Yemen when even the defense minister looks on helplessly when armed men beat a critical reporter," said Robert Mahoney, CPJ's deputy director. "The government must enforce the rule of law and protect journalists from assault."
Al-Maqaleh, a longtime critic of the Yemeni government, has faced severe harassment and detention at the hands of authorities in the past, CPJ research shows. He was seized by unidentified men in September 2009 and kept in government custody for months.
CPJ has documented a stream of attacks against journalists in Yemen since political unrest erupted last year, including deaths, physical assaults, detentions, harassments, and attacks on news outlets.