Saturday, May 5, 2012

Challenges facing Yemeni people

The real test will be their determination to achieve their goals peacefully
    Gulf News Editorial
May 5, 2012
Yemen today continues to be in a dangerous state as instability still reigns in the country. Yet the most important challenge is the fact that the country's future is alarmingly vague. Yemen should not be left to its fate and individuals who can only lead it into a state of chaos and disintegration.
It has been two months since a new president took power following protests and clashes with the former regime that left hundreds dead or wounded. That was a period of struggle as thousands of protesters risked their lives so that their voice for freedom and human rights could be heard.
But after so many deliberations between all the parties involved, the real question today is where the country stands. Is Yemen really on the path to development and nation-building that is inclusive? Or has it side-tracked on to the dangerous road of tribal fighting and political disunity?
There is no question that Yemenis understand how critical it is for the nation to move forward. Yet the ultimate test will be the determination of the people to attain their goals peacefully.

Ahmar gone, Ahmar remained; conflict of interest in Yemen

By Fatik al-Rodaini
SANA'A, May 5, 2012- After more than a year of political turmoil in Yemen, Yemenis started thanking deeply of their future after they forced ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. But are the revolutionaries won their future especially after their dreams being hacked by the opposition coalition when they accepted to form an interim government with the General People's Congress, the former ruling party, opening the door wide to the ally of the former regime to stole and took all of their dreams. No doubt that al-Ahmar family and General Ali Mohssen al-Ahmar were the most beneficiary people of the youth revolution.
There is a say Yemenis always repeat that Sheikh Abdullah al-Ahmar before his death in 2007, he told the ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh to take care of his sons after his death. However, the sons of Sheikh al-Ahmar deal with their father's will with careless replying to their father "you have to ask us to take care of Ali Saleh.''
Whether that the say was really or not, it reflected a reality that al-Ahmar's sons were look to Saleh's family with arrogance.
Former president of Yemen was also known as Ali Abdullah Saleh al-Ahmar.
Actually, there is a hidden conflict between al-Ahmar's family and Saleh's family, each one thinks that he is only the one who deserve to have the presidency in Yemen more than the other. The father of Sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar, the eldest of 10 sons of the late Sheikh Abdullah al-Ahmar (who was the speaker of Parliament, leader of the Islah party, and paramount sheikh in Yemen prior to his death in 2007), was looking to Saleh as a strategic ally.
While you are the president, I still your Sheikh, as a matter of fact Sheikh al-Ahmar was the Sheikh of the president. For that reason al-Ahmar family dominated the power as same as the President Saleh.
So both of them retain enough power to the control the country, sometimes al-Ahmar family have more power than president Saleh himself and his family.
We can say that the country or (the pie) was divided between three families, al-Ahmar family, General Ali Mohssen, and the last one is the Saleh family. The three families keep the power and wealth for almost 33 years, but the equation is changed in 2007.
After the death of the Sheikh al-Ahmar in 2007, his sons tried keep the same power that they had had before at the time of their father life, but with the presence of Ahmed Ali who started cutting their wing throughout stopping a lot of economic projects belonged to al-Ahmar family specially the deal of oil and the company of cell phone and different projects which al-Ahmar family thought that they have the right to won, especially Hamid al-Ahmar, who according to one report, he is the chairman of Yemen’s main cell phone company, SabaFon; owns Saba Bank and Al-Nas press institute; and is the proprietor of local Kentucky Fried Chicken and Baskin-Robbins franchises.
The real conflict between the two families intensified after the election of 2006 when Hamid al-Ahmar, the longtime Saleh critic and member of the prominent al-Ahmar family supported another candidate to the presidential vote. That was for the first time when one of al-Ahmar family supported another candidate and not the family close allied president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
For years Hamid al-Ahmar has condemned Saleh’s ruling style, saying “We believe that power should be distributed, not continue [to be run] as a one-man show.” Unlike other opposition figures, Hamid al-Ahmar has sided with Yemeni protestors since the beginning of the unrest. He is a wealthy businessman who has benefited from his family’s prominence in Yemeni society and its good relations with neighboring Saudi Arabia.
Interestingly, despite the unlimited support of Hamid to another candidate the final result of the election was in favor of president Saleh, who won the vote with 67%.
When Hamid al-Ahmar lost the election battle with president Saleh he resorted to spreading the chaos across the country, according to a document published by Wikileaks website in 2009 said that Hamid al-Ahmar, Islah Party leader, prominent businessman, and de facto leader of Yemen’s largest tribal confederation, claimed that he would organize popular demonstrations throughout Yemen aimed at removing President Saleh from power unless the president "guarantees" the fairness of the 2011 parliamentary elections, forms a unity government with leaders from the Southern Movement, and removes his relatives from positions of power by December 2009. .
Ahmar told the American ambassador to Yemn on August 27 that Saleh is now more politically isolated than ever, deprived of the counsel and support of former allies, and beleagured by more threats to regime stability than he can handle. Ahmar said he would work hard in the coming months to convince Northwest Regional Commander Major General Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar, as well as the Saudi government, to support the opposition. By his own admission, however, Ahmar still lacks the necessary support, even within his own opposition Dialogue Committee, to launch broad-based anti-Saleh demonstrations.
Another problem intensified the conflict between the two families was the desire of president Saleh to succeed his son Ahmad Ali to lead the country after his father retired or at the end of his presidential in 2013, thus Hamid resorted to spreading chaos all over the country. When the Arab Spring came he exploited the climate and supported the youth, who most of them refused his presence as a political figure and some one of the leader of the youth revolution commented saying that “Someone like Hamid al-Ahmar wants to get rid of Saleh so he can have a larger piece of the pie. We will either oust a dictator to get another dictator. Or there will be civil war in Yemen.”
At the end of 2011 after the singing of president Saleh on the GCC proposal, Saleh left the political scene, therefore Hamid al-Ahmar and his family started depended on other personnel who guaranteed to them more interest on the ground.
After the formation of Yemeni government by Mohammed Salem Basndowa, the latest started carrying out the order of Hamid al-Ahmar, Basndowa first decision was stopping the ban of cell phone international and local call.
Not for that only al-Ahmar family started ordering the prime minister to have interest for them and for their allies; for example, Sheikh Hossen al-Ahmar, brother of Hamid, ordered prime ministers to allow one of his close friends to establish an electricity project in Yemen, exploiting Mohammed Salem Basndowa post as prime ministers to facilitate for al-Ahmar family what they want.
With having a person in the Yemeni government who is able to carry out al-Ahmar's interest, at this time they actually won the battle against Saleh and Yemeni revolutionaries lost their demands and their dreams.
I don't have any comment for that except what have been saying by an activist in Taiz city, after the joining of General Ali Mohssen to the protest last year, when he said bye –bye to another revolution.

Yemen's Hadi vows to defeat al Qaeda, unify army

SANAA, May 5 (Reuters) - Yemen's President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi vowed on Saturday to defeat an al Qaeda-linked insurgency in the south of the poor Arab country to allow thousands of displaced people to return home.
Militants linked to al Qaeda have seized significant chunks of territory in the semi-desert regions of southern Yemen in recent months, after taking control of several towns. Fighting has displaced tens of thousands of people, many of whom have fled to the port city of Aden.
"The fight with al Qaeda terrorism will not end until after each district and village is cleared and displaced persons return to the safety of their homes," Hadi said, quoted by state media.
The growing Islamist insurgency in Yemen is of serious concern to the United States and oil exporter Saudi Arabia who both fear that a year of unrest that toppled the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, could give al Qaeda's regional wing a foothold near oil shipping routes through the Red Sea.
Hadi, who had been Saleh's vice-president, was elected president unopposed in February under a U.S.-backed power transition plan brokered by Yemen's Gulf neighbours to end the political upheaval.
Hadi said his government would battle al Qaeda and encourage "elements of the terror organisation to give up their weapons and their ideas that are in contradiction to Islam".
The president also vowed to unify the army, which is divided between pro-Saleh units and those supporting the demonstrators demanding his resignation.
"I reiterate here that, by virtue of my authority and backed by the popular legitimacy of the constitution and laws, I will not allow the split in the armed forces to continue," Hadi said in a speech at a military academy graduation ceremony.
Hadi, tasked under the transition plan to unify the armed forces, has removed about 20 top commanders, including some of Saleh's relatives.
Officials said on Thursday that a nephew of had resigned from his post as commander of an elite military unit. His departure was seen as a success for Hadi's efforts to restructure the army.
Hadi's drive to remove Saleh's relatives and allies from power has faced stiff resistance. The former leader's son Ahmed and nephew Yahya remain in place as heads of important military units.
More than 250 people have been killed since government forces intensified a crackdown on the militants who the authorities accused of attacking a military camp near the southern city of Lawdar last month.
Hadi also faces challenges from Shi'ite Muslim rebels in the north and southern secessionists.