Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Aseer Moves to Recover Alleged “Stolen Lands”

Elena White
Jun 12, 2012
A Yemeni-based rights group, Aseer announced on Wednesday it would seek to “recover Yemen’ stolen lands, reigniting with Saudi Arabia an old border feud.
Back in 2011 when Yemen uprising had the entire Arabian Peninsula glued to its seats, political analysts warned that Yemenis would bring the matter back to the forefront of the news.
Debka analysts told the Yemen Observer that Yemen - Saudi border issues had never been properly solved, leaving room for litigation. “Although former President Ali Abdullah Saleh signed an agreement with King Abdullah, it does not mean that Yemenis agreed….now that the old regime is gone, I would assume such a controversial treaty will find strong popular opposition.”
In its claim against Saudi Arabia, Aseer identified the districts of Najran, Jizan and Aseer – currently in southwest Saudi Arabia close to the Yemeni border – as occupied lands, prompting strong reactions in Riyadh with politicians already warning Saudi help should be delivered pending recognition of all pre-Saleh treaties.
The main legal base of the group’s claim is that former President Ali Abdullah saleh allegedly conceded the lands against a hefty sum of money - $18 billion – which were then distributed amongst officials at the signature of the Taif Treaty in 2000. “Regaining Yemeni lands is a first step towards regaining sovereignty and independence from Saudi hegemony,” the group said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
Aseer’s spokesperson, Abdulrahman al-Ashoul, considered the regaining of the lands a national issue that concerns all Yemeni people, adding that this “political fight should not be exploited in any political struggle between political parties.”
Beyond the territorial recovery, Aseer seeks to end Saudi Arabia’s hold over Yemen, rejecting the Kingdom’s influence over its state and tribal institutions. Political analysts Ahmed al-Sofy explained that such a reaction against the Kingdom was actually rather natural since the revolutionary movement born in 2011 in Yemen sought to reject all forms of authority to replace it anew. “Now that the regime is gone Yemenis will focus their anger on the authoritarian figure, Saudi Arabia and its Princes.”
He added “This is exactly why the Kingdom opposed Yemen’s uprising in the first place, it knew that freedom calls for more freedom.” According to local media the group is scheduled to meet with a number of legal consultants to discuss the possibility of filing a case against the Saudi occupation and recognizing Yemen’s right to the disputed regions.  These discussions will be held “with specialists in international law, geography, legal consultants and historians in Sanaa and Beirut to prepare a complete project and work plan.”  The Treaty of Taif –sources al-Bab.com - The Treaty divides the Yemeni-Saudi border into three parts.
The first part is the area originally covered by the 1934 Treaty of Ta’if. This runs from the Red Sea coast to Jabal al-Thar, the “moving mountain” whose identity had been hotly disputed.
It is now fixed in position with a grid reference. The main problem here has been relating the line described in the Ta’if treaty to actual points on the ground. Both sides have now agreed to employ a specialist company to survey the line and erect marker columns. There is also a continuing problem in relating ancient tribal boundaries and grazing rights to the Ta’if line. The Wa’ila tribe, for instance, reject the official border on the grounds that they have a 241-year-old document demarcating their own tribal boundary with the Yam tribe.
The new agreement provides for amendments to the Ta’if line where the border cuts through villages, and allows cross-border grazing (with special permits) for shepherds. One concern is that this area is also a traditional smuggling route, and Appendix 4 of the agreement seeks to prevent well-armed “shepherds” driving across the frontier in convoys of trucks stuffed full of consumer goods. The second part of the land border - the longest section - runs from Jabal al-Thar to the frontier with Oman but its precise legal status under the treaty is puzzling. The treaty says it has not yet been defined but “the two contracting parties have agreed to demarcate this part in an amicable way”.
The treaty does, however, define the starting and finishing points, and refers to Appendix 2, which is described as “tables defining distances of the border line”. The tables are not, in fact, “distances” but a set of 17 co-ordinates: Joining up these co-ordinates would produce a border very similar to the “Como Line” which was provisionally agreed in 1997 when President Ali Abdullah Salih met Prince Sultan bin Abd al-Aziz in Italy (see article in Middle East International).  What seems to have happened is that the two sides have agreed on a number of fixed points but not the line between them.
This may be an attempt to avoid the problems that can arise when borders are drawn in straight lines on a map without reference to the local geography.
Once the independent survey team have done their work it will be easier to see whether any adjustments should be made in the spaces between the fixed points.
It is worth noting that the provisional border in this area is well to the north of borders claimed by the Saudis between the 1930s and 1950s. Part of it appears to follow the Riyadh Line (offered by the British to Ibn Saud in 1935) but it dips south in the middle to avoid the Saudi city of al-Wadi’a.  The third part of the border is the maritime frontier.
The repeated and very precise references to its starting point on the coast - the quay of Ra’s al-Ma’uj Shami, Radif Qarad outlet (latitude 16, 24, 14, 8 north, and longitude 42, 46, 19, 7 east) - are obviously intended to leave no room for doubt … a sign that this has previously been contested. Yemen had earlier pointed out that the Ta’if line turned north-west before reaching the sea and regarded it as an indication that the maritime border should continue in the same direction. The Saudis appear to have won that argument, because the newly-agreed maritime line starts by heading due west.    

Security Council resolution on Yemen; Syria; Children and Armed conflict; and more

June 12, 2012
Category: UN Direct
Yemen: In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Security Council today called on all sides in Yemen to immediately reject the use of violence to achieve political goals, and demanded the cessation of all actions aimed at undermining the Government of National Unity and the ongoing political transition.
In its resolution, the Council emphasized the importance of conducting a “fully-inclusive, participatory, transparent and meaningful” national dialogue conference, including with youth and women’s groups and called on all stakeholders to participate in this process.
In addition to the convening of the national dialogue, the Council noted that the second phase of the transition process should also focus on restructuring the security and armed forces under a unified professional national leadership structure, and the ending of all armed conflicts; steps to address transitional justice and to support national reconciliation; and, constitutional and electoral reform and the holding of general elections by February 2014.
Syria: Following repeated efforts, UN observers were unable to reach the Syrian town of al-Haffeh today as angry crowds surrounded their vehicles, stopping them from proceeding any further, after which they were shot at as they departed. UNSMIS staff members have been trying to reach al-Haffeh since June 7, but have been impeded by the ongoing violence in the area.
Speaking with journalists in Geneva today, the Joint Special Envoy’s spokesperson addressed questions on the formation of an international contact group on Syria by Mr. Annan. “The objective of creating this group is to give teeth to the [six-point peace] plan… to convince the parties to implement the plan in its entirety. It is not to create a new plan, because, as we have said before, this is the only plan on the table at the moment,” the spokesperson, Ahmad Fawzi, said.
Children and Armed Conflict: The UN has named 52 parties on its annual ‘list of shame’ of those who recruit and use children, kill and maim, commit sexual violence or attack schools and hospitals, including four new parties in Sudan, Yemen and Syria. The SG’s yearly report to the Security Council on children and armed conflict gives an overview of the grave violations committed against girls and boys in conflict zones, the main perpetrators as well as measures taken for the protection of children.
Ms. Coomaraswamy, the SG’s Special Representative on the issue, called for stronger action against the growing list of persistent perpetrators of grave violations against children – those who have been listed for at least five years – which has doubled since last year to 32.  “We must put more pressure on these parties through sanctions, other Security Council action, and closer collaboration with national and international courts,” she stated.
DPRK: Amid funding concerns for ongoing activities, the United Nations seeks $198 million to address critical humanitarian needs in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in 2012.
 “Sixteen million people continue to suffer from chronic food insecurity, high malnutrition rates, and deep-rooted economic problems,” the UN Resident Coordinator in the DPRK, Jerome Sauvage, said in a news release. “Inadequate medical supplies and equipment make the health care system unable to meet basic needs, while the water and heating systems need to be rehabilitated.”
According to the Resident Coordinators’ office, around two million people in the country’s most food insecure areas are currently receiving nutritious food assistance.
Child Labor: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today calls for stepping up efforts to eliminate child labor, as today is the World Day against Child Labor. According to the FAO, the internationally agreed target of eliminating the worst forms of child labor by 2016 will be missed if countries don’t step up their efforts to combat child labor in agriculture. Worldwide, 215 million children are child laborers, of whom around 130 million boys and girls between ages  5 and 17 work in agriculture.

UN threatens sanctions on Yemen democracy 'spoilers'

June 12, 2012
* U.N. Security Council unanimously adopts Yemen resolution
* Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula said to be most active
* Yemen Nobel Peace Prize winner says time for democracy
By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS, June 12 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council threatened on Tuesday to impose sanctions on an al Qaeda faction and others who disrupt Yemen's transition to democracy after the end of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year rule.
In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-nation body demanded "the cessation of all actions aimed at undermining the Government of National Unity and the political transition."
If such actions continue, it "expresses its readiness to consider further measures" under Article 41 of the U.N. charter, which allows the council to impose economic and diplomatic sanctions on countries and people ignoring its decisions.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which operates in Yemen, is believed to be the most active branch of the global network and has plotted a number of botched attempts against U.S. targets.
Protests against Saleh and fighting among Yemeni factions allowed al Qaeda's regional wing to seize parts of south Yemen and Shi'ite Muslim Houthi rebels to carve out their own domain in the north.
A split in the military in Yemen has also led to fighting among rival units and threatened to tip into civil war in one of the poorest countries in the Arab world. Saleh's son Ahmed and nephew Yahya remain in charge of important military units.
"It makes clear that any spoilers, those who are trying to disrupt the transition, disrupt the national dialogue, disrupt the national unity government, will be held accountable," Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told reporters.
"The council expresses itself ready to adopt measures under Article 41, which includes various sanctions measures, for all those who are trying to spoil the process," he said.
Saleh was replaced in February when Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was elected under the terms of an agreement crafted by his Gulf neighbors, with U.S. and U.N. backing, that envisions elections in 2014. The military is to be restructured in the meantime.
"The Yemeni people must be able to pursue a more secure, democratic, and prosperous future without illegitimate interference or terrorism," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said in a statement.
"The Council made clear its strong condemnation of such conduct and willingness to consider further actions to deter those who threaten Yemen's political process," she said.
Yemeni activist Tawakul Karman, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, spoke outside the U.N. Security Council after the resolution was adopted, and called on the world body to name those who were spoiling Yemen's bid for democracy.
She accused relatives and allies of Saleh of trying to destabilize the country.
"It sends a clear message to those people who deny or who are trying to damage the transitional period in Yemen," she said. "The international community (gave) them a clear message: 'your time is over and let Yemeni people ... build their country to be a democracy and to be a great and strong country.'"

Yemen retakes key towns from al-Qaeda

SANA'A- The Armed forces and the popular committees cleansed Tuesday completely the towns of Zinjibar and Jaar, Khanfar palace and Rahowah area in Abyan province, an official source in the defense ministry said.
The road Aden-Abyan has been opened for citizens, the source said.
Air strikes have hit ten boats with several militants aboard while trying to reach Shabwa province, in addition to destroying two vehicles and killing all the terrorists who were attempting to flee, he said, adding that hundreds of them have escaped from Zinjibar, Jaar and Shwqrah towns.
"The engineering teams began a wide range operation in the two towns and their surrounding areas searching for mines planted by the terrorists." The armed and security forces and popular committees were continuing to hunt for the militants.
The source urged citizens in provinces of Hadramout, Shabwa and others to prevent terrorist elements from entering their provinces and report them immediately.
Earlier today, southern military region Commander Maj. Gen. Salem Ali Qaten said that the control of Jaar came after a ruthless battle against the terrorists who call themselves "Ansar al-Shariah", resulting in killing more than 20 terrorists, adding that many others were injured and dozens fled.
"Four soldiers were killed and over 20 wounded, and two fighters of the popular committees were injured", Qaten said.