Saturday, June 16, 2012

Yemeni press pioneer dies in Germany

June 16, 2012
Hisham Bashraheel, the owner of Yemen's now-banned pro-southern autonomy daily newspaper Al-Ayyam, died on Saturday in Berlin at the age of 69, his brother said.
"I have lost my brother, a pioneer of the press in Yemen," Tamman Bashraheel told AFP. "He died this morning after being ill for some time."
Aden-based mass-circulation Al-Ayyam was banned by the former regime of president Ali Abdullah Saleh in January 2009. The paper espoused the separatist cause of separation from the north. Until 1990, South Yemen was a separate state.
After armed clashes outside the Al-Ayyam building in the southern port city, Hisham Bashraheel was arrested in January 2010 and prosecuted for setting up an armed group and for the murder of a policeman.
He was freed after three months and allowed several weeks ago to travel to Germany for medical treatment.

US declassifies attacks in Yemen, Somalia

June 16, 2012 AP
WASHINGTON -- The White House is partially lifting the lid of secrecy on its counterterrorism campaign against al-Qaida in Yemen and Somalia by formally acknowledging for the first time that it is conducting lethal attacks in those countries.
The White House's semiannual report to Congress on the state of U.S. combat operations abroad, delivered Friday, mentions what has been widely reported for years but never formally acknowledged by the administration: The U.S. military has been taking "direct action" against members of al-Qaida and affiliates in Yemen and Somalia.
The report does not elaborate, but "direct action" is a military term of art that refers to a range of lethal attacks, which in the case of Yemen and Somalia include attacks by armed drones. The report does not mention drones, which are remote-controlled, pilotless aircraft equipped with surveillance cameras and sometimes armed with missiles.
The report applies only to U.S. military operations, including those by special operations forces - not those conducted by the CIA.
"In all cases we are focused on those al-Qaida members and affiliates who pose a direct threat to the United States and to our national interests," Pentagon press secretary George Little said after the report's release. "This report contains information about these operations owing to their growing significance in our overall counterterrorism effort."
The report does not provide details of any military operations in either Yemen or Somalia. It merely acknowledges they have happened. Killings of terror suspects overseas are acknowledged by the administration, but it does not mention the involvement of drones. The CIA and military have separate drone fleets.
The decision by President Barack Obama to declassify the existence of the counterterror actions in those two countries amounts an incremental move toward greater openness about the use of U.S. force overseas. It does not reflect any change in the intensity or basic character of the U.S. campaign to defeat al-Qaida.
A previous step in the direction of greater official transparency came in April when the White House's counterterrorism chief, John Brennan, made the first formal confirmation that the U.S. uses armed drones against terrorists. But he did not mention their use in specific countries.
The new information in Friday's report comes amid outcries from some in Congress about leaks to the news media about details of classified activities such as the existence of a White House "kill list" of targeted al-Qaida militants. The accusation, mostly by Republicans, is that the White House has orchestrated the leaks to improve Obama's re-election chances, an allegation the president has rejected as "offensive" and "wrong."
Three administration officials who briefed The Associated Press on the decision to declassify the existence of the military's counterterrorism campaigns in Yemen and Somalia said Obama determined that the time was ripe, in part because the U.S. has built closer relations with the Yemeni government and with governments interested in eliminating extremist elements in Somalia. Somalia has not had a fully functioning government since 1991.
The officials said the declassification of further details in future reports to Congress would remain under White House review.
Under the War Powers Resolution of 1973, the White House is required to report to Congress every six months on U.S. combat operations abroad. Friday's report includes a secret attachment with classified details, which was not released publicly.
The last report, on Dec. 15, 2011, made no mention of Yemen or Somalia. Instead it said that in relation to efforts against al-Qaida, the U.S. was working with partners "with a particular focus on countries within the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility," which is a broad swath of territory that includes the entire Middle East and Central Asia.
Friday's report was more explicit. It said that in Somalia the U.S. military has worked to counter the terrorist threat posed by al-Qaida and al-Qaida-associated elements of a militant group called al-Shabaab.
"In a limited number of cases, the U.S. military has taken direct action in Somalia against members of al-Qaida, including those who are also members of al-Shabaab, who are engaged in efforts to carry out terrorist attacks against the United States and our interests," it said.
It said the U.S. military also has been working closely with the Yemeni government to "operationally dismantle and ultimately eliminate" the terrorist threat posed by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP.
It called AQAP "the most active and dangerous affiliate of al-Qaida today."
"Our joint efforts have resulted in direct action against a limited number of AQAP operatives and senior leaders in that country who posed a terrorist threat to the United States and our interests," the report said.

Yemeni Military Success Against Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula

Press Statement
Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 16, 2012
The United States commends the success of the Yemeni government, military, and people in re-taking important areas of southern Yemen, including the cities of Ja’ar and Zinjibar, from al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). After sustained Yemeni operations, AQAP no longer controls those cities. These achievements come just weeks after the violent extremists were similarly pushed out of the city of Lawdar. Al-Qa’ida’s presence in Abyan has had a devastating impact on the citizens there and prevented the delivery of critical humanitarian assistance desperately needed by the Yemeni people. We extend our deepest condolences for those who lost their lives and note the courageous efforts of Yemeni citizens who joined with the Yemeni military in the fight against terrorism. Their bravery serves as a reminder that the Yemeni population rejects al-Qa’ida and the violence it promotes.
As Yemeni security services continue to reclaim territory previously held by AQAP, we encourage the prompt restoration of civilian authority, humanitarian relief, and essential public services across Yemen. The United States remains committed to working with Yemen as it addresses the many challenges it faces – in the security realm as well as political, economic, and humanitarian affairs. We will continue to work with President Hadi and the Yemeni people in their efforts to rebuild their nation and ensure long-term stability, safety, and security in Yemen.

21 al Qaeda militants killed in south Yemen

June 16, 2012
21 al Qaeda militants killed in south Yemen Sanaa: Yemeni government troops killed 21 al Qaeda fighters in the latest clashes in the country's south, military officials said on Saturday, while Washington commended Yemen for successfully routing militants from some strategic southern strongholds.
The military officials said 17 militants died in fighting that raged until early morning around Azan town in southern Shabwa province. Six soldiers were wounded in those clashes, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with military regulations.
Four other militants and one soldier died in fighting today in the Hassan valley area in the adjoining Abyan province, the officials also said. The valley is located east of the provincial capital of Zinjibar, which al-Qaida captured last year and held until recently along with several other towns in Abyan.
Al Qaeda's fighters took advantage of a security vacuum last year during a popular uprising that ousted Yemen's longtime leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to seize swaths of territory in the strategic south. That raised fears it could use the area as a foothold to launch more attacks on US targets.