Friday, June 29, 2012

UAE launches relief campaign for Yemen

UAE on Friday launched a multi tasked donation campaign that includes a telethon to raise funds to help Yemen
    By Iman Sherif, Staff Reporter
June 30, 2012
    Gulf News
Abu Dhabi: The UAE on Friday launched a multi tasked donation campaign that includes a telethon to raise funds to help Yemen in a time of national crisis.
The telethon which ran on major television and radio stations received positive response. The RCA raised Dh3.275 million within two hours of telethon broadcast from 4pm to 6pm. Live telethon will continue for two more days, Saturday and Sunday, on Abu Dhabi TV from 6pm to 8pm.
 “The situation is far worse than we previously expected,” said Ahmad Al Mazrouei, Chairman of the Board of the UAE Red Crescent Authority (RCA), told Gulf News yesterday as the RCA launched campaign to raise funds yesterday.
 “The Red Crescent launched the campaign yesterday aiming at providing aid and food supplies to the Yemenis who are struck by near catastrophic food shortages throughout the country,” he said.
The campaign was launched in cooperation with the Khalifa Bin Zayed Humanitarian Foundation and the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Foundation.
 “Diseases, especially anaemia have spread across the country at a rapid pace, and the fatality toll is high. Almost every family has lost a member to diseases in Yemen,” Al Mazrouei added.
The campaign’s participants assessed the medical and health situation, discussed the process and procedures to distribute aid throughout the country, and mapped out priorities in delivering supplies, such as medical, food, shelter, as well as prioritising recipient areas.
 “Providing medical and food supplies is a first step in the recovery process. The country’s infrastructure is in great need for an overhaul to allow people to receive water, food and medical attention,” added Al Mazrouei.
Plans are already in place to begin collecting donations at the ten RCA branches and over 200 locations, including shopping malls and supermarkets, across the UAE.
 “People are asked to donate money, food, clothing and other needed items,” said Fahd Abdul Rahman, Deputy Secretary General for Resource Development at the Red Crescent.
Earlier this month, President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan approved Dh500 million in aid to Yemen. This and other donations raised will provide basic foods and medical supplies directly to the hungry and needy people of Yemen. Distribution centres are being set in place.
The Armed Forces are ready to airlift food and urgently needed material to Yemen, whenever required, an official from the UAE Armed Forces told Gulf News.
The United Nations said that the crisis in Yemen has reached catastrophic levels with many children nearing famine.
 “Among under-five children, 58 per cent are severely malnourished. We are at the stage where we will see a famine like in the Horn of Africa, unless we intervene now,” Geert Cappelaere, Director of Unicef’s operations in Yemen, told Gulf News.

Briton killed for standing up to pirate fraud gang

Friday, 29 June 2012
A British marine expert was killed for standing up to a gang who tried to cash in on false claims that Somali pirates had attacked their ships, an inquest heard.
David Mockett defied the "bully boys" and paid for it with his life when a bomb blew apart his car as he drove from work in Aden in July last year, the hearing was told.
He had been investigating the Brilliante Virtuoso, a Liberian registered oil tanker allegedly attacked by Somali pirates 20 miles off the Yemen coast. In an email to his wife, Cynthia, 65, Mr Mockett had said that he "could not find any evidence of bullet holes or exposure to grenades".
After his death, Mrs Mockett spoke to one of her husband's friends, John Murphy, who claimed that Mr Mockett had been killed "because of his investigation" into the tanker.
She said that Mr Murphy told her two other ships had the same captain as the Brilliante Virtuoso and both had also allegedly been attacked by Somali pirates, which was described as 'unusual'.
Mr Mockett had been in the Middle East for 34 years and Aden for the past decade.
Det Supt Jonathan Tottman, from Scotland Yard's counter terrorism squad was sent to Aden after being "authorised at the highest level of deployment" by the Government to investigate his death.
He ruled out official Yemeni claims that al-Qaeda was behind the bombing because, he said, such terrorist groups boasted about what they had done.
Mr Tottman told the inquest that Aden and Yemen are "very dangerous places to work" and only a handful of British workers remain there, with no British passport holders left in Aden. "David had obviously upset somebody. Money is a great motivation for people," he said
Mr Tottman said Mr Mockett's last job was to investigate "criminal enterprise, piracy on the high seas where a third of the world's oil goes through at any one time in very busy shipping lanes".
Somali pirates had made targets of these shipping lanes but a fraud was being operated so insurers would pay out once "attacked" ships had been surveyed for damage and loss, he claimed. "This was a scam and a lot of money was being made," he told the Plymouth and south Devon coroner Ian Arrow. "David had great integrity and professionalism and would not bow to bully boy tactics."
Mr Tottman said it was unlikely that anyone would be brought to justice for the attack on 64-year-old Mr Mockett, of Plympton, Devon.
The coroner recorded a verdict of unlawful killing.

Exclusive: Vietnamese Immigrant Accused of Helping al-Qaida in Yemen

He is being charged in New York
June 29, 2012
By Jonathan Dienst and Shimon Prokupecz
A Vietnamese immigrant has been charged in New York for his alleged role in helping al-Qaida in Yemen.
Minh Quang Pham was arrested in Britain. He is accused of traveling to Yemen to train with members of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP.
Pham is also accused of helping the group with its online propaganda efforts. Investigators said he was in Yemen from December 2010 through July 2011.
Sources familiar with the case said he met with numerous leaders of AQAP in Yemen, including the terror group's then leader, Anwar al-Awlaki, and Samir Khan, editor of its English-language magazine "Inspire," and took a loyalty oath. Both Americans-turned-terror leaders were killed in a drone strike last September.
Security officials have said AQAP has become the leading overseas terror threat to the U.S.
Two underwear bomb plots, including one that targeted a Detroit-bound jetliner as well as a plot to bomb cargo planes in 2010, originated in Yemen.
As for Pham, the court papers said he played a role in creating online propaganda for AQAP.  He is charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

Yemen loses $10-15 mln/day as oil exports halted

Fri, 29 Jun 2012
SANAA, June 29 (Reuters) - Yemen is losing up to $15 million a day in export revenue because violence has halted shipments from the oil-producing Maarib province, the oil minister said, adding the government would ensure the repair of a crude pipeline 'by force'.
Yemen's oil and gas pipelines have long been a target of attacks by militants in the unstable and impoverished country, but attacks on energy infrastructure have become more frequent since anti-government protests last year created a power vacuum.
"After exhausting all peaceful means, we will resort to force. The country is losing between $10 million to $15 million a day because oil exports from the Maarib fields have stopped," Minister Hisham Sharaf said on Friday.
Yemen's main Maarib oil pipeline, which carries crude to the Ras Isa export terminal on the Red Sea coast, was the target of three consecutive attacks in October last year alone.
"We will use force to repair the oil pipeline from Maarib to the Red Sea coast which was bombed last year, after engineering teams have been prevented from repairing it," Sharaf told Reuters.
The attacks on the pipeline have also forced Yemen's 150,000 barrel per day (bpd) Aden refinery to close, leaving the country more dependent on imports and donations.
Yemen's location on the strategically important Bab al-Mandab strait, through which millions of barrels of oil are shipped between Asia, Europe and the Americas, makes instability there a risk to global trade.
Saudi state oil giant Aramco has thrown one lifeline after another to its troubled southern neighbour.
The small, non-OPEC oil producer, which has important liquefied natural gas investments, has been chaotic since popular uprisings last year brought the 33-year rule of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to an end.
The Yemeni army notched up a major victory this week in its U.S.-backed offensive to drive al Qaeda-linked insurgents from the country's south by recapturing strategic cities

Relatives of slain Yemeni Jew describe an ancient community on verge of extinction

As Aharon Zandani is laid to rest, his family speaks of the Al-Qaeda attacks and intimidation faced by the 100 Jews who remain
By Elhanan Miller June 29, 2012
A small group of men gathered at the small cemetery of Rehovot on Wednesday to pay their final respects to a pillar of Yemen’s dwindling Jewish community. Aharon Zandani, 53, a mechanic from Sanaa, was murdered in the marketplace on May 22, his body laid to rest in this sleepy Israeli city almost one month later.
The solemn memorial ceremony, recited in the guttural Hebrew of an ancient Jewish community, evoked the sad realization that these are likely the last days of Yemen’s age-old Jewish community. This tough lot, which withstood persecution from 12th century Fatimids to the 20th century autocrats, seems finally about to succumb — to Al-Qaeda.
 “Anyone with some sense will emigrate to Israel,” says Yahya Zandani, Aharon’s 28-year-old son. “In about five years time, there will be no Jews left in Yemen.”
Aharon liked Yemen, his son told The Times of Israel. He had tried to relocate his family to Israel back in 1999, but could not secure government housing for his wife and 11 children. The cultural gap was significant too, relatives say.
 “I would have moved to Israel years ago, but I stayed in Yemen because of my father,” Yahya says. “He loved it there.”
Unlike the 100 odd Jews still living in Yemen — who in recent years began hiding their traditional earlocks under hats for fear of being singled out — Aharon was trusting of his Arab environment. A popular mechanic, he would exit the gated compound where Jews have been living under government protection for the past four years, undaunted, with his traditional headgear. He went shopping in the market every day.
But on May 22, a man jumped him as he was returning to his car, stabbing him in the neck. Aharon’s son Yahya, who stood nearby, rushed him to the hospital where he died four hours later. Yahya says the assailant was an Al-Qaeda terrorist who drove four hours from the city of Hadhramaut in search of Jews to kill.
Yahya attended the murderer’s police investigation, where the investigator asked him whether he suffered from mental problems.
 “He said: ‘I have no problem, my head is like a computer.’ That’s why the investigator told me I won’t even need a lawyer.” But before coming to Israel Yahya did appoint a lawyer, fearing his father’s murderer may be released if no one is there to oversee the process.
Zandani is the third Jew to be murdered in Yemen over the past decade. In December 2008 Moshe Yaish-Nahari was gunned down in the northern city of Raidah — home to the country’s second Jewish community — by a man who reportedly shouted at him “Jew, accept the message of Islam.” Yahya Buni, a merchant from Saada, was shot dead in 2002 outside his shop.
 “They still throw stones at Jews and shout insults at them like ‘Jew’ or ‘Zionist’,” says Yahya Zandani, 36, Aharon’s son-in-law, who emigrated to Israel in 1993. “We only have 20-30 relatives left in Yemen and we want them here with us, for better or worse.”
Yahya’s home in Rehovot, where the traditional shiva mourning week took place, feels more like Yemen than like Israel. Women sit separately from men, wearing black headscarves that resemble veils, dark embroidered dresses and heavy silver necklaces. The men, mostly bearded and with long curly earlocks, sit at another corner of the broad courtyard, chewing wads of Qat, the ubiquitous and stereotypical Yemeni narcotic plant, grown locally in backyards. Their language is a medley of Hebrew and Arabic dialect.
The Jews of Yemen trace their origins in the country to the destruction of the first temple, in the year 586 BCE. Geographically isolated from Ashkenazi communities in Europe and Sephardi communities in Asia and North Africa, the small community maintained contact with the outside Jewish world through occasional visits by emissaries and correspondence with rabbis, most notably Moses Maimonides in the 12th century.
The first Yemeni Jews emigrated to Israel in the 1880s, but the largest immigration wave came immediately after the declaration of the state, when some 50,000 Jews were brought to Israel in operation “Magic Carpet” during the years 1949 and 1950 by the Joint Distribution Committee.
Today, most Yemeni Jews live in Israel, with smaller numbers incorporated into the Satmar Hassidic communities in New York and London. Yahaya Zandani and his brother, who still lives in Yemen, have spent years among the Satmar of New York.
The Zandanis are among the last Jews to stay in Yemen. They moved to Sanaa four years ago from the city of Saada, 150 miles north of the capital, after Al-Qaeda drove the Jews of that town out of their homes.
 “They gave them one week’s written notice to leave and then began shooting at their homes,” says Shlomo Zandani, Aharon’s brother-in-law, who emigrated to Israel in 1961.
Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh provided the Jews with free housing in an ex-pat compound in Sanaa, as well as a financial stipend.
 “But what use is money when you can’t leave your home?” chorus the family members.