Tag Archive | "Sanaa"

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Yemeni Tribesmen Free Abducted Saudi Diplomat

Posted on 03 May 2011 by hashimilion

Yemeni tribesmen released on Tuesday a Saudi diplomat kidnapped last month in the capital Sanaa over a trade dispute involving a Saudi businessman, one of the mediators for his release told AFP.

“Saeed al-Maliki was released by his abductor,” Abd Rabbuh Naser Ahmed al-Salimi, a member of Beni Dhabian tribe, said Mohammed Naser al-Melqati.

Maliki, second secretary at the embassy, “is now on his way to Sanaa accompanied by Qassem al-Salimi,” one of Beni Dhabian’s dignitaries who has led the mediation, said Melqati.

On April 23, Maliki was kidnapped and taken to a mountainous area 80 kilometres (50 miles) southeast of Sanaa.

His captor had demanded five million Saudi riyals ($1.3 million, 878,000 euros) ransom, said to be owed to him by an unidentified Saudi businessman, a tribal source had told AFP last month.

But mediators persuaded the abductor to release Maliki after they gave him assurances his “rights can be recovered through legal means,” said Melqati.

The mediators had come under strong pressures by defected General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar to release the diplomat, he added.

Ahmar, an influential military commander of the northwestern region, has sided with protesters calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Yemen’s powerful neighbour, Saudi Arabia, has been involved alongside five other rich Arab Gulf monarchies to mediate between Saleh and his opponents to end bloodshed in the impoverished country.

Foreigners have frequently been kidnapped in Yemen by tribes who use the tactic to pressure authorities into making concessions.

More than 200 foreigners have been kidnapped over the past 15 years, and most have later been freed unharmed.

 

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Yemeni Shia Persecution and the Regional Sunni-Shia Divide

Posted on 01 April 2011 by hashimilion

Currently we have many political and religious convulsions throughout North Africa and the Middle East. However, for the Shia of Yemen it is apparent that the nation state of Yemen is at odds with many Shia Muslims who suffer systematic persecution.

Saudi Arabia is worried about the power base change in Iraq because after the demise of Saddam Hussein the Arab Sunni stranglehold was broken and now the main power brokers are the Shia and Kurds in the north. Therefore, recent political tensions in Bahrain and Yemen are causing alarm in Saudi Arabia because the leaders of this nation desire to preserve a dominant Sunni political power structure throughout the region.

If we focus on Afghanistan then the Sunni Islamic fanatics of the Taliban and Al Qaeda shared the same Sunni Islamic theme of power and control. This policy of victimizing and persecuting the Shia was factual and you had many massacres of the Shia by the forces of the Taliban and Al Qaeda before the invasion of Afghanistan.

Sunni Islamic extremists deem the Shia to be heretics and non-Muslim and the same hatred towards the Shia can be found in Pakistan. Even in so-called moderate Malaysia the government is anti-Shia. However, unlike the massacres of the Shia which have taken place in other nations it is state sanctioned discrimination in Malaysia which holds the Shia at bay and forbids their religious buildings.

The Sunni-Shia issue is very potent and the Shia are second class citizens in Saudi Arabia because they face centralized policies which discriminate against them. Therefore, Saudi Arabia is meddling in many nations and the people who suffer from this policy are the Shia and in Yemen many massacres have taken place in the past but most of these went unreported.

Also, while truces have been agreed upon in Yemen these truces rarely last and often it appears that the centralized state is just making the most of the breathing space in order to unleash more violence against the Shia minority.

James Haider, Middle East correspondent for The Times (UK), stated on November 5, 2009, that the Shia “…accuse Saudi Arabia, a conservative Sunni Muslim country, of backing the Yemeni army, fearing the emergence of a strong Shia militia similar to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

“In turn, the Yemeni Government in Sanaa has accused Iran, a Shia theocracy, of supporting the Houthi rebels as part of a campaign to spread Tehran’s influence across the region. The Government said last week that Yemeni troops had seized five Iranians on a boat loaded with arms in the Red Sea”.

James Haider also comments about the fleeing Shia during a major military assault in late 2009. This military assault led to 150,000 Shia Muslims fleeing their homes in order to escape the military clampdown against their community.

The military bombardments led to the killing of many innocent Shia Muslims who were caught up in the fighting. Therefore, many civilians were killed and the blood flowed.

If we concentrate on the bigger picture it would appear that Sunni Islamic elites do not desire to build bridges with the followers of the Shia faith. Instead the Sunni Islamic elites desire either the status quo or to maintain power by further marginalizing the Shia throughout the region.

Rannie Amiri’s, whose article was published in the weekend edition of Counterpunch, (Feb 19-21, 2010) called The Shia Crescent Revisited, commented that “Should the Arab Shia be prohibited from freely airing their grievances and demanding accountability for past injustices? Stopped from speaking out against the crimes perpetrated against them under Saddam (in which many in the Arab world were complicit)? Prevented from attempting to lift the heavy hand of institutionalized discrimination levied against them in Saudi Arabia? Barred from seeking an end to their disenfranchisement in Bahrain — where they make up at least 70 percent of the population yet constitute no part of the government or security services? Forbidden from asking why the language of sectarianism was used to justify and amplify the carnage in north Yemen?”

It is a fair question and despite the “Iranian card” which is being manipulated and used in Saudi Arabia it is apparent that the global jihadist network is based on the followers of radical Sunni Islam. After all, the terrorist attacks behind September 11, Madrid, Kenya, Bali, Uganda, and other global jihadist attacks, were all done by Sunni Islamic extremists.

Despite the Mahdi Army under Moqtada al-Sadr who attacked American forces in Iraq; it is clear that the Shia in Afghanistan and Iraq have gained from outside military forces taking action against Sunni Islamic zealots in Afghanistan and against the regime of Saddam Hussein which also played the anti-Shia card.

Therefore, will Yemen become the next brutal war which will drag in outside forces and lead to the growth of radical Sunni Islam? After all, it is clear that the al-Shabaab in Somalia desire to turn Somalia into a fundamentalist nation and this extremist Sunni Islamic organization often beheads the followers of Christianity and women also face being stoned to death for adultery.

The Somalia syndrome may happen in Yemen because it is obvious that outside Sunni Islamists have used Somalia in order to spread their version of Islam. However, for the Shia of Yemen then they may face a “dual policy” whereby Sunni Islamic fanatics are allowed to enter the fray from many nations but at the same time the centralized state in Saudi Arabia will boost the nation state of Yemen.

Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post, February 11, 2010, stated that “Even as it fights a U.S.-supported war against al-Qaeda militants here, the Yemeni government is engaging Islamist extremists who share an ideology similar to Osama bin Laden’s in its own civil war, adding new complications to efforts to fight terrorism.”

The writer continues by stating that “Yemen’s army is allying with radical Sunnis and former jihadists in the fight against Shiite rebels in the country’s north. The harsh tactics of those forces, such as destroying Shiite mosques and building Sunni ones, are breeding resentment among many residents, analysts said, and given the tangle of evolving allegiances could build support for al-Qaeda’s Yemeni branch, which plotted the Christmas Day attempt to bomb a U.S. airliner.”

Abdel-Karim al-Iriyani, a former prime minister is clearly alarmed by current events in Yemen. He states that “Using these extremist people, if they are with you today, they are prone to be against you tomorrow.”

Therefore, the Shia in Yemen will continue to suffer and Western nations will do little to challenge Saudi Arabia and the same applies to Bahrain because Saudi Arabia will do everything it can in order to prop-up the Sunni elites.

Saudi Arabia will use any means possible in order to preserve Sunni Muslim power and this also applies to state sanctioned policies which will encourage the forces of radical Sunni Islam in Yemen and boosting the military of Yemen. Therefore, the Shia in Yemen will be attacked by Sunni Islamic militant organizations and by the military of Yemen and this dual policy will be used in order to crush the Shia but in the past the Shia have been tenacious and events are unpredictable.

By Lee Jay Walker

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Tens of Thousands of Houthi Supporters Join Yemen Protests

Posted on 22 February 2011 by hashimilion

On Monday morning, tens of thousands of people from Saada, Sahar, Majz and Qatabeer took part in a demonstration in Dhahyan. Demonstrators called for the end of the regime and announced their support for the demonstrators in Aden, Abyan, Sanaa, Taiz.

The demonstrators said that the protests had reached the point of no return and actively encouraged others to join these peaceful protests.

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Yemen President Offers Opposition Dialogue

Posted on 20 February 2011 by hashimilion

Yemen’s embattled president on Sunday sought a way out of the political crisis gripping his impoverished Arab nation, offering to oversee a dialogue between his ruling party and the opposition to defuse the ongoing standoff with protesters demanding his ouster.

The offer by the U.S.-backed Ali Abdullah Saleh came as protests demanding that he step down continued for the 11th straight day, with 3,000 university students demonstrating Sunday at Sanaa, the Yemeni capital.

The protests pose the most serious challenge to Saleh’s rule to date.

He has already made a series of concessions, pledging that his son would not succeed him and that he would not seek another term in office. On Sunday, he repeated his offer for negotiations.

“Dialogue is the best means, not sabotage or cutting off roads,” Saleh, in office for more than 30 years, told a news conference. “I am ready to sit on the negotiating table and meet their demands if they are legitimate,” said the Yemeni leader, who warned against “infiltrators” seeking to divide Yemenis and sabotage their country.

Saleh’s rule continues to show signs of resilience in the face of the sustained protests, that have seen security forces and regime supporters battling demonstrators, mostly university students.

The Yemeni regime, however, is not doing as well in the south of the country, where resentment of Saleh’s rule is far more entrenched and a secessionist movement is steadily gaining strength.

There have been deadly clashes there between protesters and security forces using live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas. South Yemen used to be an independent nation, but became united with the north in 1990. An attempt to secede by the south in 1994 was brutally crushed by Saleh’s army and allied tribesmen.

Yemen is a tribal society where almost every adult male has a firearm. A decision by the country’s major tribes to take sides in the standoff between Saleh and his critics could decide the president’s fate.

On Saturday, riot police fired on marchers in Sanaa, killing one and wounding five.

A total of seven people have been killed since the unrest began.

The protesters seek to oust Saleh, a key U.S. ally in the fight against al-Qaida, and have been inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

Marching students on Sunday chanted and carried signs reading “Get out Ali for the sake of future generations.” Riot police watched the march but did not intervene.

Past protests were often attacked by government supporters, degenerating into riots.

Saleh’s regime is one of several in the Arab world currently coming under popular pressure to reform or step down. Since uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt toppled the two nation’s autocratic leaders, Bahrain, Jordan, Yemen, Libya and Algeria have been gripped by anti-government protests.

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Bahrain, Libya and Yemen Try to Crush Protests with Violence

Posted on 19 February 2011 by hashimilion

Violence in Libya and Bahrain has claimed scores of lives and left many more injured as the two Arab countries were united by popular protests that continue to shake the status quo and sound alarm bells across the region and the world.

A week after Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, was forced to stand down, dozens of Libyans were reported killed by Muammar Gaddafi’s security forces. Meanwhile, Bahraini troops shot dead at least one protester and wounded 50 others after mourners buried four people who were killed on Thursday in the worst mass unrest the western-backed Gulf state has ever seen.

“We don’t care if they kill 5,000 of us,” a protester screamed inside Salmaniya hospital, which has become a staging point for Bahrain’s raging youth. “The regime must fall and we will make sure it does.”

Last night footage was posted on YouTube apparently showing Bahraini security forces shooting protesters.

Western nations have been struggling to adjust their policies in response to the security crackdowns in Arab countries.

But Britain announced that it was revoking 44 licences for the export of arms to Bahrain amid concern over the violent suppression of protests in the Gulf state. The Foreign Office also said that eight arms export licences to Libya had been withdrawn, while a review of arms exports to the wider region continues.

Bahrain’s crown prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa went on television to promise a national dialogue once calm has returned. But the country’s most senior Shia cleric, Sheikh Issa Qassem, condemned attacks on protesters as a “massacre” and said the government had shut the door to such dialogue.

While the unrest in Bahrain was broadcast instantly around the world, the unprecedented bloodshed in the remote towns of eastern Libya was far harder for global media to cover.

Amid an official news blackout in Libya, there were opposition claims of 60 dead as diplomats reported the use of heavy weapons in Benghazi, the country’s second city, and “a rapidly deteriorating situation” in the latest – and the most repressive – Arab country to be hit by serious unrest.

Libyans said a “massacre” had been perpetrated in Benghazi, al-Bayda and elsewhere in the region. Crowds in the port city of Tobruk were shown destroying a statue of Gaddafi’s Green Book and chanting, “We want the regime to fall,” echoing the slogan of the uprising in Egypt.

Umm Muhammad, a political activist in Benghazi, told the Guardian that 38 people had died in the city. “They [security forces] were using live fire here, not just teargas. This is a bloody massacre – in Benghazi, in al-Bayda, all over Libya. They are releasing prisoners from the jails to attack the demonstrators.” Benghazi’s al-Jala hospital was appealing for emergency blood supplies to help treat the injured.

News and rumours spread rapidly via social media websites including Twitter and Facebook, but information remained fragmentary and difficult to confirm.

In Yemen at least five people were reported killed when security forces and anti-government protesters clashed for a seventh consecutive day in the capital, Sana’a, Aden and other cities, with crowds demanding an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 32-year rule.

Barack Obama said he was “deeply concerned” about the reports of violence from Bahrain, a close ally and the base of the US fifth fleet, as well as those from Libya and Yemen, and he urged their rulers to show restraint with protesters.

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, also condemned the killings of protesters in Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. “The Middle East and North Africa region is boiling with anger,” he said. “At the root of this anger is decades of neglect of people’s aspirations to realise not only civil and political rights, but also economic, social and cultural rights.”

In Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the influential Egyptian cleric Sheikh Yusef al-Qaradawi said the Arab world had changed and said Egypt’s new military leaders should listen to their people “to liberate us from the government that Mubarak formed”.

It has also emerged that the Ministry of Defence has helped train more than 100 Bahraini army officers in the past five years at Sandhurst and other top UK colleges.

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Protesters killed in Yemen clashes

Posted on 16 February 2011 by hashimilion

Police shot and killed two protester in Yemen’s main southern city of Aden, medics said, while unrest in the capital Sanaa against the rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president, continued for a sixth straight day.

Mohammed Ali Alwani, 21, was shot dead after clashes broke out between police and demonstrators, his father said. The other victim has not yet been identified.

Police in Aden fired shots into the air to try to break up around 500 protesters. Medics said one of the victims had been hit in the back.

The demonstrators hurled stones at police, set tyres and vehicles on fire and stormed a municipal building where heavy gunfire was heard.

Security forces, heavily deployed in Aden, arrested at least four people as they fired warning shots and tear gas to disperse protesters who had gathered at the Al-Ruweishat bus station in the Al-Mansura neighbourhood of Aden.

Protesters chanted “The people want to overthrow the regime” and “It’s time to leave, Ali”.

Several hurt

In the capital Sanaa, at least 10 protesters were hurt amid clashes between students demanding the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and supporters of his ruling General People’s Congress.

Hundreds of students had set off for Al-Sabiine square near the presidential palace, only to be attacked by a like number of Saleh loyalists armed with batons, stones and daggers.

The protesters responded by hurling stones, and when the violence spread into the campus of Sanaa university, where the march began, police fired warning shots.

“The thugs and supporters of the ruling party … want to massacre” the students, the head of the university’s student union, Radwan Masud, said, adding that 10 students had been hurt.

He vowed that the students would “continue their revolt and will not be hindered by the ruling party’s actions.”

Elsewhere in Sanaa, a sit-in by judges demanding greater independence for the judiciary and the sacking of the entire Supreme Judicial Council, including the justice minister, went into its second day outside the justice ministry.

The judges, who have poured into Sanaa from all over Yemen, also want higher salaries.

In other protests, workers in Sanaa gathered at several state-owned companies to demand that their managers to step down. They too also called for higher wages.

On Tuesday, police in Sanaa stepped in when supporters and opponents of the president clashed, leaving three injured. In Taez, south of the capital, the two sides also clashed.

On Monday, rocks and batons flew in the capital as protesters – mainly students and lawyers – confronted police and Saleh’s supporters. Police also clashed with around 2,000 protesters in Sanaa on Sunday.

In the face of the unrest, Saleh has postponed a visit to the United States that had been planned for later this month, after the opposition agreed on Sunday to resume talks suspended since October.

Yemen is the poorest Gulf Arab state strategically located at the southwest corner of the Arabian peninsula.

Source Al Jazeera

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As Mubarak Resigns, Yemenis Call For A Revolution Of Their Own

Posted on 12 February 2011 by hashimilion

As jubilant protesters in Cairo celebrated the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Yemenis were calling for a revolution of their own.

In the southern port city of Yemen, protesters marched through the district of Mansoura, waving the old flag of South Arabia and chanting, “Revolution, revolution for the south.”

Just hours before, security forces had fired live ammunition during a protest on the same street, according to eyewitnesses. Hundreds more staged ad hoc demonstrations throughout Aden, as well as in other cities across Yemen’s south.

“After Hosni Mubarak, Yemen is going to be next. I know it,” said Zahra Saleh, a prominent secession activist watching the scenes in Cairo on TV in a small Aden office.

“Now our revolution has to be stronger,” declared Ali Jarallah, a leader in the southern separatist movement sitting with Ms. Saleh on the low cushions of a diwan.

Divergent aims of Yemeni protesters

The Yemeni southern secessionist movement is not calling for political reforms, an end to corruption or even for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down, as the political opposition is doing in the capital of Sanaa. They are pushing for the end of what they view is northern Yemeni occupation and the restoration of an independent southern Yemeni state.

Though both derive momentum from the recent revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, the divergent aims of the Yemeni protesters represent another example of how anti-regime factions across the Arab world our shaping revolutionary energy to serve their own agendas.

“What happened in Egypt sent a blink of hope to the [southern] movement,” says Tammam Bashraheel, managing editor of Aden’s officially banned Al Ayyam newspaper.

Exiled southern movement leader and former Vice President Ali Salim Al Beidh said that events in the Arab world, and especially what is happening in Tunisia and Egypt, reflect a new stage in history that can be likened to the end of the cold war. Speaking to local press on Thursday, he compared the southern Yemeni demonstrations to Egypt, where youths have also played a central role.

“The revolution of the south is a revolution of the youth and younger generation,” said Mr. Beidh.

‘America supports oppressors’

In Sanaa, anti-government protests have focused on pressuring the ruling party to accept political reforms and are carried out in relative peace. However in Yemen’s south, the increased number of demonstrations since Tunisia’s uprising have been more violent.

“Demonstrations are allowed to happen in Sanaa without weapons, why do they use weapons on us in the south?” asks secession activist Wagdy Al Shaaby, who had just returned to Aden Friday afternoon from a protest of about 1,000 held in Zinjibar in neighboring Abyan province.

He also criticized the US for supporting its Arab allies, even when they resort to authoritarian measures in the name of stability.

“America is a democracy, but when to comes to the Arab world America supports oppressors,” he says. “America protects these countries until they blow up.”

Aden governor urges security, stability

In one Aden neighborhood, known for being a hotbed of secessionist sentiment, the old South Arabia flag is spray painted on building walls alongside posters of young man killed by security forces. Next to one Khaled Darwish poster was written a warning to the Yemeni government: “We are going to take revenge for you, Darwish.”

“If there continues to be no recognition of political rights here, [separatist activity] won’t stop,” says Mr. Bashraheel.

The fractured yet popular southern separatists argue that since unification of north and south Yemen in 1990, and especially after a bloody civil war between the two sides of the country in 1994, there has been a systematic attempt to erase the identity of south Yemen.

They claim that southerners don’t have proper representation in the central government, and that the government takes resources found in southern governorates, namely oil, without investing back in the south’s infrastructure.

Yemen’s government accuses separatists of harming national unity and stirring up trouble. On Thursday, Gov. Adnan Al Jafari of Aden told local press “security and stability are the responsibility of everyone.” He added, “We must learn from other countries that have lost their security and stability and use that in positive ways for our country.”

The government has also tried to link secessionists to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the regional terrorist franchise based in Yemen. AQAP, for its part, has sought to play on southerners’ grievances in order to unite the two groups against their common enemy, the Yemeni state. Separatists deny that they have any ties with AQAP, and instead blame the existence of Al Qaeda in Yemen on the Saleh regime.

A fast-closing window

Because clashes happen far from the eyes of international observers, it difficult to assess whether the perpetual violence in Yemen’s south between security forces and armed factions comes from Al Qaeda or harak, the Arabic name for southern separatists. However, what is certain is that this violence what has worried Western governments that destabilization in this area allows AQAP to move freely.

“The deterioration of the south would lead to instability of the entire countries and will definitely provide space for Al Qaeda to function. The southern separatist movement is not allied to Al Qaeda but the absence of state control gives Al Qaeda space to exist in areas that are controlled by harak,” said independent Yemeni political analyst Abdul-Ghani Al Iryani.

“The lack of unified leadership [in the separatist movement] makes it difficult for the government to reach a deal and therefore Harak will continue until the legitimate aspiration of the people of the south are achieved and that is still within the ability of the central government to provide in the context of unity, but I see that this window is fast closing,” he said.

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