Armies of Liberation

Jane Novak's blog about Yemen

Hadi appoints judges to SCER

Filed under: Elections, Janes Articles — by Jane Novak at 2:23 pm on Wednesday, October 24, 2012

On Monday Yemen’s interim president Mansour Abdo Hadi named several judges to the Supreme Commission on Elections and Referendum (SCER). The SCER is responsible for the technical aspects of elections and has a pivotal role in maintaining or subverting the integrity of elections.

In a meeting that included UN envoy Jamal ben Omar, President Hadi selected “honest and competent” judges, the state news agency SABA reported.

The SCER will oversee Yemen’s next presidential election, scheduled for 2014.

The question of electoral reforms has been the subject of heated dispute among Yemen’s political parties since at least 2003 when parliamentary elections were last held.

Yemen’s ruling party, the General People’s Congress party (GPC) systematically rejected electoral reforms that would diminish its stranglehold on political power, the Parliament and other state apparatus. As a result the GPC and the opposition party alliance, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) have been politically deadlocked for years on the question of the SCER and other reforms.

It was Parliament’s inability to implement needed electoral reforms that gave rise to the perceived illegitimacy of government and mass demonstrations in 2011 and led in part ultimately the overthrow of Ali Abdullah Saleh, president since 1978 and head of the GPC.

In the run up to the 2006 presidential election, the opposition JMP suggested the SCER be split equally between GPC and JMP loyalists instead of selected by the President. The partisan division of the SCER was a method deployed following 1990’s unity of North and South Yemen. In a compromise, two additional members from the opposition were appointed to the SCER.

Saleh’s 2006 re-election was characterized by wide ranging irregularities. Saleh’s ruling GPC party signed an agreement to implement a range of electoral reforms if the JMP dropped its claims of electoral fraud. The GPC wanted to cement a veneer of legitimacy on Saleh. The JMP refocused on the 2009 parliamentary election and its goal of a proportional representation system.

The JMP advocated adopting the proportional or list method. The “first past the post” method in place gives advantage to the ruling GPC and established parties in general. In 2003’s parliamentary election, the GPC received 58 per cent of the vote and 238 seats. Candidates of JMP member party, Islah, won 22 per cent of the vote but only 46 seats. The GPC’s parliamentary seats increased from 123 in 1993, to 187 in 1997 and 238 in 2003. The participation of independent candidates and women candidates sharply dropped in each election.

The 2006 agreement on electoral reforms between the GPC and JMP was based on reports from impartial international observers and included redrawing the imbalanced electoral districts, redefining “domicile” to prevent the transfer of army units into opposition strongholds in order to sway the vote, and revising wildly inaccurate voter rolls.

However the GPC dominated parliament stalled and stonewalled the negotiations, prompting opposition JMP members to boycott parliament several times. Without a modicum of progress since 2006, Yemen’s 2009 parliamentary election was postponed until April 2011.

Yemen’s Youth Revolution began in January 2011 and called for the overthrow and trial of Yemen’s long ruling military dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh and his entire regime. The protesters rejected both the opposition and ruling parties as corrupt, ineffective and anti-democratic. For months the United States maintained support for Saleh despite atrocities committed against protesters by state security forces. The US had invested over $300 million in Yemen’s counter-terror forces since 2006 and had little contact with political forces outside Saleh’s family and circle of elites.

In April 2011, Parliament voted itself more time in office, again delaying elections in order to “give political parties a chance to develop the political and democratic system, reshape the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum, and finalize discussions over related issues,” the Yemen Post reported.

By November 2011, ongoing nationwide protests forced Saleh from power under a transition plan devised by the United States and Saudi Arabia under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Known as the GCC plan and endorsed by the UN Security Council, the transfer of power in Yemen was based on a guarantee of immunity for Saleh and his cronies. The GCC plan left the ruling regime and its military assets largely intact. Saleh retained his financial assets, thought to be well in excess of $10 billion.

Saleh’s Vice President Abdo Mansour Hadi was nominated as a consensus candidate by both the ruling GPC and opposition JMP. Hadi was the sole candidate in a February 2012 presidential “election” that saw a 65% turn-out.

The electoral reforms stalled since 2006 were not an issue during the 2012 presidential election, as the winner was pre-determined, but any unresolved issues certainly will come into play in 2014 when President Hadi’s term expires.

By dividing the interim government between Saleh’s GPC party and the JMP, the transition plan artificially empowered Yemen’s opposition parties, especially the Islamic Reform Party, Islah which dominates the JMP.

A report detailing President Hadi’s 220 new appointments alleges they were selected based on party affiliation and political loyalty, not merit, competence or ability.

Saleh remains active in Yemeni politics as head of the GPC party. Saleh is also thought responsible for militias and terrorists who are undermining the Yemeni security with violence directed against persons and infrastructure.

Mass protests continue in Yemen calling for the ouster of Saleh’s relatives and loyalists who remain as military commanders and in other high ranking positions. Other demands include overturning the immunity deal, and trying Saleh for mass corruption, and the deaths of protesters during the revolution and for war crimes prior to 2011.

Hadi’s government is gearing up to hold a national dialog in November, bringing in disenfranchised groups including southern secessionists and northern rebels.

The Jane that I know by Abdulkarim al Khaiwani

Filed under: Yemen, al-Khaiwani, mentions — by Jane Novak at 5:40 am on Friday, September 21, 2012

Jane I know!! Khaiwani

America face other than that ugly face, which stands for policy, and the Marines and Tools killings and drone America is not the film abuser of the Prophet peace be upon him and God and peace, not a movie rules of engagement, America has another face, the face of coexistence, peace and rights, and justice. And freedom and equality, and respect for religions, all of which are represented by Jane Novak, journalist and human being

Back knowing Jane Novak to 2004, and I was in prison, where she championed the issues and defended me, and Raseltha from prison, by my brother and my friend Sami Noman, and continued issues continued Jane Tnasserna, and she advocates for all issues in Yemen, Saada for Djaashen, southern mobility, was suffering for Yemen, Yemen, struggling to Yemen and Yemenis, bothered favor, did not succeed Baskadtha, not bought, sent them more than the Messenger of them Judge Hamoud al-Hitar did not receive him.

My relationship to date powerful, and I can say it’s closer friend of mine in the world, a friend who feel it with me honestly, do not deny themselves some question, I learned them a lot, they are friendly and sister and Chancellor, and the heart that I miss, not have the opportunity to meet her, and my not Tsafna with them but with the understanding that, I understand English Jane and Jane Arabeety understanding, help us Mr. Google Chrome, I hope to visit America for Jane something more, but I did not pyrimidotriazine even the International Visitor لسؤ program was perhaps.

Jane present in my house as one of us, my wife ask me from time to time how Jane? Him? Mohamed, Alaa and replace them fathers named Aunt Jane, recognition thanks.

Cried Jane as a human being to misery Yemen, and the violation of rights, and the looting of life, and the suppression of freedom, war, once told me dear friend Fikri Qasim, Yemenis, they would tell if there for one thing, O Ahmed Bin Alwan, and today they say Oh Jane girl Novak, a comment on the amount of messages and issues that people sent to Jane,

Mguett Jane Novak, Saleh and Ali Mohsen, also abhors terrorism and hate tyranny and corruption, and she loved Jane Yemen, was writing the most impact on the system, but they are sometimes embarrassed the U.S. administration itself, which stand antibody for Yemen, Jane known in Yemen, Saada know well, and in the South also know in Taiz, Ibb.

Newborn them talk dominated by emotion, because I love Jane, I thought type them, and came proposal Mr. Abdullah Musleh suitable for articulated than in myself, and admitted I whenever stumbled صداقاتي, and Hasrtina concerns some, and won my heart, arrows stray, for this or that, and increased nervous this, and racism that remain Jin, the heart that Oe him at nights dreary, almost feel their spirit, relieve me, and gladdens my chest, she says to me Karim, I will pray for you and believe that God will hear it, perhaps this spirit, fairness and humanity to God closer than who live their hearts envy and fill them rancor, and consisted of hypocrisy, and they thought they were a must shoot in order to measure up.

In the days of distress and tribulation, pray for me to the church, and pray also her mother, father and even the church, O God, how wonderful you are Aijin, and I also mention Bdaaúa, and how are we not the people!! The unity of humanity, tolerant which it Antmina, or did not say Imam Ali, peace be upon him, man you brother in religion or your creation.

Jane my guardian angel, sometimes some are trying to drive a wedge between me and Jane, ignorance too, do not know the level of trust between us, and they know me very well. Elaborated talking personal Anojaddan, forgive me I am بمقام man gratitude, tell you about Jane know.

Our issues in Yemen and many too many, Otabt heart gene, which تفرغت us and our issues, and doctors advised her that moving away from the worries and problems, and relieve her emotions, and leave the net, and actually forced absence period, but returned to relay more strongly, became specialized reliable issues Yemen, and writes for newspapers and sites for Yemen and what happens in it.

Note some comments by U.S. Ambassador yesterday in favor of immunity and initiative, but they did not know he was responding to an article for Jane Novak, saying that acting in good One ambassador in Yemen, and talked about the problem of survival in favor of Yemen.

Here Jane declares her delight coming Hadi as Yemeni new to America, and Jane have preferred the revolution of Yemen, to share her post, is aware Hadi this, you يكرمنا Hadi Medal to Jane Novak, Sam Yemeni commenting on the chest of Jane recognition thanks, Sam says we honor human who has blessed us and Nasserna and loved it security is not naive announced, but naive political not do!!, they step represents created a revolutionary and nobler and smarter politically to address peoples, do you keep this in mind Hadi?? expressed as a human being Yemeni can say thank our name Kimnyen free, The rebels??. inviting home on Yemen, which has supported and championed change it and defended its issues,!!

Seeking American programs to improve her face and ugly policy, failed, Vmmarsadtha increase image uglier, but Jin Bansanatha, improved the face of America and highlighted the face civilized, proud America, perhaps the face that you need in the eyes of the people, until it became Jane is America into another.

Jane what to tell you, or what to say about you.? You a world of humanity, and beauty, thanks Jane I’m glad your friendship, and am grateful for your presence with our lives.

جين التي أعرف !!
عبد الكريم الخيواني
لأمريكا وجه أخر غير ذلك الوجه القبيح ,التي تمثله سياستها , والمارينز وأدوات القتل والطائرة بدون طيار امريكا ليست الفيلم المسيء للرسول صلوات الله عليه واله وسلم ,ولا فيلم قواعد الإشتباك ,أمريكا له وجه أخر , وجه التعايش ,والسلام والحقوق ,والعدالة . والحريه والمساواه ,واحترام الأديان ,وكلها تمثلها جين نوفاك الصحفية والإنسانة
تعود معرفتي بجين نوفاك إلى العام 2004 ,وأنا بالسجن ,حيث كانت تناصر قضيتي وتدافع عني ,وراسلتها من السجن , عن طريق اخي وصديقي سامي نعمان ,واستمرت القضايا واستمرت جين تناصرني , وتناصر كل قضايا اليمن ,من صعده للجعاشن ,للحراك , كانت تتألم من اجل اليمن , كل اليمن , وتناضل من اجل اليمن واليمنيين ,أزعجت صالح ,ولم يفلح بإسكاتها ,ولا بشرائها ,أرسل إليها أكثر من رسول منهم القاضي حمود الهتار ولم تستقبله .
علاقتي بها حتى اليوم قويه ,وأستطيع أن أقول أنها أقرب صديق لي في المعمورة , الصديق الذي أشعر انه معي بصدق , لا نغيب عن بعض بالسؤال , تعلمت منها الكثير ,فهي الصديق والأخت والمستشارة , والقلب الذي افتقد , لم تتاح لي فرصه لقائها , ولغتي لا تسعفني بالتفاهم معها لكن مع ذلك ,افهم انجليزية جين وتفهم جين عربيتي , يساعدنا السيد جوجل كوروم ,اتمنى زيارة امريكا من اجل جين اكثر شيء ,لكني لم اوفق حتى ببرنامج الزائر الدولي لسؤ حظي ربما .
جين حاضره في بيتي كواحدة منا , زوجتي تسألني بين وقت وأخر كيف جين ؟ سلم عليها ؟ محمد والاء وإباء يحلوا لهم تسميتها عمه جين , اعترافا بفضلها.
بكت جين كإنسانه لبؤس اليمن , وانتهاك الحقوق ,وسلب الحياة , وقمع الحرية ,والحرب ,قال لي ذات مره الصديق العزيز فكري قاسم , اليمنيين ,كانوا يقولوا إذا حصل للواحد شيء يا احمد بن علوان ,,واليوم يقولوا يا جين بنت نوفاك , تعليقا على كمية الرسائل والقضايا التي يرسلها الناس لجين ,
مقتت جين نوفاك ,صالح وعلي محسن , كما تمقت الإرهاب وتكره الاستبداد والفساد , وأحبت جين اليمن ,فكانت كتاباتها أشد أثرا على النظام , بل أنها أحيانا أحرجت الأداره الأمريكية ذاتها ,وهي تقف موقف الضد لصالح اليمن , جين معروفه باليمن , بصعده يعرفونها جيدا ,وفي الجنوب يعرفونها ايضا وفي تعز وإب .
حديثي عنها حديث يغلب عليه العاطفة , لأني أحب جين , فكرت اكتب عنها , وجاء اقتراح الأستاذ عبد الله مصلح مناسبة كي افصح عما في نفسي ,واعترف اني كلما تعثرت صداقاتي , وحاصرتني هواجس البعض , ونالت من قلبي , سهام طائشة ,لهذا أو ذاك ,وزادت عصبية هذا ,وعنصرية ذاك ,تبقى جين , القلب الذي أوي أليه , في الليالي الموحشه , وأكاد أشعر بروحها , تخفف عني ,وينشرح صدري وهي تقول لي كريم ,سأصلي من أجلك وأؤمن أن الله سيستمع إليها ,لعلها بهذه الروح والإنصاف والإنسانية إلى الله أقرب , ممن سكن قلوبهم الحسد وملئ نفوسهم الغل , وتألفوا مع النفاق , وأعتقدوا أنهم لابد أن يسقطوك لكي يرتقوا.
في أيام الشدة والمحنه ,كانت تصلي من اجلي بالكنيسة , وتصلي أم زوجها أيضا ,وحتى الأب بالكنيسة , يا الله كم أنت رائعه ياجين , وانا أيضا أذكرها بدعائي ,وكيف لا ألسنا أهل !! وحدتنا الإنسانيه , السمحاء التي انتمينا اليها , أو لم يقل الإمام علي عليه السلام ,الأنسان أخ لك في الدين أو نظير لك بالخلق .
جين ملاكي الحارس , يحاول البعض أحيانا الوقيعة بيني وبين جين , بجهل مفرط ,لا يعلمون مستوى الثقة بيننا ,وإنها تعرفني جيدا . أسهبت بالحديث عنوجدان شخصي, أعذروني أني رجل بمقام العرفان,احدثكم عن جين التي اعرف .
قضايانا باليمن كثيرة وكثيرة جدا ,أتعبت قلب جين ,التي تفرغت لنا ولقضايانا ,ونصحها الأطباء بأن تبتعد عن الهموم والمشاكل ,وتخفف انفعالاتها ,وتترك ألنت , وفعلا أجبرت على الغياب فتره لكنها عادت ,لتتابع بقوه أكثر , صارت متخصصة يعتد بها بقضايا اليمن , وتكتب لصحف ومواقع عن اليمن وما يحدث فيه .
لاحظ البعض تصريحات السفير الامريكي امس الاول عن صالح والحصانه والمبادره , ولكنهم لايعلمون انه كان يرد على مقال لجين نوفاك ,قالت فيه ان السفير يتصرف كصالح باليمن ,وتحدثت عن مشكلة بقاء صالح باليمن .
هاهي جين تعلن فرحتها بقدوم هادي كرئيس يمني جديد إلى أمريكا , وجين لها فضل في ثورتنا اليمنية , لها نصيب لها مشاركه ,فهل يعي هادي هذا , هل يكرمنا هادي بوسام لجين نوفاك , وسام يمني يعلق على صدر جين اعترافا بفضلها ,وسام يقول أننا نكرم الإنسان الذي أكرمنا وناصرنا وأحبنا أنها أمنيه ليس من السذاجه أعلانها , بل من السذاجه السياسيه عدم القيام بها !!, فهي خطوه تمثل خلقا ثوريا ونبلا وذكاء سياسيا في مخاطبة الشعوب ,هل يعيه هادي ؟؟ويعبر عنه كإنسان يمني يستطيع أن يقول شكرا بأسمنا كيمنيين أحرار ,وثوار ؟؟.ويدعوها ضيفه على اليمن التي دعمت وناصرت التغيير فيه ودافعت عن قضاياه ,!!
تسعى أمريكا ببرامج أن تحسن وجهها وقبح سياستها ,ولم تفلح ,فممارساتها تزيد صورتها قبحا ,لكن جين بإنسانيتها , حسنت وجه أمريكا وأبرزت وجها حضاريا , تفخر به أمريكا ,لعله الوجه الذي تحتاجه في نظر الشعوب , حتى صارت جين هي أمريكا بنظر البعض .
جين ماذا أقول لك ,أو ماذا أقول عنك .؟ أنت عالم من الإنسانية ,والجمال , شكرا جين أنا سعيد بصداقتك ,وممتن لوجودك بحياتنا .

ed- Wow thats really overwhelming and in reality it is al Khaiwani and the others in Yemen who are the modern heroes, I am their historian. I wish I could get a translation, theres somethings I dont understand and I’m not sure are said in a joking tone, but I get the gist of it. Its quite touching and lovely and I wrote him back a longer letter. Its a very nice gesture on Karim’s part to remember me in a public letter, especially now when the situation is so inflamed by the film and by the Marines, but maybe that’s why he wrote it.

Marines to Yemen

Filed under: Janes Articles — by Jane Novak at 6:31 am on Wednesday, September 19, 2012

High risk US embassy in Yemen gets Marine reinforcements as protests continue
by Jane Novak

An elite Marine rapid response team arrived in Yemen’s capital to protect the US embassy there which remains vulnerable and in disrepair following a mob attack this week.

Protests against a video clip deeply insulting to Muslims turned violent Wednesday when several hundred protesters in Sana’a breached the US embassy’s exterior parameter, burned 61 cars, looted computers and destroyed other property including the gate surrounding the compound.

View slideshow: Mob attacks US Embassy, Sanaa

The 14 minute video clip was uploaded to Youtube by a man in California two months ago. Its existence became public knowledge in Yemen following the murder of US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and prompted the attack on the embassy, wide spread US flag burning and chants of “Death to America” as protests continued this week across Yemen.

News of the Marine’s deployment “enraged” Yemenis already in a heightened state of emotionalism, the Yemen Observer reported. About 50 Marines are reported to have been deployed.

Many Yemenis are unaware that the US Constitution specifically prohibits governmental infringement on religious speech and are hoping the US will arrest the film maker as could occur in a dictatorship. A substantial majority however consider the mob violence more insulting to Islam than the video.

President Abdu Mansour Hadi said in a statement that he “extends his sincere apologies to President Obama and to the people of the United States of America” for the attack.

US Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein, a highly controversial figure, said in a statement today that the deployment would be short lived and limited to the embassy grounds. Ambassador Feierstein said, “The only task of these individuals to provide assistance in our diplomatic facilities and protect American diplomats from violence, and is a temporary assignment…”

High Risk Embassy

The United States Embassy in Yemen is at especially high risk for a terrorist attack.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) previously attacked the US Embassy in Sana’a in September 2008 in a complex attack that killed four innocent bystanders including one Yemeni-American, as well as 10 Yemeni security personnel. AQAP is the most dangerous and active offshoot of al Qaeda.

The fanatical AQAP group was later responsible for the attempted murder of Saudi Prince Naif with the high explosive pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) in August 2009, and the attempted bombing of an airliner over Detroit in December 2009, also with PETN. In October 2010, AQAP shipped toner cartridges rigged with PETN on a cargo plane headed for the US.

In Yemen, AQAP derailed the 2011 Youth Revolution and seized territory—facilitated by military commanders loyal to the former dictator, Ali Saleh. The city of Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province, was looted, and destroyed. It became a ghost town as residents fled the al Qaeda occupation for the relative safety of Aden. Al Qaeda was driven underground in June of this year, reappearing in cells in the capital as well as other governorates. The group left behind hundreds of land mines in Zinjibar.

The al Qaeda group in Yemen is engaged in a long running assassination campaign targeting a wide variety of Yemenis, most frequently members of the security forces and intelligence and high profile members of the Yemeni Transitional Government.

On Saturday, AQAP praised the 9/11 murder of US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, as al Qaeda retribution for the June death of terrorist leader Abu Yahya al Libi in a US drone strike in Pakistan. “The killing of Sheikh Abu Yahya only increased the enthusiasm and determination of the sons of (Libyan independence hero) Omar al-Mokhtar to take revenge upon those who attack our Prophet,” Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said as quoted by the US-based monitoring group, SITE.

President Abdu Mansour Hadi said the attack on the US embassy in Sana’a was an attempt to derail his visit to Washington DC later this month. He also pointed to divisions within the security forces; loyalists and relatives of the former dictator remain in their government posts. A Youtube video shows Yemeni security officers waved protesters past a checkpoint leading to the US embassy Wednesday.

The interim president, Mr. Hadi is facing substantial challenges seven months into his term. The US sponsored transition plan for Yemen grants the former oligarchy including Ali Saleh immunity from prosecution for its decades of war crimes prior to and during Yemen’s year-long uprising demanding regime change.

Rewriting international law

The protests across Yemen may point to a deeper frustration as many of the Youth Revolutionaries believe their path to democracy was highjacked by political leaders, AQAP and the international community.

Mr. Hadi was Mr. Saleh’s Vice President and was elected in a single candidate election on February 24, 2012 as part of the transition plan endorsed by the US, Saudi Arabia and the UN Security Council and brokered by UN envoy Jamal Omar. The immunity clause represents a significant departure from established international law on crimes against humanity.

The US has rejected the revolutionaries’ continuous appeals to freeze Saleh’s US assets, and Ambassador Feierstein supports Ali Saleh’s continued political activities as head of the ruling party. Youth protesters have called for Saleh’s exile or arrest since the transition plan was announced. Protests against Mr. Feierstein’s role in the Yemeni transition garnered hundreds of thousands since the revolution began. Other protests against the US use of drones to target al Qaeda have erupted after civilian loses. An errant air strike earlier this month killed 14 civilians in a minibus, including three women and three children, the Yemeni government said.

Less well publicized than the protest at the embassy were protests last week against terrorism, assassinations and the former president’s continued disruption of the political transition. Protesters called for President Hadi to “sack the rest” of the former president’s relatives who remain in their posts.

The protest against terrorism and Saleh, which is Yemen is often the same thing, followed a spate of assassination attempts on members of the transitional government. A car bomb in Sanaa targeted Yemen’s defense minister last Tuesday killing 12, The minister was unharmed.

Across the great divide

Many Yemenis who heard about an offensive video erroneously thought it was a movie being shown in theaters, when it is a low budget 14 minute Youtube clip. A second URL on Youtube that purports to be the entire movie is the 14 minute clip looped four times.

The video was posted to Youtube two months ago and had garnered 4000 views. In the week since riots began across the Middle East, the videos received over 10 million views from across the globe.

In discussions, many Yemenis are unaware that the United States was founded by religious dissidents and minorities seeking to ensure, above all, religious freedom. Many believe Germany’s law criminalizing Holocaust denial is actually a US law.

While acknowledging the importance of a free speech in countering government corruption and in areas of art and science, others argue for an exemption in US law for insults against Islam and other “people of the book”, ignorant of the vast multiplicity of religions in America and of the US constitutional requirement of equal rights for citizens.

Some prominent religious leaders are using the offensive video and the Marines’ deployment to Sanaa to stoke fears of a US military occupation, including religious leaders who regularly engage in Taqfirism- ie, the practice of labeling other Muslims as apostates and those who call Shia Muslims “Rawafidh” or rejectionists of the true Islam.

Others like former Endowments Minster Hamoud al Hittar rejected the attack on the US embassy in Sana’s in religious terms saying, “Personnel of these missions are covenanters, whose bloods and money are forbidden and should not be attacked, and those who live in our country have nothing to do with this film.”

Suggested by the author:

US lifts Yemen arms embargo before military restructuring
Yemeni security forces open fire on The Life March
Yemen, the long march toward justice
Yemen’s counter-terror chief accused of atrocities
US, Saudi meddling drives Yemen protesters to boycott

Jane @

State Department permits sale of lethal weapons to Yemen

Filed under: Janes Articles, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 5:04 pm on Saturday, July 21, 2012

Without much fanfare or explanation, the US State Department revised its defense export policy on Yemen and will now consider applications for licenses to export lethal defense articles to Yemen.

The July 3, 2012 Federal Register notice updates the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and lifts the “presumption of denial” that had been in place since 1992.

In an earlier opening to US-based military contractors and suppliers, the ITAR was revised in August 2011 to allow the export of non-lethal defense articles and services to Yemen.

In the latest ITAR update, the State Department asserted that lifting the arms embargo would enhance US national security and that, “Yemen has taken important steps to stabilize the country, including holding successful presidential elections in February 2012.”

Post revolution Yemen

The 33-year dictatorship of Field Marshall Ali Abdullah Saleh came to an end following a year of nationwide, massive street demonstrations demanding complete regime change. Hundreds of unarmed citizens were killed and over ten thousand wounded as Yemen’s armed forces, headed by Saleh’s relatives, tried to shoot, bomb and burn the protesters into submission.

Saleh and his regime, notorious for brutality and grand corruption, received immunity under a US and Saudi sponsored deal in exchange for Saleh’s resignation. Despite ample evidence of war crimes and financial malfeasance prior to and during the Yemeni revolution, Saleh was neither exiled nor sanctioned. There has been no accounting for the billions stolen from the Yemeni treasury. The US maintains that Saleh is an esteemed leader, welcomed on the political scene.

With 10 million registered voters in Yemen, 6.6 million voted in February’s single candidate election for Saleh’s vice president, Abdu Mansour Hadi. As president, Hadi has achieved significant gains against al Qaeda following decades of Saleh’s appeasement and manipulation of the fanatical group.

However Saleh loyalists continue to thwart progress in Yemen administratively and through covert acts like bombing oil pipelines and a new round of al Qaeda “jailbreaks. Saleh’s paid pens launched a smear campaign against the newly appointed and quite effective Human Rights minister, Hooria Mansour, prompted her boycott of cabinet meetings.

Among the many challenges Hadi faces, the most urgent is child starvation. More than one million Yemeni children are acutely malnourished and 60% suffer from chronic malnutrition, UNICEF said this week. Yemen is also facing a devastating water shortage and 70% of Yemenis have no access to healthcare.

Following the revolution, Yemenis remain largely fragmented and at odds, with many groups and individuals jostling to achieve narrow interests and goals. The lack of communications infrastructure and political experience means that rival groups and former opponents have yet to form a clear national consensus that the rescue of the starving children is the nation’s top priority. Saleh’s overthrow has not yet shifted the balance of power between the citizenry and the elite, but instead instead resulted in a partial and ongoing re-shuffle of elites.

As a result, protests across the nation continued following the election, demanding the removal of Saleh’s son Ahmed Saleh, commander of the Special Forces, and Saleh’s nephew Yahya Saleh, commander of the Central Security. The pair are the primary conduits of US counter-terror efforts and recipients of US CT funds and equipment. Ahmed Saleh is reported to own four condos in Washington, D.C. for which he paid 5.5 million dollars in cash.

Continuing US loyalty to Saleh’s relatives baffles and frustrates Yemenis. Nobel Laureate Tawakkol Karman said, “I cannot believe the US didn’t know of Saleh’s relationship to al Qaeda.” Karman also described ousted president Ali Saleh as “the real hand” behind al Qaeda.

Judge Hamoud al Hittar was Minister of Endowments and spearheaded Yemen’s earlier efforts to reform imprisoned al Qaeda operatives through dialog and Koranic debate. He resigned the Ministry in 2011 following regime excesses during the revolution. Al Hittar recently described Ansar al Sharia, the extremist group that occupied several southern towns until Hadi’s election, as a blend of al Qaeda operatives, Saleh loyalists and those with local grievances.

He also said, “some relatives of Saleh personally contacted with Al-Qaeda operatives and hampered the completion of investigation on the case of USS Cole.” Many others have warned of the nexus between the Saleh’s mafia and al Qaeda.

In June 2012, President Obama notified Congress of direct US military actions in Yemen, as required by the 1973 War Powers Resolution, stating “The U.S. military has also been working closely with the Yemeni government to operationally dismantle and ultimately eliminate the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the most active and dangerous affiliate of al-Qa’ida 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.”

In addition to the State Department’s July 3 move to open the floodgates for arms and contractors, the Pentagon announced that it will resume shipping about $112 million in weapons and equipment for counter-terrorism operations, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wrote to congressional defense committees on July 5.

Yemen received $252 million in counter-terrorism funding through mid 2010. Shipments were later suspended after state forces, including the Air Force and units commanded by Ahmed and Yahya Saleh, turned their weapons against protesters.

US humanitarian and development aid to Yemen is expected to top $175 million this year.

The faulty Blue Lantern

Yemeni protesters and elites and US officials all consider the restructuring of the Yemeni military and security forces as a top priority. However the phrase has differing meanings to each group. For Yemenis “restructuring” means decommissioning Saleh’s relatives; to the US it means arming them.

Additionally, many in Yemen and the US have valid concerns about the US ability to effectively monitor US military shipments to Yemen. US embassy personnel have had difficulty in conducting “Blue Lantern” spot checks on US supplied weapons as far back as 2004, according to one Wikileaks cable.

As a result, in July 2008, the first-ever bilateral agreement between the Yemeni and American armed forces was concluded. In a press release posted to the website of the US embassy in Sana’a, then Ambassador Seche said the End Use Monitoring Agreement (EUMA) for U.S-sponsored military and security assistance would prevent “the misuse or illicit transfer of these items and service.” The press release and all references to the 2008 EUMA have since been scrubbed from the US embassy’s website.

Despite the EUMA, in 2009 US trained counter-terror units and US supplied equipment were routinely diverted to internal armed conflicts in northern Yemen, according to diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks. “In the cables, US diplomats complain that their requests for Yemen to halt such diversions were having little effect,” Human Rights Watch remarked in calling for an investigation into US counter-terrorism assistance to Yemen.

A January 2010 report issued by Senate Committee on Foreign Relations found that some of the weapons the US government had shipped to the Yemeni military could not be accounted for and that the Yemeni military was “likely” diverting US counter-terror assistance to wage war against their own citizens in the north. The Foreign Relations Committee’s fact finding mission further expressed uncertainty that US Embassy personnel fully understood what the EUMA required, and that diversion was prohibited. The report noted,

This potential misuse of security assistance underscores the importance of enhancing the current (2008) end-use monitoring regime for U.S.-provided equipment. Indeed, the existing end-use monitoring protocols in place have revealed discrepancies between U.S. records of security assistance and those that are in the possession of Yemeni defense forces.

At a House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting on Yemen a month later, Member Ron Klein (D-FL) noted, “The worst thing we can have for our country, and our troops, and our interests over there is to find that U.S. weapons are being used against us.”

In response, Jeffery Feltman, Assistant Secretary of State assured the committee that, “We’re very aware of the human — of a poor human rights record in Yemen. We’re very aware of the fact that the country is awash in a black — in a black market on weapons. So these factors very much play into how we do the monitoring.”

In December 2010, Human Rights Watch urged the US to “investigate Yemen’s apparent diversion of US counterterrorism assistance to an abusive military campaign unrelated to terrorist threats and suspend such aid unless the misuse has stopped.” However, US support was only curtailed in mid-2011 when such abuses occurred in the full glare of the western media attending the popular uprising against Saleh’s regime.

Fanning the fire

The impending influx of private contractors and new gun sales to a variety of end users in Yemen permitted under the ITAR revision magnify these concerns about the diversion of US supplied weapons onto the Yemeni black market and their use against civilians and for political ends.

With the loyalty of some units in the military and security services, and vast chunks of the state bureaucracies, lying with former President Saleh and competing commanders, President Hadi’s task of wresting control of the state from al Qaeda and private militias is daunting.

The ITAR’s revision in its policy on Yemen may arise from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s vision for a State Department that actively prevents low intensity conflicts. In a speech at a military trade show, Ms Clinton cited US intervention in Yemen as an example of her vision of a more integrated and effective nexus between foreign partners, US diplomats and Special Forces, the Danger Room reports,

The State Department has stood up a new bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, which Clinton said “is working to put into practice lessons learned over the past decade and institutionalize a civilian surge capacity to deal with crises and hotspots.” Together, Special Operations Forces and State’s new Conflict Bureau are the twin arms of an expanding institution for waging small, low-intensity shadow wars all over the world.

But rumor has it Clinton’s vision has its detractors — and that its implementation in hotspots such as Yemen and Congo has made some Special Operations Forces officers very unhappy. In Yemen, in particular, some commando officers look upon the State Department’s expanding shadow-war powers as a bureaucratic intrusion on what should be military territory. A source tells Danger Room that in Yemen State has effectively hijacked all U.S. counter-terrorism funding, requiring a labyrinthine approval process for even small expenditures. According to detractors, the funding control is a way of cementing State’s expansion into the Special Operations Forces traditional remit.

The introduction of private defense contractors and commercial weapons vendors to Yemen in an effort to stabilize the state, enhance its reach and thwart al Qaeda carries both potential risk and reward. With the US’s proven inability to keep track of its prior military shipments, the revision of the ITAR has the potential to inflame low intensity conflicts already underway. Many of these internal disputes have deep roots and long histories; others are a result of the reconfigurations that occurred during and after the 2011 Yemen Revolution.

At the same time, the Yemeni military and security services are sorely in need of re-organization, training, standardized methods and modern equipment. A strong legal framework including respect for civil and human rights, and the rights of the soldiers themselves, needs be introduced from the top down and the bottom up. An impartial body in Yemen should also provide oversight and limitations on imports allowed under the revised US ITAR.

Yemeni service men and women, police and security officers, are in the cross hairs of al Qaeda with assassinations and suicide bombers targeting them nearly daily. And like other sectors of the ravaged and dysfunctional Yemen state, the military and security services could benefit greatly from international aid and support. But the focus of the US State Department must remain on creating an effective and cohesive national force that serves all the Yemeni people and not only urgent US counter-terror interests.

Nasser al Weddady, effective cyber activist for civil rights globally

Filed under: Civil Rights, mentions — by Jane Novak at 9:32 am on Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Niiiiice, long time friend of this website, Yemen and me personally, Naser al Weddady gets a nice write up in the Atlantic recognizing his work and his amazing contribution to supporting freedom and civil rights in some of the darkest corners of earth, the Middle East. Naser helped me a lot with strategy, advice and moral support for both of the campaigns for al Khaiwani (2005, 2008) and his door is always open when I’m confused (or furious). A very smart guy, Nasser is dedicated to changing the world and is actually doing it. Read it all at the Atlantic.

Thats funny, so I thought maybe I should stop gushing about Naser for a minute and read the entire article (I got the link off twitter) before I posted it and there I was too:

Testifying to the global reach of the cyber activists, Jane Novak, a New Jersey housewife, has established herself as a highly-regarded source on all things Yemen, even, at one point, consulting with the U.S. State Department. Her Twitter feed and blog,, are consulted by activists and journalists. She is well-known among policy makers, activists and reporters in the country’s besieged capital, Sana’a. And she has never been to Yemen.

“She doesn’t speak a word of Arabic, she hasn’t set foot in the Middle East, but she still became an authority,” Weddady says. He claims her influence helped secure the 2008 release of Yemeni journalist Abdulkarim al-Khawaini, who had been convicted of defaming President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

To clarify, I gave a 2008 presentation at the Carnegie Institute, at the invitation of State, on media repression in Yemen. I said many of the attacks on press freedom are retribution for journalists who exposed mass corruption at the highest levels of the US allied Saleh regime.

Its funny that Naser describes the fact that I don’t speak Arabic or visit Yemen in a positive light, when the na-na-nana-na crowd always tries to use it to depreciate my work and me personally. My ten thousand Yemeni friends don’t hold it against me though.

Orwellian Yemen

Filed under: Janes Articles — by Jane Novak at 7:47 am on Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Yemen’s Theater of the Absurd: The regime pays al-Qaeda to cause trouble, bringing more international aid to the regime, my article at PJM. Here it is in Arabic at Mareb Press.

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