Armies of Liberation

Jane Novak's blog about Yemen

Yemen cancels DPW’s contract for Aden Port

Filed under: Aden, GCC, Ports, Pres Hadi — by Jane Novak at 7:31 am on Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A good overview of the economic and political significance:

Yemen’s small step toward independence 11/09/2012
Daily Star via Yemen Online

In late August, Yemen’s National Unity Government took a step toward greater independence and a stronger north-south unity by cancelling a contract to Dubai Port Worlds (DPW), signed by the government of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the country’s erstwhile and longtime ruler. (Read on …)

Security and development in one product: Yemen Post Editorial

Filed under: GCC — by Jane Novak at 7:54 am on Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Yemen Post editorial entitled Keep Calm and Carry On suggests a Plan Columbia type approach to the twin issues of CT and economic development. In the end, Plan Columbia had a mixed outcome even in the limited terms of cocoa production, but I understand the editorial’s perspective of combining both development and security in a single product.

Its been my longstanding view view that the development of effective governance and security is a ground up proposition in Yemen due to the nature of its society, infrastructure and traditions. An apolitical National Guard type organization in each governorate where male and female residents are focused on locally defined civil infrastructure projects in their own neighborhoods would boost economic development, national identity and security.

Yemeni institutions, where they exist, have been hyper-political. The functioning of schools, unions, ministries, medical clinics etc are tainted by political conflicts that don’t belong there and have nothing to do with the purpose at hand. The culture of hyper-politicalization encourages and permits corruption as its reward. It is for that reason that I recently suggested a moratorium on the activities of Saleh’s GPC party and other long established parties. A political breather would also give new parties a chance to form and compete. (In 2007, I suggested the GPC be disbanded altogether as a way to jumpstart the economy.)

However the largest obstacle to lasting political and economic development in Yemen is the Obama administration’s goal of recreating a balance of power among long warring factions that includes the US’s familiar partners- the Saleh mafia. The National Dialog can harden social divisions instead of overcoming them, and recreate the prior political stalemate, by reintroducing the culture of hyper-politicization. The representatives at the National Dialog are there to represent the Yemeni people, not specific groups, tribes, political parties or religious affiliations.

One issue the National Dialog members are going to discuss is electoral reform. And we all remember that the JMP and GPC were unable to agree again on the reforms that were agreed upon immediately following the 2006 presidential election. That political deadlock lead to the postponement of the 2009 Parliamentary elections and no progress was made in the years leading up to the revolution. These are the same deadlocked groupings the US insisted, demanded, lead the way following the Yemen revolution of 2011. Its even the same GPC dominated parliament sitting now that has thwarted reforms since it was dubiously elected in 2003.

President Hadi should be congratulated for what he and his team have achieved thus far. Maybe it is now time for Yemen to step forward in direct support of the people and to begin earnest economic and humanitarian action. Combining Yemen’s problems and looking to solutions, there is much that can be done for Yemen. It is time to consider a Plan Colombia type approach for Yemen.

We advise President Hadi to review Plan Colombia and its utility for Yemen. People need jobs and urgent humanitarian assistance. President Hadi understands that the youth of Yemen are ripe for AQAP radicalization because of historic, geographic, economic, social and political grievances. The Plan Colombia model that worked to counter drugs could be utilized for Yemen to counterterrorism through economic and humanitarian development. President Hadi could empower a Presidential Task Force. He could utilize Saudi Arabian and other country donations of funds through the support and coordination of the GCC forward office in Sana’a or through a newly created GCC secretariat for that specific purpose.

Like Plan Colombia, Plan Yemen would train and equip more counterterrorism forces including helicopters and intelligence. Plan Yemen would rely almost exclusively on Yemeni manpower, thus generating employment and finding useful pursuits for the masses without work. It would also offer closer coordination with regional GCC countries in whose interest it is to see a stable and democratic Yemen emerge from the current transition. Working district to district through focused programs in the security and governance domains, including vital humanitarian and economic assistance, Yemen could re-generate provinces sequentially delivering tangible projects in support of a people-centric counterterrorism outcome.

Not only would Plan Yemen utilize donor pledges and existing Yemeni human capital, it would support U.S. counterterrorism aims and also enable a Yemeni Army with a severely damaged reputation to re-build its social
contract with the people. Yemeni soldiers and new government employed civilians working to improve heat, light and electric supplies and sanitation concurrent with delivering water and food to malnourished countrymen is how Plan Yemen would look on the ground.

Yemen is at a crossroads. Former regime elements and Al-Qaeda are threatening Yemen’s new democracy. Only the robustness of the Yemeni people, and their extraordinary patience, will prevent complete collapse. Plan Yemen could combine generous international funding with U.S. aims for counterterrorism and at the same time utilize Yemen’s currently unemployed people to deliver much needed economic and humanitarian support. Yemen needs action on the ground right now. Plan Yemen could mobilize the people and make a real difference.

Assorted Yemen links

Filed under: Abyan, GCC, USA, terror financing — by Jane Novak at 8:44 am on Friday, July 27, 2012

Influx of Gulf money to al-Qaeda in Yemen (supporters of Sharia) Thursday, July 26, 2012 (ar)

360 cities panoramic photos of Yemen

Abyani Tribes and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, Critical Threats, good overview

Official Blind Eyes Thwart Yemen’s Attempts to Rehabilitate Al-Qa’ida Terrorists
Published Wednesday, July 25, 2012, The Media Line on PSO releases of AQAP. Now they are going to Jaar; before the rev they went to Saada.

Tawakkol Karman: I can’t believe that (the U.S.) didn’t know of Saleh’s connection with al Qaeda

Asharq Al-Awsat interview: US Envoy to Yemen Gerald M. Feierstein 08/07/2012, the one where he uses the royal we.

GAO: Uncertain Political and Security Situation Challenges U.S. Efforts to Implement a Comprehensive Strategy in Yemen: 2/29/12 Since fiscal year 2007, U.S. agencies have allocated more than $642 million in security2 and civilian assistance to Yemen. …..However, both State and DOD officials expressed some concerns about future security assistance activities, including identifying who will be the key U.S. partners in the Yemeni security forces. Until 2011, the United States trained and equipped specialized security forces focused on counterterrorism that members of the Saleh family led. While the implementing mechanism for the Gulf Cooperation Council political transition agreement calls for the reorganization of the armed services, it is unclear how or when the military will be reorganized and who will lead it. (ed- the US is apparently still hoping to keep nephew Yahya and son Ahmed which would be a tremendous error.)

Another 20 sitting in drafts were back dated and posted.

and via email, Ali Mohsen and Ahmed Saleh have to go: Karman

Tawakkol Karman: Iran wants to militarily overthrow Yemen. The Houthi should admit into the political process and leave the option of the violence. Tawakkol Karman appreciates Ali Mohsen’s stance with the revolution; the president Hadi should dismiss him, along with Ahmed Ali before turning the Republican Guards into the Revolutionary Guards. (Read on …)

103K soldiers, security officials to secure elections

Filed under: Elections, GCC, Presidency — by Jane Novak at 1:52 pm on Saturday, February 18, 2012

29,000 boxes committees

26 Sept: SCER: 103,000 officers and soldiers to secure the presidential election Saturday 18 February 2012

The Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum (SCER) has used over103,000 officers and soldiers from military and security units to secure all electoral committees and constituencies. (Read on …)

The GCC Plan, English and Arabic

Filed under: GCC, Transition — by Jane Novak at 2:43 pm on Friday, February 17, 2012

The GCC plan in English from and thanks to the Yemen Peace Project which on 2/12 said, “Although the GCC agreement was signed in Riyadh almost three months ago, most people have never seen a full text of the document, or of the implementation mechanism that was signed with it. Newspapers have only published quotations or summaries…we’re able to finally publish here the official English translation of the Implementation Mechanism.

Agreement on the implementation mechanism for the transition process in Yemen in
accordance with the initiative of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

Contents:

Part I. Introduction

Part II. The transition period

Part III. First phase of the transition

Part IV. Second phase of the transfer of power

Part V . Settlement of disputes

Part VI. Concluding provisions

Annex: Draft Presidential Decree

Part I. Introduction

1. The two parties recognize that (Read on …)

One year later, UN, GCC, EU & US writes the Yemeni people

Filed under: Donors, UN, GCC, Transition, USA, Yemen, protest statements — by Jane Novak at 10:04 am on Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Yemen Post: We the Ambassadors of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the European Union (EU), wish to reiterate to the people of Yemen our full commitment to the political transition process taking place on the basis of the November 2011 GCC Agreement and in the framework of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2014 (2011). The 21 February Interim Presidential Elections are an important step. We call upon all the political parties, military authorities, tribal and regional leaders, youth and non-governmental civil society actors to work together to ensure that the elections are as inclusive as possible and take place without violence and in a constructive spirit of cooperation.

We look to all parties to work for improved security conditions throughout the country, the protection of civilians and the national infrastructure such as pipelines and electricity supplies, respect for human rights, the release of all political detainees, justice for all those affected by the crisis of the last year, national reconciliation and a unified effort to address the growing humanitarian crisis.

We share the aspiration of Yemeni citizens who seek a more stable and prosperous Yemen and a government that provides all the services citizens can rightly expect. The next two years of continuing transition will be vital to achieve this. We stand ready to support in every way possible this process.

a) Kindly publish the GCC Agreement in full as signed in Arabic and English, no one has seen the full text of the controlling document.

b) The lack of security, stability or services may have instigated the rev and the solution according to Yemenis is democracy. self-determination and an entire regime change. No one is seeking a better dictatorship except the UN.

c) Reiterate is the wrong word as it implies there was any attempt to communicate directly with the Yemeni people previously, and there was not.

d) Lovely the way they lump civilians in with pipelines and infrastructure in the same sentence as items to be protected.

e) Seeking justice for those harmed over the last year will not bring stability, Saleh’s victims prior to 2011 are substantially aggrieved. What kind of justice can the victims in 2011 expect and why are the thousands of prior victims excluded from this justice?

f) What kind of transition is it if Saleh is coming back to vote, many in the GPC retain power and Ahmed is expected to run in two years? The unity government not only freezes out the protesters, Houthis and Southerners but also the GPC officials who had the decency to resign after the March massacre. We are left the same exact players who were in a political deadlock from 2006-2011, with the exception of a few sincere individuals trying to hold back the GPC counter-revolution.

Although the Yemeni Constitution requires two candidates, the UN dictated single candidate election is a foregone conclusion, and I don’t think anybody should waste their time and energy boycotting (although many groups are). The National Reconciliation Conference however is an opportunity for the excluded elements of the Yemeni public to bring forth their demands while the international community is paying attention. It may be a rare chance to force some changes. Most groups and individuals in Yemen already agree on 1) a proportional electoral system that will eventually undermine the larger parties and allow a more representative political process and 2) transparent budget and fair allocation of resources.

It may be wise for all groups to agree to start with these two (or any other) consensual demands and see if the process is actually going to work. The opening goals should be ones that benefit every Yemeni regardless of identity. But what I think is gong to happen is that they are all going to come to the table with a full list of divergent demands and conditions. For example, many southerners remain fully committed to an independent state (as an opening statement), despite the argument for unwinding things slowly or joining the unity government to ensure a fair allocation of aid and resources for now.

Like I said before, if the presidential “election” had a meaningful referendum attached to it, like lets say on the proportional system of elections, more people might vote because their votes would have meaning and give them a voice and a decision. The outcome of this single candidate “election” was determined by the UN last year. Its an absurd proposition that that the UN is seeking the legitimacy of the popular will on an decidedly undemocratic, unconstitutional and unpopular process. Yemenis are not cattle or children, and a strongly worded statement won’t make them behave in a manner convenient to the UN. The letter doesn’t even have a nice or respectful tone. But at the end of the day, the final end to the nightmare of Saleh’s reign will be a positive event, as long as its actually the end and not more propaganda.

Also maybe somebody should explain to the southerners that participation in the elections doesn’t mean acceptance of the unified state or negate their rights and claims but maybe its a step to present those claims and affirm those rights in the coming national reconciliation conference. There are plans for protests against the elections in the near future in certain locations.

US cannot increase drone use in Yemen without providing shelter for civilians

Filed under: Abyan, Aden, Air strike, Al-Qaeda, Counter-terror, Diplomacy, GCC, South Yemen, USA, Yemen, shabwa — by Jane Novak at 6:43 pm on Thursday, February 2, 2012

Yemenis are fleeing (not joining) al Qaeda where ever they appear. However the vast majority of civilians lack the funds to rent an apartment or to buy food once they leave their farms and possessions behind to be looted by AQAP. But if they stay, they are subject to both al Qaeda dictatorship and US drones. The US may label those who don’t flee as collateral damage or as providing material support (as the Bedouins were in the Dec 2009 US strike in Abyan that killed 43 women and children when General Patraeus implied they were acceptable deaths because they selling vegetable to AQAP, despite the fact the villagers had appealed twice to local authorities to expel the group.)

Certainly AQAP bears the responsibility for sheltering in populated areas in the first place but people in the al Qaeda occupied territories of Yemen want to know where the refugee camps are. Seriously, where are they supposed to go? And it is a US problem when an al Qaeda presence means the potential of US drone strikes. The 120,000 who fled Zinjibar last May are still in the schools of Aden. I know Yemenis’ rights are very low on Obama’s priority list, but there must be a part of the plan to increase US drone use that will deal with the public panic and mass displacement that will occur as US drones follow AQ from province to province threatening people’s lives and homes. Over 15,000 fled Raada within days of Tariq al Dhahab’s (and al Wahishi’s) appearance. They were escaping both the al Qaeda fanaticism and the threat of US drones.

While the Obama administration may try to maintain the myth in the US that they know exactly who they are hitting, and its always a precise targeting, the non-lethal impact on civilians must be considered as well. The US is playing right into al Qaedas hands with nearly every policy from the re-imposition of a dictatorship through the GCC deal to Saleh’s visit to increased drones. The US is focused on vulnerable land when it should be focused on vulnerable people.

Basically, the US is going to bomb Yemen in order to pull off an uncontested election that nobody wants (except the US, the GPC and Islah elites) in the interest of “stability.” If the expired parliament gave Saleh immunity, it can appoint Hadi. The bogus show election isn’t worth more Yemeni lives or the displacement of tens of thousands, and it certainly wont confer legitimacy when there’s only one candidate that was selected by the US. The most politically disenfranchised are going to boycott anyway: civil minded protesters, southerners and Houthis.

The National: Yemen will increasingly rely on US drone strikes to target Islamist militants threatening to disrupt a transfer of power this month, Yemeni government officials said.

The president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is meant to hand over power to his vice president, Abdurabu Mansur Hadi, on February 22.

The run up to the transfer is being overshadowed by growing protests, including within the military, which have grounded Yemen’s air force across much of the country.

Two aides in Mr Hadi’s office said they expected a rise in drone attacks against Al Qaeda militants.

The strikes will be intensified only if necessary, to ensure that militant groups do not expand in vulnerable areas, said one of the aides. Both asked to remain anonymous. (Read on …)

Yemen’s parliament’s term expired in 2011, so how did they grant Saleh immunity in 2012?

Filed under: GCC, Parliament, Post Saleh, Protest Fatalities, Trials, USA — by Jane Novak at 11:14 am on Tuesday, January 24, 2012

There are many moves afoot within Yemen and internationally that dispute the unprecedented immunity deal for 33 years of Saleh’s crimes as well as that of his cohorts. However, the Yemeni parliament, that has been sitting since 2003, when it was elected to a four year term, was scheduled for elections in 2009 and voted itself a two year extension into 2011. I am checking but I can’t find anyone who recalls a new law being issued where they voted themselves another term extension.

(Update: the 2009 law grants a two year extension until they elect a new parliament in 2011, ambiguous language at best.

Update 2: a handy link from Yemen Parliament Watch that indicates parliament is operating outside the scope of the law: “The report indicated that the constitutional period of the parliament ended in February 2011 where the parliament had finished its six years stipulated constitution as well as the additional two years.”

Update 3: there is also a stipulation in the constitution that parliament can be extended when facing war, natural disaster or unrest, but I’m assuming that had to have been done formally, and within the scope of the term, not by some GPC mind meld.

Update 4: the amnesty was issued while Parliament was legally on vacation or in recess.)

Original post continues: A political deadlock ensued following the 2006 presidential election wherein the GPC thwarted the implementation of a proportional representation system (as opposed to a “winner takes all” single district method) and other electoral reforms, prompting the opposition JMP to boycott parliament altogether. Without the implementation of the previously agreed upon reforms, the parliament voted itself a two year extension and rescheduled elections for 2011. (In order to thwart elections in 2011, the SCER also disqualified the voter rolls en mass.) There was no new parliamentary election in 2011 and no official law passed rescheduling the election and extending their terms as far as I know. Therefore there is no legitimate Yemeni parliament, just a bunch of old men stuck to their chairs for a decade.

So where is the legal foundation of this expired parliament’s vote to give the Sanaa regime immunity? More fundamentally, the people withdrew legitimacy from the Parliament, the Sanaa regime and dysfunctional political party system through a year of mass nationwide protests.

However, while many are working on the issue of Saleh’s immunity, I am much more concerned with the implementation of the proportional representative system in order to undermine the hegemony of both the GPC and Islah who were both artificially empowered by the GCC plan. Proportional representation will allow for the growth of new parties, minority representation and probably more women in political office. It appears that the only way to get the task done is through a public referendum, as the same illegitimate GPC dominated parliament that stalled on the issue for five years will likely continue to block it.

The proportional system has a national consensus, and it has been repeatedly been endorsed by a variety of Yemeni groups from the JMP in 2005 to the tribally based National Dialog Committee in 2009 to the Yemeni Youth Revolution that took to the streets in 2011.

Had the PR system been enacted as agreed upon in 2006, allowing for authentic political growth and representative parties to compete in 2009, the revolution might not have been necessary. So its important not to allow history to repeat itself, especially with this crucial and long overdue element of the overall package of electoral reform.

There is more on the other illegalities of the unprecedented and illegal amnesty plan below from Human Rights Watch and the YCTJ:

Press Release
By The Yemeni Center for Transitional Justice Concerning the Approval of the House of Representatives of the Immunity Law

The Yemeni Center for Transitional Justice reviewed the law approved by the House of Representatives (Parliament) of the Republic of Yemen concerning the award of immunity to the President of the Regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh and his supporters. As YCTJ confirms its previous position with respect to this law, that the law lacks the minimum principles of human justice, and is openly in violation of honorable Islamic Jurisprudence, international laws, and is in breach of the international human rights conventions/agreements to which Yemen is signatory, YCTJ now also calls for the application of real true transitional justice without any selectivity, forgery or deliquescent.
(Read on …)

Immunity law for Saleh passes the parliament

Filed under: Donors, UN, GCC, Parliament, Presidency, War Crimes, Yemen, reconfigurations — by Jane Novak at 10:36 am on Saturday, January 21, 2012

Its astounding that the GCC plan legitimizes the parliament, whose terms expired in 2009, to grant immunity to Saleh but doesn’t require those who have immunity to retire. The uncontested election is a waste of time and money as the international community undermined the concept of Yemenis right to self determination by ignoring their demands entirely. Its a veneer of democracy on a totally undemocratic process. The GCC plan also empowers the existing political parties and elites to a level beyond their credibility with the public.

SANA’A, Jan. 21 (Saba) – The parliament endorsed on Saturday a law granting president Ali Abdullah Saleh total immunity from legal and judicial prosecution.

This law also applies to the civil, military, and security officials, who were involved with the president in operations based on political motives rather than terrorist acts.

In addition, the parliament endorsed the recommendation for Vice President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi to be the consensual and sole candidate for the early presidential elections to be held on 21 February.

The adopted law was voted on in the presence of the government and all members of the parliament.

Saleh: immunity for me but not for thee

Filed under: GCC, Political Opposition, Presidency, War Crimes, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 9:37 am on Thursday, January 19, 2012

Update: Saleh’s subordinates would only get immunity in “political cases:”

A Yemeni draft law granting immunity to the outgoing president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, from prosecution over the killing of protesters was amended on Thursday to limit the protection his aides would enjoy, a minister said.

The draft law, which has been heavily criticized by rights groups, the United Nations and Yemeni protesters, will now shield the aides only in “political cases,” Legal Affairs Minister Mohammad Makhlafi told Reuters.

The illegitimate Parliament still has to vote on it to give it a veneer of legitimacy just like the uncontested election has no point other than to provide international cover for appointing Hadi. The US should just recognize him as president and avoid the unnecessary expenditures. Easing Saleh out of office was never a viable plan and only wasted a year, destroyed the economy and allowed AQAP to flourish. Sooner or later, Saleh has to be kicked out.

Original: Saleh the mass murderer, objects to immunity for those he alleges tried to kill him in the mosque bombing, Ali Mohsen al Ahmar and Sheik Sadiq etc.

But Ali Mohsen’s crimes extend far beyond that one incident to include the conduct of the first five rounds of the Saada War as well as embezzlement, all types of black market smuggling, land appropriation and torture. The US cant grant immunity to everyone in Saleh’s regime and exclude the current and former opposition. UN envoy Ben Omar is trying to placate Saleh’s victims’ families with financial compensation and its their choice, but many already turned down hush money and blood money from the regime at the time of the murders. The notion that the families and the protesters are out of line somehow for demanding Saleh’s trial is Orwellian.

Yemen Times
A source close to negotiations told the Yemen Times that one of the disagreements on a political level stemmed from the fact that Saleh did not want the law to include his opponents Major General Ali Mohsen and the leaders of the Hashid Tribal confederation. Both were accused of the June 3 attack on the presidential compound, which left 12 dead and injured president Saleh and other key government figures.

In December, the Yemeni revolution turned towards institutions as employees of government institutions protested and went on strike, commonly demanding the prosecution of “corrupt” officials and mangers – many of whom are members of the General People’s Congress.

The proposed immunity law goes against their demands if it is approved in its current form. It suggests that seeks to grant immunity not only to Saleh, but also to all who worked with him in state, civil, military and security institutions during his rule.

Law expert Nabeela Al-Mufti, said: “The problem is that the law is too general, giving immunity to all who worked with Saleh for 33 years. This gives it a dangerous dimension.”

Another issue is the proposal that the law be implemented both inside and outside Yemen. “The Yemeni parliament cannot dominate the world parliaments and force them to implement the immunity,” said Al-Mufti.

Many Yemenis wonder whether or not Saleh or his fellows can be prosecuted outside of Yemen. According to Al-Mufti Saleh can be prosecuted outside of Yemen but his crime must have been committed in the prosecuting country. However, the International Criminal Court (ICC) can still receive cases against Saleh for crimes committed in Yemen – but any case must meet the ICC standards as a humanitarian or war crime.

“It is possible that a Yemeni person could raise a suit against Saleh for a crime that was committed in Yemen in any of the 81 countries that signed the Roma Law and became a member of the ICC,” Al-Mufti explained, adding that ICC procedures are complicated and lengthy but still possible.

Issues with the immunity law led to the idea of a Transitional Reconciliation Conference. The brainchild of UN envoy Jamal Benomar, the conference would serve as a way to bring together Yemen’s conflicting parties for a new beginning, forgetting past crimes but also proposing compensation to victims and their families – an idea that worked both in Morocco and South Africa

“The law denies individuals their right to prosecute; the concept of reconcilement should be by satisfaction not by force,” she added. “Any reconcilement should offer something to the victims’ families and whoever was harmed by Saleh’s regime.”

US State Department pushes for immunity for Saleh and thus al Qaeda in Yemen

Filed under: Donors, UN, GCC, Post Saleh, USA, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 9:47 pm on Monday, January 9, 2012

Obama’s strategic blunder in Yemen may shield Al Qaeda from prosecution

A law passed by Yemen’s cabinet on Sunday provides blanket immunity to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and all those who served in his governments over the last 33 years. One unintended consequence may be to also immunize those al Qaeda operatives on the payroll of the Yemeni military and security services.

The law grants immunity to Saleh “and whoever worked with him in all the state’s civil, military and security apparatus and organizations during the period of his rule.” The US has pushed for the transition plan since May despite broad public rejection of the immunity clause.

Yemeni military commanders including those now in the opposition are thought be complicit in a range of terror attacks, in addition to a long standing pattern of facilitation of al Qaeda. Many al Qaeda operatives who draw a state salary would then be covered under the immunity deal.

As one example, former Interior Minister Hussain Arab issued an official travel permit to Abdel Rahman al Nashiri in 2000, covering the period of the USS Cole attack that killed 17 US service members. Not only would the law absolve Mr. Arab of any complicity in the al Qaeda attack, it may also absolve Mr. al Nashiri.

If Al Nashiri, who is currently scheduled for trial at Guantanamo Bay, can produce witnesses to the involvement of Yemeni government officials in the attack, the Obama administration will be placed in the uncomfortable position of having lobbied for immunity for the al Qaeda operatives who attacked a US war ship.

Similarly another Yemeni detainee with demonstrated foreknowledge of the 9/11 attack in New York had been employed by the Yemeni Political Security Organization prior to his capture in Egypt.

Yemeni officials have openly admitted to paying al Qaeda operatives’ salaries, purportedly as informants or to keep them out of trouble. Some of those currently partaking in the al Qaeda occupation of Abyan have been found with identity cards from the National Security.

Yemeni activists have long asserted that the state uses al Qaeda to attack its enemies and threaten the international community.

Al Qaeda targeted and killed several foreign nationals in Yemen since 2007 including aid workers from Germany, Britain and South Korea as well as tourists from Spain, South Korea and Belgium. Yemeni officials have stated that al Qaeda is able to obtain intelligence from the security services as a matter of corruption rather than ideology.

The law, which will be presented for parliament’s approval within coming days, also covers those government officials guilty of massive corruption and embezzlement, the primary cause of Yemen’s staggering illiteracy and malnutrition rates. Members of the presidential family are thought to have deposited millions abroad.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland termed the immunity clause useful if it encourages “the strongman to leave the stage.”

Hundreds of protesters have been killed by security forces, many by sniper shots to the head, since protests began in February 2011 demanding regime change. The killings continued unabated even after Saleh signed the power transfer deal in November.

Saleh supporters and security forces have attacked numerous journalists RSF reported since the departure plan was signed. Calling December 2011 “a particularly black month,” Reporters Without Borders firmly condemned the continuing violations and urged the international community to intercede.

Yemeni protesters largely reject the US backed transition plan because of the immunity clause. Protests calling for Saleh’s trial continue in nearly every governorate.

The UN Security Council endorsed the agreement, which was ironed out by UN envoy, Jamal Benomar. However, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, issued a statement last week asserting that the plan is illegal under international law,

“I have been closely following the events in Yemen, particularly the very contentious debate about an amnesty law to be presented to Parliament shortly,” the High Commissioner said.

“International law and the UN policy are clear on the matter: amnesties are not permissible if they prevent the prosecution of individuals who may be criminally responsible for international crimes including war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and gross violations of human rights.”

Probable war crimes committed during the Saada war (2005-2010) include the “Scorched Earth” campaign during the sixth round of war, 2009-201o, when the Yemeni air force repeatedly bombed civilian villages, refugee camps, and infrastructure. Saudi air support was responsible for bombing a Yemeni hospital, which Saudi authorities called “a mistake” in conversations to US officials, according to a Wikileaks document. The deliberate denial of humanitarian aid and a pattern of mass nationwide arrests are also thought to have contravened international law.

Another pattern of systematic abuse with regard to southern protesters since 2007 is well documented.

The transition plan although forwarded by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is the brain child of President Obama’s counter-terror adviser, John Brennan and US ambassador to Yemen, Gerald Feierstein.

The Wall Street Journal revealed last week that Mr. Brennan was “pissed” when it became apparent that President Saleh had orchestrated a hit on a political rival via US drone by feeding the US false intelligence.

The US drone strike in May 2010 killed the deputy governor of Marib , Jabir Shabwani. Observers questioned Mr. Brennan’s gullibility considering Saleh’s long and extensive history of duping the US on counter-terror issues.

Yemenis have held several protests calling for the expulsion of US Ambassador Feierstein after he disparaged a peaceful 170 mile march from Taiz to Sana’a, held to underscore public rejection of the amnesty deal.

Ambassador Feierstein said the marchers were trying to provoke chaos and thus not inherently peaceful. When state forces killed 11 marchers later in the day, Yemenis charged that the US had given the Saleh regime the green light to murder as well as provided the amnesty afterward.

Over several months, US diplomats have pushed hard for the immunity deal as a way to ease Saleh out of office; however Saleh has outplayed the US at every turn during the 11 month popular uprising. He shows no real intention of giving up power and continues to operate on the political scene through proxies within the unity government.

- Jane

Not to mention that they really have to give immunity to the corrupt opposition now as well or the immunized criminals will have an advantage.

Yemen Observer: The Yemeni cabinet has approved a draft law of amnesty that will give President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his aides immunity from prosecution. (Read on …)

Open season on Yemenis: UN backs GCC plan, doesnt call for Saleh to go, no sanctions

Filed under: Diplomacy, Donors, UN, GCC, Transition, USA, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 5:54 pm on Friday, October 21, 2011

The protesters want a transitional council leading to a parliamentary system. The UN is backing the GCC plan which contains an immunity clause for Saleh and his cronies and re-entrenches the regime in under three months. Its astounding. With the ambiguity of neither endorsing or explicitly rejecting the immunity clause, and neither backing Saleh or calling for his departure, its a meaningless, toothless statement. And not only did Saleh renege on the GCC deal four times already, he ignored two UN SC resolutions in 1994. Speaking of which, the southerners are going to be so utterly disappointed that they were entirely overlooked as well.

CBS: The resolution was the first adopted by the U.N.’s most powerful body since the Arab Spring uprising in Yemen began eight months ago. It was clearly aimed at stepping up international pressure on Saleh, who was president of North Yemen from 1978 until 1990 when he became the first president of a unified Yemen….Philippe Bolopion, U.N. director for Human Rights Watch, said the organization welcomed “the long overdue condemnation of Yemeni government abuses,” but believed the council should have distanced itself from the council’s impunity deal.

“By signaling that there would be no consequence for the killing of Yemenis, the immunity deal has contributed to prolonging the bloodshed,” he said.

The White House said in a statement that the deal sends “a united and unambiguous signal to President Saleh that he must respond to the aspirations of the Yemeni people by transferring power immediately.”

The resolution calls for Saleh, or those authorized to act on his behalf, to immediately sign the Gulf Cooperation Council deal “to achieve a peaceful political transition of power … without further delay.”

Although the deal would give Saleh immunity, the resolution also underlines the need for an independent investigation into alleged human rights abuses “with a view to avoiding impunity.” — Unlike the resolution on Syria that was vetoed by Russia and China on Oct. 4, the Yemen resolution makes no mention of sanctions or any other measures.

With fighting intensifying, there are concerns that a civil war would significantly hurt efforts by the United States and Saudi Arabia to fight Yemen’s dangerous al Qaeda branch, and could turn the mountainous nation into a global haven for militants a short distance away from the vast oil fields of the Gulf and the key shipping lanes in the Arabian and Red seas.

Text below:

Security Council Condemns Human Rights Violations by Yemeni Authorities Abuses by ‘Other Actors’, after Months of Political Strife

Resolution 2014 (2011), Adopted Unanimously, Calls for End to Violence,

Acceptance of Gulf Cooperation Council Peace Plan, with Orderly Transfer of Power

Strongly condemning what it called human rights violations by authorities, and abuses by other actors, in Yemen following months of political strife, the Security Council this afternoon demanded that all sides immediately reject violence, and called on them to commit to a peaceful transition of power based on proposals by the major regional organization of the Arabian Gulf. (Read on …)

UN envoy announces dead end in Yemen talks

Filed under: Donors, UN, GCC, Transition, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 11:30 am on Saturday, October 1, 2011

translation via NYR | MasdarOnline | Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations said that the political process seeking to resolve the crisis in Yemen reached a “dead end” but he expressed optimism that Yemenis will find out a solution that guarantee entry in the transitional stage and transfer of power in the country. (Read on …)

Saleh objects to restructuring the military prior to the early elections, Updated after Riyadh retro speech

Filed under: GCC, JMP, Military, Post Saleh, Transition, reconfigurations — by Jane Novak at 11:05 am on Monday, August 15, 2011

Update: SABA provided a translation of Saleh’s speech to the tribal leaders which indicates that he is back to square one, elections in 2013. Same old rhetoric applied to the new oppositionists: he trashes the youth as Marxists, Royalists seeking to restore the Imamate, and the Taliban. How many times have we heard it before? He accuses the tribal elements of stealing the rev from the youth and says, without a trace of irony, he is committed to a transition of power.

SABA:

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,

Let me first congratulate you on the occasion of the blessed month of Ramadan. I salute you and pay tribute of respect to you for convening such a conference and I hope that it will conclude with effective decisions and recommendations. I have here with me my brothers parliament speaker Yahya al-Ra’i and prime minister Ali Mohammad Mujawar. They also salute you and salute your conference, which is being held amid dangerous and important circumstances.

We must discuss all the available data, all the events in Yemen, and how to get our country out of the crisis – the crisis which was fabricated by some political forces to reach power. We welcome the opposition and tell them that “you can reach power through ballot boxes, not through coups, statements, denunciation, insults, or irresponsible speeches.” (Read on …)

Yemen updates July 6, 2011

- Republican Guard shells a public mini-bus in Taiz, driver killed, 13 wounded including three children, attack occurred in front of a hospital, several other parts of the neighborhoods shelled by tanks and artillery: al Masdar Also Taiz, clashes after security tries to impede a mass rally demanding an immediate formation of a transitional council: al Masdar (Read on …)

UN “peace” proposal reinstates Saleh

Filed under: Air strike, Counter-terror, Diplomacy, Donors, UN, GCC, South Yemen, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 9:52 am on Monday, July 4, 2011

Its just ridiculous. The international community should start with the protesters plan and move outward from there. We are not talking about a transition of power between the ruling party and the opposition (although that’s what the international community is pushing for) but a revolution, an overthrow of the entire regime. If the political party system worked, there wouldn’t be a revolution in the first place. The JMP was unable to institute a dialog on electoral reforms with the GPC for three years, leading to the two year delay in parliament elections in 2009. Immediate elections are unworkable; the protesters plan has been the only viable solution from day one.

6/30 CNN Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) — The Yemeni government has lost control over five provinces, and security in the country is deteriorating, the nation’s acting president told CNN in an exclusive interview Wednesday.

In his first interview with a Western TV network, Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansoor Hadi detailed how U.S. drones are using voice recognition to target al Qaeda leaders and help the government win back control. (Read on …)

Back to square one: Saleh calls for dialog, will leave after election

Filed under: Donors, UN, GCC, USA, Yemen, protest statements, reconfigurations — by Jane Novak at 9:36 am on Monday, July 4, 2011

A new UN plan also calls for dialog. As NATO continues bombing Libya, and Turkey recognized the Libyan rebels as the legitimate authority, the international community continues to assert that Saleh retains legitimacy in Yemen, despite five months of protests and the wholesale slaughter of innocent civilians. Saleh and the ruling GPC party do not have to agree to the revolution overthrowing them; its an absurd proposition. The months of international intervention, dialog, negotiation and getting played by Saleh over and over and over again have not brought about any positive outcome whatsoever but instead brought Yemen to the brink of a humanitarian crisis and thwarted the inevitable transition.

The US, UN, EU should all immediately endorse the protesters plan for an interim ruling council that was first proposed in February.

Yemeni President Saleh calls for dialogue but keeps his grip on power Hakim Almasmari (Foreign Correspondent) Jul 2, 2011

SANA’A // The Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, wants a return to dialogue and not a transfer of power before elections, his vice president said, adding that the UN has begun working on a plan to move the process forward.

Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, the acting president, said Mr Saleh would not step down from power until a new president is elected. Instead Mr Saleh has called for a return to dialogue, a move that appeared to send the Yemen’s political crisis back to square one.

“Saleh still has three million supporters in Yemen and that is why he remains Yemen’s president. Saleh is ready to conduct early elections to rid the country from more crises,” Mr Hadi said. (Read on …)

Saleh no longer needed to sign GCC plan after GPC and JMP signed

Filed under: GCC, Transition, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 10:48 am on Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Saleh will never agree to hand over power but he doesn’t have to. The JMP signed the GCC plan on Saturday and the GPC signed on Sunday. Since he didn’t sign, his assets abroad (stolen from the Yemeni people) can be seized and the billions used for the new government to aid the people. Forget Saleh and seeking his approval, implement the plan. The Saudis though have to make some statement that Saleh will be remaining as a guest for quite some time in order to end the lingering uncertainty and let the country move forward. One of the protesters primary objections to the plan was Saleh’s inclusion, no longer an issue. They want a transitional council, the plan calls for something like that. Hadi is a figurehead and under Ahmed’s gun. What he needs is the support of the protesters, JMP and GCC to take the first steps that will enable him to back out slowly. Once the country is moving forward, the youth revolution can and will give its input on how the new political and governing structures should be shaped.

US presses Saleh to hand over power in Yemen, Al Arabiya: The White House called late Monday for an “immediate transition” of power in Yemen, where the United States fears Al Qaeda could exploit political turmoil and strengthen its presence, as Britain confirmed the deployment of military assets near the embattled nation. (Read on …)

Saleh planned clashes to thwart transition: leak

Filed under: Diplomacy, GCC, GPC, Security Forces, Transition, USA, reconfigurations — by Jane Novak at 3:05 pm on Sunday, May 22, 2011

There’s so many leaks coming out of Yemen lately, documents and verbal. The following published by Marib Press is another. I wasn’t there so I can’t say its true, only that it’s less likely to be propaganda than the lies that come out of SABA on a daily basis. The only other people who will know absolutely if its true are the US officials, if they indeed called Saleh several times last night.

Saleh agreeing to the transition with the US while planning for a street uprising to derail it is entirely in character, as we saw from the ease of his lies as revealed in Wikileaks and from the years and years of lies before. This is the way he operates, these are the types of schemes he comes up with to juggle expectations and perceptions and blame. So I’m tired, I’m cranky, he besieged my ambassador and went back on his promise, so I’m publishing an unverified leak that has no document.

Mareb Press: On Saturday evening in Sana’a, the General Committee of the General People’s Congress (GPC) and parties of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Yemen held a meeting chaired by President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Chairman of the GPC. Below is some leaks from this meeting’s conversations between Saleh and GPC members loyal to him.

· About the GCC brokered initiative , Saleh said that he had received yesterday evening seven calls from the U.S. administration to urge him to sign the GCC initiative, saying “I will sign the initiative, I do not want to be a stumbling block before the international community, but I’m going to sign, and you guys, you have to fail it, take into the streets. (Read on …)

Saleh loyalist gunmen besiege UAE embassy, surround US embassy

Filed under: Diplomacy, Donors, UN, GCC, Presidency, Sana'a, Transition, USA, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 8:35 am on Sunday, May 22, 2011

Final Update: Diplomats rescued by helicopter, Yemen Post reports. It was a six hour siege. Afterward when Saleh never signed, the the GCC withdrew the proposal.

Previous: Does anybody on earth still believe Saleh has the capacity or the will to carry out a 2 month transition plan? Yes apparently. More fuzzy reports that Saleh refused the latest offer to sign the deal after the diplomats were released. The international community is afraid if they don’t get an agreement from Saleh, the pro-regime mobs today could all be armed and shooting tomorrow. Saleh is on TV threatening a war if the opposition doesn’t come to the palace to sign, so its not dead yet. Or it is and Ahmed is the GPC’s new candidate according to another report. The whole circus could have been a ploy to avoid signing and blame it on the JMP.

Original post: Well we knew he wasn’t going to sign, either rejecting it outright or, as occurred, the loyalists would “spontaneously” prevent it. But this is off the wall. If Saleh knows whats good for him, he better call off the mobs at the embassy. He’s really playing with fire. Armed ruling party members are not a deniable proxy. We all know where they came from. This idiot should smarten up and get the hell out of Dodge while the getting is good.

Good:
State Dept calls siege “a government organized” event.”
Revolutionary Youth Coalition condemns siege and calls it a new ploy.
GCC is meeting shortly to discuss the situation.
Helicopters to the rescue?

Updates: GPC crowd growing, tent up and road blocked at US embassy, NewsYemen: Eyewitnesses told “NewsYemen” The supporters of the ruling party have erected a tent in front of the U.S. embassy in Sana’a and cut the road in front of citizens. With still gunmen from the ruling party surrounding the UAE embassy in Sanaa, where resides the Secretary General of Gulf Cooperation Council Abdul Latif Al Zayani and a number of ambassadors of EU and U.S. Ambassador in Sanaa.

The ruling party (GPC) spokesman Sultan al Barakani confirms that Saleh won’t sign the deal even after the international mediator is released from captivity. What a thug regime.

Gunfight on 70th street. No action (water cannons, tear gas) by security to disburse the mobs at the embassies like they use on the anti-regime protesters.

AJE Gunmen claiming to be loyal to President Ali Abdallah Saleh of Yemen laid siege Sunday afternoon to the embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Sana’a, trapping the ambassadors of the United States and of the six members states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. (Read on …)

Saleh rejects JMP signatures on GCC deal

Filed under: GCC, GPC, Transition, YSP, protests — by Jane Novak at 5:28 am on Sunday, May 22, 2011

Its going to be a long day. Qahtan says if Saleh signs, the JMP will re-sign at the location of his choosing.

Saleh supporters are blocking many roads and baltagiyya swarming. One killed in Sanaa, 18 wounded in Taiz, 2 critical. US, EU ambassadors and GCC rep blocked from traveling to ceremony.

Dayum: Saleh supporters openly declaring they wont let him sign.

Saleh has to sign by 4 pm (9 am EST) or GCC rep is leaving. And all hell breaks loose. 3:50 now (8:50)

Internet getting very flaky in Sanaa, never a good sign. Deadline passed, no signature reported.

US ambassador still surrounded in a certain embassy, not ours, besieged by a mob of Saleh thugs. Zayani (GCC rep) also prevented from leaving country.

4:15 I think the transfer deal is dead. Its extremely worrisome.

Yemen Post: Yemen’s ruling party rejected the opposition Joint Meeting Parties, JMP, signing on the Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, and demanded that is be signed again at the presidential palace with the presence of hundreds of officials and not behind closed doors.
Yemen’s ruling General People Congress, GPC, spokesperson Tareq Shami said that “President Saleh invited the JMP to sign the GCC proposal at the presidential palace at 3pm today. The JMP signed the GCC agreement in closed doors and this is not accepted.”
He added that It must be signed in a huge gathering and create an historical day of the GCC signing.
The JMP refused to resign the GCC proposal again and consider this as a tactic in running away from the GCC proposal signing.

GPC denies Saleh to sign deal Sunday

Filed under: GCC, Presidency, reconfigurations — by Jane Novak at 10:16 pm on Thursday, May 19, 2011

Its a stupid, deeply flawed plan that appears to be designed to fail or in the best case, to re-entrench the regime cronies with a two month election. And its no shock that Saleh is talking out of both sides of his mouth, as always. But why would Saleh bother to sign when Obama gave him a major pass today by snubbing the protesters entirely and calling Saleh a friend?

Bernama: Yemen Presidential Aide Denies GCC Deal For Power Transition To Be Inked Sunday

SANA’A, May 20 (Bernama) — An aide to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said Thursday that reports about Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-mediated deal for Yemen’s power transition would be signed on Sunday were baseless, Xinhua news agency reported.
(Read on …)

GCC deal officially dead

Filed under: GCC, Presidency, protests — by Jane Novak at 7:08 am on Monday, May 16, 2011

Saleh killed it.

Bloomberg In Yemen, the opposition coalition is willing to meet again with Abdel Latif al-Zayyani, the secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, to explore new options, Mohammed Qahtan, spokesman for the opposition, said in a telephone interview yesterday. The current proposal was considered “dead,” he said. (Read on …)

Saleh refuses to resign, reinforces troops, urges shooting protesters

Filed under: GCC, Military, Presidency, Yemen, reconfigurations — by Jane Novak at 11:01 am on Friday, May 13, 2011

26 Sept: Yemen welcomes Qatar’s withdrawal from GCC initiative after trashing them last week.

SANAA, May 12 (Xinhua) Yemen’s Defense Ministry on Thursday warned the security forces not “hesitate to take up arms to restore stability and deter lawless protesters of the opposition from committing riots.” In a statement posted on its website, the ministry also said the security agencies would implement a series of measures to step up reinforcements across unrest-infested major provinces to strengthen security and protect government interests.”

Yemen’s Saleh rejects US calls for quick transition

AFP: SANAA — Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh vowed on Friday to stay on and defend his people “by all means” after the US insisted he agree to a transition plan “now” and end months of political violence. (Read on …)

HRW urges immunity offer to Saleh be revoked in light of continuing bloodbath

Filed under: Donors, UN, GCC, Presidency, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 12:37 pm on Thursday, May 12, 2011

Gulf Cooperation Council: Revoke Immunity Promise to Saleh
At Least 21 Killings in Yemen Since May 7 by Security Forces, Plainclothes Gunmen

(New York, May 12, 2011) – Negotiators should immediately remove a promise of immunity from any resignation deal for President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen in light of repeated, lethal attacks by his security forces on peaceful protesters, Human Rights Watch said today. In the latest attacks, security forces, along with pro-government gunmen in civilian clothing, have shot dead at least 21 people since May 7, 2011 – at least 15 of them on May 11 and 12 – and wounded hundreds. (Read on …)

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