Update: Just to be clear, Saleh et al overtly and covertly negotiated with al Qaeda for years. Officials often defended the policy as rehabilitation and CT policy. Following the 2006 escape of 23 AQ operatives, Saleh said he was in touch with them all by phone, including presumably Wahishi, current AQAP leader. After releasing Jamal al Badawi in 2007, Saleh said he was going to use him as an informant. The earlier negotiation between Saleh and Abu al Fida on behalf of the jihaddis who were supposedly under security supervision resulted in looser requirements and an AQ promise to not attack within Yemen which held for about two years until the attack on the US embassy. And then there was that meeting in 09 between Saleh and the southern contingent of jihaddists that included a transfer of cash, we see where that got us.
Original: Spectacular. I was concerned that negotiations with the Taliban would be followed by negotiations with AQAP but it seemed too extreme to be possible, even for Obama. First the GCC deal freezes out (in bulk) all the philosophical forces opposed to the narrow, violent, supremacist al Qaeda worldview (including the protesters, women, southerners, Houthis, civil government advocates and everyone who defected from the GPC on principle) and then the (US endorsed) GCC deal re-empowers the calcified and dysfunctional ruling structure, paving the way for al Qaeda to impose its rigid political agenda on the rest of the nation through legitimate political avenues. While it is possible for hardened jihaddists to mature, the group has to change before they can come engage in the political process including renouncing violence and taqfirism, and endorsing equal rights and protections for all denominations and all Yemeni citizens. They are not there yet.
CNN via Yemen Online: 5/2/2012, Yemen’s highest military authority Sunday announced its willingness to open channels of dialogue with al Qaeda in hopes of reaching a long-term cease-fire agreement.
The military committee was formed as part of the power transfer deal in November. Spokesman Ali Saeed Obaid told CNN that the new Yemeni military leadership is opening its hands and will seek new solutions with al Qaeda fighters.
Al Qaeda currently controls large areas in the southern Abyan and Shabwa provinces of Yemen.
“We are offering al Qaeda a chance to be involved in the political decisions in the country through politics, rather than forcing their views with the use of arms,” Obaid said.
Vice President Abdurabu Hadi is chairman of the committee, which is responsible for rebuilding the Yemeni military.
“The committee is hoping that al Qaeda lays down its arms and participates in seeking change democratically, like the millions in Yemen,” Obaid said, adding that al Qaeda would in return handover all territories under its control to the military and evacuate government posts.
Al Qaeda has not yet responded to the offer, the committee said.
Yemen’s government is in the midst of a transfer of power in which President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a longtime United States ally in the war on terrorism, has agreed to step down after more than 33 years of rule.
Islamist militants seized control of Abyan last May after government positions were suddenly emptied. The province was announced an Islamic emirate a week later, resulting in hundreds of fighters joining their lines.
Hundreds of troops and fighters have been killed daily as part of their efforts to rid the province of the fighters.
More than 100,000 residents of Abyan evacuated the province when clashes intensified last July. They are currently living in shelters in the neighboring provinces of Aden and Lahj.
Last month, a committee formed by Hadi persuaded al Qaeda fighters in Radda, in the nearby province of al-Baitha, to evacuate the area two weeks after they took it over.
Suspected al Qaeda fighters left the town after five days of tense negotiations in exchange for the release of three prisoners, Hadi’s office said at the time. CNN
Related, a Lebanese paper questions whether Tariq al Dhahab is an operative of AQAP or the National Security (but these are not mutually exclusive) and if the take over of Radda was another false flag maneuver. The Abbad report below has al Wahishi physically in Raada with al Dhahab, but Wahishi and the National Security have had easy, if not good, relations for a long time
Before leaving Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh had opened the game of al-Qaeda again. This time occurred from Radda Area where al-Qaeda does not exist. Despite the fact that there is convention that led fundamentalist group to leave the town after occupying it for 4 weeks and the authority undertook to implement some of the armed group’s demands, subsequent developments say that this scenario will be repeated in other parts of Yemen.
It seems that Ali Abdullah Saleh even two weeks before heading for U. S. for treatment had not got bored from using al-Qaeda card, however, he signed (GCC) Imitative which turned him an honorary president with no power. He is still insisting on lifting up the slogan of “Me or al-Qaeda”. He did it in Abyan Province, south Yemen, at the middle of May when he directed security troops to leave the gates of the town opened and showed no resistance in front of attack of hundreds of armed men. Later, the regime said they belong to al-Qaeda.
Now, he is implementing it again but in a way improperly directed. Tribal Sheik from Radda Town called Tariq al-Dhahab, has tribal broad influence and belongs to famous tribe distinguished by its strength and the wide-spread of weapon among its elements in al-Baidha Province south Yemen along with hundreds of armed men, entered the area and faced no resistance from Central Security or Republican Guards present in the area. Nothing stopped Dhahab and his men, they entered the town as if they were going on a picnic or fishing trip not to occupy an entire town, and later declared an Islamic emirate.
After entering, they headed for the main Ameriya Mosque in the town where they prayed Maghreb (Sunset Prayers) and Isha (Evening Paryers). Between the two prayers, Tariq al-Dhahab delivered preach in which he pledged of allegiance to the leader of al-Qaeda in Arab Peninsula Nasr al-Waheshi and to the leader of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan Ayman al-Zawahiri. He announced a set of procedures in the town including forcing owners of petrol station to sell fuel with former price before the outbreak of the Youth Revolution in Yemen.
It is a step through which he aimed at gaining people’s sympathy. After that, they headed for ancient Ameriya Castle overlooking the town. They did not stop but they kept on dominating the rest of the town within the next two days. They, moreover, went to the Central Prison and released all inmates. Deputy Minister of Information Ministry Abdu Janadi commented on this conduct and said they did so in order to increase their number and arm those who want to join them. This was denied by Tariq al-Dhahab as saying he only had released two inmates of his followers. Dhahab later announced through recorded video saying, “Islamic caliphate is coming even if we sacrifice our souls and skulls for that,” He, moreover, threatened to free the Arabian Peninsula after applying Islamic law in Yemen, meeting the need of people.
Simultaneously, the Military Committee, formed in order to demilitarize Yemeni cities in accordance with (GCC) plan, continued holding meetings in the capital Sana’a to search the last results of the removal of barricades and military vehicles from the streets of the cities of Sana’a and Taiz. It issued a statement in which it praised these operations without forgetting to say that it would form investigation committee regarding what happened in Radda Town. It appeared that the Committee was in a side and Radda sheiks of tribes in the other. The sheiks were trying to rectify the deteriorating situation under an overt absence of security showing no resistance towards Dhahab’s elements occupying the town.
Consequently, tribe sheiks announced to hold meeting to discuss the serious situation especially as people there resorted to use their guns and to stand in front of their shops and houses to protect them. More serious than that, the large number of those released prisoners who were detained against a backdrop of revenge issues and crimes such as rape, stealing and murder including approximately 165 prisoners had sentenced to death.
How did the large number of fighters enter the town and how did they pass through all military checkpoints located along the main highways connecting the governorates of Yemen. Local source, who preferred to be in the state of anonymity, said they did not enter the town as rumored but they were gathered from inside the town. He explained to “al-Akhbar” that a number of sheiks repeatedly appealed to the authority the growing presence of strange militants from the town, but their calls faced no response. The sheiks, furthermore, appealed to militants to leave the town, otherwise they would use force to take militants out of the town and they offered them 3 days before Tariq al-Dhahab demanded to extend the deadline in order to discuss with senior sheiks of the tribe to reach to a solution that satisfies everybody without resorting to the strength of weapon. At the end, this resulted to make militants leave the town after the authority accepted some demands of Dhahab to release his younger brother from Political Security’s prison in Sana’a.
Khalid al-Dhahab shocked everybody when he said in statement to the press that his brother Tariq fully coordinated with National Security and with the former Interior Minister, the matter which puts questions regarding the reality of Tariq al-Dhahab link to Qaeda or is he a part of a security apparatus implementing specific task?
“The town of Radda was far from any mentioning of the presence of al-Qaeda inside and it did not happen that its name was linked to al-Qaeda,” said Managing Editor of “Masdar” independent newspaper, Abdul-Hakeem Helal, pointing out that we could never ignore the real presence of al-Qaeda in Yemen unlike what the opposition says through repeatable deny and that al-Qaeda is only a card played by Saleh.
For his part, media source in General People’s Congress (GPC), who did not want to mention his name, said to “al-Akhbar” that these acts done by Ali Abdullah Saleh before leaving Yemen were in the context of his attempts to bring chaos in spite of adopting immunity law which granted Saleh immunity from prosecution for his 33 year reign.
Simultaneously, elements belong to (GPC), headed by Saleh, notably were armed especially in Taiz and Dhale’ south Yemen. Informed sources said that their main goal in the next phase is to hinder early presidential election scheduled on February 21st, so Yemen would return to square number one.
Source: Lebanese al-Akhbar Newspaper