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Archive for May 2011

Protesters reach out to displaced families By: Shatha Al-Harazi

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SANA’A, May, 29 — The international community raised its call for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to leave power after the clashes in one of the capital biggest districts, Al-Hasaba, threatening the lives of thousands of residents. The call was also as a result of the political crises and the failure of a Gulf Cooperation Council brokered power transfer deal.

Fighting between the Al-Ahmer family, leaders of the Hashid tribal confederation and the state reach their peak last Wednesday, 25 May, as mortar and artillery shells began splashing down across the district.

Fight has since stopped in the capital due to a tentative ceasfire between the Hashid confederation and the government.

A third meditation committee, headed by Sheikh Ahmed Ismail Abu Horia, succeeded in negotiating a ceasefire between the two sides, temporarily stopping the conflict and ceding public buildings taken back tribesmen back to the government. The government then agreed to remove its forces from the area.

According to Saudi Journalist Suliman al-Hattan, Saudi Arabia changed their position and is now calling for Saleh to relinquish power immediately. Following three failed mediation attempts for Saleh to leave power through a GCC brokered deal, the Kingdom and other Gulf countries are stepping back from the negotiating table. According to Al-Halttan, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdal Aziz told Saleh that the Kingdom would be recommending that the UN Security Council address Yemen’s ongoing crises.

Locals from Al-Hasaba have fled the area. Some are seeking refuse in their ancestral villages in rural areas while other have moved in with relatives in other areas of Sana’a.

A Youth volunteer group calling themselves Yemeni Youth for Humanitarian Relief (YYHR) visited Al-Hasaba area found signs of destruction and suffering. As Al-Hasaba is one of the most crowded residential areas and the fighting has led to a dire humanitarian situation. The volunteers estimate that more than 500 families have been displaced from the area.

The group aims to hold fundraising events to supply those families with basic needs like food and water.

Majid Al-Shuoaibi, a pro-democracy protester, told the Yemen Times that the international community’s position regarding Yemen is underdeveloped and uninformed. “They care more about Syria and found solutions for them although Syria’s revolution started after Yemen’s” said al-Shouaibi.

Hisham Al-Ziadi, a young protester from the 15 January movement in Change Square agreed that the international position toward Yemen is weak, “Especially if we compare their [the international community] efforts with Libya, Syria, Tunisia and Egypt. Until now the international community has done is condemn violence, using empty rhetoric instead of action.”

Youth across Yemen expressed a special appreciate for France, motivating other European countries to recognize the legitimacy of protest movements in the Arab World.

“France was the first country in the EU that motivates the others to discuss the Yemeni case” he added.

Many youth protesters in Yemen believe that the international community still fears that if Saleh leaves power, Al-Qeada will take over Yemen and then bleed over into neighboring countries.

“They are scared to come after Saleh,” said Al-Ziadi.”They also fear that Saleh, if they insist on his ouster, would lead the country to a civil war”

Written by shatha

May 30, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Posted in Yemen's news

Independent youth protesters mark out their own zone By: Shatha Al-Harazi

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SANA’A, May 25 — Part of the escalation plan for the youth revolution in Sana’a has brought about an expansion and rearrangement of the original protest site to include part of the old university area, about 600m away from the original site of the sit-in.

Some protesters claim that the expansion is simply part of the escalation plan. Others who spoke to the Yemen Times, however, claim that independent youth wish to put some physical space between them and protesters who are organized by political parties. Many in the independent youth movement have claimed that Yemen’s opposition political parties have tried to take control of the protests too much.

“This is our new area of protest,” said a 25 year old protester at the sit-in at the old university area. “We didn’t want to defect and weaken the protest by going to a different area, therefore we thought that expanding from the original area would make everybody happy within the goals of the revolution,” he added.

Tensions between the independent youth and opposition parties were strained after an incident where a female activist was assaulted by Islah party members. The incident occurred during a mixed sex march to condemn President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s speech last April where he denigrated men and women protesting together as un-Islamic.

“We know that we are all part of the revolution as independent youth or as members of the Joint Meeting Parties. We had a power balance problem at one point, but we won’t let that ruin the main objective of the protest,” said Ameen Dabwan, one of the Free Yemen Youth Coalition leaders, an independent coalition that has been active in the square since February.

The new protest area has its own stage. The stage had previously been a cause of conflict in the the old protest area. The stage was at the beginning controlled by political parties which made the independent youth feel unrepresented, according to Waleed Abdul Hafiz, one of the independent protesters.

“Our stage is open for everybody to say and share whatever they want. It is a true democratic zone… The first stage was crowded and couldn’t give the chance to let everybody participate,” said Dabwan.

Last week an Islah member protester was angered that a female protester spoke on the stage and then assaulted her. The incident led to a fight with the independent youth protesters who believe that everyone has the right to speak, both males and females. According to the protesters, five were hurt in the fight.

“Problems happen everywhere. The fact that we faced only these problems when we expected more – as the protest consists of too many different groups – this makes us feel how unified and integrated as a people we are,” said Dabwan.

Some youth think that the state run Saba TV channel is doing good work in promoting the independent youth protest, even in their attempts to show the negative side of the university protest.

“It’s funny how the state media was opposing themselves, but this time at least they didn’t call us names and just said the truth in reporting us. Now Saleh has no reason to attack this protest,” said Abdul Hafiz.

“Saleh was always justifying his attacks on the protesters, saying they were JMP protests. He always wanted to depict the protesters as members of political parties that had orders from their parties. That is what kept a few people supporting Saleh, because they were scared of the JMP,” he added.

More activist and independent youth support the idea of expanding as one group, rather than expanding randomly as separate smaller groups. The partial segregation of the independent from the political protesters shows more about the different groups.

The new protest area is full of new ideas, with popular phrases drawn nicely on the streets that show the artistic soul of the youth. The new protest area is cleaner than the original site, with fewer people chewing qat in the street. The crowding is less, and the new protest area appears well organized with medical tents and painting exhibition tents.

Written by shatha

May 26, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Yemen Uprising Leaves Critical Newspaper Struggling to Survive Revolution By: Nadia Al-Sakkaf

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Yemen’s revolution has given voice to independent journalists, but advertisers are steering clear of the Yemen Times and other media critically reporting on the government.

“I don’t know if we’ll survive,” Yemen Times Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Nadia al-Sakkaf told the IWMF. “Advertising is down 70 percent, and I’m letting people go. If we don’t find a solution, it’s a matter of weeks or months before we close. We survived political oppression and now this.”

Al-Sakkaf – a Yemen delegate to IWMF’s International Women Media Leaders Conference in March —  has been forced to slash the staff by 50 percent, leaving her with six women and six men to cover the unfolding revolution. “My reporters are risking their lives to cover these stories, and I can’t even cover their health insurance. They are on their own,” she said. “Our bravest reporter is a woman covering security –Shatha Al-Harazi, our hero.”

With power outages two or three times a day for several hours, producing the 7,000 circulation newspaper has been difficult, she said. “We have a generator so when it goes out we try that, “she said. “The revolution is wearing us down – it’s like being in labor for a very long time. We’re tired and hurting. The reporters are tense going out. We’ve had phone and e-mail threats and one reporter was arrested covering the protests. So far the Yemen Times hasn’t been targeted. ”

Al-Sakkaf lost her last copy editor for her twice-weekly newspaper, and is searching for English-speaking editors to help fill the void and volunteer to edit news stories from afar on the web.  Journalists interested in helping to edit Yemen Times reporters’ stories, donating to the 20-year-old newspaper or writing a story about the struggles, can reach Al-Sakkaf at  yteditor@gmail.com. The online edition is http://yementimes.com/ and Yemen Times is on Twitter.

“One day my 5-year-old daughter came home scared and crying, ‘We have to shut down the doors and windows – they are going to kill us.’  How can you explain that the masses are not there to kill her but to demand the end to the regime?”

Written by shatha

May 24, 2011 at 8:13 am

Posted in ME by others :)

Power lines in Marib attacked four times last week By: Shatha Al-Harazi

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Sana’a, May 21, 2011 — Tribesmen have attacked the electricity station four times since Tuesday, according to locals and the head of Marib station.  Headed by Sheikh Naji Me’asar, the tribesmen belong to al-Jeda’an tribe from Nehm and have attacked the electricity lines in the absence of the security forces.

“In three days only, they [Al-Jeda’an] attacked four times,” Eng. Abdalrahaman Saif told the Yemen Times, “three attacks in Nehim itself and one in Abeeda.”

On May 10, local residents reported clashes between The Republican Guards and tribes from Nehim. Armed tribes tried to prevent guards from Hadramout from moving toward the capital. Yemeni government sources confirmed that Republican Guards used air strikes against the tribes.

According to Saif, the current electricity outage is the result of the May 10 clashes. He added that it is the shiekh’s response to the state for having attacked them on their land.

“They hit also yesterday after we repaired the power lines, the day before they hit the circle. It’s all due to the attack on Nehm by the Republican Guards,” said Saif. “There is no protection for the lines and those who hit the power lines are threatening work crews that are sent to make repairs.”

According to Saif, the main road from Sana’a to Mareb has almost 50 security check points, 30 of which are protected by tribesmen. The remaining checkpoints, he said, are under the control of plainclothes gunmen. As security forces have withdrawn from the main road, these gunmen have easier access to attack the power lines.

The Marib station consists of two power circles that provide 400 megawatts each. That accounts for 40 percent of the entire country’s electricity.

“Breaking the two circles makes a big gap to the whole nation now,” explained Saif. He added that state relies upon power lines from Hiziaz in the capital, and Al-Makha relies on a 260-megawatt steam station and a 500-megawatt diesel station.

Since the end of April, the Marib station has witnessed 11 attacks. Residents in the capital spend almost five continuous hours each day without power. Diesel shortages add to the problems of those who use private generators when the power is off.

Saif said the state tries to address the damage by repairing the broken power lines, but the tribesmen break it again once it has been repaired. The only way to end this problem, he said, is by getting other tribes to mediate between Al-Jeda’an and the state.

“We are trying to get a mediation from well-respected tribes such as Al-Shabwanis,” said Said.

Although Saif said Al-Shabwanis will mediate to protect the power lines in Mareb, Al-Shabwanis declined to mediate with Al-Jeda’an.

“Shiekh Me’asar is from Nehim, which is an area the followers of Sana’a governorate, and the power is cut from their side so we can’t mediate” said Ahmed Al-Shabwani.

“They [ Me’asar] have their own problem with the state, and we can’t interfere even if we were asked to mediate,” said Al-Shabwani. “They are the owner of that area.” He added that each tribe protects its own lands—and that it’s not possible to protect someone else’s area.

Recently, the government accused Al-Shabwanis of threatening to cut the power themselves in order to demand the state reveal facts related to the murder of Jaber Al-Shabwani, former Marib deputy governor.  Jaber Al-Shabwani was known for convincing Al-Qeada member to submit themselves to the state. Publically, however, Al-Shabwanis has condemned attacks against power lines, saying electricity is a public service necessary to Yemeni citizens and power disruptions stand against the public interest.

“In our area, people are aware in general about the public interest,” Al-Shabwani explained. “We never cut the power or use this method to put pressure on the state. We did it only once last year in an angry time when they [the government] killed our brother.”

Written by shatha

May 23, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Posted in Violation

Protesters celebrate Unification Day across Yemen By: Shatha Al-Harazi

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Soldiers of the defected army patrol a street in Sanaa, capital of Yemen, May 22, 2011. Over a thousand soldiers of former government forces who have then defected took the street here on Friday to celebrate Yemen’s Unification Day. Photo by: Xinhua/Yin Ke (wjd)

Sana’a, May, 22 — Unlike this time of the year, the National Day of Unification was celebrated by the state, accompanied by military parades and fireworks displays. However, this year, anti-government protesters across the country are staging celebrations of their own.

Protesters in the capital Sana’a say that they want to prove to the world that Saleh’s threats about a divided Yemen don’t hold water. Protest leaders told the Yemen Times that nationwide unity celebrations are meant to show Saleh and the world that the people care about keeping the country unified and that the fall of the Saleh regime will only serve to further solidify North and South Yemen’s unity of purpose.

Over 3500 soldiers from the defected First Armored Brigade participated in a parade and a show of force in Sana’a, sending a message to loyalist military forces that they should stand with the people as well. According to the secretary general of the soldier’s coalition, all soldiers should defect from the regime if they are to uphold their duties as defenders of the Yemeni people and protectors of the state.

“Around 3500 soldiers participated in this symbolic event,” said Major Hamdan Fars, Secretary-General of the soldier’s coalition in “Change Square” in Sana’a. “the objective of this show is to deliver a message to our brothers in Yemen’s military that have not joined the protest yet, we want to motivate them to defect and join the people,” he added.

Although some groups of the southern movement held an event yesterday in Aden calling for secession, many others participated in today’s celebrations of unification across the former territory of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, according to Mohammed Joma’n, an anti-government protester living in Aden.

Joma’n confirmed that even though the southern Movement is against unification, they do not oppose protesters celebrating the occasion.

Protesters in the capital believe that the dissolution of the union is a threat that president Saleh is using to garner more support.”Separation is a lie that the regime promotes,” said Major Fars. “There will not be any separation.”

Civilians also participated in the celebrations with shows of their own.

Waleed Al-Amary, one of the celebration’s coordinators, said that the program will be informative and supportive. “We have different shows that reflect many different cultures like a Tuhami show, Maribi show and so” said Al-Amary.

“The aim is to show the world that the Yemeni people are unified, the people want to bring down the regime and we have no fear that our union will be negatively affected by our revolution. In fact, national unity will be strengthened by it.” he added.

Al-Amari also confirmed that the entrances of celebrations and protest camps are protected in case of attacks by government loyalists or security forces.

The White House released a statement on Sunday in support of Yemen’s unity.

“The United States will continue to support the Yemeni people as you work toward a unified, stable, democratic, and prosperous Yemen. We continue to call for a peaceful transition of power so that the citizens of Yemen may one day realize your aspirations.” said Hilary Clinton in a press release on 21 May.

Written by shatha

May 23, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Posted in Yemen's news

Medical drugs market affected by Yemeni political crisis By: Shatha Al-Harazi

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SANA’A, May 15 — Just as many other industries have been affected by Yemen’s ongoing political and economic turmoil, the market for medicines has also taken a hit.

The Yemen Times has learnt that the smuggling of medicines into the country is more active than ever, as some drugs are no longer being imported.  Some drug companies have stopped selling their products because they can’t be sure Yemeni pharmacy owners will be able to pay them back.  Others have raised the prices of their drugs by up to 10 percent, or have shut down their Yemen offices completely, resulting in a loss of jobs and income.

According to one pharmacy employee, “[Pharmacies] nowadays can’t cover the expense of drugs coming into Yemen.  We need to pay upfront or make bank guarantees first.”

Maher Hadi, a pharmacist, said that the whole country is facing a crisis – of which the shortage of medicines is only a part – and that things will soon reach their worst if the situation doesn’t improve quickly.

“Some drugs are no longer imported, but we always have alternatives,” explained Hadi.  “The real problem that will affect citizens is the raising of drug prices.”

The halting of certain pharmaceutical imports strengthens the black market trade in poor-quality medicines.

According to pharmacist Mohammed Shaman, “Important drugs are no longer on the market, like medicines for heart disease.  They can, however, be smuggled, which is extremely dangerous because these medicines must be transported under very precise environmental conditions.  They should be saved at a certain temperature.  But when they’re smuggled, they’re often exposed to the sun.  Moreover, when the drug takes two weeks to arrive via the desert, it may have lost its effect – or indeed, its lifesaving effect may have been reversed.”

Shaman also said that some smuggled drugs are in fact fake, with one medicine being passed off as another.

“Someone might sell a citrine drug when its content is actually something else,” he explained.  “I can recognize when this is the case if I normally sell a drug for YR 15,000 and someone else sells it for YR 4,000.”

Shaman also said that rising pharmaceutical prices will be the biggest problem for Yemenis during this crisis.  Indeed, some injections are already too expensive for the average Yemeni to buy.

“The Ministry of Health should force the companies not to raise their drugs’ prices,” concluded Shaman.

Written by shatha

May 23, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Posted in Yemen's news

Osama bin Laden dead: Arab world’s future is democracy, says his widow’s brother By: Shatha Al-Harazy and Jeb Boone

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The brother of the young woman whom Osama bin Laden took as his last wife has declared that the Arab world’s future now lies in democracy, not radical Islam.

15 May 2011

Zakaria al Sada, whose sister Amal was shot and wounded during the raid that killed bin Laden thirteen days ago, spoke out in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, in which he also pleaded for her release by the Pakistani authorities.

“Amal should be brought back to be with her family,” said Mr Sada, 24, who has been taking part in the recent “Arab Spring” street protests demanding political reform in Yemen. “Bin Laden is dead, al-Qaeda is over, there is no reason to keep her.”

Amal, 29, is currently being held in Pakistan after being shot in the leg during the US raid on the al-Qaeda leader’s compound at Abbottabad on May 2.

Her family, from the city of Ibb, in the rugged mountains of northernYemenhave demanded the Pakistani and Yemeni governments allow her to now return home with the child she fathered with the al-Qaeda leader. She is being kept incommunicado in a military hospital near Islamabad, unable to speak to her Yemeni family with whom she has had virtually no contact since marrying bin Laden in 1999.

The fifth child out of three brothers and four sisters, her liaison with the world’s most wanted terrorist was the product of a traditional arranged marriage fixed up by a bin Laden follower known as Rasdah Mohammed Saeed – also known as Abu al-Fida, who is now a member of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Although the family knew who bin Laden was, they had no objection to the union as it took place prior to the 9/11 atrocities, at a time when he was seen by many in Yemen as an Islamic warrior who had distinguished himself fighting the Russians in Afghanistan. The jihad against Soviet occupation was a popular cause in Yemen, where many had bitter memories of the fall of the southern half of their country to Marxist rule in the 1960s.

“In 1999, bin Laden was respected as a freedom fighter and fought against the Soviet occupation,” said Mr Sada. “This was before September 11. That is why my father consented to the match. He was not a wanted man then. No one considered him to be a terrorist.”

Bin Laden paid a $5,000 dowry for Amal, who went to Afghanistan to wed him and soon after bore him a daughter, Safia. Knowing the risks that life at his side would bring, the al-Qaeda leader is said to have given her the option of leaving the country. But she later told her father, Ahmed Abdel-Fatah al Sada, who made a brief visit to her before the 9/11 attacks, that she was happy and would willingly face “martyrdom. At the time of his father-in-law’s visit, bin Laden gave no indication of the 9/11 plans, but did apparently warn that a world-changing event was imminent.

Describing his sister, Mr Sada painted a picture of a pious woman, who had been the apple of his father’s eye.

“She has always been a very kind and polite girl,” he said. “She was absolutely my parents’ favourite daughter, and I remember how she used to gather us and give us lectures on good Islamic manners and taught us how to be kind to others. Once when we were children, we went to throw stones at our neighbours from the roof. Amal found out about it and told us off, reminding us how the Prophet ordered us to treat others with kindness.”

The Sada family only found out that Amal was shot in the US raid on bin Laden’s compound from subsequent news reports. Although the Pakistani authorities have said she will be released, they are worried that both the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service will consider her a “high-value” asset and keep her in detention.

“My mother cries constantly,” added Mr Sada, who has asked Pakistan’s ambassador to Yemen for help in getting his sister home. “At first, it was reported that she had actually been killed, and that put our family through undue suffering. However, we know that if the US wanted to get rid of Amal, they would have simply killed her along with Bin Laden. That fact eases our worries slightly.

“But Amal had nothing to do with al-Qaeda or terrorism of any kind. No law can incriminate her, and international law dictates that she should be returned to her family.”

As of yet, he said, the family did not even know which hospital in Pakistan she was being held in – or even how many children she had conceived with bin Laden. They knew of only one child for certain, but suspected that at least one of the other 12 children found in the compound was hers.

“This is a humanitarian situation; these children have seen their father killed in front of their eyes and they should be treated by a psychiatrist,” added Mr Sada. “Amal was also shot for no reason, she wasn’t even armed.”

A third year student in mass communication at Yemen’s Sana’a University, the softly-spoken Mr Sada cut a rather different figure from his devout sister and extremist brother-in-law. Dressed in a navy blue suit rather than the traditional robes and jambiyah dagger favoured by many Yemeni men, he conducted the interview in a cafe popular with young “Facebook generation” Yemenis surfing the internet on laptops.

While bin Laden always railed against democracy – seeing it as the rule of man rather than God – Mr Sada has been engaged in Yemen’s pro-democracy protests since January, when a popular uprising first toppled the government of Tunisia.

“I’ve been protesting since January 15, back when there were only 20 of us showing up to rallies,” he said. “I am protesting against corruption, against the absence of justice and equality in Yemen. When people live in equality, there will be no more al-Qaeda.”

Written by shatha

May 23, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Posted in Violation

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