2011-03-26 #Yemen President Saleh: Will He Stay or Will He Go? [Update:2]

WL Central continues its updates on Yemen, with new items added at the top. All times are based off of Sanaa time in Yemen. You can contact me on Twitter @kgosztola or by email at kgosztola@hotmail.com.

Current time and date in Sanaa:

Saturday, March 26

9:12 PM Sanaa Time

Hours ago, AFP reported Saleh said his regime is "as firm as mountains." Saleh doesn't appear to want the world to think he is leaving today.

8:46 PM Sanaa Time

This just in from the Associated Press: "A spokesman for embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh says talks with the opposition have made no progress toward a deal on the president's possible resignation."

7:42 PM Sanaa Time

Yemenis are anxiously awaiting news on whether President Saleh will step down or not today. The Twitter-sphere has a few tweets that have become top tweets. They each indicate that Saleh will likely be leaving in the next couple hours. WL Central will stay tuned and bring you the latest developments.

Yemen News Agency (SABA) reports caretaker Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi denies media reports suggesting a transition of power will happen today:

"My statement to Reuters was reported partly and inaccurately, al-Qirbi told Saba.

I have said, in an interview with Reuters, that I pin hopes on coming to an agreement on transition of power today before tomorrow based on the five points the Joint Meeting Parties (JMPs) have previously offered and the President Ali Abdullah Saleh has announced his approval to, the Caretaker Foreign Minister said.

The following is a top tweet right now from Al Arabiya English:


But, 22 year-old Yemeni writer, activist and community worker @imothanaYemen tweets, "The Yemeni president is NOT leaving in 2 hours, the statement was taken out of context from a long Alarabiya interview #Yemen #Saleh"

In the meantime, some of the latest new making the rounds includes:

@alguneid tweets, "IMP NEWS: A Qatina man killed n sit-in.Hamdan tribe,Occupied military reception camp.Rpblcn Guards sent, but blocked by Arhab tribe #Yemen" and "IMP NEWS:From "#TAIZ &elsewhere. #Saleh invited shaikhs&digniteries from all #Yemen to visit him in #Sanaa. Rebound&counterattack #Yemen #yf" and "IMP NEWS: YASIN NOMAN,together went with Feierstien #USA ambsdr to house of Abdrabbu hadi,for meeting.Told, he is UNAVAILABLE ! #Yemen #yf" [All in the past hour.]

Yemen Online reports Saleh has called on “young people” to form their own political party. Saleh wants them to not be a “vehicle of the weak, malevolent and sick souls, who he said want to destroy everything in the homeland.”

Yemen Online also reports that Turkey has declared a Yemen-bound pistol shipment illegal. The shipment was intercepted in Dubai. Sixteen thousand Turkish-made pistols were on their way to Saada province in northern Yemen. Turkish officials said the shipment was not properly authorized.

Just over a week ago, Yemen experienced a bloody massacre of its people. Project Yemen chronicles the day on March 18 with tweets sent throughout the day.

Jeb Boone writes on the prospect of civil war in Yemen.

Friday, March 25

Imageal3ini in Yemen has these great photos from Friday's rallies. The photo on the left is a protester holding a red card up to President Saleh the way a ref might do to a player in football. For more, see al3ini's yfrog profile.

Journalist Iona Craig has some good photos. Here on her Tumblr are "Children of the Revolution."

A blog post on a Yemen without President Saleh

BBC’s Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen reports on the rumors that Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh is on his way out:

He promised to hand over power after weeks of demonstrations, but only to what he called 'safe hands'. He's been negotiating with a senior general who joined the opposition this week, after the regime killed about 50 protesters at a rally in Sanaa, the capital. But so far, no deal has been made. During the day tens of thousands of protesters, some supporting the president and some the opposition, were said to have been on the streets of Sanaa.



Meet Ahmed Asery, “The Artist of the Revolution.” Project Yemen has a profile of this man, who plays electric guitar and has provided the soundtrack for a revolution in Yemen and played in Change Square. Here’s the profile.

Below is a video with a song from Asery.



Gregory Johnsen on NPR’s radio show “Talk of the Nation.” He discusses what is behind the protests in Yemen.

The Guardian has posted a profile of Yemeni activist Tawakul Karma, woman who has stood up for human rights in Yemen and become a “thorn in the side” of Saleh:

Karman has many grievances against her government but it was a sheikh's tyranny against villagers in Ibb, a governorate south of the capital, that ignited her activism. "I watched as families were thrown off their land by a corrupt tribal leader. They were a symbol to me of the injustice faced by so many in Yemen," she says. "It dawned on me that nothing could change this regime, only protest." While she identifies herself first and foremost as a campaigner for Yemen's alienated youth, she is also a member of Yemen's leading Islamic opposition party, the Islah, a group that has caused alarm in the west, mainly because of its most notorious member, Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, a former Osama bin Laden adviser considered a terrorist by the Americans.

Karman has a mixed relationship with the Islah. She says it was the best party in Yemen for supporting female members but last October she ran into trouble after publishing a paper condemning ultra-conservative party members for blocking a bill that would make it illegal to marry girls under the age of 17.

"The extremist people hate me. They speak about me in the mosques and pass round leaflets condemning me as un-Islamic. They say I'm trying to take women away from their houses."

Good analysis of Yemen from Frederik Ohsten at Marxist.com. On Gen. Mohsen, Ohsten writes:

For Saudi Arabia, the general is a “safe” alternative to the revolution. There is just one small problem: the revolutionary people, once brought to their feet, will not easily be satisfied with cosmetic changes and a “Yemen that looks a lot like Yemen”. On the contrary – they are fighting and dying for a Yemen that looks completely different form the Yemen of today – the Yemen of misery, of poverty, of tribalism, of dictatorship, of national subordination to imperialism. The revolutionary people want radical change, and they will not be satisfied with General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar in the place of Saleh.

BBC report on two rival rallies in the Yemen capital of Sanaa


Laura Kasinof with this article in the New York Times on power transferring into ‘safe hands.’

Mr. Saleh addressed a rally of about 100,000 supporters in the center of Sana, while about 100,000 antigovernment protesters were demanding his immediate departure at another rally across town. While repeating his now frequent offers to relinquish power conditionally, Mr. Saleh also made clear that he would remain “steadfast” in challenging what he depicted as violent attempts to oust him.

“I will transfer the power to safe hands, and not to malicious forces who conspire against the homeland,” he said, renewing an offer to open dialogue with young people leading protests against him. The anti-Saleh demonstrators have rejected such offers in the past. This week, Mr. Saleh offered to leave office by the end of the year, but that did not stanch the protests.

“We are with you,” he said to his supporters, “firm and steadfast against all the challenges.”

He said that his challengers “want to gain power at the expense of martyrs and children.”

ForeignPolicy post from Sheila Carapico outlines what could be considered the worst and best case scenarios for Yemen. Here are her best case scenarios:

Best-case scenarios seem contingent on Salih following Ben Ali and Mubarak's example rather than Qaddafi's. If he resigns immediately, power could be transferred to a technocratic, civilian transitional government. New parliamentary and presidential elections could be organized in a matter of months. This transition would be easier in some ways than Egypt's because there are already organized, legal political parties in Yemen (the several JMP parties and perhaps a reconstituted GPC). Since the existing multiparty electoral process has been suspended rather than irretrievably despoiled, it could be resuscitated.

Demonstrators show their support for Al Jazeera:

Wednesday, March 23

ImageAl Jazeera’s bureau in Yemen has been shut down. A Yemen official iallegedly claims the permit was revoked after it aired a clip of Iraqis' facing severe torture and claimed it was in Yemen.

Human Rights Watch has issued a statement reminding Yemen the state of emergency should not “trump basic rights.”

The action on the emergency law follows more than five weeks of largely peaceful protests against Saleh. Human Rights Watch has documented the repeated use of unlawful and excessive force by security forces against protesters, including live ammunition. Security forces also have assisted or failed to stop pro-government gangs who have shot peaceful protesters or attacked them with knives, sticks, and rocks. The attacks have killed dozens of protesters and wounded several hundred others.

HRW called for “full disclosure of the voting procedures used to pass the law. Article 71 of Yemen's Constitution states that at least half of the 301 National Assembly members must be present for its meetings to be valid. Some opposition legislators issued statements saying that fewer than half the assembly members were present for the vote and that it was taken by a show of hands.”

A call for a reversal of Yemen’s decision to shut down Al Jazeera’s bureau is also in the statement, along with a note that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified in 1987 in Yemen, permits some restriction of rights during a proclaimed public emergency that “threatens the life of the nation.”

Al Jazeera English publishes this article on “fear of the future” in Yemen. Gregory Johnsen, who has become a good resource for all things Yemen, is quoted.

According to Gregory Johnsen, a Yemen expert at Princeton University, "most Yemeni's are no longer buying this argument" that their leader stands in between peace and chaos.

He says that the Houthis - the Zaydi Shia group in the north, and the secessionists of the south will "all play a role in the future of the country".

"All those groups want Saleh to step down. They want different things - and that's going to be a real challenge - how these groups will be able to work together. But people aren't talking about that now because they want to present a unified front against Saleh."

A strong culture of mediation in Yemen could allow this to happen, he says. "Houthis and secessionists need to be reconciled and to come into the fold. Most people realise this."

BBC reports on Yemen’s parliament imposing a state of emergency.

ABC News has some specific details on the state of emergency

The state of emergency suspends the constitution, allows media censorship, bars street protests and gives security forces 30 days of far-reaching powers to arrest and detain suspects without judicial process.

How news organizations like Al Jazeera have been tracking what is going on with uprisings and violence in Middle East/North Africa

Yemen News Agency “urges” foreign media to use “maximum accuracy” when covering Yemen. The Information Ministry will “regrettably withdraw the license of any correspondent for foreign outlets found abusing his profession.” Correspondents will be thrown out for “incitement to violence and chaos or distorting the facts.”

Al Jazeera English “Inside Story” report on Yemen – “Civil war or Saleh out?”

Was state of emergency legitimately approved?

Canadian Calvalley Petroleum contends unrest in Yemen is making it hard to get equipment to Block 9 in the Masila Basin in Yemen, where it operates

Forty killed in clashes in northern governorate in Al-Jawf (ReliefWeb)

Journalist @ionacraig tweets “President agrees to hold presidential and parliamentary elections by the end of 2011 #yemen #yf”

Gregory Johnsen writes a good a blog post on two things that must be considered about Yemen. An excerpt:

… I have been thinking a great deal about Saudi Arabia. Everyone knows that Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, despite being fired as foreign ministry, still traveled to Saudi Arabia over the weekend to sound out Riyadh on their continued support for Salih.

It is anyone's guess - at least I don't know - what took place in those meeting, but they are likely to be determinative going forward.

Essentially, Saudi Arabia has to make a choice is it worse to have chaos and potential civil war in Yemen or to have yet another regime fall in the Middle East with all that will mean for Bahrain and political stirrings at home?

How Saudi answers this question will have a major impact on events in Yemen. Of course, this being Saudi Arabia, nothing is simple. It has been unclear to me for quite some time whether the kingdom actually had a unified foreign policy towards Yemen.

Possibility of another massacre taking place similar to what happened on Friday being talked about as a possibility. AJA has had bureau shut down.

This tweet: “Lot of families are scared in #Aden today, choosing to stay home. Some areas formed civilian neighborhood watch groups for protection.#Yemen”

Monday, March 21

ImageThe latest from Yemen Times is that “French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has called on President Saleh to step down, the 70 Meter Road in front of the Saleh Mosque has been blocked off, and six American M60 Patton tanks are poised directly in front of the grand stands along the main highway

Republican Guard forces, loyal to Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, have surrounded the presidential palace. Resignations from officials in the Yemen government are increasing. Saleh’s crisis of legitimacy is now worse than ever.

@JNovakYemen tweets: “YemenTV showing old videos of crowds chanting for Saleh as live, but they were shot in the day time while it is night time” and hours ago, “President #Saleh hiding in his palace in #Sanaa, guarded by his son amid mass military defections. Yemen”

Ginny Hill with this analysis of Yemen just up on BBC News:

…Defections have gathered rapid pace since Friday, when snipers opened fire on a pro-democracy camp in the capital, Sanaa, killing more than 50 people.

US officials condemned Friday's violence "in the strongest terms" and expressed hope that Yemen might still achieve a political solution through negotiations and dialogue...

On the US and Yemen, Hill writes:

For several years, the US administration has been supplying military aid and training to elite security and intelligence units under the command of Mr Saleh's son and nephews. The White House is nervous about losing these relationships with local proxies, who have been willing to co-operate in US counter-terrorism operations.

However, the longer US officials try to keep Mr Saleh and his family in place, the more they risk damaging their own interests. Yemenis are furious that units from the US-backed Central Security Forces, commanded by one of Mr Saleh's nephews, have played such a prominent role in cracking down on pro-democracy protests.

US-made CS gas canisters, allegedly intended for counter-terrorism operations, have also been used in raids against pro-democracy protesters.

@HarunAlAmriki tweets: “Nine Yemeni ambassadors in Europe resigned in support to the youth peaceful revolution,” and Al Jazeera report in Taiz “resignations from the ruling party keeps coming from across Yemen. The ruling party is collapsing.”

@alguneid tweets hours ago: “Republican Guards&Central Security have blocked all areas around rpblcn palace.Traffic jam in #Sanaa is very bad,indeed. Tanks,armored cars.”

Saleh swears in newly appointed members of Shura council. Reuters covers: “Yemeni television showed footage of Saleh, facing popular protests against his 32-year rule, swearing in new members of the appointed Shura Council, Yemen's upper house of parliament…The latest defections and resignations were apparently sparked by Saleh's decision to resort to violence to deal with the continuing protests against his rule.”

All diplomats at the Yemen embassy in Canada have declared support for the revolution and peaceful demonstrators

CNN International Correspondent Mohammed Jamjoom has a tweet from government official that what is happening is likely the early stage of a “bloodless coup.” He also tweets: “Yemen’s ambassadors to China, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Algeria all have resigned.”

Following resignation, a former GPC MP is attacked following his resignation

Laura Kasinof, whose work has been getting published by the New York Times, writes about Saleh sacking his Cabinet

High commander in Yemen army, Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmer, announces support for protestors and calls for President Saleh to step down

The National Defense Council is in “permanent session.” Focus is suspected to be how to maintain security of country as protests continue to create shockwaves for President Saleh.

Houthis are pointing out that Al Mohsen Al-Ahmer is a “war criminal AQAP facilitator.” Additionally, The Guardian has coverage of cables showing he leans more toward radical political Islam than Saleh and, more importantly, has engaged in “questionable dealings with terrorists and extremists.” Specificlly, he is a close associate of “noted arms dealer Fairs Manna.”

Yemen's ambassador to the UN, Abdullah Alsaidi, says “President Saleh should quit now, in a dignified way”

Military court is investigating the bloodbath that unfolded on Friday

Alleged sniper and thug attacks being investigated

President Saleh has a good point.

" Saleh has called on “young people” to form their own political party. Saleh wants them to not be a “vehicle of the weak, malevolent and sick souls, who he said want to destroy everything in the homeland.”

This is relevant advice for all of the protestng peoples of the World. There is no point in deposing an existing government, only to leave the structure in place with different leaders.

In every nation, there are those who are eager to seize power to further their own agendas and wealth.

Freedom may not come quickly or easily, but taking short-cuts and easy solutions is probably a route to disaster.

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