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News, July 2011
Yemeni Protesters Insist on Complete Regime Change, Rejecting Dictator's Offer for Participation
July 8, 2011
The Arab media, particularly TV stations, have shown persistent Yemeni protests against the dictatorial regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Today, Yemeni protesters came out to the squares of main cities insisting on a complete regime change (or "Befalling the Regime" as Arabs say). They rejected the dictator's offer to allow opposition parties to participate in governance during the transitional period.
The Yemeni revolution has reached a stalemate stage, in which neither protesters nor the regime forces are backing down.
So far the protests have been peaceful despite the hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries as a result of bullets fired by the regime forces.
The clashes in the south maybe the beginning of breaking the stalemate, as the revolutionary protesters may resort to violence against the regime forces, in an escalation to put a violent end for the brutal regime.
Yemeni TV airs recorded speech by President Saleh
By News Wires (text)
France 24, July 7, 2011
Yemen's Saleh appears on TV, offers to share power
By Mohammed Ghobari and Mohammed Mukhashaf
Friday, July 8, 2011 7:23 am EDT
SANAA/ADEN (Reuters) -
Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh appeared on television on Thursday for the first time since an assassination attempt a month ago and said he was ready to share power within the constitution's framework.
Saleh, who is recovering in Riyadh after the June 3 bomb attack on his presidential compound, showed signs of severe burns to his face which was covered with white stubble instead of his trademark thick mustache.
He had heavily bandaged arms and hands in the appearance on Yemen TV in a pre-recorded interview.
"We are not against participation, we are for participation with all political powers, whether they are in opposition or ruling, but in the light of a program which the people agree upon," Saleh said.
Saleh, who flew to neighboring Saudi Arabia for treatment after the attack, has hung on to power despite international pressure and six months of protests against his 33-year rule.
In a note of defiance, Saleh said he would "confront a challenge with a challenge," a phrase he has often used in speeches.
Speculation about Saleh's health and the likelihood of his return to Yemen has been rife in the past five weeks. "I had eight successful operations and suffered from burns," he said, thanking Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah for hosting him.
"The speech was normal, it did not offer anything new. It's the same speech we're used to from Saleh," an activist said in Sanaa, which erupted in firework displays and celebratory gunfire after the speech. Six protesters were killed and a hundred were injured as a result, a medical source told Reuters.
In the city of Ibb, south of Sanaa, armed men loyal to the ruling party attacked protesters, killing two and injuring 10, a medical source told Reuters.
Opposition official Sultan al-Atwani said Saleh's speech did little more than clarify rumors about his injuries: "It's clear that his state is not great. As for his speech, it wasn't anything new and the participation of which he spoke will not come until a national dialogue after a transfer of power."
Earlier on Thursday, an opposition leader said Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who has taken the helm during Saleh's absence, had approached the opposition with a new plan to end the country's political stalemate.
Under this plan, Saleh would have stayed in power longer than outlined in a Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) initiative which the president backed out of three times at the last minute, leaving the country in political limbo.
Under the GCC deal, Saleh would have resigned 30 days after signing up to it.
"The essence of these ideas is to begin the transitional period by forming one national government led by the opposition and changing the date of presidential elections from 60 days to a longer period, without transferring power completely to the vice president," said the opposition leader, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity after the meeting with Hadi.
The new plan was a step backwards for the opposition, which had hoped Saleh's time was up when he left the country. While veteran leaders in Egypt and Tunisia have bowed to popular demands they quit, Saleh has proved a shrewd political survivor.
The political impasse has paralyzed the impoverished state, which is on the brink of civil war with rebels in the north, separatists in the south and army generals defecting from Saleh.
At least 10 soldiers were killed in an attack by militants on an army base near the southern town of Zinjibar, where a brigade has been trapped for more than a month. A local official said militants had started shelling the base late on Wednesday.
Yemen's south has descended into bloodshed in recent months, with Islamist militants suspected of links to al Qaeda seizing two cities in the flashpoint province of Abyan, including Zinjibar, its capital.
Western powers and oil giant Saudi Arabia fear al Qaeda is exploiting the security vacuum in Yemen, from which it has previously launched failed attacks against the United States and a Saudi government minister.
Separately, unidentified gunmen stopped a vehicle carrying soldiers and civilians to the city of Lawdar, also in Abyan, and shot dead 10 soldiers after finding their military IDs, local residents said.
Opponents of Saleh, who earned U.S. backing by portraying himself as a partner against al Qaeda, accuse him of letting militants get the upper hand to convince the United States and Saudi Arabia only he can prevent an Islamist militant takeover.
A military official told Yemen's state news agency on Thursday the army had dealt a blow to al Qaeda, killing two prominent members of the organization in the Zinjibar area.
Earlier, the official said a military commander of al Qaeda's Yemen wing, Abu Khalid al-Asiri, was among 40 militants killed by armed forces in Abyan on Monday.
Yemeni TV airs recorded speech by President Saleh
In a pre-recorded interview on Yemen TV, President Ali Abdullah Saleh said that he welcomed power sharing within the "framework of the constitution". In the interview Saleh showed signs of burns to his face and had heavily bandaged arms.
US calls for 'immediate transition' in Yemen
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s absence from Yemen as he recovers from his injuries in Saudi Arabia gave Yemen’s government the opportunity for an ‘immediate' transition.
By News Wires (text)
REUTERS - Yemen’s government should seize on President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s absence to bring about a swift and peaceful handover of power, the United States suggested.
While Saleh remains in Riyadh recovering from his wounds from Friday’s rocket attack on his palace, there is a chance that Yemen can avoid the descent into chaos that Saudi Arabia and the United States are anxious to avoid, analysts say.
“We are calling for a peaceful and orderly transition,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters in Washington. “We feel that an immediate transition is in the best interests of the Yemeni people.”
Yemen’s acting leader, Vice President Abu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, said Saleh would return within days, but the attitude of Saudi Arabia, which has traditionally played a neutral role in Yemeni politics, could now be decisive.
Saudi officials insist they will not interfere with Saleh’s decision to return to Yemen or stay in the kingdom, but behind the scenes the United States and Europe are likely to be pressing the Saudis to ensure Saleh’s stay becomes permanent.
“The Saudis will seize the opportunity ... to extend his medical recovery into a political rest,” said Yemen expert Khaled Fattah. The risk of Yemen descending into Somalia-style anarchy was “a nightmare for Saudi national security”.
In the Yemeni capital Sanaa, a Saudi-brokered truce was holding after two weeks of fighting between Saleh’s forces and a powerful tribal group in which more than 200 people were killed and thousands forced to flee.
But there was fresh fighting in the southern city of Taiz, and also in the southern province of Abyan, where armed men killed seven soldiers and wounded 12 others in clashes in Zinjibar on Monday, a local official and witnesses said.
An army force had tried to storm the town of 20,000. Last month, dozens of armed men believed to be from al Qaeda stormed into Zinjibar, chasing out security forces.
An opposition party coalition, which joined months of street protests to end Saleh’s three-decade rule, said it backed transferring power to the vice-president.
The Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council urged all parties to work to end violence and said it was continuing its efforts to negotiate a power-transfer deal. Saleh has three times agreed to hand over power and three times reneged on the deal.
In a joint statement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and the Prime Ministers of Britain, Spain and Italy, thanked Saudi Arabia for receiving Saleh for treatment, and called on all parties in Yemen to “find a means of reconciliation on the basis of the GCC initiative.”
Yemen, which relies on oil for 60 percent of its economy, has been dealt a heavy blow by the closure of an oil pipeline that trade sources said has caused a fuel shortages.
But the future of Yemen, riven by rivalries among tribal leaders, generals and politicians, remains uncertain.
“Saleh’s departure to Saudi Arabia isn’t just courtesy from the Saudi ruling family,” said Egyptian political analyst Nabil Abdel-Fattah. “The security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf is linked to security in Yemen.”
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