Army: AQAP driven from South #Yemen towns

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Video: Mosaic Middle East News Summary 16 May 2012

Covers Yemen, Palestine, Israel, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Bahrain Sudan

Yemen Post Staff report from Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A security official told the government-run 26 September website that the army troops assisted by tribal militias managed to kick out the terrorists from three towns in the southern Yemeni province of Abyan.

He said the army troops and the tribal fighters expelled al-Qaeda militants from Lawdar, Modia, and al-Wadea after two days of fierce clashes.

The unnamed official pointed out that the militants fled to mountainous areas after they lost great number of their fighters and weapons.”In the couple of past days, approximately 60 militants have been killed. Also some army troops and tribal men were killed in the clashes,” the official said.

He noted that the army troops are currently chasing the terrorists in order to arrest them and force them to stand trial for their crimes, calling on the al-Qaeda militants to turn themselves in willingly to the authorities.

According to the official, all Modia inhabitants showed their support for the tribal militias and the troops.

For his part, Abyan governor hailed the progress in the battle against the terror organization affiliates, saying the troops and the tribal militias showcased fantastic bravery and determination to eradicate the terrorists.

The governor said eradicating the rest of the militants is a national duty and stressed that a great number of the militants were killed.

Meanwhile, the US administration said that the fighting against al-Qaeda gained momentum after the former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh left office in November 2011.

Also on Wednesday, 16 May 2012, Reuters reported heavy fighting as the Yemen army advanced on militants in the  south

Yemeni troops, backed by local tribesmen, captured a strategic mountain that controls access to cities long held by al Qaeda-linked militants amid heavy fighting that has killed at least 24 people, residents and local officials said.

The fighting is part of an army offensive against Ansar al-Sharia, a militant group that has seized swathes of territory in Yemen’s south during a year of political upheaval that toppled President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saeed al-Dhailie, a spokesman for a committee set up to mobilize residents against Ansar al-Sharia in Lawdar, said local fighters had managed to capture the Yasouf mountain, a strategic vantage point above the city, after heavy fighting.

“This morning the army, assisted by armed tribesmen from Lawdar, succeeded in driving al Qaeda militants off Yasouf mountain,” Dhailie told Reuters.

“Aerial and artillery attacks by the army started after the dawn prayer. Then we moved up the mountain, official forces and tribesmen side by side. By 11 a.m. we had driven al Qaeda away and recaptured the mountain,” he said.

Dhailie said the militants were using Soviet-era heavy machineguns known as Duskas and heavy artillery looted from army camps they had raided in recent months.

“It’s bloody. Al Qaeda are fighting to the death,” he said.

Local officials and residents said 16 militants were killed in fresh clashes outside Lawdar, including a local commander of Ansar al-Sharia known as Samir Salem al-Moqayda. Ansar al-Sharia has been trying to capture Lawdar for weeks, without success.

They said eight Yemeni troops and members of the popular committees have also died in the fighting and five more were wounded.

The United States and Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporters, have been alarmed by the growing strength of the militants near shipping lanes in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

Yemen’s interior ministry said security services in Taiz had received information that 20 members of Ansar al-Sharia were present in the province, which until now has seen no militant activity.

“The security apparatus in the province of Taiz has discovered the presence of 20 militants from Ansar al-Sharia in the Mawiyah district. Security is working to pursue these elements and arrest them,” the ministry said on its website.

The United States has stepped up air strikes against suspected members of al Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing since President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was elected in February after months of protests that pushed the country to the brink of civil war.

Military sources said troops were also closing in on the militant stronghold of Jaar and the Abyan provincial capital of Zinjibar. Residents of Jaar said dozens of families were fleeing the town in anticipation of further violence as the army drew nearer.

The Yemeni delegation of the Red Cross urged all sides to protect non-combatants, expressing concern at reports civilian areas had been targeted. Six civilians were killed in a Yemeni air force strike on Tuesday.

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African refugees stuck at #Yemen-#Saudi border

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SANA’A — The Yemeni Interior Ministry has highlighted humanitarian abuses that African refugees undergo at various smuggling points along the Saudi-Yemeni border.

At these border crossings, particularly in Harad city, the African stowaways to Saudi Arabia have become easy prey for human trafficking gangs.

The gangs torture the refugees and make them call their relatives living in Saudi Arabia or in any other country to send them money.

The Ministry of Interior said last Thursday that a convoy of eight armed vehicles had stormed smugglers’ courtyards in the Harad directorate.

The raid resulted in the freeing of 89 African hostages, among whom there were 76 Somalis, a Nigerian man, six Nigerian women and six Sudanese. Five smugglers were captured in the security operation.

The Interior Ministry further added on its website that the investigation led to a deeper understanding of the refugees’ suffering and more specifically how they were subject to extortion and blackmail by smugglers who forced them to call their relatives to send money.

Full story on Yemen Times.

#Yemen: Seriously Hopeless or Hopelessly Serious?

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Yemen Revolutionary Nobel Laureate Tawakkol Karman

As protests which began in February 2011 seeking change, morphed through demanding the ouster of Saleh’s regime, and now demand transparent justice continue, Al Jazeera interviews Prime Minister Mohammed Salim Basindawa and Nobel Laureate activist Tawakkol Karman to review the situation in Yemen.

Basindawa seems woefully unprepared for the questions about the GCC deal, meeting protesters’ demands, foreign policy and the Al Qaeda issue. When it gets to the Houthi unrest in the north, he abruptly ends the discussion. It seems very much as though Basindawa had agreed to the interview in the expectation he would be promoting the work of the government rather than responding to criticism.

Yemen Prime Minister Mohammed Salim Basindawa

Ms Karman is as usual unequivocal about the situation in Yemen: protesters are resolute in their decision to continue the revolution, and to monitor the new government throughout its two-year probation. She reminds us that, while supportive of the transitional government, the GCC deal was never accepted by the people, and they will not yield on the need to address a multitude of social and political issues. The activist also highlights the responsibility of the international community to lend their support.

The continued influence of Saleh and his network clearly casts a long shadow over the future of Yemen: Tawakkol Karman believes Saleh is deliberately stirring instability and trying make good on his promise to turn the country into another Somalia, and Basindawa admitted that Saleh still has strong influence, especially through his family’s control of sections of the military and security.

Tea and prayers. Meeting #alQaeda in #Yemen

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A leader of Al Qaeda speaks to the press. In the picture Demotix correspondent in Yemen during a short interview at Azzan South Yemen.

This is a first-person report posted by a Demotix photo-journalist in Yemen, Saleh Maglam. I have tried to leave his text intact, while separating it into paragraphs for readability.

There was an air raid of the U.S. unmanned aircraft targeted a car carrying 3 people from al-Qaeda in the city of Shibuya Azzan in South Yemen, hours after I was there in the heart of the event.
We arrived at noon to the city of Azzan that Al Qaeda control of it since 3 months and converted to the Islamic state under the rule of al-Qaeda.

When you enter the city we have seen cars carrying armed groups of al-Qaeda as they roam the streets of the city, the spectrum for the purpose of securing the city, according to the citizen Nasser Almkhor of the sons of the city, He told us that the city’s population exodus Daw trip in anticipation of the outbreak of the war on al Qaeda here, especially after the aggravation of air strikes and raids targeting al-Qaeda center of vital places in the city, sent fear and anxiety in the hearts of the citizens.

He told us one of the citizens advise you that I imagine it is a piece a danger you said another citizen if you want photography might shoot you by the crumbs have pointed his finger towards a security patrol with an armed group of al-Qaeda, we stayed in the city for 3 hours under the heat of the sun and we are looking for a safe place to start our press releases, at half past three pm there was a car four-wheel drive in the form of an ambulance taking place in the streets and called out over loudspeakers to announce the time for Asr prayer continue to appeal through the loudspeaker of citizens for them to go to the mosque to perform the Asr prayer.

After the Asr prayer we decided to go to the adventure We went to the media center to al-Qaeda, made of wood and sheet tin, there’ve met a young and handsome appearance told him that we are on a mission press the Btgeradna of all our papers supporting and Card Application employer journalist told him that it is not available to us after a request to wait a bit and returned to us after a quarter hours to Astahibna to an unknown destination.

We walked on foot in the road told us that he called Eboumhmed have tried to assure us that things will be okay probably tried to absorb the fear, then we got to near the military barracks said now you can imaging when necessary imaging TVA come have appeared to us a group masked men carrying light and medium weapons shouted one of them wait to imagine they were drinking tea and then they asked me to come and access to military barracks to drink tea with them.

I felt a bit concerned I tried Astltafhm I said thank you for no need I’m in a hurry I have important work should be completed quickly, but they insisted all of them to me in the barracks, which They were holed up in which I told them I am afraid that cost me a cup of tea my life may come a plane without a pilot to aim the barracks and lose my life with you I am a journalist not to blame me, then blew up laughing to hear my talk.

I went in and sat on the ground gave me one cup of tea milk they are young to Atifon in the form of ghosts aged between 18-25 years, conducted a short interview with their leader, who was sitting next to me left I asked him about the nature of their relationship with people and why there was a merger of the community with them?

He said that there is an understanding between them and the people here, especially in light of the work of al-Qaeda to provide services to the people said we are applying the law of God has told us an example where he said yesterday, we apply the al-Shara on a person drunk where we have his life for forty lashes according to the provisions of Islamic law, he said.

We came out of the military barracks at another place I have Aqtadenei (Eboumhmed) to the car Suzuki small size was inside two of the young al-Qaeda asked me Eboumhmed climb into the car.

I felt scared Ajtahani maybe I imagined it would be a journey of death, accompanied by (the ghosts of the rule) but I rejected the piece I they must forgive me I prefer to walk on foot, because I got to the car could put my life in danger.

We have resumed the man, Abu Mohammed walk after we left the car we walked for a distance of 5 km Aqtadenei Eboumhmed to the streets in the background during the walked in the way you held a conversation with him

I asked him about the position of al-Qaeda of revolutions Arab spring, especially against the regime in Yemen said this Alandma agent of America has misrepresented the Arab peoples of the Islamic religion of these systems have been applied all Maatmlah the U.S. policy we want to implement Islamic law.

In answering a question about how to read al-Qaeda elements of U.S. policy toward al-Qaeda? He said America has always relied in dealing with al Qaeda on the policy of separating the base for Islamic societies American policy is always classified as al-Qaeda as an entity eccentric and not related to the lives of Arab society and Islamic world.

We completed the dialog when we got to the place told us that Abu Mohammed that site air strike targeted three of al-Qaeda yesterday evening (Friday), including an explosives expert Syrian, and two Yemenis, one of them named Abu Hamza also told us is no longer the car found in the place They have withdrawn to a secret location not see is parts of the car’s tires, ash and coal black fragments volatile.

On the wall of the house opposite to place the air strike, the sun on Saturday is about to sunset I said to leave me long distance and flight search tired for a car take me to return to the points of which I came of them, dark and still their cars with black roaming the streets for a moment the ears of Morocco I was in distress.

Search for a car to travel and leave the city for Manna one patrol base was on board, about a dozen young, masked and armed men came to me shouted one of them to me, saying it was time for Maghrib prayer you have to go unless we will Bokhzk to the prison complied with it.

After the prayer crept in the darkness and found the taxi left the city Azzan and the ghosts of Al Qaeda is still moving amid the darkness of the city center can see you this darkness to blazing light of the future? Question I’ve been throughout my way back from a trip with the ghosts of death that I felt it in all my movements Ajtahani with al-Qaeda, I returned from my trip if I created from a new and perhaps wrote me a new life.

Saleh Maglam | Demotix.com.

News and Updates 1 March 2012

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Last Hope

March of Last Hope Nouadhibou to Nouakchott

March of Last Hope - 400 km from Nouadhibou to Nouakchott

The 400km “March of Last Hope” by activists from Nouadhibou to Nouakchott, Mauritania has started on schedule, joined by trade unionists, teachers, businessmen and other citizens. As happened last year in Nouakchott with the February 25 Movement, fake flyers using the group’s logo were being circulated in Nouadhibou by regime supporters trying to undermine the activists. After 42km the march has stopped for the night. Tomorrow they resume the long walk to Nouakchott. I am concerned for their safety, in case the regime sends thugs to attack while they sleep, but knowing that some 25 Fev movement activists are with them gives me confidence, because I know they will mount guards in shifts throughout the night.

Last Days

Kidnapped gendarme Ely Ould Mokhtar

Kidnapped gendarme Ely Ould Mokhtar

UPDATE 03:00 2 March: Report (no link yet) that a news site has reported the government has decided to make the prisoner swap to save gendarme Ely Ould Mokhtar.


This is perhaps the last day of young gendarme Ely Ould Mokhtar, kidnapped from his post by AQIM in December 2011. The AQIM issued a message giving the authorities an ultimatum to release two AQIM prisoners shortly after the incident. The official response was chilling; they said a gendarme knows that death is a work hazard, and they would not be taking any action.  On 11 February 2012, they restated their demands and gave the government 20 days to respond or they would execute Ely. Activists, human rights organizations, politicians, officials, family and friends have all protested to the Mauritanian government demanding action, but without success. The only faint glimmer of hope comes via an opposition figure who may have been able to get a message to AQIM through an intermediary, and is rumoured to be hopeful that the execution will at least be postponed, perhaps the gendarme’s life may even be spared.

52nd State

A Yemen MP has questions for the PM about a group of prisoners seen in a car belonging to the Ministry of Intelligence being taken into the US Embassy building in Sana’a for questioning by US intel agents. (Qatar is the 51st state).

Chickenfeed

Chicken Suit

Mauritania is trying to make sense of the governments efforts to combat the effects of drought and price increases, but the stated plans are impossible to reconcile with experience on the ground. The new shops that were to be opened are fewer than expected, and provide perhaps half of the promised provisions. The allocations of feed for livestock are being treated as a joke: for example, 200 grams of feed per day for a cow, less than the amount allocated for a sheep and, as one wag put it, not even enough for a chicken!

 


Whisper-soft Coup

The government of Mauritania lost its legitimacy in November 2011, when the mandate of the last election expired, yet continues to rule the country and has postponed the elections indefinitely. The failed national registration scheme was supposed to underpin the election process. As the prospect of elections has faded, the campaign that raged from April 2011 with accusations of racism in the national registration process has fallen into silence.  It is widely accepted that the government tries to create division using racist propaganda, and so I am left with serious doubts about some of the motivating forces that were helping to propel the “Don’t Touch My Nationality” campaign. No doubt there was (is?) a solid core of genuine activists involved, but infiltration and subversion are common issues for all activist groups in Mauritania. It’s quite frustrating that a year after the first protests of 25 February 2011, there is still a lack of unison. The wounds inflicted by traitors who were too easily coaxed to side with the government,  infiltrators who acted as regime agents, and the splinter groups spawned in response to the inevitable erosion of trust, have yet to heal. Several groups still act independently of one another, and in such a small country this has a massive dampening effect on all forms of protest.

The current main preoccupations of this super-soft coup administration are a dance of calling for dialogue between the opposition and the majority members of parliament while cramming as many legislative and constitutional changes as  possible into the political vacuum. While these activities provide a distraction, behind the scenes the junta is busy in almost back-to-back meetings on regional security, dozens of US troops have been in Atar for over a month, and the FBI has opened an office in Nouakchott. . Tonight there is a TV programme planned to discuss the latest constitutional changes. Just as with the dialog and the conference called this week, many members of the opposition have chosen to boycott the TV debate. The problem with boycotting every debate is that the opposition are denying themselves the opportunity to confront the administration on any of the important issues, and denying citizens the chance to witness it. Fortunately, some of the die-hards attended and made good use of the platform to make strong statements about the current situation and to demand an end to military rule.

The fact that the government has not got a valid mandate is inescapable. Yet international governments and organisations continue to deal with Aziz and his colleagues, because it serves their interests to do so. They are corrupt to the core, yet Transparency International gives them the thumbs up. They are reckless in their lack of care for the environment in mining, fishing, agriculture, water supply, education, infrastructure, and electricity, yet are never called to account. Food and fuel price inflation is growing faster than ever, yet the IMF has only praise for their performance. The entire country is in hock to the international community for billions, yet all the government does to service this debt is make minimal interest payments. Peaceful protests are met with violent repression, activists arrested and tortured, yet president of Tunisia and former human rights advocate Moncef Marzouki treats Aziz as though he was the product of a successful revolution instead of the reason for one. This past month Mauritania’s insatiable dictatorship has gone all out to secure sufficient refugees from Mali on their territory to bring more sources of funding and food to increase the opportunities for plunder.

 


More weapons and Kofi Anan heading to Syria, as UK evacuates embassy
Apart from the stain of corruption on his history, it bothers me to see Kofi Anan chatting happily with Iran FM Salehi in Geneva in this video describing his mission to Syria as joint Arab League and UN envoy. Most intriguing is the report that 120 French troops have been captured by regime forces in the Zabadani region (near the border with Lebanon), and which has not received any official response as yet. I saw another similar report on 28 Feb which claimed either 12 or 19 French soldiers had been captured in Syria. If either report was true the Syrian regime would be beaming the pictures all round the world 24 hours a day.

 


US gov pays $5million bail for 16 NGO suspects as the final 7 leave Egypt

Seven Americans on trial over charges their pro-democracy groups fomented unrest flew out of Egypt Thursday after the U.S. posted nearly $5 million in bail for them and nine others who managed to leave before a travel ban was imposed following a crackdown on pro-democracy and human rights groups by the Egyptian government.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland expressed relief that the Americans were free, but she pointedly noted that no decision has been made about the $1.3 billion in military aid and $250 million in economic assistance slated for Egypt this year. Nuland pointed out that the 16 Americans facing charges are not expected to return to Egypt, but their trial has not been called off. After the first session Sunday, it was adjourned until April, and that ruling still stands.