Thursday, December 31, 2009

Conflict in Yemen Intensifies As More People Flee

Lisa Schlein | Geneva 31 December 2009

Photo: AP
A Yemeni refugee woman washes clothes at the Mazraq Refugee Camp in northern Yemen, 11 Dec 2009

The International Committee of the Red Cross reports conditions are continuing to deteriorate in northern Yemen where fighting between the government and al-Houthi rebels has been raging for the past five months. A Red Cross official tells VOA large numbers of civilians continue to flee the conflict zone in search of safety.

The Red Cross says civilians trapped in conflict in northern Yemen are finding it hard just to survive. It says many people leave their homes and their belongings behind in a desperate attempt to find safety.

ICRC spokesman, Marcel Izard, tells VOA in just the past two days about 2,000 new people have fled to Saada city. He says such a large exodus indicates a lot of fighting is going on.

"You have some people who are fleeing, obviously who are coming now into these huge camps that are centered in Saada city and outside the city and other places as well. And, you have other people who are too scared to flee because fighting is really taking place very close to the villages and who do not know what will happen to them if they flee," said Izard.

Fighting between the government and al-Houthi rebels has been going on since 2004. This latest wave of fighting erupted in August. Since then, aid agencies have been urgently appealing to the international community for support in assisting the civilians caught in the middle. But, the response has been very poor.

Since the recent aborted terrorist attack on a Delta airliner, worldwide attention has focused on Yemen because of the alleged al-Qaida connection.

While this issue is separate from the fighting in northern Yemen, Izard says he hopes some of this attention will be paid to that conflict. He notes people are in desperate need of assistance. They lack water, food and other essentials.

He says all of northern Yemen is a combat zone. He says the fighting keeps shifting from one place to another adding to the uncertainties and instability in the region.

"People have been displaced four, five times in a row. People cannot even resettle in an area because once they are in one camp in one area, it might happen to them that fighting reaches this area as well and suddenly they have to move again, which is one of the solutions," he said. "People see what they are facing and they are on the constant move and they do not really feel safe anywhere where they are. And, now it is winter. Even in Yemen it is wintertime. It is cold in the nighttime, so it is also a very difficult time for them."

The International Committee of the Red Cross says dozens of civilians reportedly have been killed or injured in attacks in several parts of Saada governorate. It says it has not been able to verify this information because of lack of access to the areas.

Since mid-August, the Red Cross says at least 150,000 people have been affected by the armed conflict. It says around half of them are internally displaced.

Copied courtesy of Voice of America (See this link):

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The illogic of the American intervention in Yemen

Hassan Al-Haifi

Has US policy in the Middle East witnessed any significant changes from its stale and fumbling ways, which many said characterized the erratic policies of the Bush Administration? The keen observer would be inclined to suggest that, if anything, the Obama Administration may be under greater pressure to fall into misguidance and ill conceived purposes, since it apparently lacks clearly defined ideological foundations to guide it in the formulation of its foreign policies. In this context then, it was easier to rationalize the policies pursued by the Bush Administration, although their justification is open to great questioning. Furthermore, the Bush Administration never made suggestions that they are pursuing a do good policy that is enamored with ethics and respect for human rights. On the contrary they stubbornly held on to a determination to use any means possible to achieve their objectives, regardless of the consequences of their tactical approaches. So, it was clear that "collateral damage" and the suppression of civil liberties and the untold human suffering that went with pursuing the objectives of the various tightly netted institutions that staunchly stood behind the Bush Administration were of little concern to former President Mr. Bush and his staff.

When Mr. Barrack Obama was aggressively campaigning for the highest office in the United States, he sought to portray a forthcoming Administration that would put the United States back on to a course that would make its leadership constructive in bringing about world peace and ceasing unnecessary bloodshed, especially for the mostly discontented peoples of the Third World. Realistically speaking, it would be foolish to think that Obama was a miracle maker who could take his wand and point to a map or a chart showing one of the predicaments facing his Administration and move it right or left to remove all the issues pertaining to the location in question or the report under discussion. Moreover, it would not be fair to suggest that Obama was insincere in his campaign pledges or promises or even the image he was seeking to project of himself.
It is for the American people to judge President Obama on his accomplishments at the home front, in terms of delivering on his promises of controlling government spending, rehabilitating the economic and financial environment, reforming the health sector and raising the standard and quality of education in the United States, among other issues of pertinence to the American people.
However, as far as his foreign policy agenda is concerned, the Obama Administration should begin to score itself on the achievements made since taking the oath of the Presidency of the United States and determine if it is on the road to turning his promises of engagement and rapport with the Moslem World into a tangible reality, which the Moslems of the world have yet to see. The progress in the Middle East has yet to be contemplated, let alone realized. The Israelis are not even proceeding with caution as they aggressively carry out their designs for turning the idea of a Palestinian entity beside them into no more than a rapidly fading dream buried by continuing construction of Israeli settlements. The dire situation of the Palestinians in Gaza is reaching tragic proportions, with a severe siege, now even bolstered by neighboring Arab states – with Washington's prodding.
On the anti-terrorism war front, it appears that the forces of terrorism are indeed actually gaining ground as the United States beefs up its efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Needless to say, even if Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan are both erased from the maps, this would still not bring the end of terrorism as a continuing international phenomenon. That is not where terrorism began, nor from where it obtains its continuing generous funding, which the opium trade alone would not be enough to support. Having said that, one would think that the Obama Administration would first of all seek to be familiar with the background of this mostly theatrical phenomenon of Al-Qaeda and how and where it first developed and how it spread dramatically throughout the world. One thing that is for certain is that it is safe to assume that the hundreds of civilian casualties (around 400 civilian fatalities this last month alone, including 120 Government prisoners of war being held by the Houthis) that are now dying in Sa'ada Governorate, to which some have alluded to US bombardment or rocket/drone attacks, are innocent of any form of terrorism – and especially of the Al-Qaeda genre. In addition, the recent attacks on so called AQ elements have been no more than theatrical works of tragic consequences for the mostly innocent Bedouin civilians that were hit instead of the AQ operatives the Yemeni Government claimed were targeted by the Abyan and Shabwa attacks (some claim to have been carried out with direct US involvement and not just blessing). The so called AQ operatives presumably targeted actually showed up on television the next couple of days promising their revenge on the "Americans, but not the Yemeni forces", as they stated (See also this link:,0,6789406.story) .
Another disturbing aspect of US policy vis a vis the current situation in Yemen, is that there is some suggestion that the US assistance to the current Yemeni and Saudi drives against the Houthis in Sa'ada is meant to allow the Government a free hand to deal with the AQ, once the Houthis have been subdued once and for all. The observer is baffled by this kind of logic, since the AQ and their like have been having a relatively free hand in Yemen (and of course Saudi Arabia, the original homeland of all extremist Jihadists cultures now thriving all over the world) to grow and multiply with little interference from the Yemeni Government, when both of its hands were for the most part untied for more than thirty years. Surely, this was not without the knowledge of US intelligence then and now. So why the innocent people of Sa'ada should be the victims of a misguided US policy, which was lobbied for, but apparently rejected by the former Bush Administration, is certainly worthy of further study.

Yemen Times
Issue 1324 dd 28 12 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Unhappy Arabia: Where the Hot Wind Blows

By: Hassan Al-Haifi

The War in Sa'ada has now practically turned into a full blown regional confrontation with the balance of power seemingly in an awkward position. It is now certain that the leaders on both sides of the "international" divide that represents the de facto border between the Republic of Yemen and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have stumbled into a fiasco that reflects their poor intellect at knowing their own strengths. Time and again, this observer has warned that this kind of spontaneous decision making only leads to disaster and more chaos than both of the regimes in Riyadh and Sana'a have ever conjured up throughout the years of their unholy existence and they have indeed been the source of havoc in more than one region and not just country. It is inescapably unforgivable to sit and watch these two regimes plunge the good peoples of both Yemen and Saudi Arabia into relentless warfare that satisfies the drives of no one except the ever hungry warlords of both countries, who never seem to have enough of anything. It is easy to see that these warlords have eaten a lot of the good resources of this bountiful peninsula and shed the blood of its inhabitants and the inhabitants of other lands in fruitless adventures from New York City to Kandahar, not to mention the Wars in Iraq, Chechnya, Somalia and every little niche where so called Al-Qaeda and other corny named clandestine operatives are unleashing their blood poisoning verve of hate, sadism and masochism. One cannot help but wonder at the might of the Al-Mighty as he has turned this sanctified Peninsula into a graveyard for those who seek to turn it into a bastion of evil when the Lord Al-Mighty had ordained that it should be a land of holiness, spiritual respite and eternal peace. No, this is not an attempt to cry wolf in support of any particular ideology. These are inescapable observation of the facts of life that are unfolding daily to show that those who forget the true might of the Divine and seek to arrange an unholy partnership of their scheming with the wonderful workings of the Lord have no place in the destiny of mankind as the Lord Al-Mighty had laid out when the First Man laid his feet on this Earth after ignoring the Early warnings of the Al-Mighty to those who set aside God's warnings of the evil inclinations of Satan and their own ignorance.
Now that the War in Sa'ada is beginning to penetrate to the inner depths of the Saudi Kingdom, it is time to recall that reason is better than the reliance on spontaneous whims driven by narrow-minded interests that have no regard for the right of human beings to live in peace. These vagabonds have ignored the rights of all the inhabitants of this richly endowed peninsula to enjoy the unlimited wealth and bounty the Lord has exclusively granted to the Holy Land where His prophets trekked and toiled as they strove to bring humanity onto the right path He has solely ordained for humanity to trek on. It is sad to think that these misfits have thought that they can bear the banner of Allah Al-Mighty and kill and plunder in His name without being subject to accountability by their very Creator. But the ignoramuses who have been spreading the evil work of the devil far and wide have always been the worst victims of their own undertakings as the wrath of the Al-Mighty is unleashed upon them from where they least expect it.One is bound to keep one's eyes open wide as the events of the next few weeks and months unfold as one watches the folly of human judgment reap its unholy harvest against those who have forgotten that mankind deserves to be spared the horrible renditions of running the affairs of their own kind, which they have adopted for no one's sake except to fulfill their ego driven inclinations of infidelity to the teachings of the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Holy Quran throughout this world. Yes, the War in Sa'ada is proving to be more than just a mere rebellion of a gang of "Believing Youth" or "Infiltrators". Whether they liked it or not, the instigators of this most phenomenal of confrontations have dug their own inescapable pits of the folly of their doings as they suffer defeat upon defeat by unusually highly skilled heretofore unknown masters of the Art of War, which the rulers of Sana'a and Riyadh are the last to know about mastering, although they purport to be its sole masters and propagators.

Yemen Times Issue 1320 dd 14 December 2009

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Mohammed Abdul-Wahhab Jubarri: Tribute to A Great Yemeni Achiever – A Great Friend

By: Hassan Al-Haifi

This observer often finds that it is difficult to share feelings about someone who meant so much to him. For thirty-three years Mohammed Abdul-Wahhab was a very important part of this observer’s life that it would be difficult to ascertain what course life would have taken had not the life of Mr. Jubarri crossed paths with the life of this humble observer. For sure it could not have been anywhere near surpassing the great realm of culture and scholasticism that spewed from this great Yemeni thinker, scholar, politician, economist, businessman, philanthropist, innovator, organizer, father, brother and friend. In all the latter, Mr. Jubarri was unequalled in presenting novel contributions to the lives of all the people that were touched by his deeds and he was unequalled in the finesse by which he translated his ideas into a functioning reality that reflected the broad outlook and wide horizons that were so much an indivisible part of his intellect.

Mr. Jubarri was someone whose achievements as a public servant favorably touched on a wide variety of people from the complex demographic and social mix that make up the Yemeni people, guided only by a desire to serve and turn ideals into a discernible reality that reflected the genius of the man as an exploiter of all the social, economic and political venues to turn these ideals into working social institutions that enriched lives and improved standards of living, not to mention making economic resources accessible to all those who desired to improve their lives.

Jubarri was one of the first modern technocrats that Yemen produced – a product of grinding traditional learning that only the once unequalled Zeidi schools of Dhamar and Sana’a could produce, before developing all the elements of modern scholastic achievement that Egypt was unequalled in achieving in the Early 1950s.

Concentrating on economics and law, his modern education led Mohammed Jubarri to become one of the best organizers of private and public enterprises in Yemen and almost three fourths of the active economic and social institutions that exist today were in one way or another touched by his inputs and ideas, if he himself was not the finder of such institutions.

On the social and political front, Mr. Jubarri was at ease with all the elements that make up the Yemeni socio-political fabric and was a mover of several institutional frameworks that could have been great initiatives have they been allowed to go their normal unobstructed course. His relations with all the people that worked with him or with whom he dealt were always marked with a strange aura of charismatic affinity that almost made one feel that this man simply cannot go wrong.

That is when one looks at the renown public figure that Jubarri had inescapably become as the Chief Executive Officer of several economic institutions and an active member of the Board of Directors of several others, not to mention the most successful Minister of Economy and Trade that Yemen ever had and other leading senior political responsibilities, such as the Mayor of the City of Sana’a. But to those who were close to Mr. Jubarri all of that was second billing.

Mr. Jubarri to the latter was more of a father, a teacher, a model of good and an outspoken defender of truth, human rights and freedom. A man of faith, Mr. Jubarri never let his great power in the political and economic environ overtake any of his down to earth humility, remembering that the power of the Al-Mighty surpassed all human power by leaps and bounds and that indeed mankind is beholden to the Lord for all their attributes and fortunes in life.

Moreover, Jubarri often considered that misfortune is more a product of the evil of men than the blind wrath of the Lord against those who have lost touch with the awesome powers of the Devine. He had a profound merciful outlook on the follies of human power and never let his stature among men get to his head. He vocally spoke his mind and never tried to brown nose any figures of leadership to advance his own cause. He often had to face disappointments in standing up for the most humble of the oppressed against the mightiest of political and social figures, who have forgotten that they are also weak human beings in the end, no more - no less.
But to those who were his friends, Jubarri was the faithful friend, who would never turn down a friend in need and he was always there to the rescue whenever any of his friends were in the most difficult of situations, often without such friends even knowing the source of their liberation from despair.
May God bless the soul of this most phenomenal of Yemeni public leaders and Yemen will never be the same without him. For sure his friends will not be either.

Yemen Times
December 2, 2009

Friday, December 04, 2009

Amnesty International: Saudi Arabian Authorities Must Investigate Reported Killing of Civilians in Yemen

2 December 2009
Amnesty International has urged the Saudi Arabian authorities to investigate the reported killing of seven civilians in an air raid attack in the Sa’da region of Yemen.The Saudi Arabian Air Force reportedly dropped three bombs on a family home in the vicinity of Mithab on Monday, in what may have been a deliberate attack. It is unclear whether armed fighters were present at the house or in its vicinity at the time of the attack.Three children and four women from the 'Amer family are said to have been killed in the explosions, which also injured at least nine other civilians. Fighting between Yemeni government forces and supporters of the late Shi’a cleric Hussein al-Houthi spilled over into Saudi Arabia in November, leading Saudi Arabian forces to become directly engaged against the Yemeni rebels. "It appears that the ‘Amer family house may have been deliberately targeted by the Saudi Arabian Air Force as it was struck three times in quick succession," said Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Director, Malcolm Smart. "In the absence of information indicating that armed al-Houthi rebels were operating inside the house or in its vicinity, we are seriously concerned that civilians may have been directly attacked." Amnesty International has urged Saudi Arabia’s Defence minister Prince Sultan bin ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Al-Saud to ensure that Saudi Arabian forces take all possible steps to ensure protection of civilians caught up in the conflict in Sa'da."We have asked the Saudi Arabian government to indicate what steps they are taking both to investigate this reported incident and, more generally, to ensure that all possible protection is afforded to civilians caught up in the conflict area in Yemen and along Saudi Arabia’s southern border," said Malcolm Smart.The three children reported to have been killed in the attack have been named as Hussein ‘Amer Muthana ‘Amer, Ameen Muthana ‘Amer and Hussein Hadi ‘Abdullah ‘Amer.In addition, four women from the same family - Nashra Hadi Zaid, Fatima Muthana ‘Amer, Ramia ‘Ali Muthana ‘Amer and Hindah Muthana ‘Amer – are reported to have been killed by the three bombs that struck home in Sa’da’s al-‘Ammar District. The conflict in Yemen’s Sa’da region began in 2004 and has continued intermittently since then. Fighting intensified last August since when thousands of the region’s predominantly Sh’ia population have been forcibly displaced and scores, possibly hundreds, of people have been killed.

Read More
Saudi Arabian and Yemeni forces must protect civilians in Sa’da conflict
(News, 11 November 2009) --------------------------------------------------------
West Gulf TeamMiddle East and North Africa Programme
Amnesty InternationalInternational Secretariat
1 Easton StreetLondon WC1X 0DWUnited Kingdom

Soccer is More Important than Real National (Arab) Issues: The Pathetic State of the Nation

By: Hassan Al-Haifi

All this incomprehensible raucous about the Soccer games between Egypt and Algeria cannot help but make the observer wonder at the real pathetic state of the Arab Nation, as a whole and as individual states. This entire silly tic for tat on the claimed superiority of local “national” soccer teams makes the observer wonder if there is any more reason to display any semblance of pride in being associated with this helpless nation of demagogues for worthless causes, which it has become. But what can the latter do, except hope that the Al-Mighty cleanse the capitals of the Arab World of its impotent leaderships. It is not enough that most of these leaderships are hardly possessive of any education beyond the substandard level, let alone any taint of culture breeding. Even at the collective level, we have an Arab League that has been immersed into the abyss of failure, thanks to the ineffectual and remote controlled guidance of Amr Moussa, who has to date not produced any degree of bringing the organization to any level of regional recognition or even allegiance to national causes, which the Arab League is supposed to sponsor. Moreover, the Arab League has become weaker in speaking out for the issues that are most troubling to the Arab people as a whole: Palestine, Somalia, North Africa (Polesrios), the War in Sa’ada (despite six rounds of bloody warfare that has brought on the rise of over two hundred thousand “internally displaced persons”), and the Sudan and all its internal conflicts. This is not to mention that the Arab League has not shown any suggestion that it is even seeing what is going on in Iraq now for close to a decade. Even this current stupidity over the World Cup Elimination Playoffs, for which no one hardly expects any of the fierce combatants – either Egypt or Algeria - in this recent brawl to ever reach as a contentious team for the world title anyway.When one looks at the map of the Arab World, whether as shown by Google Earth or as the Sykes-Picot and the Balfour Promise and all the other international or regional agreements have laid out the Arab World, we see rivers of blood flowing in all the valleys and rivers that crisscross this make-believe jigsaw puzzle of nationhood. However, thanks to greater communications and easier access to the various channels for information exchange, the people of the Arab World are slowly become more informant about the follies of their leaders across the Arab World. Moreover, it is more easier to see that most of the leaderships in the region are closed narrow-minded societies that mainly work for the enrichment of their bona fide members, who have either reached their positions by means of their clan association, or for acting as agents of other regional or international cliques, and have no sense of the real implications of government of the people, for the people and from the people. In fact they hardly recognize that leadership means delivery of certain tangible and intangible results for their peoples, ethical and professional performance at all levels and in all sectors of public administration, freedom from the influence of traitorous military establishments or dubious partisan associations that have for the most part brought more hell to their people than meaningful governance.This is the only hope that one has for the future, for the current situations throughout the Arab World are no indications at all of any hope to rest with the existing quagmire of impotent leaderships now riding on the necks of their people without even paying any fare! However, there is still the disconcerted state of the Arab “masses” or the “people of the street”. These people have lost their balance, as a result of all the state machineries of oppression and persecution, which have been reoriented to serve the selfish aspirations of the incompetent leaderships that hold the helms of authority throughout the more than twenty “states” that make up this weak and powerless nation.But with this nation itself being a part of a greater Moslem Nation that is composed of emerging powers, such as Turkey, Malaysia, Iran and eventually Pakistan, one is comforted that Allah’s real impression of justice will prevail. In this context, the observer is inclined to suggest that so far most Arab States have no sense of the real values that Islam should espouse, mainly justice for all, the elimination of poverty, the sanctity of life and private property and freedom from all forms of political oppression and religious persecution, not to mention the removal of fictitious borders among fraternal states within the entire Nation of Islam (of course not Elijah Mohammed’s fictitious nation of Islam in America).

Yemen Tines