Revolutionizing Awareness

helping humanity, make choices, more so through awareness, than ignorance

Posts Tagged ‘Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf’

Thousands of Yemenis protest for Saleh to stay out

Posted by Admin on June 7, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110607/wl_nm/us_yemen

By Mohammed Ghobari and Mohammed Mukhashaf 22 mins ago

SANAA (Reuters) – Thousands of protesters gathered in front of the Yemeni vice president’s residence on Tuesday, demanding the acting leader for wounded President Ali Abdullah Saleh form a transitional council to create a new government.

Outside the peaceful protest in the capital of Sanaa, battles raged in a southern town held by Islamist militants.

Around 4,000 demonstrators in Sanaa, who have been calling for Saleh to step down for five months, called for a “million-man march” for him to stay in Saudi Arabia, where he has been treated for injuries since an attack on Friday.

“The people want to form a transitional council, we will not sleep, we will not sit until the council is formed,” the protesters chanted.

Protesters carried banners saying “The blood of the liberated achieved victory,” while others waved banners saying “Our revolution is Yemeni, not Gulf or American.”

“We will remain in front of the residence of the vice president for 24 hours to pressure him for the formation of a transitional council,” youth activist Omar al-Qudsi said.

“The era of Saleh has ended,” he told Reuters.

Saleh, 69, was wounded on Friday when rockets struck his Sanaa palace, killing seven people and wounding senior officials and advisers in what his officials said was an assassination attempt. He is being treated in a Riyadh hospital.

The volatile situation in Yemen, which lies on vital oil shipping lanes, alarms Western powers and neighboring oil giant Saudi Arabia, who fear that chaos would enable the local al Qaeda franchise to operate more freely there.

They see Saleh’s absence for medical treatment in Riyadh as an opportunity to ease the president out of office after nearly 33 years ruling the impoverished Arab nation.

“We are calling for a peaceful and orderly transition,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday.

British Prime Minister David Cameron called Vice President Abu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, appointed by Saleh as acting president, and pushed for a ceasefire.

Hadi has insisted that Saleh would return within days.

Saudi officials say it is up to Saleh whether he returns home or not, but they and their Western allies may want to revive a Gulf-brokered transition deal under which the Yemeni leader would quit in return for immunity from prosecution.

“Saleh’s departure is probably permanent,” said Robert Powell, Yemen analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit.

“The Saudis, as well as the U.S. and European Union, are pushing hard for him to stay in Saudi Arabia, as they view the prospect of his return as a catastrophe.

“Prior to his departure, the country was slipping inexorably into a civil war. However, his removal has suddenly opened a diplomatic window to restart the seemingly failed GCC-mediated proposal. It seems Saudi Arabia and other interested parties are unwilling to allow Saleh to derail it this time.”

CLASHES IN SOUTH

Saudi Arabia is worried by the activities of the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has staged daring if not very effective attacks on Saudi and U.S. targets.

The army said it had killed dozens of Islamist militants including a local al Qaeda leader in the southern town of Zinjibar, capital of the flashpoint Abyan province.

A local official said 15 soldiers had been killed in the battles for control of the town seized by militants some 10 days ago.

Some of Saleh’s opponents have accused the president of deliberately letting AQAP militants take over Zinjibar to demonstrate the security risks if he lost power.

The fighting has reduced Zinjibar, once home to more than 50,000 people, to a ghost town without power or running water.

Fighting also flared again in the city of Taiz, south of Sanaa, where anti-government gunmen have clashed sporadically with troops in the past few days.

A Saudi-brokered truce was holding in the capital after two weeks of fighting between Saleh’s forces and tribesmen in which more than 200 people were killed and thousands forced to flee.

POWER TRANSFER

Saleh has defied pressure to accept the transition plan brokered by the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Three times, he has backed away from signing it at the last minute.

“The transition seems to be on track as per the GCC initiative. There will be many obstacles down the road, but without Saleh’s destructive presence, we can overcome them,” said Yemeni political analyst Abdul-Ghani al-Iryani.

The future of Yemen, where shifting alliances of tribal leaders, generals and politicians compete for power, is uncertain. Saleh’s sons and relatives remain in the country, commanding elite military units and security agencies.

Other contenders in a possible power struggle include the well-armed Hashed tribal federation, breakaway military leaders, Islamists, leftists and an angry public seeking relief from crippling poverty, corruption and failing public services.

Youthful protesters have been celebrating Saleh’s departure, but are wary of any attempt by the wily leader to return.

“In the near term, the biggest challenge is to set up a viable political reform process that has the general backing of the population, and allows Yemen to return to normal after months of unrest,” the EIU’s Powell said.

“In the medium term, Yemen’s biggest challenge is economic — already the poorest country in the Middle East, it is running out of oil and water, and unless it can find alternative drivers of growth an economic collapse is entirely feasible,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Nour Merza in Dubai, Arshad Mohammed in Washington and Alistair Lyon in London; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Jon Hemming)

Advertisements

Posted in Geo-Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Thousands of Yemenis protest for Saleh to stay out

Yemen thrust into deeper uncertainty after Gulf deal falls through

Posted by Admin on May 15, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20110513/wl_csm/383902;_ylt=AgmCcA6REr_zMOzYxWmC7SZvaA8F;_ylu=X3oDMTJkYzI3dTZlBGFzc2V0A2NzbS8yMDExMDUxMy8zODM5MDIEcG9zAzMxBHNlYwN5bl9hcnRpY2xlX3N1bW1hcnlfbGlzdARzbGsDeWVtZW50aHJ1c3Rp

Sanaa, Yemen – When demonstrations began in February aimed at toppling long-ruling President Ali Abdullah Saleh, they were of a humble size, filling only the area immediately outside the entrance to Sanaa University, an area now known as Change Square.

Now as the movement enters its fourth month, the sit-in has swollen to a veritable tent city that stretches nearly two miles, shutting off traffic in a large portion of the nation’s capital and resembling a shantytown. Many tents there have a permanent look, wired for electricity, satellite television and, in many cases, wireless Internet service.

Still, the demonstrators seem no closer to achieving their goal. A supposed agreement that would have had Saleh resign, brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council, appears to have fallen through, with neither the demonstrators nor Saleh willing to support it.

Sign up for our daily World Editor’s Picks newsletter. Our best stories, in your inbox.

“How can anything headed by the GCC lead to democracy,” commented Abdulrahman Abdullah al Kamadi, a demonstrator who has been camped out in the square for over two months.

“The emirates and kingdoms of the GCC are the enemy of any revolution. They cannot even admit what is going on here. This is not a political crisis: this is a revolution.”

‘We have no fear of violence’

On Wednesday, gunfire broke out here as army troops loyal to Saleh moved against the demonstrators in what appeared to be an effort to push them back from the huge swath of territory they’ve claimed over the weeks. More than a dozen protesters were killed in the four-hour firefight, but the pro-Saleh forces gained no ground, and protesters were putting up new structures Thursday.

“We have no fear of violence,” said Bassem Moghram, one the leaders of the young people who make up the heart of the protest movement. “Freedom is not cheap.”

Increasing hardship, uncertainty

Where the protest movement will go is uncertain. Similar tent cities have sprung up in other Yemeni cities, and the political turmoil is showing itself in growing hardship for the average Yemeni.

Gas rationing, water shortages and power outages have become commonplace in many parts of the country; and the cost of food has risen, as the value of the Yemeni rial has plunged.

RELATED: As Yemenis run low on gas and food, revolution could take off

Yemen’s oil industry has been particularly affected; with production dropping nearly 50 percent, the result of damaged pipelines and the temporary closure of some oil facilities.

Amir al Aydarous, the country’s oil minister, recently told the state-run news agency that continued unrest could lead to “catastrophe beyond imagination.” Yemen’s modest oil reserves provide nearly 70 percent of the government’s revenues.

A largely leaderless movement

The movement itself remains largely leaderless. While some of the demonstrators are affiliated with opposition parties, most continue to fiercely assert their independence. Images of slain former President Ibrahim al Hamdi, who ran the country from 1974 to 1977, far outnumber images of current opposition leaders.

“We will talk about parties when we are talking about elections,” said Ibrahim Yayha al Kulani. “Until then, we will remain one united front, not differentiating between party, region or sect.”

Various self-described “revolutionary youth committees” have sprouted in different areas of Yemen. Notably, the past weeks have seen growing cooperation between groups in different cities, culminating in the formation this week of a single, nationwide “Media Council of the Revolution.” Another group, the Supreme Coordination Council of the Revolution, has called for a series of marches, strikes and camp expansions, culminating in a march Tuesday on the Presidential Palace.

US role

For its part, the US, for which Saleh has been a key ally in the war on terror, and the European Union remain supportive of the GCC plan, which would grant Saleh immunity from prosecution for the hundreds of deaths suffered in the crackdown on the protests. The young people who’ve remained camped out in protest reject that idea in particular, and many Yemen observers believe the GCC plan is doomed.

“It is a mistake for the United States to continue to let the GCC take the lead on this, both for the future of Yemen as well as for U.S. security interests,” commented Gregory Johnsen, a Yemen scholar at Princeton University. “The US must take the lead in constructively shaping a post-Saleh Yemen.”

Others say the US support for any plan makes it unworkable.

“This is not even just a GCC plan,” said Feris al Areeqi, a professor of engineering at Sanaa University. “This is a GCC-EU-USA plan. How can they intervene positively when they have supported Saleh?”

(Baron is a McClatchy special correspondent.)

Posted in Geo-Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Yemen thrust into deeper uncertainty after Gulf deal falls through

Economic Roots of Bahrain’s Crisis and a Needed GCC Response

Posted by Admin on March 27, 2011

http://www.truth-out.org/economic-roots-bahrain%E2%80%99s-crisis-and-a-needed-gcc-response68782

Monday 21 March 2011

by: James Zogby  |  Arab American Institute | News Analysis

All too frequently these days, I am asked whether our past polling at Zogby International gave us any advance clues to the uprisings that have occurred in several Arab countries. The answer, of course, is no. We were surprised, as, I believe, were the demonstrators themselves by the outpouring of support and the rapid growth of their movements in Tunisia, Egypt and beyond.

But while our polling couldn’t predict the uprisings, it nevertheless has been helpful in contributing to our understanding of the issues and concerns that define the political landscape in countries across the region.

In preparing for a talk on Bahrain earlier this week, I took a look at a survey of the “middle class” in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain we conducted a few years ago for McKinsey and Company. It was most instructive. What I found, back then, in that in-depth look into the economic status and outlook of Gulf Arabs were yellow flags flying all over our Bahrain data, warning that the country’s citizens were distressed.

Don’t miss a beat – get Truthout Daily Email Updates. Click here to sign up for free.

We found that not only are Bahrain’s neighbors in Saudi Arabia and the UAE wealthier, in terms of macro-economic indicators, their citizens are also more satisfied with their current status and more optimistic about their prospects for the future. Ask the questions “are you better off than your parents were when they were your age” and between two-thirds to three-quarters of Saudis and Emiratis say “yes”. On the other hand, only one-third of Bahrainis would agree that they are better off than their parent’s generation. And when asked whether their children would be better off in the future, more than a half of Saudis and Emiratis agreed that they would be better off, while only 17% of Bahrainis are optimistic about the future of their offspring.

Hard data establishes that Bahrain’s unemployment is significantly more than double that of its neighbors, but this is only part of the story. Most unemployed Saudis and Emiratis report having incomes (with some being fairly substantial coming from family support; others report income from rental properties or investments, etc). And most of those reporting themselves to be “unemployed” in those two countries come from households in which two or more individuals are employed. In Bahrain, on the other hand, most of the unemployed report having no sources of other income, most have no savings, and most come from households where only one person or no one at all is a wage-earner.

One doesn’t have to make the leap to a crude type of economic determinism to conclude that this economic stress in Bahrain would have consequences. Bahrainis report being less satisfied with their jobs and the salaries they receive, and give lower grades to government services than their neighbors in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

While this obvious economic distress in Bahrain is only one factor among others to which one can point in an effort to account for the turmoil in the country – it is a revealing and important factor nonetheless.

The issues of political reform, concerns with discrimination, and government accountability have now been brought to the forefront in Bahrain and are the key agenda items for a much needed national dialogue. But as this broader political discussion advances (and one can only hope that it does), the economic needs of Bahrain’s people should not be ignored. Meeting economic concerns will not substitute for political reform, but not addressing these economic matters will only make advancing on the political front all the harder.

In this area, Bahrain’s neighbors have a key role to play. Earlier this year, Gulf Cooperation Council members made a commitment of long-term financial assistance to Bahrain. And now they have sent troops into the country deepening their commitment to their neighbor and fellow member. More must be done. Bahrain needs help. Just as other GCC countries realized that the long-term standoff that shut down a vital part of the country was not sustainable or constructive, so too they must realize that the government’s crack-down that ended the standoff will also not solve the country’s problems or even contribute to a resolution. An honest, open, and good faith dialogue on all key issues is the only way forward. As that occurs, the GCC can design a more comprehensive economic package for Bahrain – as an incentive to move the reform process forward, as a sign of GCC solidarity with the Bahraini people and government, and as a way of demonstrating that Arab problems can be solved by Arabs.

All republished content that appears on Truthout has been obtained by permission or license.

Posted in Economic Upheavals, Truthout Articles | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Economic Roots of Bahrain’s Crisis and a Needed GCC Response

Bahrain sweeps into protest camp; 6 dead

Posted by Admin on March 16, 2011

02_20_2011_DC Bahrain Protest014.jpg

Bahrain Crisis

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110316/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_bahrain_protests

By BARBARA SURK and REEM KHALIFA, Associated Press Barbara Surk And Reem Khalifa, Associated Press 25 mins ago

MANAMA, Bahrain – Soldiers and riot police used tear gas and armored vehicles Wednesday to drive out hundreds of anti-government protesters occupying a landmark square in Bahrain’s capital, a day after emergency rule was imposed in the violence-wracked Gulf kingdom. At least six people were killed, according to witnesses and officials.

The full-scale assault launched at daybreak swept into Pearl Square, which has been the center of uprising against Bahrain’s rulers since it began more than a month ago. Stinging clouds of tear gas filled streets and black smoke rose from the square from the protesters’ tents set ablaze.

Witnesses said at least two protesters were killed when the square was stormed. Officials at Ibn Nafees Hospital said a third protester later died from gunshot wounds in his back. The witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity because of fears of reprisals from authorities.

Meanwhile, Bahrain state TV also reported that two policemen died when they were hit by a vehicle after anti-government protesters were driven out. The Interior Ministry also at least one other policeman was killed, but did not give the cause.

It was unclear whether the offensive included soldiers from other Gulf nations who were dispatched to help Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy, which has been under relentless pressure from the country’s majority Shiite Muslims to give up its monopoly on power.

But state TV broadcast video showing military vehicles in the square flying Bahrain’s red-and-white flag as security officials moved through the wreckage of the encampment, set up at the base of a towering monument to the country’s history as a pearl diving center. The video showed the ground littered with debris, including satellite dishes and charred tent poles.

Helicopters crisscrossed over the square, which was cleared by security forces late last month but was later retaken by protesters after a deadly confrontation with army units.

Protesters fled for cover into side streets and security forces blocked main roads into Manama. Mobile phones were apparently jammed in central Manama during the height of the attack and Internet service was at a crawl.

Hamid Zuher, a 32-year-old protester who slept at the square, said riot police first moved in on foot through a haze of tear gas, firing in the air.

“They fired tear gas and then opened fire,” Zuher said. “We lifted our arms and started saying ‘Peaceful, Peaceful.’ Then we had to ran away. There was so much tear gas and shooting.”

In Shiite villages, people went to mosques to pray in a sign of protest against the Pearl Square crackdown. Others lit fires in anger. Clashes were reported in other mostly Shiite areas of the country, where traffic was tightly controlled by military forces in an apparent attempt to prevent protest gatherings or a surge of people toward the capital.

The roadblock also kept protesters possibly injured in the Pearl Square raid from reaching the main state hospital, which was working on generator power. The extent of the blackout in Manama was not immediately clear.

The official Bahrain news agency said the emergency rule bans “rallies and disrupting the public order” and imposes “movement restrictions” and possible curfews in some locations.

For Bahrain’s authorities, clearing Pearl Square would be more of a symbolic blow against protesters than a strategic victory as opposition groups are still be able to mobilize marches and other actions against the leadership.

Bahrain’s king on Tuesday declared a three-month state of emergency and instructed the military to battle unrest in the strategic nation, which hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. Shortly after the announcement, clashes erupted across the island nation, killing at least two civilians. Saudi officials also said one of it’s soldiers was killed.

Bahrain’s sectarian clash is increasingly viewed as an extension of the region’s rivalries between the Gulf Arab leaders and Shiite powerhouse Iran. Washington, too, is pulled deeply into the Bahrain’s conflict because of it’s key naval base — the Pentagon’s main Gulf counterweight to Iran’s growing military ambitions.

On Tuesday, Iran and it’s allied force in Lebanon, Hezbollah, denounced the presence of foreign soldiers in Bahrain. Iran has no direct political links with Bahrain’s main Shiite groups, but Iranian hard-liner in the past have called the tiny island nation that “14th Province” of the Islamic Republic.

Gulf rulers, particularly Saudi Arabia, fear that the collapse of Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy could embolden further revolts across the region and embolden the Saudi Shiite minority whose home region is connected to Bahrain by a causeway.

The state of emergency in the U.S.-backed regime gives Bahrain’s military chief wide authority to battle protesters demanding political reforms and equal rights for the majority Shiites.

Also Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rhodium Clinton expressed alarm over “provocative acts and sectarian violence,” and said she telephoned Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saudi to stress the need for the foreign forces to promote dialogue.

“We call for calm and restraint on all sides in Bahrain,” Clinton told reporters in Cairo, where she was urging on democratic currents that chased Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak from power last month.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon authorized military family members and civilians with non-emergency jobs to leave Bahrain as violence spread. A spokeswoman for Bahrain’s Gulf Air, Noof Buallay, said flights were operating normally at Manama’s airport.

The intervention of more than 1,000 Saudi-led troops from several Gulf nations was the first major cross-border military action to challenge one of the revolts sweeping across the Arab world. The Al Khalifa family has ruled Bahrain for 200 years.

The foreign troops are from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council‘s Peninsula Shield Force. The bloc is made up of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — all largely Sunni countries that have nervously watched the Arab world’s protests. The Saudi government on Tuesday withdrew accreditation to the chief Reuters correspondent there, complaining about a recent report on a protest in the kingdom. Reuters stood by its coverage.

Iran denounced the foreign intervention as “unacceptable” and predicted it would complicate the kingdom’s political crisis.

A senior Bahraini foreign affairs official, Hamad al-Amer, called the remarks “blatant intervention in internal Bahraini affairs” and said Iran’s ambassador to Bahrain was summoned to the Foreign Ministry.

A security official in Saudi Arabia said a Saudi sergeant was shot and killed by a protester in Bahrain’s capital, Manama. No other details were immediately given on the death of the soldier, identified as Sgt. Ahmed al-Raddadi. The Saudi official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

Posted in Economic Upheavals | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Bahrain sweeps into protest camp; 6 dead