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Posts Tagged ‘Philip J. Crowley’

Tens of thousands march against Yemen president

Posted by Admin on February 4, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110203/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_yemen

SANAA, Yemen – Tens of thousands of demonstrators, some chanting “down, down with the regime,” marched Thursday in several towns and cities in Yemen against the country’s autocratic president, a key U.S. ally in the fight against Islamic militants.

Police opened fire and tear gas to break up one of the marches, witnesses said, and security officials confirmed a demonstrator was critically wounded by police fire. Two others were also hurt in the eastern town of Mukalla, but further details were not immediately available.

In the capital of Sanaa, scuffles and stone-throwing briefly erupted between thousands of anti-government demonstrators and supporters of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled for more than 30 years. However, police stepped in and there were no reports of injuries.

Security forces deployed in large numbers around the Interior Ministry and the Central Bank, and military helicopters hovered over some parts of the city.

Anti-government protests have erupted in several Arab countries in recent weeks. In Egypt, embattled President Hosni Mubarak is trying to cling to power until the end of his term in September, despite more than a week massive street protests demanding his immediate resignation.

In Yemen, protests erupted in several towns Thursday after Saleh moved earlier this week to defuse demands for his ouster by pledging not to seek another term in 2013 and not to allow his son inherit power.

Anti-government protesters said they don’t trust Saleh and demanded that he quit immediately.

“Thirty years of promises and thirty years of lies,” read one banner raised by marchers in Sanaa. Protesters chanted: “Down, down with the regime.”

In a counter demonstration, supporters of the president carried banners warning that the opposition was trying to destabilize Yemen.

Mohammed al-Sabri, a spokesman for a coalition of opposition groups, said hundreds of thousands took to the streets Thursday. He said the opposition is ready to engage in a dialogue with the president, but wants concrete proposals for change.

“We welcome this decision (not to seek another term), but if the people want the president to leave, we will adopt their demand,” al-Sabri said. “We have had political demands which we discussed with the regime for the past three years, but unfortunately failed.”

He said peaceful protests would continue for the next three months.

The United States has taken a sharp tone on Egypt, urging Mubarak to move swiftly to meet the demand for democratic reform. But it has cautiously praised pledges of reform in Yemen.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley on Wednesday welcomed Saleh’s “positive statements.”

The Yemeni president is seen as a weak but increasingly important partner of the United States, allowing American drone strikes on al-Qaida targets and stepping up counterterrorism cooperation.

In Brussels, Yemen’s foreign minister, Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, warned that interference from outside countries — of the sort in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan — would be counterproductive.

He said frustration of the young generation was widespread across the Arab world, including in his country. “I think the frustrations of younger generations are universal in the Arab world,” al-Qirbi told The Associated Press in Brussels, where he had come to seek development aid.

However, he said Yemen’s government never severed contacts with opposition parties and civil groups, and for that reason it was better placed to hold a constructive internal dialogue than other countries in the Middle East.

In Yemen, where the population is overwhelmingly very young, unemployment is 35 percent and poverty is endemic. About 40 percent of the population lives on less than $2 (euro1.45) a day.

Saleh’s government controls little of the impoverished country beyond the capital; it is facing a serious challenge from a secessionist movement in the south and a rebellion in the north.

The U.S.-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, thought to be hiding in Yemen, is believed to have inspired and even plotted or helped coordinate recent attacks on the U.S. Those include the failed Christmas Day 2009 bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner and the unsuccessful plot to send mail bombs on planes from Yemen to the U.S. in October.

Al-Awlaki also is believed to have inspired the deadly 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, and had ties to some of the 9/11 hijackers.

In Thursday’s marches, thousands of anti-government protesters also took to the streets in the city of Aden. They defied security forces and armored personnel carriers that tried to close the main streets to prevent them from gathering.

Protesters there shouted: “People want the downfall of the regime, the downfall of the president.”

All big shops in Sanaa and Aden closed their doors and major companies hired guards to protect against possible looting.

Protesters also scuffled with security forces in the town of Jaar in the southern province of Abyan, where al-Qaida militants have been active.

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US briefs allies about next WikiLeaks release

Posted by Admin on November 27, 2010

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, at New Media Days 09

Julian Assange Founder - WikiLeaks

By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press – 2 hrs 46 mins ago

LONDON – U.S. allies around the world have been briefed by American diplomats about an expected release of classified U.S. files by the WikiLeaks website that is likely to cause international embarrassment and could damage some nations’ relations with the United States.

The release of hundreds of thousands of State Department cables is expected this weekend, although WikiLeaks has not been specific about the timing. The cables are thought to include private, candid assessments of foreign leaders and governments and could erode trust in the U.S. as a diplomatic partner.

In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron‘s spokesman, Steve Field, said Friday that the government had been told of “the likely content of these leaks” by U.S. Ambassador Louis Susman. Field declined to say what Britain had been warned to expect.

“I don’t want to speculate about precisely what is going to be leaked before it is leaked,” Field said.

In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said U.S. diplomats were continuing the process of warning governments around the world about what might be in the documents. Many fear the cables will embarrass the United States and its allies, and reveal sensitive details of how the U.S. conducts relations with other countries.

“We are all bracing for what may be coming and condemn WikiLeaks for the release of classified material,” he said. “It will place lives and interests at risk. It is irresponsible.”

The Obama administration on Friday warned that the WikiLeaksrelease would endanger “lives and interests.”

Italy’s foreign minister, Franco Frattini, said he spoke Friday with the U.S. State Department, which told him that there would be documents regarding Italy in the leak, “but the content can’t be anticipated.”

“We’re talking about thousands and thousands of classified documents that the U.S. will not comment on, as is their custom,” Frattini said.

The governments of Canada and Norway also said they had been briefed by U.S. officials. Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on a report that it, too, had been informed.

In Iraq, U.S. Ambassador James F. Jeffrey told reporters that the leaks represent a serious obstacle to international diplomacy.

“We are worried about additional documents coming out,” he said. “WikiLeaks are an absolutely awful impediment to my business, which is to be able to have discussions in confidence with people. I do not understand the motivation for releasing these documents. They will not help, they will simply hurt our ability to do our work here.”

In Norway, U.S. officials released a statement from the ambassador to the newspaper Dagbladet with the understanding that it would not be published until after the WikiLeaks material came out, but the newspaper published the material ahead of time.

It quoted U.S. Ambassador to Norway Barry White saying that, while he could not vouch for the authenticity of the documents, he expected them to contain U.S. officials’ candid assessments of political leaders and political movements in other countries. He said diplomats had to be able to have private, honest discussions to do their jobs.

The Obama administration said earlier this week that it had alerted Congress and begun notifying foreign governments that the whistle-blowing website is preparing to release a huge cache of diplomatic cables whose publication could give a behind-the-scenes look at American diplomacy around the world.

“These revelations are harmful to the United States and our interests,” U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. “They are going to create tension in relationships between our diplomats and our friends around the world.”

Diplomatic cables are internal documents that would include a range of secret communications between U.S. diplomatic outposts and State Department headquarters in Washington.

WikiLeaks has said the release will be seven times the size of its October leak of 400,000 Iraq war documents, already the biggest leak in U.S. intelligence history.

The U.S. says it has known for some time that WikiLeaks held the diplomatic cables. No one has been charged with passing them to the website, but suspicion focuses on U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, an intelligence analyst arrested in Iraq in June and charged over an earlier leak.

Frattini, the Italian foreign minister, said Friday that he had been “told that the person responsible for this leak has been arrested.” The Italian Foreign Ministry later said Frattini was talking about Manning.

WikiLeaks, which also has released secret U.S. documents about the war in Afghanistan, was founded byJulian Assange.

The Australian former computer hacker is currently wanted by Sweden for questioning in a drawn-out rape probe. Assange, 39, is suspected of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. He has denied the allegations, which stem from his encounters with two women during a visit to Sweden.

___

AP writers Rebecca Santana in Baghdad, Matthew Lee in Washington, and Bjoern H. Amland in Oslo contributed to this report.

 

 

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