Tag Archive: Arab world


Yemeni police open fire on protesters, killing 3

Anti-government protestors shout slogans during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa,Yemen, Mondahttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110419/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_yemen

By AHMED AL-HAJ, Associated Press Ahmed Al-haj, Associated Press 27 mins ago

SANAA, Yemen – Yemeni security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters Tuesday, killing at least three amid rising international concern over the strategically located nation.

The United Nations Security Council met late Tuesday to discuss the deteriorating situation in Yemen, where rights groups say two months of protests calling for the president to step down have claimed 120 lives.

A Yemeni government delegation also headed to nearby Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, for talks with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council over a proposal for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to transfer power to his deputy to end the crisis. The opposition held similar talks in Saudi Arabia Sunday.

The country’s opposition, inspired by the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, says nothing short of Saleh’s immediate departure would end the unrest.

Strategically located at the mouth of the Red Sea across from lawless Somalia, Yemen is wracked by rebellions, water and food shortages and hosts a deadly local affiliate of the militant al-Qaida network.

Tens of thousands took to the streets in the capital Sanaa and thousands demonstrated in Aden, Ibb, al-Hudaydah, Taiz and other cities where most of the shops were closed in support of the protesters.

The Sanaa protest turned violent when security forces opened fire, lobbed tear gas canisters, and stun grenades at the protesters as they tried to make their way to the capital’s main thoroughfare. The protesters replied by throwing stones.

A medical official and an eyewitness said at least two protesters were killed, and five were in serious condition. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Khaled al-Ansi, a protest organizer, said around 60 were injured by bullets or sharp objects. A number of those injured were policemen who joined the protesters, witnesses said.

An ambulance accompanying the protesters, carrying four female doctors, was seized by security forces and was taken away. Al-Ansi threatened that if the ambulance and the doctors are not released, the protesters would storm the riot police’s headquarters.

Thousands of protesters also marched in the southern city of Taiz, a hotbed of anti-government activism, demanding the president’s resignation when security forces opened fire.

The director of a city field hospital, Dr. Sadeq al-Shuja, said at least one was killed in the crackdown. Protesters also gathered outside a security office, where seven of their colleagues have been detained, demanding their release.

Four other protesters were killed in demonstrations in Taiz earlier this month.

The U.N. Security Council met behind closed doors Tuesday to discuss the situation in Yemen for the first time, a sign of growing global concern about the situation. Council diplomats said the briefing, by U.N. political chief B. Lynn Pascoe, was requested by the GCC.

“We are very concerned about the situation in Yemen,” German Ambassador Peter Wittig said as he headed into the meeting. Wittig said the council’s discussion “sends out a good signal” and “supports the efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council to alleviate the tensions and find a solution to the Yemeni crisis.”

The New York-based Human Rights Watch welcomed the U.N.’s interest in Yemen and called on it to urge Saleh to stop the killings of peaceful protesters.

“Yemen’s brutal repression of opposition activists over the last few weeks finally landed on the radar of the Security Council, which clearly sees the issue as a threat to international peace and security,” said Philippe Bolopion, U.N. director for Human Rights Watch.

The U.N. children’s fund said Tuesday that at least 26 children have been killed during the protests over the last two months. Most died of wounds from live ammunition during clashes between security forces and anti-government demonstrators, said UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado.

Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world, and protesters are calling for steps to improve livelihoods and open up the country’s restricted political life. The protests are the biggest direct challenge to Saleh’s three-decades in power. His weak government has little control beyond the capital and has struggled to confront an armed rebellion in the north and a secessionist movement in the south.

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Associated Press writer Anita Snow contributed to this report from the U.N.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110302/ts_yblog_thelookout/u-s-contemplates-military-options-as-libyan-unrest-continues

Muammar Gaddafi vowed to hang on to power in a speech Wednesday–and regime forces are reported to have made territorial gains, raising the prospect of a civil war in Libya. The United States is under increasing pressure to consider forceful action to avert a bloodbath in the country, from imposing a no-fly zone to setting up humanitarian corridors to protect civilians.

But Defense Secretary Bob Gates made clear Tuesday that, with 150,000 U.S. forces already deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq and unrest simmering from Algeria to Yemen, he’s reluctant to commit U.S. military forces elsewhere in the Middle East. However, the United States ordered the deployment this week of two Navy vessels, including the amphibious assault ship the Kearsarge, and 400 U.S. Marines toward Libya from the Persian Gulf.

“We also have to think about, frankly, the use of the U.S. military in another country in the Middle East,” Gates told reporters at the Pentagon Tuesday.

“If we move additional assets, what are the consequences of that for Afghanistan, for the Persian Gulf?” Gates said. “And what other allies are prepared to work with us in some of these things?”

Top U.S. military brass also warned Congress Tuesday that imposing a NATO no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians from air attack by Gaddafi’s forces would be a far more complex endeavor than many appreciate. It would require first taking out Libya’s air defenses.

“So no illusions here,” CENTCOM Commander Gen. Jim Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “It would be a military operation. It wouldn’t be just telling people not to fly airplanes.”

The latest Middle East crisis poses a key dilemma for the Obama administration, pitting humanitarian concerns against broader Middle East strategic considerations. The involvement of U.S. military forces even in an internationally led operation intended to avert atrocities against Libyan civilians could give a sharp anti-American cast to the anti-government unrest in the Middle East. But even as military advisers urge restraint, some in Congress and key humanitarian and pro-democracy advocates are urging the Obama administration to take more forceful measures to avert possible bloodshed.

Middle East experts note the Obama administration has already taken a number of steps in close consultation with international allies. Among these are the passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution sanctioning Libya on Saturday, the opening of an International Criminal Court investigation of Libyan war crimes, freezing $30 billion in Libyan assets in the United States on Sunday–and the symbolic measure voting Libya off the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.

“I think a no-fly zone, targeted sanctions, and referral to [the International Criminal Court] are all realistic and appropriate,” said George Washington University Middle East expert Marc Lynch, who has consulted with the White House several times over the past month on both Egypt and Libya. “It’s extremely important to send a signal not just to Gaddafi but to all the other dictators in the region and world who might be tempted to use brutal violence against their people to stay in power that it’s not actually going to keep them in power.”

Experts said at this stage, the movement of U.S. naval power towards Libya was more about messaging than action–persuading Gaddafi loyalists that his downfall is imminent.

“They are sure hoping they don’t have to use them and that this thing will be over, everyone keeps hoping, before they have to take more drastic and costly measures,” said the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Michele Dunne, a former State Department and NSC official who has also been in frequent consultation with the White House.

Former State Department Middle East official Joel Rubin, now with the progressive National Security Network, says the real question for the United States is defining an end goal.

“On the practical level, defining the goal is essential,” Rubin said. “If we have learned anything from our recent experience of military adventures in the Arab world, it is that we have to have a clear and compelling goal that is achievable. And in the case of Libya, there are two goals … the first is humanitarian protection, and the second is removing Gaddafi.” Rubin said that a no-fly zone is the option that analysts are discussing most frequently on the humanitarian front.

But Rubin said even a no-fly zone will not be a panacea. “At this point, Gaddafi is strong because he has guns and money. By deploying a no fly zone … you attempt to reduce his guns, and by utilizing sanctions and asset freezes, you attempt to take away his money. Once those are both gone, yes he is beatable,” Rubin said. “But there’s no single magic bullet. There’s no shock and awe.”

(The United States amphibious assault ship USS Ponce sails through the Suez Canal at Ismailia , Egypt, Wednesday, March 2, 2011.: AP Photo)

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