Posts Tagged ‘yemen’
A weekly summary of key events in Asia and beyond
- In a historic move, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah granted Saudi women the right to vote and stand for office in municipal elections in 2015. However, they were not allowed to vote in elections held last week, which saw very low turnouts. On Thursday, the king also overturned a sentence of 10 lashes handed down to an activist who defied a female driving ban, which was viewed by some as an effort to push back against hardliners.
- US born cleric and Al-Qaeda’s most well-known propagandist, Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed by an air strike on his convoy in Yemen by US counter-terrorism forces. US officials allege that Al-Awlaki inspired individuals who participated in several recent foiled terrorism plots in the United States. The killing comes as Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh recently returned to Yemen from neighboring Saudi Arabia.
- At a Senate Arms Services Committee hearing and again in an interview with the Wall Street Journal this week, now retired US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen strongly criticized and accused the Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, of collaborating with the Haqqani network which Washington blames for a recent attack on the US embassy in Kabul. The Pakistani government rejected Mr. Mullen’s accusations. Read this article by The Asianist on how to conceptualize US-Pakistan relations.
- Sri Lanka released nearly 1,800 former rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after two years in captivity since the end of the country’s bloody civil war. Colombo has come under heavy pressure from human rights groups to either charge the detainees and free them, as well as to allow for an independent investigation into human rights violations by the government and rebels. The UN estimates that at least 7,000 people were killed in the last five months of fighting alone. For a broader take on reconciliation in Sri Lanka, see this piece by The Asianist.
- Germany’s parliament passed a much-needed measure to expand a Euro bailout fund for heavily indebted European countries, which Chancellor Angela Merkel has said is critical to ensure Europe’s economic stability. Yet analysts believe even if an expanded fund is approved by countries in the coming weeks, will not be enough to curb the continent’s deepening crisis. For a more big-picture take, see the article The Asianist comments on here.
- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced last weekend that they would effectively swap places next year, paving the way for Mr. Putin’s return for a third term after presidential elections in March. Mr. Medvedev said Mr. Putin enjoys broad popularity and that they share the same goals. But critics say the planned swap undermines democracy.
- At least 59 people died and thousands were left stranded after Typhoons Nesat and Nalgae triggered heavy flooding in the northern Philippines.
- In a routine response, China scaled back military ties with the United States over Washington’s decision to upgrade Taiwan’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets. China views Taiwan as part of its territory and has opposed US arms sales to Taiwan. The United States is obligated under the Taiwan Relations Act to supply Taiwan with weapons for its self defense, which some view as more necessary than ever in light of Beijing’s military buildup. For The Asianist’s take on the subject, see here.
- In what could be a blow to human rights, South African officials may deny the Dalai Lama a visa to enter the country to celebrate the 80th birthday of his friend and fellow Nobel Peace Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, due to pressure from China.
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Voice of America reported earlier this morning that heavy fighting has erupted in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, between forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh and armed tribesman siding with anti-Saleh protesters.
Letta Taylor of Human Rights Watch has a recent piece out on what she terms “Yemen’s Hijacked Revolution” that puts this in perspective. Ms. Taylor argues that popular uprising that has gripped Yemen for months has been hijacked by three elite factions vying for power, and that the return of President Ali Abdullah Saleh from Saudi Arabia may plunge the country into civil war. Meanwhile, the civilian population is suffering:
Food, water, and power have become increasingly scarce since the protests began. As a report released this month from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights put it, some elements among those “seeking to achieve or retain power” are tying to “collectively punish” Yemen’s civilians.
More than 100,000 people have been internally displaced in a patchwork of conflicts outside the capital. In the highland city of Taizz and in Arhab, where some have sought shelter in caves, tribal fighters of local sheikhs have been clashing since May with the Republican Guard. In the south, since March, military units have been fighting Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law), a group backed by foreign fighters and perhaps linked to al Qaeda.
She recommends sustained international attention and sanctions to prevent a descent into civil war.
The United States, the European Union, and Gulf states including Saudi Arabia should freeze the foreign assets of President Saleh and his top security officials and officially suspend all security assistance until the authorities stop attacks on protesters and start bringing those responsible to justice. They also should press Yemen to stop resisting the presence of UN human rights monitors. At the same time, the UN Security Council should make it clear to all clashing factions in Yemen that it will not tolerate disregard for restraint. And would-be dealmakers, including Saudi Arabia, should pull any immunity offer for international crimes off the table.
Her forecast of the worst-case scenario is quite grim:
If Washington, Riyadh, and other key players do not move swiftly, Yemen could be headed down the path of Somalia, a failed state just across the Gulf of Aden where armed Islamist militants have imposed draconian rule across vast swaths of territory, and famine and fighting have ravaged the population. In that scenario, last week’s mayhem could be just a taste of the killing and suffering to come.
Read the full thing here.