Posts Tagged ‘Yemen’

In Copenhagen: The Guardian leaked a document known as the ‘Danish Text,‘ written by ‘the circle of commitment’ HwS(The US, UK, and Denmark). The document creates a rough outline for changes in climate policy that have offended the developing world and move away from the Kyoto Protocol. Instead of making rich countries responsible for financing emissions cuts, the World Bank would provide funds to developing nations on a conditional basis. In response, developing countries drafted another document to voice their concerns. They fear the Danish Text framework weakens th United Nations role in the debate, divides poorer countries into a new category of “the most vulnerable” to climate change, forces the developing world to adopt new standards, and would not allow poor countries to emit more than 1.44 tonnes of carbon per person by 2050- rich countries would be allowed 2.67 tonnes per person. The head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat Yvo de Boer tried to calm tempers by saying the Danish Text was outdated and irrelevant. “That text, and other texts that have been circulating, have not been on the table in a formal sense.”

National Public Radio higher-ups made a request to reporter Mara Liasson to stop appearing as a Fox News commentator, citing the political bias of the television network as cause for concern. Liasson, who joined Fox in 1997, was asked to watch the network for 30-days and gauge whether or not the network was growing increasingly partisan, but did not break her contract with Fox in the end.

Yesterday Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama announced that his country would delay a decision on the relocation of the American Futenma military facility in Okinawa, which the two countries discussed in 2006. The U.S. responded to this delay by putting off meetings that would strengthen U.S. ties to Japan until the fate of the base has been decided.The meetings were planned after Obama and Hatoyama met in November and, during a joint press conference, announced that bilateral cooperation between the countries would begin to extend past security issues to issues of public health and education.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley announced yesterday that 24% of power used by state and university buildings will be from solar and wind farms. The Governor is postioning the state as a major contract in Maryland’s small but growing renewable energy market. Last week, O’Malley made a decision to protect and re-build oyster sanctuaries in the Chesapeke Bay, which creates a symbiotic filtration and habitat system in the notoriously polluted body of water.  Read Governor O’Malley’s Clean Energy Announcement

Ugandan legislation threatening the death penalty for “active homosexuals” introduced last month has caused a chain of mixed reactions, including solidarity between gay activists and religious groups. While Uganda’s Ethics minister James Nsaba Buturo claims homosexuality “is not natural in Uganda,” he remains confident the death penalty clause will be repealed.  Critics say the aim is to divert attention from corruption and other political issues ahead of the 2011 national vote. Country reactions: Britain & Canada, Sweden, United States

Google has announced that it will post over 14,000 pictures of artifacts in the Iraqi National Museum online in early 2010. In 2003 the museum was ransacked during the Iraqi invasion. It contains objects from the Stone Age, as well as the Babylonian, Assyrian and Islamic period and will reopen to the public in February of 2010.

A total of 165 men and 39 women have been arrested in Iran for their part in Monday’s National Student Day anti-government protests. Intelligence ministry officials claim they have documents that prove specific students’ involvement, and that the government will inform the rest of countries students who is creating this “schism” so they can avoid the same fate.

Illinois lawmakers will review a proposal to sell the “largely vacant” Thompson Correctional Center to the federal government for the domestic detainment of terrorism suspects currently held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Drafted by Governor Pat Quinn’s administration, the proposal will go infront of a House-Senate panel on December 22nd. The Obama Administration expressed interest in the Thompson site in early November.

United Nations officials in Yemen say this will have to open a third camp to accommodate all of the internally displaced people fleeing the Saa’da province because of “Operation Scorched Earth”, the joint Saudi and Yemeni government offensive against Houthi rebels. The population of refugees has doubled in the past month.

After its citizens passed a medical marijuana law last month, the state of Maine held a task force panel discussion to determine “how, exactly, to help those with legitimate medical conditions get access to the drug without also making it easier for recreational users to buy” yesterday.

A Christie’s Old Masters and 19th Century auction set a category sales record in London last night.  This success comes during the first bounce-back in the art market since October 2008.

Raphael's sketch entitled "Head of Muse" sold for $47.9 million), the highest price ever paid for a drawing at auction.


On Monday,Barack Obama met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  Their main point of discussion was Iran’s nuclear program. Obama, while still pushing for a diplomatic solution to the problem, expressed a growing impatience with Iran’s recalcitrance.  Erdogan, however, maintained his view that the world could only coerce Iran through diplomatic efforts, and called criticism that his country’s close relationship with Iran isolating it away from the West “ridiculous.”

The New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee passed a same-sex marriage bill Tuesday night. Heading to the floor tomorrow, the bill is not likely to pass. Regardless, this is the first time the NJ legislature passed an equal-marriage bill out of committee.

A Chicago man has been charged with “conspiracy to murder and maim in a foreign country” because of his involvement in last year’s terrorist attack on Mumbai. David Coleman Headley, from Chicago, went to India to do recon for Laskkar-e-Taiba He, along with former military man Abdur Rehman, are also connected to a plot to bomb the Danish newspaper that ran controversial cartoons negatively depicting Islam. Headley has, fortunately, begun to cooperate with the FBI in their investigation. Chicago business man Tahawwur Rana has also been charged.

It is getting harder and harder to separate truth from hype on the border of Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Iranian news source Alalam claims that Houthi rebels have pushed Saudi away from the Sa’ada, the Yemeni province where Saudi and Yemeni forced are carrying out“Operation Scorched Earth.” The BBC, however, reports that Yemeni commanders have announced that they will have the city of Sa’ada under their control by the end of today. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate has passed a non-binding resolution on the conflict, calling for the global community “to use all appropriate measures to assist the people of Yemen to prevent Yemen from becoming a failed state.”

In an address to an audience of families of those killed during the 1980’s war against Iraq, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahjmadinejad claimed to have documented proof that the U.S. is trying to stop the coming of the Mahdi, the Imam that Muslims believe will save man-kind. “They have devised all these plans to prevent the coming of the Hidden Imam because they know that the Iranian nation is the one that will prepare the grounds for his coming and will be the supporters of his rule.”  He also said that the West was caught in a quagmire in Afghanistan and asked – “Is there not one sane person in your country to tell you these things?”

Russia and India have agreed to work more closely on nuclear power in a round of discussions to strengthen ties between the two countries.

Of the total number of crimes with filed complaints, 15% to 20% are committed by police officers, particularly those involving most violence such as homicide and kidnapping” said the Interior minister during the program “Aló, Presidente” anchored by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

In a renewed effort to revive nuclear disarmament talks, President Barack Obama has sent veteran diplomat Stephen Bosworth to North Korea to meet with high level North Korean officials.  “The main question is whether Bosworth will meet with Chairman Kim Jong Il,” said Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Seoul’s Dongguk University. “Such a meeting would demonstrate that both the U.S. and North Korea intend to resolve the nuclear issue.”

Through French President Nikolas Sarkozy, Syria has informed Israel that it is ready to return to peace talks without the precondition that Israel pull completely out of the Golan Heights. Talks may resume with a mediator, the question is who. Israel would like to continue discussion through Sarkozy, but Syrians prefer Turkey. To that, Netanyahu responded that an “honest broker” is needed, and he is “not certain” the Turks fit the bill given their behavior since Israel’s war in Gaza nearly a year ago.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Monday “the time has come” for the government to make a decision on the fate of the Futenma military facility in Okinawa Prefecture and convey it to the United States, but he wouldn’t say what it will be or precisely when it will be.

Google on Tuesday unveiled a new approach to presenting news online by topic, developed with The New York Times and The Washington Post, and said that if the experiment was successful, it would be made available to all publishers.

Also on Tuesday, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson declared greenhouse gas a threat to human health. This “endangerment finding” could lead to the modification of power plants, factories, refineries, and automobiles with new technologies, and caused an almost immediate jump in solar energy holdings & drop in crude oil.

Carbon dioxide output from the U.S. energy sector has already fallen half as much as needed to meet the 2020 emissions reduction target the Obama administration took to the Copenhagen climate-change summit.  Falling U.S. emissions are the result of the “weak economy,” which grew at an annual rate of 2.8 percent in the third quarter after shrinking for a year, and a cleaner fuel mix in the electricity sector, according to a new report.

Many have come to see the conflict between the Iranian financed Houthis of northwest Yemen and a combination of Yemeni and Saudi forces as a proxy war between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran. This week, major Iranian news network Al-Alam blacked out, as its satellites — Saudi-based Arabsat and Cairo-based Nilsat — dropped it without prior notice. If the proxy war analysis is true, the battle in Yemen is part of a greater pan-Islamic conflict and we are seeing the fall-out in frosty relations. Some, however, don’t buy the hype, arguing that the situation is more complex than that.

Yemen’s government has been fighting the Houthis, a Shia minority in Sunni Yemen, since 2004, with an escalation of the conflict taking place this summer in an engagement known as “Operation Scorched Earth.” Recently, Saudi forces have joined the battle because of alleged Houthi incursions across the border into their territory. Now the world is watching the conflict. Reports from the battlefield indicate that the Saudis are creating a six-mile buffer zone around their border, despite heavy Houthi fire power. “They have secret power, some kind of magic,” said one refugee. “I mean, those guys are very strong. God knows what they have. They scared even the Saudi soldiers.” Reports have also revealed that the Houthis have Pakistanis fighting in their ranks.

Meanwhile, in Iran and Saudi Arabia accusations and condemnations abound.Iranian cooperation with Huthi rebels in Yemen is a collusion for sin and aggression, “ said Saudi Cleric Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh. 40 more clerics signed a statement saying that Iran “destabilizes Muslim nations by implanting, financing and arming its agents to spread” Shiism. In Iran, 250 legislators signed a statement condemning the killing of Muslims in Yemen by Saudi forces. Dialogue to normalize relations looks like an impossibility, as Yemeni government officials have refused to meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.

Foreign Policy magazine, however, argues that the issue is more complex than simple Sunni vs. Shia. The Houthis are of the Zaidi sect of Shia Islam and do not ascribe to the believes of traditional Twelver Iranian Shia Islam. Thus, the Houthi uprising is a local affair, a domestic Yemeni conflict blown out of proportion by meddling, self-interested outside forces.

Saudi intellectual and expert on Islamic movements Mashari Al-Zaydi disagrees. He argues that the Houthis have, in fact, hijacked the Zaidi sect. He sites manuscripts written by Hussein Badreddin al-Huthi, a radical Houthi leader killed in 2004, as proof. Al-Huthi believed that Zaidi relations with Sunni Muslims were foolish, as their sect had been defeated throughout history for their false beliefs. He goes on to praise Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini as a great leader who could build a great nation.

Yemen is a partner in the United States’ “War on Terror,” and Saudi Arabia is a major producer of oil. Those facts alone are enough to solidify the world’s interest in this struggle as it is. Once explanations on the Houthi fight are clearer — perhaps at the conflict’s end — the world will be better informed on where Islam will be as a whole.


Fighting has been concentrated around Sa 'dah in the northwestern region.

Despite resistance from Saudi forces, Houthi rebels in northern Yemen claim that they have gained more ground on the Yemeni-Saudi border. The Kingdom is already concerned about activity on that border, which stretches 1,500 km, and has plans to erect high-tech fence to prevent infiltration.

The Houthis are a Shia rebel group in mostly Sunni Yemen that has been fighting the Yemeni government since 2004. As of this summer, Yemen intensified its battle against the rebels  in an offensive known as “Operation Scorched Earth.” Saudi Arabia’s involvement in this conflict goes beyond concerns about their porous southern border. Sunni Saudi Arabia has a history of priding itself on protecting other Sunni countries and fears that Shia Iran is using the Houthis to fight a proxy war against the Kingdom.

Last week, Houthi fighters lead a raid into Saudi territory and killed a Saudi soldier. As a result, Saudi forces have joined the conflict using fighter jets with phosphorous bombs. “Saudi combat fighter jets launched intense raids against border areas inside Yemeni territory on Sunday night,” the fighters’ spokesman Mohammad Abdessalam told AFP by telephone. “The Saudi military used phosphorus bombs during those night raids, burning mountainous regions.”

The Saudis maintain that their fighters have only targeted Houthis in Saudi territory. However, the Houthis accuse the Saudis of attacking their villages- villages they claim lay in economic ruin because of the neglect of the Yemeni government.  Aid organizations roughly estimate that over 150,000 people have fled the border region since the Houthis began fighting in 2004.