Monday, January 31, 2011

Who Cares About Democracy?

The US news is worried about how the events in Egypt will affect America.  Will we be less safe?  Will Al-Qa'eda take over in Egypt?  Will the Suez Canal shut down?  Will the price of oil go up?  But they're not talking about democracy.  I thought the whole point of having a large democratic country and trying to convince other countries of democracy was that the US would actually support democracy?  I guess I should know better by now.  The US is interested in security, even if that means propping up brutal dictators who repress their own country and represent everything we hate.

What hypocrisy.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

YemenWatch: Sunday January 30, 2011

I've been a bit distracted by the events in Egypt, but I haven't forgotten Yemen - things are heating up there too!

AQAP is calling for a holy war against the Houthis in the north (they're Shi'ites).

Several AQAP suspects were arrested last week, and one of them escaped from a hospital in Aden this weekend.  Four others were sentenced to jail time.

A security patrol was attacked in Marib province, and last week the Criminal Evidence Director was killed.  AQAP is suspected.

Yemenia Airlines is no longer flying to Cairo, for the moment.  There are Yemenis stranded in Egypt, and the Yemen government is trying to evacuate them.

YemenOnline reports that it was hacked, and reports on protests against Saleh were removed.

15,000 protested against President Saleh in Sana'a.  There was also a protest in Taiz province.  Yemenis are marching not just to oust Saleh but in solidarity with Egyptians.  The protests in Tunisia have inspired Yemenis and Jordanians.  Analysts are worried that if Saleh is ousted, chaos would overtake Yemen, which would aid AQAP.  Others are worried that a party like Islah might take over (Karman is calling for a Day of Rage on Thursday).  On Saturday protestors and journalists were attacked by security forces.

There are rumors that Saleh appointed his youngest son as head of the newly created Mountain Infantry Division.

There are rumors that the GPC called the JMP about resuming a dialogue.  The JMP is saying that hasn't happened.  The GPC says it is true.

Jewish news in Yemen too.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Women Protest in Egypt and More

See photos on facebook here. (h/t @krmaher)

Latest rumor is that Mubarak was rejected by Saudi Arabia and is going to Israel.

Is Yemen going up next?

Friday, January 28, 2011

News on TV

Sorry - I've been in presentations all day and watching Egypt on my Twitter feed at the same time.  I highly recommend Twitter for that.  Also, here's Al-Jazeera's Egypt Live Blog.

We were all hoping to see Mubarak leave, but no such luck yet.  Maybe tomorrow, insha'allah!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Egyptian Protests: Update II

News on Twitter is that Egypt has blocked SMS and now has just turned off the Internet there.  Apparently this happened right after AP posted video of a man being shot (h/t @arabist).

Things are getting more violent in Egypt, especially Suez.

Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei has arrived in Cairo now.

To my friends in Cairo - Stay Safe!

Edit:  The hackers group Anonymous has joined the Egyptian protests, by attacking Egyptian government web sites.  See their press release via Sophos.

YemenWatch: Thursday January 27, 2011

A friend of mine just told me that there are now protests in Yemen, not just Egypt.  I said "Don't you read my blog?"  He said he hadn't in a while, but guessed that it's only now that the Yemeni protests are making news in America.

Yes, more protests in Yemen.  NewsYemen is saying it's tens of thousands now!  Yahoo! says so too.

The EU has come out and said that non-violent protests are a people's right.

Tawakul Karman is home now, as are many others who were illegally detainedYemen Times has an interview with her.

The GPC (Saleh's party) and JMP (group of opposition parties) have agreed to hold debates, to be televised by Al-Jazeera.

Yemen Post web site is down.  Appears to be technical issues.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Egyptian Protests: Update I

Wow.  Egypt is on fire.  There are protests everywhere and the government is trying to crack down and beating and arresting people.  At least 5 people are dead, mostly in Suez.  This is the 2nd day of protests and it's not slowing down.  Journalists are being targeted and Facebook and Twitter may or may not be shut down.

It's a shame that this is the only way Egyptians have of removing a president who has been in power for 30 years.  The United States is worried about losing an ally, but it should be more concerned with helping Egypt become a true democracy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

YemenWatch: Tuesday January 25, 2011

President Saleh is trying to calm things down in Yemen, following protests against him.  He is also raising the salaries of soldiers and civil servants.

Some of these protests are by the JMP (Joint Meeting Parties) which is a group of opposition parties.  The JMP wants to debate Saleh live in Al-Jazeera.  The EU is worried about the animosity among the political parties and how this will affect the elections.

The woman activist arrested, Tawakul Karman, was ordered released, but has refused to leave until the government releases those arrested with her.  More and more women are joining in the protests.  Naief Al-Kanis, a leader in the JMP, was released too.

Five AQAP members were arrested for an attack on a military convoy in Abyan province.

Last week I posted about how Yemen security forces may have stopped an attempt to kidnap 4 Czechs.  Apparently the would-be kidnappers were actually Yemeni soldiers.  The brother of one of the soldiers is being detained for murder charges in a land dispute, and the soldier wanted to draw attention to that case.

The UN Development Program administrator visited several programs in Yemen:  the Mine Detection Dog Center, World Food Program Health Center, and the UNICEF Outpatient Therapeutic Care Program.  These are all in Amran province.

Is Yemen ready to be the next Tunisia?  More information on the similarities and differences.

The Yemen News Agency has an article on press law in Yemen.  Apparently the Information Minister met with the leader of the EU delegation in Yemen.  As quoted in the article:
"The new law bans imprisoning or arresting any journalist for practicing his profession or for expressing their views. The law, however, stipulates financial punishments of violators."
So why are they still arresting and detaining journalists, if it's now illegal?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Civil Rights in Saudi Arabia

Human Rights Watch just released their World Report 2011, which shows just how badly civil rights are abused in Saudi Arabia.  At the moment, a Canadian-Indian woman is trapped in the Kingdom, because her father won't let her leave.  She's 24 years old.  And if you want to write a blog or even have your own web site, you'll need a license for that.  If you write anything on the Internet, then they want to know who you are.

Lebanon Crisis: January 24, 2011

Hizbollah said they wanted a national unity government.  And Druze leader Walid Jumblatt decided to support Hizbollah and their allies.  He also referred to Hizbollah as the "resistance."

So the new Prime Minister, courtesy of Hizbollah, will probably be Najib Mikati, a billionaire, and former PM.  And the Sunnis are really upset.  Mikati has said he'll try to be a unity figure, but the Sunni's aren't buying it.  They're calling this "Hezbollah's coup" (as quoted in the article).

Mikati's web site.

Top Stories January 24, 2011

Arab News (Saudi Araba):  Planning for future energy needs - The Kingdom is looking for alternative sources of energy, instead of depending upon oil.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Hariri and Mikati lock horns for PM - Mikati is a former prime minister and the choice of Hizbollah.

Haaretz (Israel):  'Palestinians agreed to cede nearly all Jewish areas of East Jerusalem' - New leaked documents show that Palestinian negotiators were willing to give up more than people had thought.

Turkish Daily News:  Tense Albania buries victims amid new calls for protests - Apparently Tunisia is not just inspiring the Middle East, but Albania too.

Tripoli Post (Libya):  LAP buys 51 percent stake in Niger's Sonitel - Sonitel is the state communications company.  LAP owns stakes in or operates a number of other Africa companies.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Women's News January 23, 2011

A Yemeni woman, Tawakul Abdel-Salam Karman, was arrested at protests in Sana'a.  Her arrest has set off further protests, for her release.  She is an activist and member of the Islah political party.

An Iraqi man living in Arizona goes on trial this week for the honor killing of his daughter.  His daughter refused an arranged marriage, then moved in with her boyfriend and his mother.  In October of 2009, the man ran over his daughter and the boyfriend's mother, killing his daughter.

The US government is hosting a conference in Turkey from January 22 to 26.  It's called "Invest for the Future: Women Driving Economic Growth."

Flotilla Investigation Update V

Well, the Israeli panel investigating the flotilla has reached their decision:  the Israeli government and military did nothing wrong.  And the blockade of Gaza is legal.  Somehow that's exactly what I was expecting.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

YemenWatch: Saturday January 22, 2011

Fuad Rashid, editor of the Mukalla Press, has finally been released.  Here's a good quote from the article:
Observers believe that press freedom in Yemen has come under attack as government argues that national security is more important than transparency. (emphasis added).
Gee, that sounds kind of familiar.


2,500 protesters rallied against President Saleh at the University of Sana'a.  They protested at the university, because Saleh has control of the city.  Tunisia has really inspired a lot of the Middle East, and Saleh has already had to make a few concessions, while he cracks down on protests.

More troops have been sent to Shabwa province to fight AQAP.

Yemen Online has a transcript of the US Ambassador to Yemen's interview on NPR, about the dangers of AQAP.

More fighting in Aden on Friday night.  This follows the protests that have been going on this week.

Statistics are in.  Last year 1,030 men were wounded or killed from the Yemeni Security Services.

Yemen and the United States are discussing possibly lifting the ban on air cargo arriving from Yemen.

There are plans to build an airport in Jawf province, to help with tourism.  Yemen has several UNESCO World Heritage sites and more on the Tentative List.

The National Committee to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing held a workshop on that subject in conjunction with the US Embassy. 

Yemen's minister for Trade and Industry was fired today and and a new one was appointed.  This follows the firings last week of the Oil and Minerals minister and Yemen Petroleum Company director.

The Capital Chamber of Commerce and Industry is trying to rally merchants to get a bigger voice in parliament.

An interesting political situation in the south.  Sheikh Tarek Al-Fadhli, who apparently used to work with Osama bin Laden (possibly during the mujahadeen days) and with President Saleh, burned the Yemeni flag, the American flag, the South Yemen flag, and the separatist's flag, at his palace in Abyan province.  Then he said he wants to liberate the south from the communists and the northern occupiers.  Definitely read this article.

Jordanian Protests

Yes, even Jordan is having protests against the government.  Jordan is a constitutional monarchy, which means they have a king and a prime minister with parliament.  So far there don't seem to be any immolations happening there.

Saudi Flames

A man in Saudi Arabia has set himself on fire, and died.  The Tunisian immolators have been copied by men in Egypt, Yemen, and now the Kingdom, hoping to spark political reform.  Egypt and Yemen theoretically have public elections, although their presidents are basically in life-long terms.  Saudi Arabia is a monarchy in the Al-Saud family.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lebanon Crisis: January 20, 2011

Yes, I feel things are in flux enough to start up a LebanonWatch series.  Maybe I'll do a TunisiaWatch too.


First of all, Yahoo! has a good article about the anti-settlement resolution that Lebanon submitted to the UN Security Council on behalf of Palestine.

Turkey and Qatar were trying to mediate the government situation, but that's over now, and their emissaries have left Lebanon.

Saad Hariri is currently the caretaker prime minster and has said he intends to lead a new cabinet.  This appears to be a major sticking point for Hizbollah, who is not happy.  Hizbollah has been discrediting the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL).  See the BBC's Q&A on the STL.

Both sides of parliament are blaming the other for corruption and misspent funds.

Some countries are getting worried and have issued travel alerts for people visiting Lebanon.  Apparently the Lebanese are also worried, because they're converting their money to dollars.  And the Lebanese Army has started deploying around government buildings.

I read an article last week about how the Lebanese situation was being blown out of proportion, and that everything was fine (will try to find the link).  I completely disagree.  I still think there's a chance that everything will calm down, but it's slowly ramping up to a bad place.

edit: Changed name to "Lebanon Crisis."  ["Watch" implies a long-term situation.]

YemenWatch: Thursday January 20, 2011

Students in Sana'a have been protesting the Yemeni government for the last 5 days.  The GPC seems to be getting a little nervous from all the protests.  They have backed down on some of their constitutional amendments.

Al-Qa'eda has released the latest issue of its English-language magazine (h/t @IbnSiqilli).

A Yemeni man set himself on fire in Al-Bedea province.

Protesters and soldiers were injured in Aden, at a separatist protest.  This is the 2nd protest in 2 days.

Several people died when a 5-story building collapsed in Sana'a.

The woman who was jailed because she wanted to marry an inappropriate man has been released, after agreeing not to marry him.  Why is he inappropriate?  Because his ancestors were butchers.  Yemen Times has an interview with the former fiance.

The Yemen Observer web site is missing.  There's a message that says "This account has been suspended."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Egyptian Protests

The tumult in Tunisia seems to be inspiring the Egyptians.  Several of them have tried lighting themselves on fire, with at least one of them dying.  Activists want January 25th to be a day of protest, although Mubarak supporters are now calling for it to be a day of support for Mubarak.

It will be interesting to see if this goes anywhere.  Surely if Tunisia can kick out a president, so can Egypt?  Otherwise I don't see Mubarak leaving until he dies of old age.  See more by Middle East bloggers.

Russia Recognizes Palestine

President Medvedev said that Russia would continue to support a Palestinian state, the same as the Soviet Union did in 1988.  Israeli is downplaying the matter.  Medvedev met with the king of Jordan after trying to visit Israel.  Also, apparently Lebanon put a resolution condemning Israeli settlements before the UN Security Council.  And since the US is trying to support Hariri, they may have a hard time vetoing it.  Will Spain be the next country to recognize Palestine?

Lebanon on the Brink?: Update III

Things continue to deteriorateSaudi Arabia is pulling out after the Saudi-Syrian initiative failed.  Turkey and Qatar are now trying to help.  They may be starting to make progress.  The STL did hand down indictments, but apparently they are sealed for now.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

YemenWatch: Tuesday January 18, 2011

Fighting between Houthis and tribesmen left one dead in Sa'ada province.

Journalist Abdul Elah Haidar has been sentenced to 5 years in jail, and Abdel Karim Al-Shami received two years.  Haidar is accused of working for AQAP.  Reporters Without Borders has condemned the verdict.

US Senators will be visiting Yemen anytime (itinerary is confidential).  The Senators are Jack Reed of Maryland, Carl Levin of Michigan, and Jon Tester of Vermont.

Security forces fired on protesters in Lahj province.  The protesters are upset about the government taking over a village while they look for separatists.

A 19-year-old Yemeni man was sentenced to death for killing a French man last year.  This is the same trial were Anwar Al-Awlaki is being tried in absentia.

Five people were arrested in Sana'a for taking part in a protest/rally in support of Tunisia.  Some also yelled for Saleh to step down.

A man working for the United Nations Refugee Agency has been accused of blackmailing refugees.

Yemeni security may have stopped an attempt to kidnap 4 Czechs in Sana'a province.

Pirates kidnapped 6 from a Danish ship in the Gulf of Aden.

Is Yemen the next Tunisia?  Read about the similarities

Women's News January 18, 2011

The Yemen Observer has their own person of the year:  Gamalah al-Baidhani.  She's founder and chairperson of the ALTAHADI Foundation for the disabled.

News of the weird:  A French-Iranian girl was convicted of luring a Jewish man to be kidnapped and tortured, then killed by a gang in France.  She's currently in prison.  But the head of the prison has been having an affair with her.  So has one of the guards.  It's a big mess.
 
The Yemeni government has been arresting some Shi'ites on charges such as spying for Iran and promoting Shi'ism.  This leaves their wives in limbo, so some of them have joined the Yemeni Organization for Defending Human Rights.

A psychologist in Turkey is out of a job, supposedly because her skirt was too short.  First she was reassigned, then her contract was not renewed.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Top Stories January 17, 2011

Arab News (Saudi Arabia):  Uncertainty grips Tunisia - Things are a bit out of control in Tunisia right now.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Regional summit may delay P.M showdown - Hariri, the former PM, is the caretaker PM.  March 8 has nominated Omar Karami for the position.

Haaretz (Israel):  Despite Lebanon unrest, tribunal expected to blame Hezbollah for Hariri murder -  The indictments are supposed to come out on Monday.

Turkish Daily News:  Turkish leaders head to summit on Lebanese crisis - The Turkish PM is meeting the Emir of Qatar and the President of Syria, in Damascus, to discuss Lebanon.

Syrian Arab News Agency:  Syria and Iraq: Bolstering cooperation in all fields, activating signed agreements - The PM of Syria has been visiting Iraq to discuss cooperation, especially in regards to transportation of goods.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

YemenWatch: Sunday January 16, 2011

There was fighting between the Yemeni military and separatists in Lahj province.  The army took control back of Al-Habilain district.

The Interior Ministry is blaming the Houthi Group again, saying they threatened the mediators from Qatar.

The families of Yemeni prisoners at Guantanamo Bay held a protest on Saturday.

The Committee to Protect Journalists wants the government to release the 2 detained journalists.

There was a small rally in Yemen in support of the Tunisian people and against the current Yemeni government.

The lawsuit against the sales tax has been rejected by the Yemen Supreme Court.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Qatar gets 2022 World Cup: Update V

The president of UEFA (Union of European Football Agencies) is giving his opinion for the 2022 World Cup to be held all over the Gulf, not just in Qatar.  He's already suggested moving it to the winter months in Qatar.  And as I posted earlier, the president of FIFA has met with representatives from some Gulf countries who are interested in helping out Qatar.

Lebanon on the Brink?: Update II

A possibly damaging tape has come to light.  It's from 2005 or 2006, and it's Saad Hariri talking with a man who was later discredited as a false witness, Muhammad Zuhair Siddiq.  As the post I've linked to points out, Hariri is not doing anything wrong on the tape.  He is listening to the witness, whom he appears to believe, and this is before the witness was discredited.  But considering the timing, it could be damaging.  Hizbollah timed their parliament resignation for Hariri's US visit, and now this tape comes out just before a new prime minister is in the works.  We'll have to see how Hariri resonds.

Revolution in Tunisia

I haven't commented much on Tunisia, because I really don't know that much about it. But the people have revolted and managed to kick out the president. See chronology of events. The former president is now in Saudi Arabia. And other people in the Middle East are starting to think, "hey, maybe we could do that too." It's probably the only way Egypt will get rid of Mubarak.  If Tunisia can do it, why not other countries?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

YemenWatch: Thursday January 13, 2011

President Saleh is accusing the Houthis of violating the Qatar-mediated ceasefire.  The Houthi Group said it is the government who keeps violating the ceasefire, not them.

Someone tried to assassinate the governor of Dhale province.  Separatists are believed to be responsible.

The General Assembly of Traders is filing a lawsuit against the President of the Tax Authority.  This is in response to a lawsuit filed against them as "agitators" against a sales tax law.

Fouad Rashid, editor of the Al-Mukalla Press (online newspaper), was arrested on January 10th.  Rashid was released in May 2010 after serving a year in prison with no trial.  Reporters Without Borders has condemned the arrest.  Another journalist, Ilah Haydar Shae, is still in solitary confinement. 
Note: Al-Mukalla is the capital of Hadramout province.

The Minister for Oil and Minerals was suspended, following a fuel crisis in Yemen.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid, and Crisis Response both arrived in Yemen today.  They're looking at problems in the Houthi region (north) and problems in aiding Somali refugees.  There are currently about 170,000 legal Somali refugees in Yemen.

It seems like the Yemeni military now has a Koran memorization course.  The first group of soldiers graduated today.

Election Mess:
Apparently Hillary Clinton did meet with the JMP opposition parties.  One of their leaders is saying that the US is in favor of change.  Also, is appears that the GPC and JMP have agreed to delay the elections from April to June of 2011.  Yahoo! is saying that Clinton met the JMP at the US Embassy, which would explain the new law: if you want to visit an embassy, you must get government approval.

Lebanon on the Brink?: Update I

The President of Lebanon will start talking with the different factions on Monday, to try and find a new prime minister.  Hizbollah, of course, wants the new guy to be one of their allies.  They're claiming that their faction (called March 8) has a majority in parliament.  And since Israel is on the southern border of Lebanon, the Israelis are on alert (or not) in case things turn violent, although Hizbollah leader Nasrallah says it won't.  Everyone is concerned about what's going to happen next.  Even the Lebanese stock market fell.  Let's hope that Nasrallah is sincere, and that this fight stays strictly political.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lebanon on the Brink?

Hizbollah has left the Lebanese government.  Eleven members left the 30-minister government, just enough to bring it down and force a new one to be created.  The UN's Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) has been looking into the 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri for a while now, and is expected to hand down indictments soon - specifically, indictments involving Hizbollah.  Saudi Arabia and Syria have been trying to keep the government together ahead of these indictments, but it looks like that's over now.  Hizbollah is blaming that on the US, while they also try to thwart the STL.

At the moment, things do not look good in Lebanon.  Once the expected indictments come out, Hizbollah and its allies are not going to be happy.  The current situation arose when a power-sharing agreement was reached in November of 2009.  But as Hizbollah was implicated in the Hariri assassination, things began to go downhill.  Let's hope the situation doesn't disintegrate into violence.


More from the BBC.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Another Israeli Boycott

This time it's Israeli academics.  A group of professors has banded together and decided to boycott a college that's in a settlement in the West Bank.  The professors signed a petition saying they won't participate in any activities there.

This is the kind of thing that will help create peace.  As more and more Israeli groups boycott illegal settlements, and more and more academics start writing about Israel in the 20th century.  Too often, Israeli historians who write about what's been done to the Palestinians are called "self-hating Jews."  Because pointing out that your own people have done something wrong means there must be something wrong with you.

The whole thing reminds me of America in the 1950s and 1960s.  If you were a child then, you learned about how people came to America and made a nation out of nothing.  Manifest Destiny was king.  Nowadays, you learn that other people actually lived in America before the white man got here.  And these other people were killed and herded onto reservations.  It seems like Israel is just starting to go through that process.  That enough people are finally saying, Stop It!  I want to know the truth.  Only after BOTH sides have accepted reality will peace be an option.

YemenWatch: Tuesday January 11, 2011

The US and Great Britain are sending special forces units to Yemen, to train Yemeni counter-terrorism units.  The new units will be in Abyan, Shabwa, Hadramout and Mareb provinces.  In Abyan, 6 soldiers were killed in an ambush over the weekend.  Two military convoys were attacked on Friday.  And more soldiers were injured in fighting on Saturday.

Saudi Arabia is looking for Al-Qa'eda members and says 16 of them are hiding out in Yemen.

A Yemeni air force plane fired a rocket on a village in Sana'a province.  No word yet on what that is about.

There was more fighting in Lehj province between the government and southern separatists, including protests in Aden.

Tribesmen in Jawf province set up a checkpoint on the road to Sana'a.  There are also some problems between (I think) another tribe in Jawf and Saudi Arabia.  Apparently a tribesman was killed so the tribe was holding some Saudis prisoner.  Four of them were released.

Four Egyptians were extradited back to Egypt.  They were captured in August, fighting for the Houthis.

An American man in California was convicted of spying for Yemen and shipping military materials there.  He is originally from Yemen.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Yemen today to talk about counter-terrorism efforts.  She may also have met with the JMP opposition parties.

The president of Turkey was in Yemen on Monday to talk about investment opportunities there.  Turkey and Yemen are also working on an agreement so that visas are not required to visit either country.

Germany has offered 5 million Euros to help Yemen with "awareness of reproductive health" issues.

Parts of Sa'adah province have been hit hard by the fighting between the Yemeni government and the Houthis, so the EU, UN, and World Bank want to help rebuild it.

Election Mess:  A member of the GPC has set forth an initiative to try and help the political crisis.  The JMP is looking at it.  The initiative would postpone the elections that are supposed to be held in April (which the JMP is threatening to boycott as illegal) and may help form a coalition government.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Top Stories January 10, 2011

Arab News (Saudi Arabia):  South Sudan decides - For anyone not paying attention out there, southern Sudan held a big vote Sunday to see if they want to split off from Sudan.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Upbeat Syria sees Lebanon solution this month -  Saudi Arabia and Syria have been working on an agreement to keep the peace, in regards to indictments by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Haaretz (Israel):  EU diplomats say East Jerusalem should be treated as Palestinian capital - The report that this came from really criticizes Israel's practices towards the Palestinians and lays out possible actions by the EU.  Definitely worth reading this article!


Turkish Daily News:  Release of Turkish Hizbullah members sparks controversy over its future strategy -  This is NOT the Hizbollah you're thinking of - this is a separate organization, Turkish Hizbullah.  They do have a history of violence.

El Watan (Algeria):  Les mineurs seront liberes selon Ould Kablia - The Algerian government is arresting lots of people in the riots and protests, including an El Watan reporter.  And the interior minister says that minors who were arrested will be released.  We'll see if that actually happens.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pakitstan's Blasphemy Laws Abused: Update I

Well, it's getting worse.  Now a lot of Pakistanis are protesting against any changes to the blasphemy law.  They think that insulting Islam should carry the death penalty.  This comes after the governor of Punjab province was killed by his own bodyguard on Tuesday, because he wanted to save a Christian woman who had been sentenced to death for blasphemy.  And at least one group called for a boycott of his funeral!

I find this whole subject crazy.  I've said it before, but I do firmly believe in freedom of speech.  And that includes the ability to discuss or argue about religion(s).  I just hope that most Americans don't look at this and think that all Muslims are fanatics.  Christianity has had its own problems in the past with killing or jailing "blasphemers."  Just last week Bill O'Reilly even yelled at an atheist leader for "insulting" Christianity and wouldn't listen to any of his reasons (No, I am not an atheist.).  Why do so many people get so upset if anyone dares to say something about their religion that they don't like?  Why can't we simply discuss things like supposed adults instead of attacking each other like unruly children?

Women's News: Yemen Edition

The Yemen Times has chosen a woman as their 2010 Person of the Year.  Her name is Fauzia Ahmed Noman.  She helped found the Yemeni Family Association and was one of the first women to run for parliament.  She died in November.

The Yemeni parliament is looking to pass some constitutional amendments.  Some of them are not good, but one of them would dedicate 44 seats in parliament to women candidates.  This is part of Saleh's pledge to have 15% of parliament be female.  What I find ironic is that currently, in the US, about 17% of Congress is female.

Yemen Online has a story about a woman who is in jail, because she wanted to marry someone her father doesn't approve of.  I believe I may have mentioned this in another post a while back.  The reason her father doesn't approve is because the man's occupation is considered dirty.  Which means he's possibly a butcher or a barber, or something like that.

Friday, January 7, 2011

YemenWatch: Friday January 7, 2011

Twelve Yemeni soldiers were killed in Abyan province.  AQAP is suspected to be responsible.

An AQAP leader in Pakistan, Naser al-Wahishi, was reported to have been killed by a predator drone.

More Houthis released from prison in Sa'ada province.  And in Al-Jawf province there seems to have been some kind of intra-Houthi incident that killed a tribesman.


The Yemeni coast guard has started finding bodies from that ship carrying 80 Somalis and Ethiopians that capsized.

The Yemeni government is warning people not to participate in any unauthorized rallies or protests.  This is in regards to the election mess.

According to Al-Sahwa, January 5th was the 1-year anniversary of the Yemeni government's attack against the Al-Ayyam newspaper.  Apparently the paper was staging a sit-in then, because it had been suspended in May 2009 after another government attack.  So much for press freedom in Yemen.

Qatar gets 2022 World Cup: Update IV

Now the president of FIFA is weighing in, saying that the World Cup will probably be in January, instead of over the summer.  He's in Qatar right now for the Asian Cup.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

More Problems with Kuwaiti Prime Minister: Update I

The prime minister has survived a no-cooperation vote 25 to 22.  One of the MPs resigned after the vote, but the opposition seems determined to change the government.  There appear to be some Sunni-Shi'ite tensions involved but I'm not completely sure about that situation yet.

Corruption in Gaza Lines

Al-Jazeera has an interesting story about Gaza.  Apparently some American companies had to pay bribes to the Israelis to get their products past the border crossing.  All this was before Hamas took over and Israel started the blockade.  This information came to light from the latest WikiLeaks cable release.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

YemenWatch: Tuesday January 4, 2011

I'm experimenting with taking YemenWatch down to twice a week, depending upon how active it is.

The ceasefire with the Houthis seems to be going well so far.  Qatar is responsible for the mediation.  The Houthis have given back all of the military vehicles they captured in Saada province.


A military camp in Al-Jawf province is under siege by armed tribesmen.  This is in northern Yemen, next to Sadah province, but the article doesn't say if it's Houthi related.

Three soldiers were hurt in Shabwa in what is thought to be an AQAP attack.

The southern separatist movement Al-Harak is using civil disobedience to shut down business on the first Monday of every month.

One of the leaders of the Southern Movement in Hadramout was detained.

80 Africans died trying to cross the sea into Yemen.

The World Food Program is giving $53 million for Somali refugees in Yemen.

A Somali man was sentenced to death and 3 Yemenis got 25 years each, on drug distribution charges.

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More election mess.  The US weighed in on those constitutional amendments, and is accused of interfering.  An opposition party that's not part of the JMP opposition group said that their leader was attacked by a gunman.  The JMP is still boycotting parliament.  But they did discuss a letter sent to them from a GPC panel.

Monday, January 3, 2011

More Problems with Kuwaiti Prime Minister

MPs are a bit upset in Kuwait.  Some of them were injured by security forces when they held an unauthorized public rally.  In retaliation, the MPs have filed a no cooperation motion against the prime minister.  If it passes, then the emir of Kuwait will have to fire the PM or dissolve parliament or hold new elections.

The prime minister is the nephew of the emir, and has been in office since February 2006.  Apparently, since he became prime minister, parliament has been dissolved 3 times and the cabinet has resigned 5 times.

The Kuwait Times has an update on the situation, which it looks like the prime minister is winning.  The vote is set for January 5th.  What will happen after that is unclear.

Land Convoy Reaches Gaza

A convoy called Asia 1 has reached Gaza.  The convoy started in India, and reached Gaza through Egypt.  There's another part of the convoy that should be arriving by ship.  We'll have to wait and see if the ship gets through the blockade.  The convoy was supposed to reach Gaza on the anniversary of Cast Lead, the Israeli offensive against Gaza, but was a few days late.

Top Stories January 3, 2010

Arab News (Saudi Arabia):  Palestinian killed in cold blood - An unarmed Palestinian man was killed at a checkpoint.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Rival Lebanese leaders united in condemnation of attack on Copts - This is in regards to the attack in Egypt.

Haaretz (Israel):  Despite public denial, U.S. officials tell Haaretz: We're angry at Barak - Yes, the US is angry at the Israeli Defense Minister.

Turkish Daily News:  Greece to put up anti-migrant wall on Turkish border -  Another wall between countries.

Islamic Republic News Agency (Iran):  Record rise in exchanges at TSE early 2011 - The Tehran Stock Exchange is having a record new year.