Thursday, September 29, 2011

Yemeni ulema issue fatwa against resurrection, and Saleh says he will only leave as rivals go as well

Some of the Yemeni ulema (religious leaders) during their conference.


A group of Yemeni clerics loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Thursday issued a fatwa prohibiting protests demanding the removal of the regime, which have been going on for months. The clerics said in a statement at the end of a three-day meeting that armed rebellion is the worst form of revolt and stressed the importance of respecting the "pledge of allegiance" between the people and the president. The statement came after Mr Saleh had urged loyal clerics to issue such a fatwa on Tuesday.
Several clerics, civil-society organisations, tribal leaders and leaders of the youth protest movement have warned of the consequences of such a fatwa and said those who issued it would be considered partners in any attacks on the people calling for the departure of Mr Saleh. (For Arabic readers, click here for the text of the fatwa) 
"This statement is a military statement. It is a declaration of war that Saleh wants to launch against his people under a religious cover," said Mohammed Al Hazmi, a imam and an opposition member of parliament.
Despite the fatwa, protests calling for Mr Saleh's removal and fierce fighting continued yesterday.
Two people were killed and five others wounded in Sanaa when the house of Himiar Al Ahmar, deputy speaker of parliament, was shelled by government troops.
Mr Al Ahmar is one of the the brothers of Sheikh Sadeq Al Ahmar, leader of Yemen's most powerful tribal confederation of Hashid. Sheikh Al Ahmar's tribesmen and forces led by General Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar, who defected from the Yemeni military, battled government troops in Sanaa.

Update Friday 30/9: Saleh himself also placed new obstacles on the road to a possible transition. In a 20 minutes interview with the Washington Post and the New York Times Saleh said that he would only leave as his rivals also would go. According to the Washington Post he said that
'a political transition plan crafted by Yemen’s Persian Gulf neighbors made clear that “all elements” causing tensions in Yemen need to be removed. That meant his main rivals — Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who turned against Saleh and joined the nation’s now eight-month-old populist uprising, and the Ahmar clan, a powerful tribal family not related to the general — could not be allowed to run for elections or hold political office or a military command if he steps aside, Saleh said.
“Because if we transfer power and they are there, this will mean that we have given into a coup,” he said. “If we transfer power, and they are in their positions, and they are still decision-makers, this will be very dangerous. This will lead to civil war.”

 Saleh also hinted that Ali Mohsen and the Ahmar family were behind last month's attempt to assasinate him.  Saleh's demand that the Ahmar family, who are he traditional leaders of the powerful tribal confederation of the Hashid step down, is completely nuts. It only underlines that he is there to stay at any price. He could as well have asked fo the sun not to go under anymore.

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