Al-Qaeda to establish 2 new camps in south Yemen
Sunday, 15 July 2012 10:54 GMT
President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi
Sanaa - Khaled HarojiAl-Qaeda troops in Yemen are trying to regroup in two new camps in the mountainous areas of two southern provinces, Bayda and Abyan, Arabstoday sources revealed on Saturday.
The sources believe that the two camps have already been established, one in the Mahfad region in Abyan province, while the other is in Yikla, Bayda province. Yikla is a large, mountainous region which connects four provinces of Yemen's southern and eastern regions; Bayda, Abyan, Marib and capital Sanaa.
The sources added that hundreds of al-Qaeda fighters who were involved in the militant clashes against the state's army in the last few months have withdrawn from the cities of Zinjibar, Jaar, Azan and Shaqra to the mountains of Maraqsha and Hattat where al-Qaeda previously established its first camp in Yemen in 1995 until it was destroyed by the Yemeni army in 1998. These mountains are directly connected to the city of Mahfad where the sources believe al-Qaeda has established a new camp.
Tribal sources in Bayda told Arabstoday that al-Qaeda had gathered more than 1000 fighters at their new camp in Yikla. The camp is believed to be commanded by Qaed al-Dhahab, younger brother of the late al-Qaeda commander Tariq al-Dhahab who was killed in Bayda last February by his elder brother, Hizam al-Dhahab as the latter denied the existence of his brother's fighters in the city where they lived.
The tribal sources added that al-Qaeda fighters, including Qaed al-Dhahab himself was recently seen moving between Abyan and Baydaa through the mountains. Local residents reportedly fear an all-out battle taking place between militants and government security forces.
The Yemeni army succeeded recently in driving al-Qaeda troops out of their strongholds in the cities of Zinjibar and Jaar, which they seized about a year and half ago during the turmoil after people's protests succeeded in former president Ali Abdullah Saleh stepping down.
In another development, President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi, who was Saleh's vice president, issued on Saturday a decree forming a technical committee charged with preparations for a comprehensive national dialogue.
The move came after more than a month of talks with the groups mentioned in a power-transfer deal backed by Yemen's wealthy Gulf neighbours and its UN-sponsored implementation mechanism. The deal and its mechanism called for holding the dialogue in the early stages of the second transitional period, which began after Hadi was officially elected late February.
The committee comprised of 25 members from signatories to the deal, and its responsibility is to prepare for the dialogue scheduled to take place in November. The committee is not authorised to assume acts related to the ideas of the dialogue and its outcomes, according to the decree.
Participants include the National Coalition (the ruling General People's Congress and its allies), the National Council(the opposition Joint Meeting Parties and its allies), other active political parties and forces, youth movements, the Southern Movement, Harak, the Shiite Houthi Group, and women representatives.
The committee will start its job within ten days after its formation, with the first step expected to be electing its head, first and second deputies and a spokesperson.
The second provision in the decree provided for the period of preparation for the dialogue, and formulating the constitution by a constitutional committee. The constitutional committee, to be selected later, will hold necessary deliberations about a new constitutional draft and a public referendum on its approval.
Furthermore, the provision included preparations for free, transparent elections at the end of the two-year transitional period including the formation of a new electoral commission, preparing voter rolls, issuing a new electoral law and finally holding the elections.
All measures to prepare for the dialogue, the constitution, and the elections must be according to the power-transfer deal, which was brokered by the Gulf Co-operation Council and backed by the West in November.
Under the decree, all concerned groups and movements shall have equal representation in the dialogue and active participation, with transparency and strict adherence to the outcomes.