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Drone Wars: Attacks fuel anger in Yemen

SANAA — Locals in southern Yemen, where the drone strikes are primary concentrated, said that these days, the U.S. drones have been bombing on a near daily basis.

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BEIRUT — Opposition figures worry that President Saleh will only become empowered by the Al Qaeda figure's death.

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Government forces and tribesman who oppose President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and are said to be allied to leading dissident General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, have been fighting in the area since March.

Schools out in Yemen

Students at Sanaa University are boycotting lessons and closing down the campus, saying the revolution must come first.
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University students have closed down their campus in the capital Sanaa under the slogan: "“No education and no study until the president is ousted!” (AFP/Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

As the uprising in Yemen has ratcheted up a gear and battles between forces loyal to the government and opponents of Yemen's regime rage on the streets of the capital, killing scores of people, students have closed down Sanaa University and are boycotting their lessons.

Protesting at the start of the new academic year, students have staged demonstrations inside campus over the past three days and put chains across the doors of many faculties leaving classrooms and corridors silent.

“We are youth demanding change and will not allow the government to use education as an excuse to end our revolution,” Abdul Nasser Wael, 22, a student at Sanaa University and a youth protester told GlobalPost.

Read GlobalPost: Is Violence Pushing Yemen to the Brink?

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Is violence pushing Yemen to the brink?

The past 24 hours have been the bloodiest since the uprising in Yemen began in January and many fear the once peaceful protests may turn violent.
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As Yemen has witnessed its bloodiest 24 hours since the uprising began nine months ago many fear the country is edging towards civil war. (AFP/Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

An eyewitness to the unfolding situation in Yemen has spoken of almost civil war like conditions in the country’s capital Sanaa today. Hakim al-Masmari who works for the global campaign organization Avaaz, said that attacks on citizens are taking place in almost every street of the capital and that heavy artillery is being used against protesters.

“All roads are blocked in the capital and bullets are flying everywhere,” he said. “Anyone who is seen walking in the streets is shot instantly.”

At least 50 people have been killed while 650 people were injured in the past 24 hours after security forces indiscriminately shot at protesters calling for the toppling of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. At least 21 people were killed today across Yemen.

“President Saleh knows that he will be forced to sign the GCC power transfer proposal within the next week,” Ali Abdul Jabbar, Director of the Sanaa-based Dar al-Ashraf Research Center told GlobalPost, “and he is seeking to do anything to stay in power, even if it means killing protesters.”

Government forces opened fire on anti-government protesters Sunday using anti-aircraft guns and automatic weapons killing at least 26 people and wounding dozens.

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The end of Ali Abdullah?

After nine months of protests against him, Yemen’s three-decade dictator has reportedly agreed to a transfer of power. The opposition says seeing is believing.
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A Yemeni anti-government protester holds a drawing calling for the trial of President Ali Abdullah Saleh during a demonstration in Sanaa. Now Saleh says he will step down. (GAMAL NOMAN/Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

Has the wily tribesman of Yemen finally run out of ways to dance on the heads of his snakes?

If ruling Yemen is like leaping from vipers, as is his favorite comparison, then Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president who has ruled since 1978, has proven more adept at most in dodging the poison.

But with the country fast heading toward social and economic collapse and facing huge and sustained street protests against his rule which began in January, Saleh has reportedly authorized his deputy to negotiate a power transfer with the opposition.

Saleh issued a decree on Monday that gives Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, Yemen's vice-president, "the necessary constitutional authority to negotiate" the peaceful handover of power, according to state news agency Saba.

The decree gives Hadi the power to sign on Saleh's behalf the so-called Gulf Initiative, which was proposed by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).Hadi can "agree on a time-frame ... sign and follow up with the implementation", according to the decree.

Saleh also reportedly authorized Hadi to begin preparations for early presidential elections to be carried out under regional and international supervision.

The GCC deal stipulates that Saleh step down within 30 days and pass power to Hadi, who will then form an opposition-led national government and arrange presidential elections in 60 days.

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Are Yemenis fed up with peace?

SANAA — Protesters in Change Square are growing increasingly frustrated with their lack of progress.

Somali mercenaries in Yemen

As the armed battle against al-Qaeda militants in Yemen continues there are stubborn rumours of Somali mercenaries involved in the fighting.
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Islamist fighters from the hard-line Shabab movement taking part in a military drill at a camp in the nothern outskirts of Mogadishu. Rumours persist that Somali mercenaries are involved in the fighting in Yemen. (AFP/Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

Desperate to earn money for their impoverished families, some Somali refugees have turned to fighting alongside the militants and tribal supporters of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) as they battle government forces in south Yemen, a tribal fighter has told GlobalPost.

“We buried a couple of Somalis over the last week. We can tell they were Somalis by their facial features. There are not many, but, there are some fighting alongside al-Qaeda in Abyan,” said Mohammed Abu Mansoor, a tribesman, who has been fighting for the government against AQAP-affiliated militants trying to gain control over the southern Abyan province.

While Yemen offer precious little for its 170,000 mainly Somali refugees, an increasing number of Somalis are making the perilous journey across the Gulf of Aden fleeing the war and drought, which are devastating their homeland.

Rumours of Somalis fighting for the highest bidder have been stubborn in Yemen. During the six-year war between government troops and the Houthi rebels in north Yemen, Somalis were reported in local media as having fought alongside the Houthis.

Sheikh Ali Mohammed Raage, spokesman for al-Shabab, the extremist al-Qaeda-linked Islamic group in Somalia, said al-Shabab has been sending forces to Yemen and receiving fighters in return because of its close links with the country. 

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