January 20, 2011
Hundreds of “militants” waltzed into Raada, a town a few hundred miles from Yemen’s capital, and took over several government buildings, emptied the jail and assumed positions at the base of the elite Republican Guard, headed by President Saleh’s son, Ahmed, the point man for the US on counter-terror operations.
The Yemeni opposition, local Sheikhs and residents charge that Prince Ahmed gave up the town without a fight in order to create chaos and delay the presidential election scheduled for Feb 21. The Republican Guard is also responsible for much of the violence toward the protesters, ie- an al Qaeda facilitating murderer is the US’s main contact on CT efforts.
The upcoming presidential election is an uncontested. Saleh’s VP has been endorsed by the opposition and will have a two year term. The Yemeni public has refused the US endorsed, UN brokered transition plan which affords immunity to Saleh for all his crimes over the last 33 years as well as many of his aids.
Protests across Yemen continue daily against the plan which is the diametric opposite of what the protesters were trying to achieve, an entire regime change and a transitional council to guide the shift to a parliamentary system. Instead the US plan puts the fractured regime back together in a unity government.
Many in Yemen are also concerned that the US/Saudi approved transition plan elevated the Islamic Reform party, Islah, into power ministries and other leadership positions that they would not have attained otherwise.
CNN:This comes as thousands of anti-Saleh protesters marched in the streets of Radda on Wednesday, condemning what they say was an act of treachery by relatives of Saleh.”Saleh’s nephew and son handed over the town to the militants. They wanted al Qaeda to take over the town to raise the tension in the country,” said Sameer Ashtal, a youth protester in Radda.
He added, “Saleh is willing to destroy to the entire country for the sake of himself, and that is why he has to leave power.”
Marchers in Radda chanted, “Saleh’s family sold Radda. He will stand trial for this crime.”
In addition to the protests in Raada, the provincial capital al Bayhad held a mass protest against the al Qaeda presence on Tuesday.
Update: fighting erupted today between al Qaeda and the local tribesmen, who had given the terrorists a two day deadline to leave the town.