So Yemen has decided not to host the conference on Bush’s Mid-East Initiative, “Forum for the Future.” Their official reason involves some sort of technicality with timing. Seriously though, they must think we are all a bunch of hameer – Yemen would jump at the opportunity to host this thing…at any time. All you have to do is look how proud they were to be hosting a delegation of congressional staffers.
The question is, is this really State punishing Yemen for policies that run counter to the global war on terror, or is it something more? Is this simply a shot across the bow, like withholding the millennium challenge funds? I am not 100 percent convinced that anger over al Badawi, or even generic “security concerns” are the only reason for Rice’s refusal to attend. Franky, recent and recurrent stirrings over the al Moayyad case, Guantanamo and the Palestinian issue make a visit by the Secretary politically unwise at this time, if ever. I’m not trying to deny that an actual physical threat to Rice may exist (although I probably don’t think it is as high as many), only that other factors may very well be at play – such as the broad dislike of the American government among Yemenis, and Yemen’s inability or unwillingness curb the expression of it. Public demonstrations won’t hurt the regime, in fact they may strengthen it, by presenting the regime to the U.S. as an American ally in the face of public opinion to the contrary. It also generates sympathy for the regime’s political concessions such as the jihadist catch-and-release program.
Given Yemen’s strategy of playing both sides, Rice in Yemen will most likely never happen…it would be too much like the mistress coming to a family dinner.
Yemen not to host Fourth Future Forum
SANA’A, Jan. 24 (Saba) – Yemen apologized on Thursday for hosting the Fourth Future Forum after the time of its convention, supposed to be last December, exceeded.
An official at the Foreign Ministry said that the transition of G-8 presidency from German to Japan has created a new problem concerning the joint presidency with Yemen.
In a statement published Thursday in 26 September newspaper the source, the official said that Yemen’s apology for hosting the forum came because it couldn’t agree with the Foreign ministers of the G-8 countries on a specific time for convening the forum.
He indicated to delay of the ministerial meeting of the Future Forum scheduled to be held at the beginning of last December, saying that it was postponed pursuant to a request from some of the G-8 states provided it would be held at a new date to be greed on with Yemen.
The official also made reference to the success of the fourth annual Civil Society Parallel Forum held in November 2007 in Sana’a, noting that it represented a vital event aimed at strengthening the relationship between civil society organizations and governments in the region.
Regarding to the Forum convening for 2008 supposed to be fixed at the 4th Future forum during its convention in Sana’a, the official said that the new presidency has now to communicate with Middle East and North Africa’s countries to determine the time and the hosting country for the forum in 2008.
Yemen refuses to host reform conference without Rice
SANAA (AFP) – Yemen has decided not to host the next Forum for the Future, a US initiative to promote reform in the Middle East, because US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is set to stay away, a foreign ministry official said on Thursday.
The forum was created by US President George W. Bush in 2004 as part of his Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative, so that G8 and regional leaders, and representatives from business and civil society, could meet to discuss reform.
The first meetings were held in Morocco in 2004, Bahrain in 2005 and Jordan in 2006.
Yemen had been slated by the Group of Eight most industrialised nations to hold the fourth forum in November, but it was postponed then because of Rice.
A foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday that “Yemen has decided to excuse itself from hosting the fourth Forum of the Future … because it has not received a commitment from the Group of Eight on a new date.”
However, the Western diplomat, who spoke on condition of anyonymity, said the real reason was because “security concerns” meant Rice would stay away.
“The American administration is also unhappy with the Yemeni authorities for allowing Jamal al-Badawi, an Al-Qaeda leader in Yemen wanted by the United States for terrorism, to live at home rather than being kept in detention.”
Badawi was sentenced to death in September 2004 for his part in the USS Cole bomb attack, which killed 17 sailors, and which was claimed by Al-Qaeda. An appeals court later commuted the sentence to 15 years in jail.
He broke out of jail in February 2006 with 22 other Al-Qaeda militants and was put on a US most-wanted list with a five-million dollar bounty on his head.
Residents of Badawi’s village told AFP that after more than a year on the run he handed himself in to authorities in October but was allowed to return home after making a pledge not to engage in violent or Al-Qaeda activity.
However, the interior ministry insisted that Badawi was still in custody and continuing to serve his sentence.