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'Diplomacy of incompetence' in Iraq
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 15 - 09 - 2011

Is anyone in charge of Iraq's foreign policy, asks Salah Nasrawi
Two significant things happened this week in Yemen that might lead to an end of the eight-month crisis. And then again they might not.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh authorised his deputy to talk with opposition until a new president is democratically elected, the long-awaited step that the international and regional community wanted from Saleh.
The second was the liberation of two southern towns from Al-Qaeda after they were declared Taliban-style Islamic emirates five months ago.
Both steps were widely welcomed inside and outside Yemen as a sign of success of the efforts made by the United States, Saudi Arabia, the UN and EU to find a peaceful and orderly way for power transition.
Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansour Had is supposed to start talks with the opposition to prepare for electing a new president.
All conflicting parties should find a mechanism for implementing a power-transfer deal proposed by Saudi Arabia and all Gulf countries earlier this year and still supported by the whole international community.
The decree of authorisation came after Hadi held a series of meetings this week with the ambassadors of the US, EU, Russia and China who all support the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) deal which was modified by UN envoy Jamal Bin Omar, who wants to end the crisis by electing a new president for Yemen by the end of this year.
Hadi is supposed to sign the GCC deal, which was already signed by the ruling party and opposition, on behalf of President Saleh, according to the authorisation decree.
However, the opposition refuse to start any talks before the president signs the GCC deal, which means they want him to step down first.
The decree was issued according to Article 124 of the Yemeni constitution which gives the president the right to authorise some of his powers to his deputy when the supreme national interest requires it.
The opposition considered the decree of authorisation just as a way of wasting time and misleading people.
It seems, however, that the opposition cannot explicitly refuse the Saudi-led GCC deal nor can they convince the international community to support them and ignore President Saleh who is still the legitimate president in the eyes of millions of his supporters.
Political analyst Ali Saif Hassan said the ball now is in the court of the opposition. "The authorisation decree is enough to implement the GCC deal and elect a new president for Yemen in a democratic way," he said.
A total of 230 military individuals were killed and more than 600 others injured before Al-Qaeda was defeated and driven earlier this week from two cities declared as Taliban-style Islamic emirates earlier this year, according to military officials.
About 30 Al-Qaeda leaders were killed during the three months battles of the liberation. Those killed and injured were from the brigades of the southern military region that restored total control on Zinjubar on Saturday after Al-Qaeda fighters escaped to the mountains of neighbouring provinces like Shabwah and Hatat in the province of Abyan.
Meanwhile, Vice President Hadi said that about 30 Al-Qaeda leaders were killed during the battles of liberating the two towns of Zinjubar and Jaar.
About 90 soldiers and officers were killed from the 25th Mica brigade which was blockaded by Al-Qaeda for about three months at the outskirts of Zinjubar, according to Hadi who was briefing the EU ambassadors in Sanaa about the military victory over Al-Qaeda earlier in the week.
The confrontations between the government troops and Al-Qaeda operatives forced tens of thousands to be displaced from the two towns and areas around them.
Now that Al-Qaeda is gone, Minister of State Ahmed Al-Kuhlani expected that all the displaced persons would return home very soon.
He said in a press statement this week that about 180,000 refugees would return as soon as the military and security forces made sure the areas are cleaned from mines and explosives planted by the Al Qaeda terrorists.
From Saudi Arabia where he is still recovering and preparing to return, President Saleh congratulated his army for victory, and thanked the Saudi monarch for logistic cooperation and the United States for intelligence cooperation in that victory against Al-Qaeda.
Counter-terrorism forces were deployed all over the city of Zinjubar and the local government is supposed to re-start work soon.
In a lengthy letter sent from Saudi Arabia to the minister of defense and all generals of his army in the southern region, Saleh said, " The victory came from Allah and because of the direct supervision and good planning of the vice president and the cooperation of citizens."
Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leadership was seen in the southern province of Shabwa after they were defeated in Abyan, reliable sources in Shabwah told Al-Ahram Weekly on Tuesday. The sources said they saw Fahd Al-Qusu, Qasem Al-Raimi, and Said Al-Shihri along with tens of their companions including Saudis and Egyptians.
Many of those injured in the last battles in Zinjubar and Jaar were seen in one car heading to Azzan, close to Al-Huta, the stronghold of AQAP leadership, the sources added. The two top leaders, Nasser Al-Wahayshi and Anwar Al-Awlaki, were not seen in the group.
After government troops defeated Al-Qaeda groups in Zinjubar and Jaar, leaders and remnants of operatives escaped to their respective hideouts in Hatat and other areas in the province of Abyan, and to neighbouring provinces like Shabwa, Hudhrmout, Mareb and Al-Jawf. Shabwah is considered the main stronghold of AQAP. Hatat in Abyan has been the stronghold of the Jihadists of the Aden-Abyan army since the early 1990s.

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