Obama Issues Executive Order in Support of Yemen Transition
President Barack Obama plans to issue an executive order today that would give the Treasury Department authority to freeze the U.S.-based assets of anyone who “obstructs” implementation of the political transition in Yemen. According to one authority, the order is a proactive “deterrent” to “make clear to those who are even thinking of spoiling the transition” to think again. The order comes at a time when there are multiple ongoing threats to Yemen’s transitional stability and security. The leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Ayman al-Zawahri, labeled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi an agent of the U.S. in an attempt to sway public opinion. Additionally, AQAP released a guide titled “Expectations Full,” that is geared toward Western recruits, which urges them to “consider attacking America in its own backyard,” instead of traveling to Yemen. These targeted strategies are some of the reasons Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens and Peter Neumann argue that al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate is the most “dangerous franchise.” Furthermore, Yemen faces a dire humanitarian crisis that has left 22 million people without adequate food. U.N. representative in Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said the result of the political turmoil left “a much more profound and much more deep humanitarian crisis than what we have been describing.”
In other news, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called upon Yemen’s Press and Publications court to drop all charges against Al Jazeera correspondents Ahmed al-Shalafi and Hamdi al-Bukari, who were arrested while covering last year’s protests. ”The court’s revival of a politicized case from the [Ali Abdullah Saleh] era sends a clear message to all journalists in Yemen that nothing has changed for the press,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator.