Top stories of 2002 ‘Terror’ is #1 [Archives:2003/02/Front Page]

January 13 2003

The uphill battle against terrorism in Yemen has been voted the top news story of 2002 by editors and writers of the Yemen Times.
While much of the world fought its own battles in the global war on terrorism, 2002 was a year that saw an unprecedented number of bombings, murders and assassinations within Yemen’s borders.
Related to this multi-faceted story, a new warm political relationship between the United States and Yemen was named the year’s second most significant story.
Civil strife leading up to Yemen’s 2003 elections was chosen by the Times as the third biggest story of the year.
The newspaper’s editorial staff agreed unanimously that terrorism grabbed the most significant headlines in the past 12 months.
“The year 2002 was unfortunately full of miseries for Yemenis and Yemen’s image worldwide. It started with attacks by al-Qaeda sympathizers and ended with an unfortunate assassination of one of Yemen’s most well-respected personalities. Now that the year has gone, it is up to us to clear the way starting from 2003 for a better future, so our younger generation can have happier moments.”
Al-Saqqaf also notes that the most significant single news story of the year was the killing of six suspected al-Qaeda by an American CIA-operated drone plane.
The Nov. 4 takedown marked the first time, outside of Afghanistan, the Americans have assassinated enemies on foreign soil since the 1970s.
It was then when the U.S. stopped the practice via its own law. However, fighting terrorists has clearly changed global rules.
“Even though many events had occurred in 2002, the assassination of al-Harethi by a CIA drone in November has brought things to a whole new level, and hence was chosen as the story of the year. It was unprecedented for any foreign power to attack and assassin Yemenis on their soil, not only with the approval of the state, but by its own request,” said al-Saqqaf.
Civilians in Yemen were also targets in Yemen in 2002.
Near the time of the drone plane missile strike, a helicopter of the Hunt Oil Company was attacked by a group of terrorists near the International Airport of Sana’a.
It was just at year’s end, on Dec. 30, when three American aid workers were killed in Jibla, allegedly by an Islamic extremist.
And that came just two days after the assassination of Jarallah Omar, the secretary-general assistant of the Yemeni Socialist Party.
On October 6, in an eerie echo of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, the French oil supertanker Limburg bombed near al-Mukalla harbor, resulting in the death of one of its crew and thousands of tones of spilled crude oil.
This incident also hit Yemen’s economy due to the sharp increase of prices and insurance of ships anchored on our sea waters.
Acts of sabotage also marred Yemen’s 2002.
On Nov. 29 a blast rocked a government building in Marib, apparently in response to the Nov. 4 US drone plane attack.
On August 9 in Sana’a, on Soqatra Street two people died as a result of a bomb blast.
And in the Spring, a group calling itself Sympathizers of al-Qaeda unleashed a string of blasts. in the country.
On April 17 a grenade hit Esam Abduh Hassan in Salah area in Taiz.
In April 16, an explosion rocked the General Authority of the Civil Aviation in Sana’a.
Meanwhile, 2002 saw a remarkable turn in relations between Yemen and the U.S., and Times editorial staff voted that as the second most significant story of the year.
That warming relationship climaxed in December when the U.S. allowed 15 Scud missiles from North Korea to be delivered to Yemen, after the North Korean ship So San was intercepted by Spanish military.
The move allowed Yemen to display its sovereignty, however raised alarms from the international donor community, particularly Japan, which said it would reconsider the foreign aid it gives Yemen.
Shortly after the missile incident, it was revealed that Yemen has been purchasing Russian made military hardware, in part with U.S. funds from the CIA.
The Americans reportedly gave their blessing for the purchase, so Yemen can help fight its war on terror. Such a blessing is seen as another unusual turn in the shifting sands of world politics, considering the U.S. and Russia had been archrivals for decades during the Cold War.
In 2002, the U.S. has also trained hundreds of Yemeni forces in anti-terrorism tactics, and given a reported $100 million or more in aid to Yemen.
As the year’s third most significant local story, Times’ writers and editors chose continuing political unrest leading up to the 2003 elections.
While the ruling General People’s Congress and opposition parties have been preparing for election war, both have complained bitterly about registration irregularities.
Islah is the largest opposition party.
Violence marred several voter registration stations, as millions of Yemeni registered in October and November for this year’s elections.