Yemen government agrees unprecedented negotiations as observers suggest transition underway; Tribesmen seize parts of Yemen's second city; Britain and France demand UN sanctions against Syria; Food crisis in east Africa demands urgent action; 97% of Afghanistan's GDP linked to foreign military and donors; China builds first aircraft carrier; and more
Top of the Agenda: Hints of Transition in Yemen
The Yemeni regime officially opened a dialogue with the country's main opposition group, the Joint Meeting Party, in what sources describe as an unprecedented political concession (BBC). The decision to negotiate followed a day of mass protests outside the vice president's residence. Vice president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi remains the country's provisional leader as President Ali Abdullah Saleh continues to recover from serious injuries in Saudi Arabia.
The Yemeni opposition (Bloomberg) is pushing the regime to formally acknowledge the transfer of power from Saleh to Hadi in an effort to stoke the transition process and close the door on the president's three-decade rule. In the most recent failed transition deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council, Saleh refused to step down within thirty days and relinquish power to Hadi.
While a fragile ceasefire holds in the capital of Sanaa, hundreds of armed tribesmen have seized parts of Taiz, Yemen's second largest city (CBS) and home to some of the most virulent anti-regime protests. Security officials say government forces managed to stave off an attack on a presidential palace.
The United States, its Western allies, and Saudi Arabia have all called for Saleh to step down and begin an immediate transition of authority. Some analysts suggest a political changeover (Reuters) modeled by the previous Gulf deal is underway, but warn of a possible power struggle between the Hashed tribal federation, breakaway military leaders, Islamic militants, leftists, and youth coalitions.
Yemen's instability increases, and there is no clear successor to Saleh. Yemen expert Bernard Haykel says the best intermediate political solution would be a national unity council until elections can be held.
In TIME, Jeb Boone writes on the social and political environment surrounding the longest running protest movement in the "Arab Spring."
In this opinion piece for the Yemen Times, Nadia Al-Sakkaf argues against some of the dire predictions for a post-Saleh Yemen--including the rise of al-Qaeda and the general deterioration of the nation's politics.
Yemen could be edging toward civil war, particularly if the military gets involved in both sides of the conflict, says Yemen expert Gregory Johnsen, but the United States has limited ability to influence the outcome in a country that has been an ally in fighting terrorism.
PACIFIC RIM: Chinese Army Building First Aircraft Carrier
The head of China's General Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) confirmed that the country is in the process of reconstructing a Soviet-era carrier (BBC). While the PLA said the move would not pose a threat to other nations, the United States--which maintains bases, ships, and carriers in Asia--expressed concern over these naval aspirations.
North Korea: The government announced plans with China to develop the border island of Hwanggumphyong into a joint economic zone (Yonhap), as North Korea looks to apply China's economic model to its faltering economy.
In an op-ed for Project Syndicate, CFR's A. Michael Spence discusses Asia's new growth model.