News Digest 31 October 2014

The Trouble With Yemen
Businessweek — 29 October 2014
In interviews with Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East, a number of those manning People’s Committee checkpoints say that they are longstanding members of Ansar Allah, or “Partisans of God”, the Houthis’ preferred name for their movement. But roughly the same proportion say that they joined the movement on or around 21 September, as the Houthi militias were completing their rout of First Armoured. The vast majority of this second group are supporters of Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s former president, and the General People’s Congress (GPC), Yemen’s historical ruling party. Saleh was ousted in a 2011 uprising after leading the country for 33 years. Meanwhile, senior government and diplomatic sources say it is no coincidence that the People’s Committees are split between the pro-Houthi and Saleh camps: they believe that Saleh played an active role in the fall of First Armoured and the takeover of the capital.

A Bloody Conundrum Beckons As Yemen Slides Into Civil War
Newsweek — 29 October 2014
While events in Yemen cannot be reduced to a simple Sunni-versus-Shia binary because they are rooted in historical conflicts of family and tribe, it may end up turning into that sort of war. Houthis militias have expanded southward from the capital and entered territory that is controlled by al-Qaida. The ensuing hostilities have killed dozens of fighters and at least 10 civilians, according to reports. “The average Yemeni is not scared of the Houthis’ military checkpoints. But the average Yemeni is scared of the suicide bombings,” says Sarah Jamal, a Sanaa-based independent researcher. “When we hear news on the radio that the Houthis are battling al-Qaida in the countryside, people’s first reaction in Sana’a is to worry that al-Qaida is going to get us back here in the city.”

Abaad Report: The south’s separation countdown
Yemen Times — 21 October 2014
According to a report released last week by the Abaad Studies and Research Center, southerners in Yemen feel that after the Houthis seized control over Sana’a their time has come to achieve independence from the north. The Houthis are an armed group prevalent in the north that effectively took control over Yemen’s capital on Sept. 21. “Yemenis in the south feel now is their chance for self-determination and separation from the north,” the report read. Continue reading

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News Update 17 October 2014

Who Lost Yemen?
Politico — 15 October 2014
The Huthi’s stunning rise to power is mainly the result of four factors: the incompetence of the interim government installed in 2011, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s desire for revenge against those who ousted him in 2011, Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s sharp turn against the Muslim Brotherhood and the astute political leadership of the Huthi movement itself. Just who is playing whom in this complicated game of Yemeni politics is not clear. The Huthi themselves may have neutralized much of the military though astute leadership and by gaining the loyalty of key military leaders. The Saudis and the Saleh clan were happy to see their former allies in Islah destroyed, even if by an adversary with close ties to Iran.

Houthi victories in Yemen make Saudi Arabia nervous
Al-Monitor — 15 October 2014
What concerns the Saudis the most is the Iranian connection to the Houthis. Saleh alleged Iranian help to the rebels as early as 2004, but it wasn’t until 2012 that US officials began confirming that Tehran was aiding the Houthis. Iran, with its Lebanese ally Hezbollah, has been shipping small arms and ammunition to the Houthis for several years now and also providing limited quantities of financial aid. Last month, the Yemeni authorities deported to Oman two Iranians whom they accused of being members of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force arrested in Yemen assisting the Houthis. Whatever the extent of Iranian aid to the Houthis, Riyadh believes it is extensive and critical to their success. A senior Saudi prince recently told me that the kingdom is now surrounded by Iranian proxies. He said Iran’s assets control four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. The Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat this month editorialized that “Iran is encircling Saudi Arabia.”

Shifting balances of power in Yemen’s crisis
Washington Post — 26 September 2014
This week’s events in Yemen have been mischaracterized in a variety of ways: A sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni groups; a second revolution that finally removes the pre-2011 actors from power; a counter-revolution backed by former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s party and his tribal affiliates; and a self-staged coup condoned by President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to weaken his political opponents. Given the rapidly evolving events, the malleable and shifting alliances, and the profusion of backroom deals among the main political actors, such a menagerie of competing explanations – each of which contains a nugget of truth – is not surprising. Nevertheless, a longer look at how political actors in Yemen balance against each other, and at how a shift in such balance of power between groups that is not reflected in the distribution of power in the government, provides a better explanation for the crisis. It also provides lessons about how to avoid similar escalation in the future. Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 19 September 2014

Al Qaeda Militants Flow Into Yemen’s Capital
Wall Street Journal — 14 September 2014
Scores of al Qaeda militants have moved into Yemen’s capital San’a in an attempt to exploit swelling political unrest and destabilize the government, officials said. While President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government is bogged down with protests in the capital by the Houthis—a Shiite Muslim political and militant group—at least 60 al Qaeda militants have slipped in over the past few weeks and joined sleeper cells, according to Yemeni officials.

Houthis’ contradictory path in Sanaa
Al-Monitor — 15 September 2014
The group’s rule represents the worse and most oppressive model of governance, as it runs Saada as a radical religious armed group that bans music, for instance. Pictures taken at Houthi sit-ins show that women are absent. Al-Monitor attended a sit-in on Aug. 30 next to the Interior Ministry, and asked the media officer of the Houthis why no women were present; the answer was that women should stay home. However, at the NDC, the Houthis supported the demands of the women’s movement, including the quota (Houthis supported the demands of women to have a fixed share of political participation). NDC member Thurayya Damaj told Al-Monitor, “The Houthis’ position vis-a-vis women in the capital Sanaa is completely different than their position as a ruling authority in Saada. They supported the quota in Sanaa, but tightened women’s freedoms in Saada governorate by imposing restrictions on their movement and clothing.”

Building a Shared Vision for Economic Reform in Yemen
CIPE — 16 September 2014
The unprecedented level of consultation and input with the private sector, civil society, and political parties ensured a high level of legitimacy and buy-in for reforms. The involvement of the private sector in the National Dialogue is an important achievement because it strengthens the role of business in national policymaking and enables the Yemeni government to tackle mounting economic concerns with a better understanding of the microeconomic conditions in the country. As Yemen enters the next phase of its transition, the private sector will continue to implement reforms through legislative advocacy strengthen the economic platforms of political parties, and directly address concerns identified in the Private Sector Vision. Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 5 September 2014

When Yemeni lords were ‘comrades’
Al-Monitor — 3 September 2014
As a result of Saudi Arabia offering financial backing to clan elders, followers of Sayyed Hussein al-Houthi sought Iranian financial backing. And, to confront the militias formed by clan elders, they managed to gain the loyalty of some competing elders. As a result, during the early years of this century, the Houthi movement was transformed into an Islamic political movement to confront Islamic Sunni political movements. It gradually mutated in subsequent years into an armed militia that could face the army in six wars between 2004 and 2010. While most of those who took part in the wars of the Houthi militias were clansmen, a significant part hailed from Hashemite lord families. This indicates that a new [social] class was formed by the latter — a class endowed with social and cultural characteristics that differed from the traditional stereotype of their ancestors, who historically were viewed by other clans as non-aligned and refrained from participating in any fighting.

With its Economy in Freefall, Yemen Secures IMF Lifeline
Wall Street Journal — 3 September 2014
Spurred by a rapidly deteriorating economy, the International Monetary Fund has approved a three-year extended credit facility worth $552 million with Yemen, the impoverished Arab nation that has become a breeding ground for the terrorist group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The lifeline will provide some relief for Yemeni authorities who face a myriad of political and security challenges that continue to drag on the economy. An amount equivalent to about $73.8 million is available for immediate disbursement to Yemen, while the remaining amount will be phased in semi-annual disbursements, subject to six reviews, according to the IMF.

Yemen fuel subsidy cuts hit poor hardest
IRIN — 25 August 2014
In an internal document seen by IRIN, Yemen’s Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation (MoPIC) estimates that the decision to cut fuel subsidies could lead to an additional 500,000 Yemenis falling under the breadline. More than half Yemen’s population – in excess of 12.5 million people – currently lives in poverty. To prevent such a disastrous situation the government had promised to redirect any savings made from cutting subsidies – which historically benefited the country’s wealthiest people – towards welfare payments for the poorest. Sana’a announced in early August that it would add 250,000 people to the list of those receiving unconditional cash transfers from the Social Welfare Fund (SWF) – the state-run body that organizes the payments – bringing the total number of people covered by the fund to 1.75 million. Individuals would receive quarterly handouts up to YR12,000 ($60). But SWF, which is supported by a number of foreign governments and international institutions including the World Bank, has not made regular payments to its beneficiaries since the beginning of the year, SWF officials confirmed to IRIN. In early August the fund finally made its first payment in 2014, providing people with money that was due in January. Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 22 August 2014

Yemeni victims of U.S. military drone strike get more than $1 million in compensation
Washington Post — 18 August 2014
The Yemeni government paid the families of those killed or injured in a U.S. drone strike last year more than $1 million, according to documents that provide new details on secret condolence payments seen as evidence that civilians with no ties to al-Qaeda were among the casualties. The documents, which are signed by Yemeni court officials and victims’ relatives, record payouts designed to quell anger over a U.S. strike that hit vehicles in a wedding party and prompted a suspension of the U.S. military’s authority to carry out drone attacks on a dangerous al-Qaeda affiliate.

Trouble is brewing
Economist — 18 August 2014
IS A showdown brewing in Yemen? On August 17th the Houthis, a Shia rebel group based in northern Yemen, issued an ultimatum to the government in Sana’a. Yemen’s president, they said, had five days to cut fuel prices and dissolve the government—or face a rerun of the 2011 revolution that unseated his predecessor. The Houthis have long been unhappy about being ruled by central authorities in Sana’a and accuse the current government of being ineffective. But their demands for change have grown louder since they helped Yemen’s security forces to rout tribal and Islamist militias, as well as a rogue unit of the army, from Amran province in July.

Education for Yemeni women still rare luxury
Al-Monitor — 17 August 2014
According to other Yemeni girls who spoke to Al-Hayat, summer vacation and other holidays are a threat to their studies. Fatima, 25, noted that the number of weddings during summer vacation and religious holidays triggered her mother’s heartbreak over her single daughter, wherein she pressured her daughter into marriage. The Sanaa University student said, “During the past holiday, three girls from our neighborhood got married. My mother kept nagging and telling me ‘your friends are getting married and all you do is go back and forth to university.’” A recent field study showed a persistence in the traditional view of women only getting married and staying at home. Student Najib Abu Srour conducted a study of 300 families in the center of Taiz province and its countryside. In both the center and the countryside, residents still believe that women are supposed to stay at home to serve their husbands and families because “education delayed their marriage.” Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 15 August 2014

The Sana’a Illusion
Foreign Affairs — 30 July 2014
It has become increasingly clear that the transition deal has cost Yemen dearly. Yemenis live in a land of fear and intimidation, petrol queues and hunger, violence and corruption. For them, Obama’s reference to Yemen seemed like a bad joke at best, and an insensitive insult at worst. And it must have been all the more troubling for Iraqis. A few years ago in Yemen, people used to warn of an “Iraq scenario” if its problems weren’t addressed, meaning that Yemen would be the new Iraq. They don’t anymore. People in Yemen have recognized what Obama does not: that it is by now the Yemen scenario that should serve as a warning, not a solution, to Iraq. Just like risky experiments on television, the Yemen model shouldn’t be tried at home.

Politics of Qat by Peer Gatter: Donor demands and qat
Yemen Times — 14 August 2014
Today, Law No. 70 of 1991 is implemented all over Yemen, the actual taxes collected at checkpoints and in markets are however nowhere near 20 percent of the retail price. They amount just to around 1-2 percent of the sales value of qat; another 1-2 percent are likely to go into the bribing of tax officials. In 2005, the tax rate of 20 percent was confirmed by the amendments to the Law concerning General Sales Tax. However, this did not make tax collection any more efficient.

Saudi Arabia losing influence in Yemen
Al-Monitor — 4 August 2014
In any case, Riyadh’s ambiguous position in Yemen and its lack of action there confirmed the Saudis confusion and their uncertainty as to who would control Yemen’s future and who to ally themselves with. In this regard, Saudi alliances in Yemen changed post-2011, when two of its most powerful historical partners, the family of Sheikh al-Ahmar and Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, became its most significant adversaries due to the Saudi hostility toward the Muslim Brotherhood and anyone associated with them, such as the Ahmars.

Militants kills 9 in southern Yemen, 15 die in northern clashes
Reuters — 13 August 2014
A bomb killed nine people in southern Yemen on Wednesday, a local official said, and tribal sources in the north said 15 more died in clashes between Shi’ite Muslim fighters and Sunnis loyal to an Islamist party. Yemen has been buffeted by violence mainly involving Sunni Muslim militants from al Qaeda in the south and Shi’ite tribesmen and rival Sunni Islamists in the north since mass protests in 2011 forced long-serving President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.

Yemen Qaeda chief praises Iraq jihadists
AFP — 14 August 2014
An influential Al-Qaeda leader in Yemen has praised Islamic State jihadists for their “victories in Iraq” but without pledging allegiance to their self-proclaimed “caliph” or leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “I congratulate all the mujahedeen on different fronts and all Muslims for the victories won by our brothers in Iraq against the puppets (of Shiite Iran),” ideological leader Ibrahim al-Rubaish says in a video posted online.

Drone strike kills 3 ‘Qaeda’ militants in Yemen
AFP — 9 August 2014
A drone strike on a house killed three Al-Qaeda suspects in the restive Yemeni province of Marib on Saturday, a security official said. The United States is the only country operating drones over Yemen, but US officials rarely acknowledge the covert programme. The strike “targeted a house in Marib… killing three Al-Qaeda militants and wounding two women,” the official in the south-central province told AFP.

Tunnel Plot to Kill Yemen’s Former President Saleh Is Foiled
NBC News — 14 August 2014
An aide to Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh said Thursday his security team had uncovered a plot to kill the former president with explosives planted in a tunnel running to a mosque inside his residential compound. Yemen’s authorities said they were investigating. Saleh, who stepped down in 2012 amid mass protests against his rule after more than three decades in office, remains an influential figure in the country and has many enemies. He has survived at least two assassination attempts.

Yemen’s al Qaeda wing seeks to set up ‘emirate’ in east
Reuters — 11 August 2014
Yemen’s al Qaeda wing has ordered men and women in the east to obey its strict interpretation of Islamic law, saying it aimed to set up an emirate in the remote area, local media and a resident said. The announcement by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) will stoke concerns about the territorial ambitions of militant groups weeks after al Qaeda offshoot Islamic State declared its own caliphate across parts of Syria and Iraq.

Al-Qaeda in Yemen: Still there
Economist — 11 August 2014
Many Yemenis are baffled that, for the third time in as many years, Mr Marqashi is wreaking havoc. Some doubt the government’s strategy since years of fighting, drone strikes and killing or capturing operatives have failed to quash the extremists. Yet they are also furious at the slaughter of unarmed soldiers. The government will have popular support on its side if it launches a fresh campaign in Hadramawt, as it has signalled it may do. But it can ill afford to allow Mr Marqashi another escape.

Defense Ministry bans old identity cards
Yemen Times — 12 August 2014
The Defense Ministry on Sunday gave orders to ban the use of old identity cards from October 2014 onward, according to Jamal Al-Qeiz, head of the Security Department of the Defense Ministry. It thereby reinforces a cabinet decision made in April that requires all Yemeni citizens to obtain new identity cards by October. Contrary to conventional identity cards, for which only paper records are stored, new identity cards can be scanned and the information will be stored electronically.

Yemenis continue paying heavy price for widespread arms possession
Yemen Times — 12 August 2014
The entire population of Yemen suffers from weapons possession. Every day, a significant number of people are reported to be killed and injured by guns whether in direct fighting or by accident, with guns going off unintentionally. The Ministry of Interior reported on August 4 that two persons were killed and another one injured while they were “playing with guns” in separate incidents taking place in Sa’ada, Amran, and Hajja, on August 3 alone.

Removal of fuel subsidies results in price instability
Yemen Times — 7 August 2014
More than a week after the government lifted the fuel subsidies bus drivers in Sana’a and other governorates have still not committed to a fixed price for transportation fees. The Ministry of Transport announced on July 31, the day after the subsidy cuts were implemented, that transportation fees should be raised by a maximum of 20 percent. Some drivers abided by the new fees for transportation while others viewed it as unjust and demanded more.

Fall of Amran sends shock waves across Yemen
Al-Monitor — 21 July 2014
The military victory of the Houthis is attributed to their status as a religious group from Zaydi, fighting with militants from the same regions — unlike Islah, who are getting help from people from outside the region and from one rebel army brigade. On the other hand, Islah’s inadequate ruling from Sanaa led to the loss of the people’s support. This is how the Houthis took advantage of Islah’s enemies and mistakes. The regional situation also favors the Houthis, who are supported by Iran, rather than Islah, who are now unprotected after losing the support of Saudi Arabia. This was the result of the growing fear in Saudi Arabia of the Muslim Brotherhood and the stance the Yemeni Brotherhood took concerning the military coup in Egypt, as well as the fact that Riyadh has started to accept the change of power in Yemen in favor of the Houthis. However, this does not mean that it is completely out of the scene, as Hadi flew to Saudi Arabia when Amran failed, to ask for financial and political support.

Kidnapped Briton freed in Yemen after five months
The Guardian — 27 July 2014
A British man taken hostage by a tribal group in Yemen has been released after five months in captivity. The Foreign Office confirmed Mike Harvey, a teacher, is being looked after by staff at the British embassy in the capital, Sana’a, after his ordeal began on 12 February. He was seized on his way home from an educational institute, reportedly at gunpoint.

Yemen citizens reject al-Qaeda’s lifestyle directives
Al-Shorfa — 6 August 2014
Life has carried on as usual in Yemen’s Hadramaut province since al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) distributed a list of behavioural directives last month, officials told Al-Shorfa. On July 19th, AQAP began distributing leaflets warning women not to go to the markets without a mahram (male relative), demanding that they wear a headscarf, veil and gloves, and cautioning them against late-night shopping. The leaflets also banned women from engaging in sports such as football and from frequenting cafés, claiming these pastimes are prohibited by sharia, and forbade young men from entering women’s markets unless absolutely necessary.

United States:
US citizens in Yemen accuse American embassy of confiscating passports
The Guardian — 22 July 2014
Khaled is one of more than a dozen American citizens alleging they’ve have had their passports revoked for various reasons at the American embassy in Sana’a since 2012. The Guardian is identifying him by his first name only because he fears reprisals from the US government. The reasons behind the revocations are unclear. The State Department alleges that some of the passports were issued fraudulently, sometimes claiming the individual had another name or alias before coming to the US. Campaigners say that in some cases the name in question seems to have been made up at the embassy, and in others was the result of a discrepancy rooted in a Yemeni tribal name, which is often three or four words long and is sometimes altered in the American naturalization process.

US diplomats admit contact in Yemen with missing citizen Sharif Mobley
The Guardian — 25 July 2014
US diplomats in Yemen say they have been in contact with an American citizen whose lawyers consider him to have disappeared from jail in the country. The diplomats, however, will not reveal where he is. Cori Crider, an attorney for Sharif Mobley, who faces a murder case after authorities abandoned terrorism charges, expressed shock to the Guardian that US authorities would not tell her where her client is. Crider suspected that the US, which sent interrogators to interview Mobley shortly after he was detained, is complicit in his apparent disappearance. Early on Friday, the US embassy in Sanaa shifted from its months of silence on Sharif, who has been unavailable to his lawyers since 27 February. An embassy official, William Lesh, emailed Crider and said: “The Yemeni authorities recently did make it possible for us to meet with him. For security reasons we cannot disclose the location.”

Regional Politics:
Saudis see Houthi gains in Yemen as advance for Iran
Al-Monitor — 22 July 2014
The progress of the Islamic State and its allies in Iraq and approach to Baghdad, which represents an Iranian red line, has been mirrored in the southern Arabian Peninsula by the advancement of the Houthi forces to the point of their approaching the gates of Sanaa. With the Middle East a chessboard in a match between Tehran and Riyadh, some Saudis are drawing parallels between current events, theorizing that if Baghdad or part of it falls into the hands of Sunni groups, Sanaa might well fall to Shiite groups.

Yemen IDPs mull return to Amran after ceasefire
IRIN — 30 July 2014
Thousands of people displaced by recent heavy fighting between Houthi rebels and government forces in the city of Amran in northern Yemen are looking to return to their homes following a recent Houthi withdrawal, but they face significant challenges. The conflict began over three months ago after clashes between the Shiite Houthis and tribal armed groups. Yet in the past few weeks it intensified, with the Houthis claiming a series of towns including Amran amid fears that Sana’a itself could be targeted. The Yemeni military has fought back, with reports of aerial attacks on Amran increasing the threats to civilians. At least 200 people have been killed, while at least 35,000 have become internally displaced persons (IDPs), according to the UN. Many were facing displacement for a second time as those from other violent regions have sought refuge in Amran in recent years.

Yemen reforms corruption-ridden public payroll
Gulf News — 14 August 2014
Yemen’s government has begun applying a biometric registration system for all military personnel in order to clear the public payroll from double-dippers and so-called ‘ghost workers’. Experts say the step has been taken due to pressure from international donors and the public. The cash-strapped government believes that purging ghost employees from the payroll will save millions of dollars every year.

Fifth Power aims to strengthen role of youth in the transition
Yemen Times — 17 July 2014
Yemeni youth are widely credited with igniting the 2011 uprising in Yemen which eventually led to the ousting of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. However, many youth complain that their role has been diminished since established political parties, which opposed Saleh’s regime during the uprising, quieted down with the signing of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative, which drew parties further into the corridors of power.

Yemen alliance will monitor national dialogue outputs
Al-Shorfa — 11 August 2014
The alliance, launched August 6th, aims to enhance the community’s role in monitoring the implementation of NDC outcomes through the preparation of periodic reports. The reports will focus on four of the nine issues discussed at the conference: the southern issue, good governance, rights and freedoms, and sustainable development, said Studies and Economic Media Centre head Mustafa Nasr, whose organisation is a member of the alliance. Other alliance members include Al-Badeel Centre for Media and Research, of Aden province, and the Observers Organisation for Independent Media, of Hadramaut province.

Yemen’s fuel prices nearly double after government ends subsidies
AP via Christian Science Monitor — 30 July 2014
Fuel prices in Yemen nearly doubled Wednesday as the government ended a fuel subsidy program costing billions of dollars, sparking scattered demonstrations that saw one person killed as authorities quickly dispersed protesters, security officials said. According to new prices posted in the capital, Sanaa, the government raised the price of regular gasoline to 200 Yemeni riyals per liter (93 US cents) from 125 riyals (58 US cents). Diesel used for public transport and trucks rose to 195 riyals per liter (91 US cents) from 100 riyals (46 US cents).

The NGO-isation of Yemen
Middle East Eye — 23 July 2014
The “building democracy” effort in Yemen has revealed that development has become a commodity. Whose perspective do NGOs represent? The Yemeni people deserve better, yet their oppression has historically generated profits for the elite, through labor, and now as a laboratory for NGO led neo-liberal development. Within this context, how long could the proliferation of NGOs in Yemen last? And if NGOs were put under the radar, would they change? In order to work towards democratization, a different approach is needed with a different vision and a more sustainable power base. Yemen’s demands for social-political and economic justice will be addressed only when donors and NGOs do less, stepping back and allowing communities impacted by their struggles to dictate the agenda, priorities and concerns.

Yemen’s security void leaves resources untouched
Al-Monitor — 17 July 2014
The lack of political and security stability in Yemen hampers development work, Amat al-Alim Alsoswa, executive director of the Executive Bureau for the Acceleration of Aid Absorption and Implementation of the Mutual Accountability Framework (SEBAA), said in an interview with Al-Hayat. Alsoswa indicated that an action plan is being prepared for the second half of the year to support the implementation of 21 selected projects, mostly through allocations which have yet to be approved. She also stressed that SEBAA will provide support to speed up the approval, will help adopt a fast track and develop a unified guide of steps and procedures. The total allocation for these [21] projects is of $2.04 billion accounting for about 26% of total donor aid. These allocations are concentrated on the infrastructure sector, in addition to 10 projects in the fields of electricity and education, and the rest in the sectors of public works, water, transportation, health, agriculture and others.

Prices of basic commodities still stable, government says
Yemen Times — 14 August 2014
The Ministry of Industry and Trade said on Wednesday that prices of basic commodities, including wheat, bread, and sugar, are still stable and no increase was reported after the government removed fuel subsidies on July 30. “Prices of the basic commodities are stable and were not changed in any governorates,” said Bushra Al-Absi, manager of the Awareness and Communication Department at the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

IMF agrees $560 mln loan to Yemen, minister says
Reuters — 8 August 2014
Yemen reached agreement with the International Monetary Fund on a $560 million loan, the finance minister said on Friday, after the government cut fuel subsidies and ordered curbs on public spending. The second poorest Arab country has struggled to pay public sector salaries and finance food and energy imports, leading to power cuts and fuel shortages since 2011 as a fight against al Qaeda militants and other rebel groups consumes state funds.

Yemen resumes pumping oil through main export pipeline -govt source
Reuters — 8 August 2014
Yemen has resumed pumping crude through its main export pipeline after repair works were completed, government and oil sources said on Friday, more than a week after armed men blew it up, halting flows and disrupting an important source of revenue. Yemen’s oil and gas pipelines have repeatedly been sabotaged by insurgents or tribesmen since anti-government protests led to a power vacuum in 2011, causing fuel shortages and slashing export earnings.

Austerity, subsidies and Yemen’s economic woes
Yemen Times — 24 July 2014
President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi ordered the Cabinet on July 9 to start an austerity package to control the growing cash shortage Yemen has been experiencing since late last year. The Defense Ministry’s website says the package is part of broader financial and administrative reforms. Hiring will be frozen for all state institutions; procurement of cars for government officials will be halted; and international travel by government officials will be restricted.

Microfinance in Yemen thrives despite economic troubles
Yemen Times — 5 August 2014
Like other economic sectors, microfinance in Yemen has faced numerous challenges over the past years. The political and economic unrest that Yemen has experienced since the 2011 uprising has caused the microfinance sector to deteriorate. In addition, the worsening security situation puts microfinance projects in Yemen at risk. As the Yemen Times reported in 2012, many businesses in Abyan governorate financed through microcredits were lost in the course of spreading violence. In spite of those setbacks and risks, microfinance in Yemen has continuously progressed and thrived.

Yemen struggles towards fuel price reform as finances crumble
Reuters — 21 July 2014
A clampdown on state spending was an effort by Yemen’s government this month to win public support before its biggest economic reform in years: higher fuel prices. But an angry public may not be won over. In the capital Sanaa, where roads to petrol stations have been choked for months by queues of cars waiting for scarce fuel supplies, the frustration is palpable.

Yemeni authors discouraged by counterfeiting
Yemen Times — 12 August 2014
When a printing house in Yemen counterfeited Ahmed Al-Shuaibi’s first book in 2012, the professor of Islamic studies at Sana’a University decided not to publish any of the other books he had been writing. “I was shocked when I saw my book counterfeit. I had another book, which was about ready, but I refrained from publishing it. I feared it would be stolen,” said Al-Shuaibi. Though it came as a real shock, Al-Shuaibi said he was lucky that he knew the printing house that copied his book and began selling it illegally. He refused to disclose the name of the printing institution, however, stating he does not want the house to be libeled.

I Got Kicked Out of Yemen Like a Criminal
Foreign Policy — 31 July 2014
Critical reporting on the state of the country has apparently become unwelcome in post-Arab Spring Yemen. Such reporting is needed now more than ever: At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be a single accredited American journalist based in a country where the United States is waging a covert drone war against what President Barack Obama’s administration has dubbed the world’s most dangerous al Qaeda franchise. Of course, Yemen’s importance goes beyond al Qaeda: It is a strategically located country undergoing a fraught political transition and is struggling with a perilous humanitarian and economic crisis. In shutting its doors, Yemeni officials are making it far more difficult for outsiders to understand — and for that matter, help — their country.

Journalists under attack amid Houthi rebellion in Amran province
Reporters Without Borders — 14 August 2014
Reporters Without Borders is gravely concerned about the security situation in Yemen, in which journalists are easy prey for both sides in the armed rebellion under way in the country’s northwest. A national dialogue, concluded in January 2014, saw the drafting of the basic structure of a future federal state in Yemen. But since then, battles have broken out in greater number between Houthi rebels and the army in the north. The conflict has cost hundreds of lives and seen thousands of people displaced. In July 2014, following fighting to control Amran province, a number of information freedom violations, including attacks, kidnappings, surveillance, and threats, have been committed by Houthi rebels, according to the Yemeni journalists’ union and the Freedom Foundation.

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Weekly News Update 20 June 2014

Unable to balance the books
Economist — 17 June 2014
In the midst of a 36-hour blackout the day after, young men set up roadblocks, first in the backstreets and then on the city’s main roads and squares, bringing activity to a halt. “We are here because there is no fuel, no electricity, no water, everything is expensive, there are no jobs and the government does nothing to help us,” says 24-year-old Muhammad Saleh. “Something needs to change.” Abd Rabbo Mansour al-Hadi, Yemen’s president, responded with a government reshuffle and announced that more fuel would be brought into the capital from the western port of Hodeidah. The protesters left the streets, but they are likely to return. Government officials gloomily predict worsening shortages—and unrest—in the coming months. The simple fact, they admit, is that Yemen is running out of cash.

How Gulf Initiative has worsened Yemen’s crisis
Al-Monitor — 2 June 2014
The transitional phase in Yemen has made people look positively to the days of former President Saleh. Today, the economic situation has worsened and the armed conflict has increased. Government corruption is spreading because government jobs are handed out on a partisan basis. This raises questions about the legitimacy of the governing parties, especially with the extension of the transitional period without taking it to the people in a referendum, and in the absence of a representative parliament or even a timetable for the transitional phase. That phase has been extended for one year and is subject to further renewal under the pretext that the power-transition process is not finished in Yemen according to the Gulf Initiative.

Yemen’s Torture Camps
Human Rights Watch — 26 May 2014
For decades, migrants from Africa have passed through Yemen to seek work in Saudi Arabia. Since 2010, more than 337,000 migrants and refugees have landed on Yemen’s coastline from the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Their numbers rose significantly, and then dipped in July 2013, most likely due to a Saudi crackdown on undocumented migrant workers, only to rise again in March 2014. A multi-million-dollar trafficking and extortion racket has developed in Yemen based on the migrants’ passage. Its locus is the hot and dry northern Yemeni border town of Haradh, where one government official estimated that trafficking and smuggling make up about 80 percent of the economy. Continue reading

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