Monthly Archives: June 2012

Weekly News Update 28 June 2012

Artwork by Yemeni artist Mohamed Al-Ansi. Read about him at http://www.yementimes.com/en/1584/culture/1057/The-artist-of-the-revolution.htm.

Highlights:
YEMEN POLICY INITIATIVE’s letter to President Obama
25 June 2012
The US should fundamentally shift its approach beyond the narrow focus on counterterrorism and should clearly articulate that it seeks to advance Yemen’s social, economic, and political development. The US should recalibrate its economic and governance assistance so that it represents a greater proportion of overall assistance compared with military and security assistance. The US needs to ensure that its focus is on achieving long-term goals, not only short-term objectives.
See also: Middle East experts urge changes to Obama’s Yemen policies (Foreign Policy — 27 June 2012)

Debating the Failed States Index
Foreign Policy — 22 June 2012
Much has changed for the better in Yemen. The security situation is slowly stabilizing, the government is restructuring its forces, and the country is no longer teetering on the edge of a civil war. Yemen has also intensified the fight against al Qaeda, pushing out militants from territories they controlled. Most important of all, the fabric of Yemen’s resilient society remains intact.

Yemen’s Economic Struggles-More of the Same in the Post-Saleh Era
Yemen Post — 22 June 2012
The true stem of all problems is Yemen’s inability to economically develop. This is unfortunately a continuing problem that was not addressed under Saleh and has perpetuated itself into Hadi’s tenure as president. Yemeni oil-production makes up 25% of its GDP and almost 70% of the country’s revenue. However, Yemen has tried to harness some reserves of natural gas out of fear that oil production in the country will peak within the next 15 to 20 years and ultimately run out, thus removing a chunk of its export economy. Oil is not the only resource running dry as water in the country is also set to run out within about the same time frame if not sooner. The rest of Yemen’s economy is largely made up of jobs related to the Agriculture Sector, labor, and industrial positions. To make sustaining resource development more difficult, Yemen’s current population growth rate is at about 2.5% and its unemployment rate near 35%. In the long-term, Yemen will ultimately begin to feel its economic strength collapsing. Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 21 June 2012

A man in Zinjibar looks at the remains of a post office destroyed during recent clashes [Reuters/Khaled Abdullah, http://blogs.reuters.com/fullfocus/2012/06/19/editors-choice-2/#a=19%5D

Highlights:
Yemen’s transition: a model to be followed?
Open Democracy — 19 June 2012
Although the GCC supported transitional regime has not turned Yemen into a revolutionary state, by comparison with what is happening elsewhere, the situation at the moment shows more positive signs than could have been expected: the forces of the uprisings are working to participate in the national dialogue, the transitional regime is working to weaken and remove most of the remnants of the previous era and is preparing for a new and hopefully more democratic future.

Al-Qaeda Only Partly to Blame for Yemen Oil Crisis
OilPrice.com via CNBC — 18 June 2012
While it is convenient both for the Yemeni transitional government and the US military forces backing its campaign against al-Qaeda to blame the current oil situation on AQAP, it is a serious simplification. Much of the violence directed at the country’s oil infrastructure is emanating from disgruntled tribesmen who cannot necessarily be associated with AQAP or Ansar al-Sharia. They want employment and regional development and more of their numbers will join Ansar al-Sharia’s ranks if this is not forthcoming. We are talking about socio-economics more than terrorism, and the former informs the latter. Beyond that, to say that Yemen’s oil industry is corrupt to the core would be an understatement. For decades, oil has been used almost solely to fund the patronage system that kept former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in power. Yemen’s new Oil and Minerals Minister Hisham Sharaf Abdullah has arguably the most challenging job in the country’s fledgling, transitional government-in-crisis.

What an Al-Qaeda Assassination Has Exposed
TIME — 20 June 2012
The source, who asked to go by the initials S.A., believes that targeting Qatan, the highest-ranking officer in Yemen to be assassinated by al-Qaeda, was a reaction to the pinch they’ve felt since last week’s joint military and local militia takeover of the militants’ territory. Yet, he places responsibility for the devastating assassination in the hands of Yemen’s security apparatuses, which he claims didn’t do enough to protect Brigadier Qatan. Indeed, the Yemeni security services have had little luck recently defending Yemeni officials from assassination attempts. A spate of attacks on military and security personnel by al-Qaeda have put a somber tone on what seemed to be progress in the fight against terrorism, with the security and intelligence units seemingly powerless to stop the assaults. The day before Qatan’s assassination, a remote-controlled explosive device killed a police chief in the eastern city of Mukalla. Just days before that, the political security chief of Yemen’s Marib governorate barely escaped from a roadside explosion targeting his car. Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 14 June 2012

National Dialogue:
Yemen’s New Democracy Juggles With Tribal Traditions
New York Times — 13 June 2012
While some doubt Yemen’s chances of shedding the influence of the tribes, others hope that the revolution has broken their monopoly on power for good.  “Now that we have a new political order, the tribes will become almost insignificant in national politics,” said Abdul-Ghani al-Iryani, a political analyst and co-founder of the Democratic Awakening Movement.  A strong state with a well-organized army and a good educational and judicial system could significantly reduce the role of the tribes and foster an economy more independent of the sheiks, observers say.

For Yemen’s New President, a Battle for Control and a Tug of War With the Past
New York Times — 13 June 2012
At the crux of the standoff is the personal conflict that erupted into warfare last year during Yemen’s political uprising between Ahmed Ali Saleh and Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsin al-Ahmar, a powerful commander.  Military leaders from either camp “refuse to send their troops to the south, and the troops who are in the south are badly trained and poorly motivated,” said a foreign diplomat in Sana.  Meanwhile, “Hadi is scared, and at this point he is just trying to stay in his position,” the diplomat said. As a result, the new Yemeni president has become closer to figures from the anti-Saleh camp, like General Ahmar. In addition, a number of Mr. Hadi’s military and political appointees are from his family or home region. Continue reading

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