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.

Parties, which did not sign transition deal, agree to participate in Yemen dialogue
Yemen Post — 12 June 2012
The Yemeni parties, which were not part of a West-backed power-transfer deal signed after the 2011 unrest, on Tuesday agreed to participate in a comprehensive national dialogue expected in coming months, Saba reported.

Outreach Committee: no preconditions for the upcoming national dialogue
Yemen Post — 11 June 2012
The Communication Committee, headed by Dr. Abdulkarim Al-Eryani, said that no preconditions will be allowed in the National Dialogue, stating, “Personal conditions are unacceptable in the forthcoming National Dialogue.” During the press conference which the Communication Committee held on Saturday in Sana’a, Al-Eryani indicated that no conditions had been imposed on dialogue with the Houthis in northern Yemen. He stressed that the Committee will accept no obstructions to the dialogue. Some opposition figures in Yemen have shown a firm stance against military commanders whose stubborn refusal to vacate their posts may derail the Dialogue. Regarding this, Al-Eryani said, “There can be no hindrance to the National Dialogue. Reorganization of the army under one leadership, and not simply its reshuffling, is a fundamental condition in line with the Gulf Initiative.”

‘The ghost:’ Where is Yemen’s Saleh?
Al Arabiya — 11 June 2012
He was the man who publicly flaunted his injuries during the civil uprising against his rule last year, which turned fierce when his tribal enemies began to unleash their ire. Then, Saleh had appeared to be a leader who unequivocally attempted to remain in the spotlight, both during his rise and his fall.  But after a Gulf-brokered deal that saw him step down and a medical trip to the United States, the former Yemeni top dog has seemingly vanished into thin air. “No one knows where he is,” says Ibrahim Sharqieh, a conflict resolution analyst at the Brookings Doha Center who has written extensively about the conflict in Yemen. Sharqieh had recently visited the country and met with many Yemenis, who, like the waiter, pondered about the whereabouts of their former despot.

Removal of Tents at Change Square ‘not Meant to End Yemen Revolution’
Yemen Post — 11 June 2012
Yemen protesters have started removing tents from inside the Change Square in downtown the capital Sanaa in a move which comes just to reopen roads and help ease traffic jams and enable the citizens to resume their activities normally.  Wahid Ghalib, a youth activist at the square located outside Sanaa University, said some party has given orders to its followers who arrived in Sanaa from other provinces to remove their tents and spread the revolution to other provinces. “Many tents have been removed so far from the edges of the Change Square, but there is no official arrangements by the youths or the parties to end the popular revolution,” Wahid said. “It is just to reopen roads and save some expenses which have been allocated for the protesters,” he continued. “It is time to arrange everything in a good way”.  The organizational committee of the popular uprising, which erupted in early 2011, has stated that the youth-led protesters will continue to stay inside the square all goals of their revolution were met.

Calling on a laureate
The Economist — 9 June 2012
In any event, fears are growing that the social gains of Yemen’s revolution, especially for women, may be reversed in the course of a heralded national dialogue that is supposed to prepare for a new constitution. Ms Karman belongs to the moderate wing of al-Islah, an Islamist party that includes Muslim Brothers, prominent businessmen, tribal leaders and Salafist purists who hark back to the days of the Prophet Muhammad. In Change Square, now dominated by al-Islah, a wooden fence has been put up to separate men from women. A few months ago Salafist leaders issued a fatwa against a feminist writer, Bushra al-Maqtari, and three other journalists for criticising religious leaders.

Yemen’s struggle between old and new threatens success of national dialogue
The National — 11 June 2012
A power struggle between Yemen’s new and old guard for control of the country’s army and security forces is raising questions about the success of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi’s planned national dialogue.

Yemen seeks gasoil, no sign of more Saudi help
Reuters — 14 June 2012
Yemen is seeking up to 240,000 tonnes of high-sulphur gasoil for delivery in July and August as its main refinery remains shut and there is no sign that Saudi Arabia will extend fuel donations into July, traders said. Attacks on Yemen’s main pipeline have halted the flow of crude through its main pipeline since last October and forced its 150,000 barrel per day (bpd) Aden refinery to close, leaving the impoverished country even more dependent on imports and donations.

Hadi: Oil pipeline attacks cost Yemen $15 million per day
Yemen Times — 14 June 2012
Pipelines in Aden, Marib and Shabwa governorates have been attacked by tribesmen, causing the breakdown of the pipelines. As a result, Yemen has suffered a considerable economic loss. Mohammed Jubran, economist expert, said the destruction of lines in the Marib governorate has a grave impact on the country’s economy and forces the government to import oil from other countries instead of exporting oil. Jubran said continous  damage to the pipelines results in less exporting.  “Detonating oil pipelines will negatively impact the budget of the state because oil makes up 80 percent of Yemen’s exports, “ he said. “Yemen could bear more loans.”

Gov’t proposes: If diesel price increase approved, farmers will be exempted from taxes
Yemen Post — 13 June 2012
In a bid to persuade the Parliament to approve the diesel price hike draft, the National Unity Government put forward on Tuesday a proposal to the Parliament saying that if the diesel draft is approved, the farmers will be exempted from taxes in exchange, local media outlets reported citing parliamentary sources.

Old Sana’a: A city moving toward extinction
Yemen Times — 11 June 2012
According to Shamsan, the Ministry of Endowment uses cheap materials when restoring the city’s mosques, warping their historical features. “Another snag,” continues Shamsan, “is that construction permits are granted to some of the building’s owners for building additions which use materials that are different from those used in the original building. These include cement and gravel blocks instead of traditional clay bricks, which affect the houses’ appearance and destroys their historical character.”  Moreover, inhabitants have problems with the sanitation system; the sewers are on the brink of overflowing, leaving a potential disaster in the city ever-lurking. “Old Sana’a,” adds Shamsan, “needs serious attention from everyone to preserve it and keep it a tourist attraction. I believe that tourist landmarks and facilities need special attention to stop violations, and special personnel should be trained to preserve the city’s monuments. We also need an intensive media campaign to raise awareness of the urgency of preserving the Old City, as it is part of our heritage and timeless civilization.”

Yemeni army advances on third rebel-held town
Reuters — 14 June 2012
Islamist militants fled from Yemeni government forces advancing on the southern coastal town of Shaqra on Thursday in a U.S.-backed offensive to recapture territory from the Al Qaeda-linked insurgents, a local official and residents said. The government troops and allied tribal fighters were a few kilometers (miles) from Shaqra after retaking an area held by the insurgents on the outskirts on Wednesday.

How Yemen became a controversial battleground against Al Qaeda
Los Angeles Times — 13 June 2012
Yemeni extremists got a boost last year, a side effect of the Arab Spring unrest. While Yemeni forces were distracted by infighting and protests, they abandoned the south. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Ansar al Sharia, an apparently related Islamist group that has focused largely on local issues in Yemen, expanded their reach in southern Yemen. “There was no one watching the store. They saw opportunity and went in,” said Barbara Bodine, a former ambassador to Yemen now teaching at Princeton University. Some Yemenis believe that Saleh allowed it to happen to convince the West that ousting him would be costly. After Yemenis eventually prodded out Saleh, the new president, Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, vowed to crush extremism. Under his watch, American drone strikes have escalated dramatically this year. The U.S. also sent special operations troops back to Yemen this spring to help pinpoint targets, according to U.S. and Yemeni officials who spoke to The Times last month about the sensitive operation.

Yemen presses ahead with offensive on militants
Reuters — 13 June 2012
Yemen on Wednesday pressed ahead with a U.S.-backed offensive to drive al Qaeda-linked insurgents from the country’s south, a day after the army notched up its biggest victory in more than a year by recapturing two strategic cities. Three airstrikes targeted areas held by militants inside and outside of the town of Azzan, killing at least 30 fighters and wounding dozens more, Colonel Ahmed al-Maqdashi, head of security in Shabwa province, said in statement posted on the Defence Ministry’s website.

Yemen army, in major victory, retakes two cities
Reuters — 12 June 2012
The Yemeni army drove al-Qaeda-linked fighters from two of their main strongholds on Tuesday after weeks of fighting, the Defence Ministry said, a major breakthrough in a U.S.-backed offensive meant to secure stability in the wider oil-rich Gulf region.

Yemeni army says retakes militant stronghold of Jaar
Reuters — 11 June 2012
The Yemeni army has retaken the southern town of Jaar from al Qaeda-linked militants after heavy fighting that killed at least 24 people, the Defense Ministry and residents said on Tuesday.

Coastguards close four Yemeni ports in pay protest
Reuters — 10 June 2012
Yemeni coastguards blocked ports on Sunday to protest against the government’s failure to pay financial benefits they said it had promised, halting most shipping. Port officials said the guards prevented workers from entering four main ports, including Aden in the south, Hodeidah in the west and the Red Sea ports of Mokha and Saleef. “Movement has completely stopped in almost all ports,” Sharaf Mohammed, a ship captain at Hodeidah.

International Community:
Yemen donors running out of time to stem crisis
Reuters — 8 June 2012
Anood al-Mikhlafi, sitting in the one-room shack she calls home in a shantytown on the outskirts of Yemen’s capital Sanaa, rues the political chaos that has engulfed her impoverished country in the past year and left her family nearly destitute. “We’ve never lived in comfort but last year pushed us to the limit and we had to sell our animals and my wedding jewelry. We have nothing to fall back on,” she says.

Aid work conundrum in unpredictable Yemen
IRIN via Yemen Times — 8 June 2012
Few aid workers have been granted access to the governorate and those in Aden face growing security constraints due to organized criminal groups. “We are managing to deliver aid by partnering with local NGOs, talking to tribes and doing a lot of mitigation work so that our security situation is the least exposed possible,” Tareq Talahma, humanitarian affairs officer with the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Aden, told IRIN.


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