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

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.

Yemen army says seizes Qaeda bastion in major advance
Reuters — 20 June 2012
Yemen’s army recaptured the last al Qaeda stronghold in restive Abyan province on Friday, officials and residents said, in a major advance in its U.S.-backed offensive to drive militants from towns across the south of the country. Jubilant residents took to the streets to celebrate the rout of the Islamists from the port town of Shaqra, the third significant base to fall in less than a week, witnesses told Reuters.

Senior Commander in South Yemen Is Assassinated
New York Times — 18 June 2012
An important military commander in Yemen was assassinated on Monday in the southern port city of Aden just days after the Yemeni government announced a major military victory over Al Qaeda militants.

Yemen says kills militant who planned bombings
Reuters — 20 June 2012
Yemen’s government says it has killed a militant Islamist who directed suicide bombers for an al Qaeda-linked group that has carried out a string of deadly attacks in the country. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for several attacks in the impoverished country, including a bombing at a military parade rehearsal in the capital Sanaa last month which killed about 100 people.

Yemen foils plot to attack foreign embassies
Reuters — 19 June 2012
Yemen has foiled a plot to attack foreign embassies in the capital Sanaa, a police source said on Tuesday, days after the army drove al Qaeda-linked militants from their strongholds in the south of the country.

Eleven Islamist militants killed in southern Yemen
Reuters — 20 June 2012
Yemen’s army killed at least 11 al Qaeda-linked militants in Abyan province on Wednesday as it pressed ahead with a U.S.-backed offensive to crush Islamist militancy in the south, a military official said.

In southern Yemen, Al Qaeda leaves overnight
Christian Science Monitor — 14 June 2012
Senior government officials openly acknowledged that the bulk of the militants were able to escape to remaining strongholds to the east. And even if many civilians said they welcomed the withdrawal of Ansar al-Sharia and appeared to accept the Army’s presence, many in the province remain deeply ambivalent about the prospect of living under the rule of Yemen’s central government. A minority remain sympathetic to the militants. Separatist sentiments run high throughout region. Many have cautioned that, absent substantive improvements in locals’ living conditions, towns like Zinjibar and Jaar could once again erupt in violence, rendering the recent gains superficial. “The restoration of government services to the people of Abyan is one of our top priorities,” says Gamal al-Aqel, the governor of Abyan. Many residents, however, seemed skeptical of such assurances. In the sweltering town of Jaar, residents were quick to complain of seemingly unending power cuts, pairing happiness about the militants’ exit with expressions of anger at what they characterize as the central government’s lack of concern for the town and its neighbors which, despite their proximity to the strategic port of Aden, have long suffered from a dearth of basic government services like water and electricity.

Yemen says Islamists retreat from southern town
Reuters — 17 June 2012
Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda were abandoning one of the last cities where they still had a foothold after weeks of bombardments and airstrikes in a U.S.-backed government offensive, Yemeni officials said on Sunday. Elsewhere in Yemen’s south, a security official was killed in a bomb attack, showing the militants’ ability to strike despite the loss of a territorial base they had held for over a year.

Yemenis say al Qaeda gave town security, at a cost
Reuters — 18 June 2012
For 15 months, residents of the southern Yemeni town of Jaar lived under the watchful gaze of armed young men who swore allegiance to al Qaeda, woke people at dawn to pray, and chopped off the hands of thieves in the name of Islamic law. But the relief that they felt when government troops drove al Qaeda’s local allies out last week was tempered with worry, as looters ransacked abandoned houses in their wake.

Yemeni army claims major advance in campaign against al Qaeda
Reuters — 15 June 2012
Yemen’s army recaptured the last al Qaeda stronghold in Abyan province on Friday, officials and residents said, and victory appeared close for their offensive to drive Islamist militants from towns they seized more than a year ago. The rout of the Islamists from the port town of Shaqra puts an end to their short reign in Abyan, during which they governed large swathes of the province according to strict Islamic sharia rules.

‘Golden Swords’ in Yemen
Al-Ahram Weekly — 14 June 2012
De-mining efforts started immediately in Jaar and Zinjubar, in order to secure the return of about 180,000 people who had been displaced last year, fleeing the fighting to take refuge in Aden and Lahj. According to military statements, the Yemeni navy sank 10 boats carrying Al-Qaeda operatives trying to escape by sea to strongholds in Abyan and also to Azzan in Shabwah.

In Sana’a, interior ministry campaign aims to stop publicly carried weapons
Yemen Times — 17 June 2012
On Saturday, the Ministry of Interior  launched an anti-arms campaign to publicly end carrying weapons in Sana’a. The campaign targeted the districts of Old Sana’a, Al-Safiah and Azal.

U.S. weighs plan to send military aircraft to aid Yemen
Los Angeles Times — 21 June 2012
Spurred by recent battlefield gains, the Pentagon is making plans to send U.S. military aircraft to Yemen for the first time to help move government troops and supplies more quickly into battle against Islamic militants, U.S. officials said.

Economy and Governance:
Yemen Anti-Corruption Asks DP World Contract to Be Canceled
Bloomberg Businessweek — 20 June 2012
Yemen’s anti-corruption body called for the cancellation of a contract with Dubai-based DP World Ltd. (DPW), the world’s third-biggest port operator, citing irregularities in the implementation of contractual obligations.  The Supreme National Authority for Combating Corruption would ask the country’s cabinet to cancel the agreement with DP World, which operates the Aden and Ma’alla ports in Yemen, state news agency SABA reported yesterday.

Hadi: Economic Deterioration Blamed for 70% of Yemen Challenges
Yemen Post — 18 June 2012
President Abdrabu Mansour Hadi on Monday said the economic deterioration is blamed for about 70% of all challenges faced in Yemen, Saba reported.  The democratic transition, under a West-backed power transfer deal signed in November, is going ahead in a perfect way, but the economy remains the biggest concern, he was quoted as saying at a meeting with a US military delegation led by General James Mattis, Commander of the US Central Command.

Yemen eyes 2 pct economic growth in 2012
Reuters — 19 June 2012
Yemen, battling political turmoil and security challenges, aims to achieve economic growth of up to 2 percent this year and meet its budget deficit through foreign aid and borrowing, the country’s finance minister said on Tuesday. “Our aim for 2012 is to sustain it at the way it is, to keep it between 1.5 to 2 percent growth,” Sakhar Al Wageh told reporters after signing loan agreements at the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF), a multilateral lending body. Yemen secured two loans totalling $205 million from the AMF. One, of $110 million, will help the impoverished country finance its balance of payments, while the remaining $95 million is to assist its progress with economic reforms. Yemen has so far received 24 loans totalling $1 billion from the AMF.

National Dialogue:
The Southern leadership agrees, during the Cairo meeting, to participate in the national dialogue under the umbrella of unity and a federal solution [Arabic]
Aden Al-Ghad — 14 June 2012
After the meeting it held in the middle of this week under international auspices, the road seems open now for the Communication Committee to emerge with a positive outcome from its upcoming meeting with the Southern leadership in Cairo on July 20. A declaration from the South, agreeing to engage in the process of national dialogue in the short term, seems to be imminent and is now only a matter of time.

Southern Movement groups differ on National Dialogue participation
Yemen Times — 18 June 2012
Varied opinions of Southern Movement leaders toward the upcoming National Dialogue has led Hirak (Southern Movement) to back out of the talks, according to Abdo Al-Matari, a southern movement leader in Al-Dhale governorate.

Massive Demonstration Marks New Era of Revolution in Yemen Capital
Yemen Post — 18 June 2012
They carried the flags of Yemen and Syria and chanted slogans: the people want to prosecute the serial killer, referring to the ex-leader, Saleh; and ‘the people want to build a new Yemen’.  They also chanted slogans in solidarity with the Syrian people, who have been struggling to oust the Assad regime for more than one year.

Aden and the South:
In 1st day, private sector donates YR97 mln to Abyan displaced
Saba Net — 16 June 2012
A number of Yemeni businessmen donated on Saturday over YR97 million to help in supporting the displaced people of Abyan province. This came in the meeting gathered Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa with the General Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, a number of heads and members of commerce chambers in the capital and other provinces, businessmen and investors. Basindwa hailed the national attitude of the private sector, stressing that it will undertake the processes of collecting the donations and identifying the aspects of aid to be presented to the displaced.

Cabinet holds extraordinary meeting on Aden urgent needs
Saba Net — 18 June 2012
The cabinet held on Monday in Aden governorate an extraordinary meeting chaired by Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa in the presence of the local and executive authorities’ members. The meeting was dedicated to discuss urgent needs of Aden in areas of services, development, economy and security, particularly tackling the electricity and water problems.

Hodeida and Aden protests condemn constant power outages
Yemen Times — 18 June 2012
Al-Hodeida and Aden are seeing broad protests condemning repetitive power outages for extended periods of time. In Al-Hodeida, locals expressed unhappiness with the electricity shortage that has exacerbated the health conditions of heart and respiratory system patients. Moreover, many home electronic devices are not working.

Central Security Forces clash with secessionists in Aden, one killed
Yemen Times — 18 June 2012
Several people were injured and one killed in the Al-Mansoora district of Aden when troops from the Central Security Forces clashed with secessionists on Saturday. The violence erupted after security forces removed the year-old camp on the main street in Al-Mansoora, established by the Hirak secessionist movement.

Cabinet approves setting up fund for Abyan reconstruction
Saba Net — 19 June 2012
The cabinet approved on Tuesday setting up a fund for reconstruction of Abyan province with YR10 billion as an initial contribution of the government in addition to donors and businessmen’s donations. This came in an extraordinary meeting chaired by Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa in Aden governorate on the urgent needs of returning the Abyan displaced people to their homes and re-normalizing the general condition of the province.

Where have all the Yemeni Socialist women gone?
Yemen Times — 17 June 2012
The Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) once played a leading role in advancing women’s rights in Yemen. These days, however, the female leadership once so prominent in the YSP, particularly in south Yemen, has thinned considerably. Women socialists have also played a less-and-less evident role in the battle for rights and equality.

PM affirms full support for Yemeni women
Saba Net — 20 June 2012
Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa asserted on Wednesday his strong support for Yemeni women and their participation in forge Yemen’s future. During the women local conference held in Aden, Basindwa underlined the importance of women’s participation in the national comprehensive dialogue, hailing the role the Yemeni women, especially in Aden, have played in the national movement in the previous period.

PM orders to give high priority to youths’ issues
Saba Net — 19 June 2012
Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa directed on Tuesday all ministers to give a high priority to youth. During his meeting with representatives of civil society organizations and youth entities in Aden governorate, Basindwa asserted his understanding of all the youths’ demands and needs, topped by the issue of unemployment. He explained that everything that happens in Yemen is due to the corruption that led to widespread poverty, unemployment and suffering.

International Community:    
USAID raises its aid for Yemen $ 52 million
Saba Net — 20 June 2012
Director of the USAID Rajiv Shah said on Wednesday that there is an increase in the volume of aid to Yemen worth $ 52 million this year to reach $ 175 million, including various areas of development

World Bank resumes work in Yemen, economists unconvinced
Yemen Times — 21 June 2012
The World Bank has resumed working in Yemen after more than a year following political unrest that overthrew former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. During last month’s Friends of Yemen Conference in Riyadh, the bank provided Yemen with an estimated $61 million monetary grant to support public service projects.

Dr. Iryani heads the observers for the Egyptian presidential election runoff [Arabic]
Al-Masdar Online — 14 June 2012
Dr. Abdul-Karim Al-Iryani arrived in Cairo today as the head of a large delegation from the Carter Center to participate in monitoring the Egyptian presidential elections scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday.

ICRC worker killed in Yemen air strike: ICRC
Reuters — 20 June 2012
A Yemeni man working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was killed by an air strike in Abyan province on Wednesday while carrying out humanitarian work, the agency said. Yemeni troops last week retook several towns in the southern province of Abyan that Islamist militants allied to al Qaeda had seized last year. The troops are backed by the United States, which has also been using drones to kill suspected militants on what it sees as a front line in its own war against al Qaeda.

Humanitarian Needs:
In Yemen, malnutrition prevails as assistance remains low
Yemen Times — 18 June 2012
The Ministry of Health, the European Union and UNICEF recently launched a 3-year project to increase food security and to reduce poverty among rural households in Yemen. Al-Eryani outlined several project goals, including educating parents on the benefits of breast-feeding until 6 months, proper nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, as well as training volunteers to assess malnutrition in specific regions. When asked if the Ministry of Health is adequately funded to meet its goals, Al-Eryani said, “There’s no such thing as an adequately funded department in Yemen.”


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