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.

DC Events:
The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations hosted a panel titled “Crisis Yemen: Going Where?” The panel featured Barbara Bodine, former US Ambassador to Yemen; Gregory Johnsen, author of Waq al-Waq blog and noted Yemen scholar; Charles Schmitz, president of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies; and Robert Sharp, associate professor at National Defense University. POMED has published a summary of the conversation, and The National Council has posted a podcast of the event, which can be downloaded here.

Security:
To Defeat Al-Qaeda, Win in Yemen
Bloomberg — 21 June 2012
We need to give local decision makers a stake in Yemen’s political transition. For diplomats, this means facilitating dialogue between the national unity government and Islamists, secessionists and tribal leaders. Development specialists should work through tribal leaders to address hunger, water and infrastructure challenges. On the military side, the Yemeni armed forces need help establishing better communications with local militias.

Yemen arrests Qaeda terror cell
AFP via Google News — 28 June 2012
Yemeni forces have arrested a cell of Al-Qaeda operatives suspected of carrying out a suicide bombing in Sanaa in May that killed more than 100 troops, a security official was quoted as saying Thursday. “Security forces have captured (members of) the terrorist cell behind the attack on Sabeen Square,” national security chief, Ali Mohammed al-Ansi, was quoted as saying by 26 September, a daily owned and published by the ministry of defence.

Yemen FM admits US drones used against Qaeda
AFP via Google News — 27 June 2012
Yemen has asked for US drones to be used “in some cases” to target Al-Qaeda leaders in the country, its foreign minister told AFP on Wednesday. “Drones were used upon Yemen’s request in some cases against fleeing Al-Qaeda leaders,” Abu Bakr al-Kurbi told AFP on the sidelines of a counter-piracy conference in Dubai, in a first official Yemeni confirmation.

Yemen says al-Qaida land mines killed 73 this week
AP — 26 June 2012
Land mines planted by al-Qaida militants before they fled key southern Yemen strongholds have killed 73 civilians over the past week, Yemeni officials said Tuesday. Engineering teams have removed some 3,000 land mines around Zinjibar and Jaar, according to the governor’s office in Abyan province.

Yemen and Oman hunt al Qaeda infiltrators
Reuters via Chicago Tribune — 26 June 2012
Up to five al Qaeda members escaped a Yemeni prison on Tuesday as Omani and Yemeni security forces hunted for several other militants fleeing a military offensive in southern Yemen who crossed into Oman, Yemeni security sources said. The infiltration into Oman, which sits on one side of the Strait of Hormuz, a conduit for one third of the world’s seaborne oil exports, fuelled fears that Islamist militants may try to set up a base in a region of strategic importance for the United States. Separately, in the northern Yemeni province of Hodeidah, at least 23 inmates, including a number of al Qaeda operatives, fled prison, a security official told Reuters. “They dug a tunnel from their cell leading to a nearby grave yard,” the official, who asked not to be named, said. Saba state news agency said five militants had fled the prison.

Ansar Al-Sharia militants flee Azzan
Yemen Times — 25 June 2012
Militants of Ansar Al-Sharia, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group, fled Saturday from Azzan, in Shabwa, to Al-Jawf, Mareb, and other areas of Shabwa, a military source told the Yemen Times. “Some fled to Al-Hawta district in Shabwa, while others shaved their beards and traveled as normal citizens to Al-Jawf and Mareb,” the military source said. now that the military controls Abyan and Azzan, some say a new phase of war with Ansar Al-Sharia will begin. Adel Ameen, a Yemeni columnist and a political analyst, said the military can’t fully remove Al-Qaeda from Yemen. He considers recent events as a first phase of confrontations. There will be a second phase of battles between the military and Ansar Al-Sharia militants, and it will differ from the first phase, he said. Instead of confrontations, the militants will fight a guerrilla war, carrying out different attacks against the military and vital institutions. Ameen said he expects battles to spread to Marib, Hadramout and Shabwa governorates. He said Beida’a is the probable governorate for future clashes between the military and Ansar Al-Sharia. Ahmed Saleh Al-Faqih, a columnist and a political analyst said great victories will be achieved by the military if it continues pursuing militants. He said that if the military stops, the militants will reunite and control new areas.

Army takes new al-Qaida stronghold
AP — 23 June 2012
Yemen’s army recaptured a new al-Qaida stronghold in the south on Saturday, officials said, the latest success in a two-month government offensive aiming at uprooting the militant group from large swaths of lands captured during last year’s political turmoil. Three days of shelling of al-Qaida positions and warnings to local tribal leaders of further escalation drove the militants out of Azzan town, Ali al-Ahmadi, governor of the province of Shabwa said. He said the militants fled into the mountains and to camps in the deserts of two nearby provinces, taking captured armored vehicles with them. He had no word on casualties.

Yemen security forces arrest al Qaeda suspect after major killed
Reuters — 22 June 2012
Yemeni security forces have detained a local al Qaeda leader suspected of links to an attack that killed a top military commander earlier this week, a security source said on Friday. Yemeni security forces have tightened security across the country after a suicide bomber killed Major General Salem Qatan, the commander of military forces in southern Yemen, on Monday after his forces drove al Qaeda allies Ansar al-Sharia from their strongholds in the Abyan province.

The South:
Amidst calls for southern secession; security forces kill protesters
Yemen Times — 25 June 2012
There are many conflicting reports regarding the number of people killed in Aden on Friday while marching in a funeral and calling for separation. The funeral was for a man named Ahmed Jamal Haidrah, killed last Wednesday while he participated in a demonstration calling for re-erecting tents in Martyrs’ Square in Al-Mansuorah. Security forces cleared out the square mid June.  After the funeral, the southern movement supporters headed to Martyrs Square demanding that the security personnel occupying the square leave. However, the Central Security Forces repelled them by opening fire and killing two. Other sources said three were killed; including a child taking part in the protest.

Economy/Governance:
Cabinet approves draft phased program for development 2012-2014
Saba Net — 26 June 2012
The cabinet approved on Tuesday the draft phased program for stability and development 2012-2014 which will be presented at the donor conference in Riyadh. It was prepared by the government in cooperation with private sector, civil society organizations and donors.

Yemen oil route reopens after military pullout
Reuters — 24 June 2012
A road linking Yemen’s capital to an oil-producing province was opened for the first time in more than a year on Sunday, after the army and tribal fighters agreed to withdraw from positions along the route, military officials said.

Yemen Spent over $15 Billion in Oil Subsidies in Ten Years, Study Says
Yemen Post — 25 June 2012
The true oil subsidies bill in Yemen in the past ten years was estimated at about $15,8 billion, an economist has said in a recent study.

Yemen sends soldiers to protect its LNG
Reuters — 21 June 2012
Yemeni soldiers have been deployed to protect the gas pipeline feeding the Yemen LNG export terminal, its energy minister said on Thursday, as the country tries to shield its biggest industrial asset from further attacks.

Marib Power Station shuts down, army attempts to catch saboteurs
Yemen Times — 25 June 2012
An additional security detachment has been sent to Marib, after combined army and security forces clashed with suspected power line saboteurs on Saturday in the Al-Jada’an area of Marib. Saturday’s clashes resulted in several deaths on both sides, eyewitnesses told the Yemen Times on Sunday. This came after the Ministry of Electricity decided on Thursday to temporarily shut down Marib Gas Station, in Marib governorate east of the capital Sana’a, following twelve attacks on its infrastructure in the past few days.

Debt Owed to Yemen Energy Ministry about $279 Million, Says Minister
Yemen Post — 27 June 2012
Energy Minister, Saleh Sumai, revealed on Wednesday that subscribers including senior officials such as ministers and their deputies owe his ministry about YR60 billion, over $279 million, just as Yemen is struggling to put an end to sabotage attacks blamed for power disruptions and long blackouts.

Security guards in Balhaf go on strike
Yemen Times — 25 June 2012
Employees of the Al-Sharq Masood Security Company, who guard the Liquid Natural Gas Company’s (LNG) facilities in Balhaf, Shabwa, east of Yemen announced a strike for an hour per day starting on Friday, June 22nd.

Rising costs of ice force fishermen to moor up in Al-Lohaia coast
Yemen Times — 28 June 2012
According to fisherman Ahmed Bajily, they used to buy ice from a plant in the Al-Khoba area near Al-Lohaia. Packages were sold for YR500; however, as there are no other ice plants in the area, the plant’s owner raised prices to YR1000. The same amount of ice is sold in Hodeida for only YR100. Ahmed and his colleagues stopped fishing several months ago in protest against the high cost of ice. They have already found another ice plant in the Al-Kanawes area, 90 kilometers away from Al-Lohaia.

Hunger:
As ‘Hungry Season’ Nears, Yemenis Struggle For Food
NPR — 26 June 2012
Yemen has long struggled as one of the least developed countries in the world. But now, after a year of protest and unrest that saw the country’s long-time dictator step down, the situation for millions of Yemenis is dire. Aid groups say some 10 million people are now without enough food to eat, and more than 200,000 children face life-threatening levels of malnutrition.

WFP pledges $207 million for food assistance to Yemen in 2012 
Yemen Times — 28 June 2012
The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) began distributing food rations to the most malnourished Yemeni governorates this past Saturday. The WFP identified eight governorates as the most food insecure areas in Yemen. The governorates include Hajja, Mahwit, Amran, Al-Baida, Ibb, Taiz, Al-Dall’e and Raima, according to Hamood Al-Ahazm, public manager of the School Feeding Project, Sana’a.

Women:
The glue of Yemeni society; unified women
Yemen Times — 25 June 2012
Today, a local conference for women named, “The active participation of women in building a modern civil state,” was held in Aden; however, the only noteworthy subject, according to almasdaronline, was that Salim Basindawah, the Yemen’s prime minister, encouraged southern immigrants to return to Yemen. Like every other “women” event, an official recognized and praised Yemeni women’s contribution to society and encouragement for further women’s participation in the public sector is championed. These events have been taking place in Yemen for years now: workshops where a handful of selected females are chosen to participate. Unfortunately, the results always lead to yet another event about “women,” while nothing concrete is actually established or done.

Yemeni businesswoman breaks stereotypes
Yemen Times — 24 June 2012
Yemeni businesswoman Aneesa Hussein Mohammed Othman is Yemeni is breaking stereotypes. She recently became the manager of a four-star hotel in Sana’a, a job many Yemenis think is exclusively for men.

Youth:
Yemeni students angered by blackouts
United Press International — 25 June 2012
Hundreds of students protested daily blackouts of electricity in Yemen, saying they must study “at the light of a candle.” The blackouts, 22 hours a day, have plagued the capital of Sanaa for nearly a month.

Yemeni youth discuss life during chew meets
Yemen Times — 28 June 2012
Atif Maooda resides in one of Sana’a’s neighborhoods. He graduated from the College of Mass Communication at Sana’a University, yet he is jobless. “Being out of work is like hell. I wish I could find a job as soon as possible,” Maooda said. He wakes up late every morning and heads to the qat market. Maooda said qat is the “sole sanctuary” for him and his friends to “escape the bitter situation” they reside in.

Is A Protest Camp Still Needed In Yemen?
NPR — 27 June 2012
In Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, a sprawling tent city that was home to thousands of protesters for more than a year is beginning to be dismantled. Some refuse to leave Change Square. Others say it’s time to get on with building a country.

Extremist groups entrap religious youth
Yemen Times — 28 June 2012
Several analysts have attributed terrorist activity in Yemen to the education given to youths in some unauthorized religious schools and Holy Quran Memorization Centers. The institutions have become common in Yemen, though many are unauthorized by the Ministry of Endowment. Many of Yemen’s Quran schools work without permits. In 2010, the Ministry of Endowment disallowed any Quran Memorization School in the capital unless a permit is obtained from the ministry’s office.

Ministerial Committee Exclusively Assigned to Bring Youths to Yemen Dialogue
Yemen Post — 26 June 2012
The ministerial committee and the liaison team in charge with communication with the youth-led protesters to bring them to a comprehensive national dialogue on Monday decided the committee will be responsible for this mission inclusively.

National Dialogue:
Opposition Demands Yemen Dialogue Be Held Abroad, Between South and North
Yemen Post — 24 June 2012
The Yemeni opposition abroad have set conditions to participate in a comprehensive dialogue expected in few months to come under a West-backed power-transfer deal including that the dialogue should be held between the south and the north, Almasdar Online reported, quoting sources.

Facing a Troubled Past, Yemen Debates Transitional Justice Measures
International Center for Transitional Justice — 25 June 2012
As Yemen prepares to embark on a national dialogue about its future, addressing the legacy of the past human rights violations remains one of its key challenges. A Law on Transitional Justice and National Reconciliation has been under discussion since February 2012 and may now be adopted in the coming weeks.

International Community:
Saudi King’s health delays the Donors’ Conference
Yemen Times — 25 June 2012
A source in the Yemeni government told the Yemen Times on Sunday that the Donors’ Conference will be delayed to the coming September, because of the health of the Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz and death of the his Crown Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz. The conference was scheduled to take place at the end of this month in Al-Riyadh.  According to the source, the Friends of Yemen group decided to postpone the conference because the Saudi King won’t be able to attend.

Parliament Speaker stresses importance of U.S. support to Yemen
Saba Net — 24 June 2012
Speaker of Parliament Yahya al-Raei stressed on Sunday on the importance of promoting the U.S. economic support for Yemen. In his meeting with the U.S. ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein ,al-Raei affirmed of the importance of the cooperation between the two countries in the economic area as well as in combating terrorism in the current stage.

Cabinet approves $205 mln loan agreements
Saba Net — 24 June 2012
The cabinet approved on Sunday two loan agreements worth $205 million signed with Arab Monetary Fund (AMF).

Donors vow initially $66 mln for Abyan’s displaced urgent needs
Saba Net — 24 June 2012
The donors to Yemen group pledged on Wednesday to provide initially $66 million for the urgent needs of Abyan governorate’s displaced people.

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