Weekly News Update 12 July 2012

Highlights:
Yemen’s Ticking Time Bomb
Al-Monitor — 9 July 2012
The need for a clear economic vision is urgent. Some economic activity has started to resume, but unemployment remains debilitating and the cost of food and basic goods has skyrocketed. Inflation is at 23% overall; bread is nearly 120% its previous price. According to the IMF, the economy shrank by more than 10% last year and is predicted to contract another 0.9% this year. The government is unable to meet the most basic needs of electricity and water and the budget deficit has risen with declining oil revenue due to attacks on pipelines in Marib, low levels of tax collection and subsidies for fuel and food. Foreign reserves have declined substantially as the Central Bank has tried to prop up the currency and the government is running a $2.5 billion deficit.

Camping on the Edge of Catastrophe
International Business Times — 10 July 2012
Since mid-January 2012, 38,500 people have been displaced within the Hajjah governorate in northern Yemen, due to prolonged fighting between the al-Houthi group of Shia insurgents and their tribal rivals. This wave of ostracism has taken the official number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) across Yemen past 140,000, although the real figure is thought to be far higher.

In Yemen, Little Relief for Hunger
New York Times — 11 July 2012
Hunger in Yemen — the poorest country in the Middle East — has doubled since 2009, according to the World Food Program. The ability of families to feed their children has deteriorated significantly in the last year as food and fuel prices have soared amid the political turmoil and economic activity has ground to a near halt.

Security:
Suicide attack on Yemeni police cadets kills at least 10; government blames al-Qaida
AP via Washington Post — 11 July 2012
A suspected al-Qaida suicide bomber detonated his explosives among a crowd of Yemeni police cadets as they were leaving their academy Wednesday, killing at least 10 of them, according to security officials.

Four shot dead in Yemen marches : protesters
Reuters — 7 July 2012
Security forces shot dead four men and wounded 18 at demonstrations by separatists in south Yemen on Saturday, protest leaders said, but officials said protesters had attacked security personnel and soldiers. Three men were shot as they marched with several hundred protesters trying to get into a public square in the Mansoura district of the Arabian Sea port city of Aden, said Hussein Zaid bin Yahya, a leader of the Southern Movement.

U.S. backing masks Saudi covert ops
UPI — 5 July 2012
As Yemen’s military, backed by U.S. Special Forces and the CIA, drive al-Qaida forces out of their southern strongholds, Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agents, old hands at operating in Yemen, are playing a vital clandestine role.

Yemeni soldiers free officer they abducted
Reuters — 8 July 2012
Yemeni soldiers on Sunday freed a senior officer who they kidnapped last month, an official said, in a case that raised concerns about the unity of an army engaged in a U.S.-backed offensive against Islamist militants.

Hodeida airport land hijacked
Yemen Times — 9 July 2012
Several powerful figures affiliated with the Air Defense Forces and Air Police officers, as well as merchants and tribal figures, are attempting to control areas in and around Hodeida’s airport. Officials warn that if further action isn’t taken, the airport could be forced to close.

Yemen demands discontinuation of US strikes
Yemen Times — 9 July 2012
Journalists have reported that the Yemeni government informed U.S. ambassador Gerald M. Feierstein that it cannot accept U.S. involvement in air raids on Yemeni territory. The Yemeni government said that, because the war between the Yemeni military and Ansar Al-Sharia ended, the U.S. should honor its agreement to discontinue action. Abdusalam Mohammed, head of the Abaad Studies and Research Centre, a think-tank based in Sana’a, said the agreement between Yemen and the U.S. to stop the air raids carried out by U.S. drones will help soften attitudes toward the U.S.

Al-Qaida Arm In Yemen Flexes Its Muscles In Nigeria
NPR — 12 July 2012
An unusual terrorism case started in Nigeria late last week. Prosecutors in the capital city of Abuja accused two local men of being members of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP. They were charged with accepting thousands of dollars from the group to recruit potential terrorists inside Nigeria and then send them to Yemen. Olaniyi Lawal, 31, and Luqman Babatunde, 30, have pleaded not guilty.

2 escaped al-Qaida prisoners re-arrested
AP — 11 July 2012
Yemen says two al-Qaida militants who tunneled out of a prison last month have been re-arrested in a southern province. An Interior Ministry statement issued Wednesday said the two were captured in al-Dhali province and were among five militants who escaped from the prison in the western province of Hodeida on June 26.

Protests against old city crackdown
Yemen Times — 12 July 2012
Yemeni military and security forces opened fire on street merchants in the Bab Al-Yemen section of the old city of Sana’a Saturday, according to merchants, residents and other eyewitnesses.  Security forces entered the area at 8p.m., and according to merchants, dozens were hospitalized and at least 100 people were arrested. When asked, Office of Public Works and Highways General Manager Hamzah Al-Ashwal did not deny the accusation.

Yemen Airstrikes Punish Militants, And Civilians
NPR — 6 July 2012
In the mid-May strike in Jaar, for example, Yemeni officials said two militants and eight civilians were killed. According to residents we spoke with, no militants were killed, but there were 17 to 26 civilian deaths. That was just one of more than 40 documented strikes this year alone.

Reporting From Yemen Amid Ongoing Drone Attacks
NPR — 9 July 2012
Drones are a divisive issue among Yemenis. Some support the U.S. and Yemeni governments’ efforts to target militant groups. Others complain that the drone strikes kill too many civilians and remain distrustful of the Yemeni government and the U.S. NPR’s Kelly McEvers talks about the consequences.

Drones Suspected In Yemen Fighting
NPR — 8 July 2012
Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz speaks with NPR’s Kelly McEvers about her reporting trip to towns in southern Yemen, which recently came under fire from what are believed to be unmanned drones.

Yemen on high alert after al Qaeda threatens prison break
CNN — 7 July 2012
More than 40 al Qaeda militants infiltrated Yemen’s port city of Aden seeking to free imprisoned fighters, the defense ministry said Saturday. The ministry said the militants entered through neighboring al-Thale province, and that the country is on high security alert.

Flaws in America’s Yemen policy
Gulf News — 6 July 2012
Regrettably, the US has failed to ask itself why militants hate it and want to punish it. Even the devastating attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001, failed to stimulate an American national debate of sufficient seriousness and depth into the motives for the assault. Many Americans seem to have contented themselves with the simplistic view that their country was ‘good’ and their Islamic enemies ‘evil.’

Report: Emergence of new terror network in S Yemen
Yemen Post — 9 July 2012
A report released on Monday by Abaad Center for Researches and Studies warned of a new terrorist group in Yemen which has stemmed from the alliances made between some militant groups in the country. It stated that some signs signaling the emergence for such a terrorist network have already appeared in some southern provinces of Yemen, most notably in the port city of Aden.

The new terrorist network is currently trying to find legitimacy for its violence aimed to achieve independence for South Yemen and establish the “Free Southern Army” by planning military defections of some army commanders hailing from the southern region, mostly of those who used to be affiliated with the former regime, said the report.

Yemen accuses military of sabotaging key oil pipeline
The National — 9 July 2012
Yemeni authorities have accused military officers of sabotaging one of the country’s key oil pipelines during last year’s uprising, as the country battles to repair its energy infrastructure. The allegation that military officers were to blame for the attack on the pipeline has fuelled speculation that Saleh loyalists sabotaged Yemen’s energy infrastructure to help keep him in power. The purpose of such attacks, analysts and critics say, was to prove that only Mr Saleh, who kept the country together during 33 years of rule, would be able to stop the security situation deteriorating.

Economy/Governance:
Yemen’s slide cannot be allowed to continue
The National — 12 July 2012
Yemen simply needs a new economy. More than half of Yemenis work in agriculture, yet this sector forms less than 10 per cent of the country’s GDP, and accounts for less than 5 per cent of exports. In other words, more than half the Yemenis who are considered employed are grossly unproductive.

Yemen works on oil pipeline repairs
UPI — 9 July 2012
The Yemeni Ministry of Oil said the Marib oil pipeline should be repaired within a week. Officials said workers were repairing a series of sites along the pipeline damaged during recent attacks, the official Saba news agency reports.

Government efforts ineffective Piracy threatens fishery business
Yemen Times — 7 July 2012
Piracy in the coastal areas in Yemen has resulted in a decrease of fish production. The price of fish has increased and, according to Dr. Waed Ba Dheeb, the Minister of Transportation, Yemeni fisherman lost an estimated $150 million in 2009-2010 due to piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

Streets of Yemen can breathe again
Yemen Times — 12 July 2012
Cleaning workers resumed their duties Wednesday after a six-day sit-in throughout Yemeni governorates, during which they demanded official employment rights as well as health and financial allowances. Sana’a’s streets were littered with garbage from the trash accumulation.

The South:
Yemen frees 25 separatists after deadly clashes
Daily Star — 9 July 2012
Yemeni authorities have released 25 activists hours after they were arrested in the south following deadly clashes between police and separatists, activists said Sunday. The capital of the formerly independent South Yemen, Aden, was cautiously calm Sunday, a day after a gathering by separatists commemorating the north’s seizure of the south in 1994 turned into a gun battle. Security forces exchanged gunfire with protesters during rallies Saturday calling for the region’s secession, leaving at least four people dead, security officials said.

Renewed clashes between security forces and Southern Movement activists in Aden districts
Yemen Times — 12 July 2012
Clashes renewed in Al-Mansoura district in Aden resulting in six injuries, including two women and one child. On Wednesday, a tank broke into Blook 25 in Al-Mansoura, killing Southern Movement leader Sharaf Mahfood.

National Dialogue:
What do we want from the National Dialogue?
Yemen Times — 12 July 2012
Yemenis have been excited and apprehensive for the last months of the transition Yemen is going through. Everything is officially based on the Gulf Initiative and its implementation mechanism. The catch is that hardly anyone among the public has read it even though it is available and accessible. In fact, even those claiming to be involved in politics and in the transition have not taken the time to read about it and to understand it.

President Hadi receives liaison committee
Saba Net — 10 July 2012
President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi met here on Tuesday with the Liaison Committee headed by Abdul-Karim al-Eryani. At the meeting, they discussed the next steps to be taken within the preparation for establishing the supreme preparatory committee for the national dialogue conference.

Security bodies hinder release of political detainees imprisoned since 2011 uprising
Yemen Times — 12 July 2012
Horia Mashhoor, Yemen’s minister of human rights, said certain detainees, currently in Yemeni prisons, have not been released despite presidential and ministerial orders. Mashhoor said some security departments rejected these orders and refused to release the arrestees, particularly youth detained in relation to last year’s unrest.

Women:
Working, not learning, the norm for women in rural villages
Yemen Times — 7 July 2012
Abdullah said she was denied education because “locals in the village disapprove of co-education. So they prevent girls from going to schools.” Hadi said in her village, women cannot study due to the other responsibilities they shoulder such as fetching wood from the mountain and water or grass from the valley. The worst, she said, is the early marriages, which deny women their basic rights. There is a maxim in the village that says for a mature girl, there is marriage or there is a tomb, Hadi recalled.

Increasing role of women in political parties
Yemen Times — 12 July 2012
The role of Yemeni women emerged more clearly after last year’s uprising in Yemen. Women were present in some of the recently established parties but absent in others.  Mohammed Muftah, head of the political Zaidi Shi’ite Al-Omma party, formed in early January, said that “in the party, we follow the principles of efficiency and integrity, appointing positions and giving duties to members, whether men or women. We hope to find qualified women, and when we do, we will give them all their rights.”

Youth:
Yemeni children on qat: an imitation that becomes an addiction
Al-Arabiya — 6 July 2012
Over half a million Yemeni children are directly or indirectly affected by qat, a flowering plant that holds importance in Yemen’s culture and is chewed by many across the country. According to researchers the average person in Yemen spends 10-20 percent of their income towards buying the plant. Families of all income levels spend three to four hours of their day chewing the bitter leaves as part of their daily routine. What is worrisome, however, is how children are chewing qat too.

Financing impoverished youth
Yemen Times — 9 July 2012
A program targeting approximately 20,000 marginalized and impoverished Yemeni youth began last week and will last two years. The program was launched in coordination with the Selatak Foundation, Sanabel Microfinance Network in Yemen and the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). “This program targets marginalized and poor people who don’t have access to financial services in order to enable them to have all financial facilities, including savings,” Ahmed Al-Zamzami, director of GIZ Microfinance, said. “Saving is very important, but banks usually do not open opening saving accounts with low amounts of money.”

Healthcare:
Yemen’s ailing healthcare affects mothers, children
Yemen Times — 9 July 2012
While Yemen covers 555,000 square kilometers, it only has approximately 2,000 reproductive health centers, with 60 percent of them offering different services such as labor and pregnancy, after-delivery and family planning methods. 520 centers offer more extensive emergency services, and 69 hospitals cover essentially everything else, according to Dr. Iman Al-Qubatti, general manager of reproductive health at the Ministry of Health.

Marriage:
Marriage: thousands of dollars buys a wife and her citizenship
Yemen Times — 9 July 2012
Studies suggest rates of spinsterhood increase in Yemen as a result of the high cost of marriage and unemployment. Moreover, some girls refuse to marry, preferring to pursue their education. A 2009 survey focusing on family and marriage affairs conducted by the Mojtama Foundation found that, at the time, the rate of unmarried women between the ages of 30 and 49 was 11 percent.

International Aid:
RCA opens new aid distribution centres in Yemen
Gulf News — 10 July 2012
The UAE Red Crescent Authority (RCA) has opened five new centres in Sana’a for distribution of food aid to poor families. The move comes as part of the ‘Sanadhum’ campaign to provide humanitarian support to the Yemeni people. According to Khalfan Al Kindi, Director of the RCA office in Yemen, a study was conducted to identify the needy families, adding that around 2,000 people will benefit daily from the aid distributed through the new centres in Sana’a, in addition to the existing centres in other provinces of Yemen.

WB puts Yemen in its core priorities, senior official says
Saba Net — 7 July 2012
The World Bank (WB) puts Yemen in its core priorities in terms of logistical and material support in coordination with the donor countries, including Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, senior official at the WB said Friday.

US to continue security and economic aid to Yemen: Burns says
Saba Net — 9 July 2012
U.S. Undersecretary of State stressed Monday that his country would continue its political, security and economic aid to Yemen. “Yemen can rely on the long-term friendship with the U.S.,” William Burns said during his meeting with President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

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