Weekly News Update 19 July 2012

Reuters photoblog/http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/07/12/12708080-shiite-tribesmen-denounce-us-presence-in-yemen?lite

Highlights:
Strife-Torn Yemen Tops The World’s Worst Economies
Forbes — 17 July 2012
With per-capita income of $1,418 and an estimated adult illiteracy rate of 45%, Yemen ranks among the poorest countries on earth. This despite the fact that Yemen has 3 billion barrels of oil, providing about a quarter of the country’s $63 billion GDP and 70% of government revenues. Attacks by al Qaeda and militant tribes helped trim oil production by 125,000 barrels a day last year amid widespread violence that also led to the resignation of longtime leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Yemen’s power vacuum could provide window for secessionists
Christian Science Monitor — 18 July 2012
Yemen’s Southern Movement has emerged defiantly from the power vacuum caused by last year’s uprising against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Though the Yemeni government and the bulk of the international community still see Yemen’s continued unity, forged in 1990, as nonnegotiable, many emboldened separatists increasingly feel they’re on the verge of restoring their independence.

In Yemen, a Controversial Memorial Makes an Important Point
Time — 18 July 2012
When soldiers are killed by a suicide bomber, commanders face a quandary: the fallen deserve to be mourned, but to make a public show of grief could give the terrorists the propaganda victory they crave. Most militaries quickly clean up the scene of the attack, issue a statement of condemnation and draw a curtain of silence over the mourning process. Not Yemen’s Central Security Force (CSF). Nearly two months after the May 21 suicide bombing that killed over 100 graduating CSF cadets during a parade in Sana‘a, the attack is relived over and over where it happened, in Sabaeen Square. Giant billboards bear portraits of the dead and over 300 wounded. In a geodesic tent, a large TV screen plays a continuous loop of video of the attack’s grisly aftermath: body parts and blood everywhere, the screams of the dying and the maimed, the horror and rage of their comrades-in-arms.

Security:
Al-Qaeda Brings the Fight to Yemen’s Capital
Time — 15 July 2012
The doctor’s trembling hands were still wrapped in blood-stained surgical gloves. Outside the gate of the Yemeni capital’s police academy, Dr. Ahmed Idrees was speaking to a crowd of cameras and microphones about the latest assault on Sana’a. Two hours earlier, an assailant later identified as Mohammed Nasher al-Uthy, 20, hurled an explosive into a crowd of cadets leaving the academy for a weekend at home. Ten were killed and fifteen wounded. Al-Uthy himself lost several limbs in the blast, dying in a hospital an hour after the attack. Noting similarities with an incident in May, Idrees said, “The characteristics of this attack are the same we saw in Saba’een Street.” The suicide attack on Saba’een had been massive: 96 soldiers were killed while rehearsing for a military military parade commemorating Yemen’s unification. In both cases, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemen-based franchise of the terrorist organization, claimed responsibility.

Gov’t holds extraordinary meeting addressing security situation
Saba Net — 15 July 2012
The government held an extraordinary meeting on Sunday to address the current security situation in the country and the required measures to enhance stability. During the meeting chaired by Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa, the government listened to a report of the Interior Minister in the investigation progress of the terrorist attack on the police academy in Sana’a last Wednesday.

Terror thwarts development in Yemen
UPI — 12 July 2012
The U.N. envoy to Yemen said militants linked to al-Qaida are working to undermine political development in the country.

Yemen army officer, 2 al-Qaida militants killed
AP — 18 July 2012
Two al-Qaida militants and an army officer have been killed in separate incidents, a Yemeni military official said Wednesday, Another official claimed an Iranian spy operation has been discovered, and Yemen’s president called for Iran to refrain from interfering in his country.

Yemeni security official assassinated in Aden
Reuters via Chicago Tribune — 19 July 2012
A bomb ripped through the car of a senior Yemeni security officer on Thursday in the southern port city of Aden, killing him instantly in an attack that another security official blamed on Islamist militants with ties to al Qaeda. The explosive was stuck to the side of the vehicle and went off as Colonel Abdallah al-Mawzai turned the key in the ignition, the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Kidnapped Red Cross worker freed in Yemen
AP — 14 July 2012
The international Red Cross says a French staff member kidnapped in Yemen almost three months ago has been freed. A spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross says 28-year-old Benjamin Malbrancke was handed over by a group called Ansar al-Shari’a in Shabwa on Friday.

Yemen president warns Iran to stop meddling, says he has evidence of spy ring
AP via Washington Post — 18 July 2012
Yemen’s president on Wednesday called on Iran to stop spying in his country, warning that the Shiite-led nation would “pay the price” if it continues meddling. His stern warning followed claims in state media that an Iranian spy operation had been uncovered.

Israeli study points to Yemen as site of proxy confrontation between Iran, Gulf and the west
Yemen Times — 16 July 2012
A recent study has reported that newly elected President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi is targeting Al-Qaeda, recognizing that the organization poses a threat to the unity of the Yemen. As well as obtaining the resulting financial support from the west and Gulf countries, Hadi aims to gain legitimacy to his rule, the study indicated. The study, conducted by Joel Sokolsky from the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, suggests that Hadi’s recent campaign against Al-Qaeda has seen considerable success.

Yemen militants cut off soldier’s fingers: army
AFP via Ahram — 16 July 2012
Gunmen in south Yemen, where troops are hunting down militants linked to Al-Qaeda, abducted a soldier and cut off three of his fingers, the defence ministry’s website said on Tuesday. The site, 26sep.net, named the soldier as Mohammed al-Jaradi, and said he was abducted late on Monday in Daleh, the capital of the province of the same name, and taken him to a village.

Suitcase explodes in street, killing 1 civilian
Yemen Times — 16 July 2012
A suitcase bomb exploded in the early hours of Sunday, killing one civilian in the Souq Al-Wahda region of Sana’a. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, though the bombing follows a number of attacks thought to have been carried out by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Suspected militant killed by own bomb
AP — 15 July 2012
A Yemeni security official says a suspected al-Qaida militant accidentally set off a bomb he was preparing in a metal workshop in the capital, killing himself and injuring one other person.

Yemen ambush kills prison official, three others
Reuters via Chicago Tribune — 16 July 2012
Gunmen killed the deputy director of the main prison in the southern Yemeni city of Taiz and three other people in an ambush on Monday, police said.

Spreading awareness about avoiding landmines
Yemen Times — 16 July 2012
A training course was held in Sana’a earlier this month by the SEYAJ cooperative organization for childhood protection and the National Committee that deals with mines. It aimed to train participants from different civil society organizations to spread awareness about avoiding landmines. The training course included groups from Sa’ada, Amran and Hajja.

Analysts baffled by police academy bombing
Yemen Times — 16 July 2012
Although it was a resounding blast, the bombing that targeted the police academy cadets on Wednesday remains masked with ambiguity. To date, government officials have neither identified the perpetrator nor declared any precise details about the incident.

Extremism spreading across Yemen
Yemen Times — 19 July 2012
Governorates across Yemen are exposed to Al-Qaeda operations.  The spread of extremism can be reflected in the attached chart, compiled according to information provided by Abdulsalam Mohammed, head of the Abad Center for Studies; Ayash Awas, a security expert at the Sheba Strategic Studies Center; and Saeed Obaid, an expert in Al-Qaeda affairs.

Economy/Governance:
Sana’a’s streets present travel and economic hassle
Yemen Times — 14 July 2012
Speed bumps and pot holes have spread throughout Sana’a’s streets. In addition to the inconvenience they cause, they also have economic effects on residents. Sana’a’s streets saw many excavations when the military dug trenches in Al-Hasaba, Sofan and other areas. Many speed bumps were also laid in front of houses in residential areas.

Street vendors cleared from Sana’a
Yemen Times — 19 July 2012
Adel Al-Sharjabi, a professor of Sociology at Sana’a University, said that in spite of the clearly growing economic activity of street trade, research centers continue to ignore it. He said no symposia or conferences were held to study the security, economic and social problems of street vendors. “Since there is no certain law to organize the relation between them, security and municipality supervisors continue to aggravate and chase the street vendors.” He said unofficial statistics indicate that there are around a quarter of a million street vendors. Last week, the government launched campaigns in Sana’a to remove vendor stalls from streets because they are spread widely, particularly after last year’s uprisings.

Investments, employments will help in stabilizing Yemen, President says
Saba Net — 17 July 2012
President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi said on Tuesday that investments and creating employments will help in stabilizing the country. This came in a meeting gathered President Hadi with Indonesian President’s special envoy to the Middle East Alwi bin Shihab, chairman of board of directors of Medco Energi Lukman Mahfoedz, Chief Exploration & New Ventures Officer Faiz Shahab and Indonesian Parliament member Muhammad Najib.

Yemen says oil exports may resume this week
Reuters via Daily Star — 16 July 2012
Yemen may be able to resume oil exports as planned this week after tribesmen agreed to allow repairs to the country’s main crude pipeline, the oil minister said on Sunday. “Resumption of pumping oil is expected tomorrow if the teams complete fixing the pipeline,” Minister Hisham Sharaf told Reuters, adding talks with tribes to allow the repairs to go ahead had been successful.

Sana’a attempts to go green
Yemen Times — 16 July 2012
No city in Yemen reaches the standard of a ‘green city’, namely one with residents who do not leave any environmental burdens for upcoming generations. Accumulated garbage covers both main and side streets in Sana’a and other Yemeni governorates due to the street cleaners’ sporadic strikes.

Exhibition fosters Yemeni inventions
Yemen Times — 16 July 2012
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce held an exhibition of Yemeni inventions, as well as granting the first patent. The exhibition aimed to develop the inventions and encourage inventors to invest in new ideas and valuable businesses that help foster the revival of social and civil development. It is the first of its kind in Yemen. According to the exhibition, no patent can be sold or distributed without the consent of the owner of the invention.

Yemen’s prominent tourist landmark in danger
GulfNews — 15 July 2012
Along with Shibam mud-skyscraper, the palace has served as a living quintessence of mud architecture that have flourished in Hadramout for centuries and a unique destination for many tourists who visit Yemen. Due to a decade of no renovation, the palace is now in terrible condition. Architects and local people have urged the Yemeni government to rescue the palace as rifts began to appear in many walls.

Legal Affairs minister says ‘no’ to nepotism in government hiring
Yemen Times — 18 July 2012
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Mohammed Sale Basindwa ordered all ministers to stop recruiting their relatives to critical government positions. Basindwa said ministers should abide by employment laws when choosing candidates, without any reliance on mediation or nepotism.

OMV says restarted Yemen production on Monday
Reuters — 17 July 2012
Austrian energy group OMV AG has resumed production in Yemen, the company said. “We can confirm the restart of the Yemen production by yesterday,” a spokesman said by email in response to a query.

Lieutenant Colonel Abdullah Al-Masajedi, director of the Electronic Civil Service Center
Yemen Times — 16 July 2012
Lieutenant Colonel Abdullah Al-Masajedi, vice director of the Electronic Civil Service Center, said it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to issue diplomatic passports, not the center’s. In an interview with the Yemen Times, Al-Masajedi said there is no favoritism shown when distributing identity cards and passports to Yemeni citizens.

Women:
Microfinance projects help women make it
Yemen Times — 16 July 2012
Women compose 65  to 75 percent of those borrowing money from microfinance projects funded by the Social Development Fund, a major government supporter of the microfinance sector. Osama Al-Shami, head of the Micro Industries Unit of the Social Development Fund, said these projects and industries differ from one to another in terms of their activities in governorates nationwide.

National Dialogue:
Yemen factions invited to national dialogue: UN envoy
AFP via Google News — 13 July 2012
The UN envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, said on Friday that southern separatists and northern Shiite rebels have been invited to participate in a national dialogue set for November. “Contacts have been made with all the parties, including the Southern Movement and the Huthis (Zaidis), to join the national dialogue and there is now agreement to begin the preparatory phase,” Benomar said at the end of a two-week visit.

Ban welcomes launch of process for national dialogue conference
UN News Centre — 16 July 2012
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the official launch of the preparatory process for the national dialogue conference in Yemen, his spokesperson said today. “The national dialogue will be an opportunity for all actors in Yemen to collectively establish a new social contract and achieve national reconciliation,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson added in a statement.

Differing reactions toward newly established Technical Committee
Yemen Times — 16 July 2012
The reactions towards the Technical Committee of the National Dialogue have been mixed since its establishment last Saturday. Some consider the Technical Committee as a good start to pave the way for the National Dialogue slated to be held in November. On the contrary, others voiced objections about the people involved in the committee.

Protesters in front of Hadi’s home call for Al-Baida governor to resign
Yemen Times — 16 July 2012
A demonstration titled “We have run out of patience” was held yesterday in Sana’a. It called for the resignation of Al-Baida’s governor, Mohammed Nasser Al-Amiri. Majid Karoot, a journalist participating in the demonstration, said they left Al-Baida on Saturday morning with only 70 vehicles.

Yemen Salafists want part in national dialogue
AFP via Ahram — 15 July 2012
Yemen’s Salafists want to be part of a national dialogue aimed at facilitating political transition in the country, but expressed criticisms for being excluded from the process, a Salafist said on Monday. The panel, formed by President Abrabuh Mansur Hadi, “ignores a large part of the Yemeni population represented by the Salafists,” said Abdelwahab al-Humaiqan, the secretary general of the hardline Islamist Al-Rashad party formed in March, at a Sunday rally.

Government to sue parliament member insulted PM
Saba Net — 15 July 2012
The government approved on Sunday to file a lawsuit against a parliament member insulted the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister. In its extraordinary meeting to address the country’s security situation chaired by Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa, the government dealt with the case, stressing that the insulting the Prime Minister or a minister is an insult to the whole government.

Benomar presents grim report to UN
Yemen Times — 18 July 2012
He noted that only half of the necessary funding has been pledged to address the humanitarian demands to support Yemen. About $340 million is needed to cover the increasing humanitarian needs. Benomar also expressed concern about obstructions to power transition in Yemen, noting that U.N. Resolution 2051 stipulates that whoever hinders power transition in Yemen must be prosecuted. Adnan Hashim, a political analyst, suggested that Benomar had a particularly negative view of the situation in Yemen because he talks more with sheikhs than state institutions.

Restive Governorates:
Further assistance required for IDPs
Yemen Times — 18 July 2012
Ahmed Al-Kohlani, head of the executive unit of the internally displaced people (IDP) camps in Sana’a, urged officials and representatives of international organizations represented in Yemen to cooperate to help Abyan’s IDPs.

Taiz could relapse into instability
Yemen Times — 17 July 2012
A state of tension has reemerged in Taiz following the deaths of non-commissioned Officer Saleh Al-Awlakei of the Central Prison personnel, his four-year-old daughter and two soldiers; four others were also wounded. The deaths took place while boarding a Central Prison vehicle. Locals in Taiz fear the renewal of instability experienced in the course of last year’s political turbulence. The governorate of Taiz had seen increased stability since Governor Shawqi Hael assumed office. Life returned to a more normal situation and some services have improved.

Abyan Governorate emerges from war
IRIN — 16 July 2012
The city has seen fierce clashes between government troops and Ansar al-Sharia militants over the past few months and the devastation of war is plain to see, with damaged buildings, spent ammunition littering the streets, and a smashed-up power and water network. City residents warn visitors not to try and approach the administrative complex or other government buildings, which they say are mined.

Aden no longer taking IDPs from stabilized Abyan
Yemen Times — 16 July 2012
The internally displaced people’s (IDPs) executive unit in Aden stopped receiving IDPs from Abyan this week as the region begins to stabilize and as the security situation in the city begins to improve.

US:
Relatives Sue Officials Over U.S. Citizens Killed by Drone Strikes in Yemen
New York Times — 18 July 2012
Relatives of three American citizens killed in drone strikes in Yemen last year filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against four senior national security officials on Wednesday. The suit, in the Federal District Court here, opened a new chapter in the legal wrangling over the Obama administration’s use of drones in pursuit of terrorism suspects away from traditional “hot” battlefields like Afghanistan.

Hunger:
Malnutrition soars in conflict-ridden Yemen
Al-Jazeera — 16 July 2012
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says that hundreds of thousands of children are facing starvation in Yemen, with one million children acutely malnourished. “Close to 60 per cent of Yemeni children under the age of five today are suffering from chronic malnutrition,” UNICEF representative Gert Kapelari said.

Million Yemen children face severe malnutrition
Reuters — 19 July 2012
One million Yemeni children face severe malnutrition within months as families struggle to pay for food in one of the Arab world’s poorest countries, the U.N. World Food Programme has warned. Political turmoil has pushed Yemen to the brink of a humanitarian crisis and aid agencies estimate half the country’s 24 million people are malnourished.

Children bear brunt of Yemen hunger crisis
Financial Times — 18 July 2012
There are many factors causing Yemen’s child malnutrition crisis: scarcity of safe drinking water, lack of public services in rural areas and poor public health awareness. But poverty levels, which are estimated to have increased by 10 per cent since the start of Yemen’s political crisis according to Abdou Seif, of the United Nations Development Programme in Yemen, exacerbates the all other factors.

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