Weekly News Update 26 July 2012

Highlights:
Yes, Sometimes Drones Are Actually Effective
The Atlantic — 24 July 2012
In Yemen, we’ve seen that allowing the government to retake areas from AQAP can be effective at addressing the terrorist threat; the U.S. should make effective Yemeni governance its next priority. The recently announced influx of aid to Yemen is being directed almost exclusively to Yemen’s security services, which have already proved capable of removing AQAP from its territory. What’s missing is everything else that isn’t security: immediately countering the growing malnutrition there, strengthening and expanding the good governance programs groups like NED run, and establishing a long term commitment to fortifying Yemen’s shaky economy. As a part of a comprehensive strategy to both physically and politically secure the country, there is a definite role for drones to play: one that is moral, effective, and constrained. Assuming drones are the counterterrorism strategy — an impression one can get reading some of the coverageof the drones program — would be a mistake.

A Voice of Authority Emerges From the Opposition in Yemen
New York Times — 21 July 2012
The state in Yemen was always weak, and even before the conflict last year, local chieftains had a lot of autonomy and power. But Mr. Mikhlafi’s new role is emblematic of how opposition voices that were marginalized under the 33-year authoritarian rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh have gained increasing influence as the government in Yemen has grown even weaker since his ouster.

Why is Yemen’s food crisis off the world’s humanitarian radar?
The Guardian — 24 July 2012
When the revolutionary tide of the Arab spring swept Ali Abdullah Saleh from power in Yemen last year, optimism abounded. The conclusion of Saleh’s 33-year presidency – a reign more notable for the suppression of dissent and a descent into economic turmoil than any inroads on poverty, inequality and corruption – was meant to herald a fresh start for the Arab world’s poorest country. But, despite the appointment of a transitional government led by the former vice-president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, the promised end has failed to materialise.

National Dialogue:
Hadi calls on Yemenis to cling to the national unity
Saba Net — 19 July 2012
President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi called on Thursday all Yemenis to cling to their national unity, which is the most important step for change for the better of Yemen. In his speech on the occasion of the advent of the holy month of Ramadan, Hadi indicated to the difficult situation Yemen is undergoing now.

Reconciliation government met with mixed opinions
Yemen Times — 23 July 2012
Seven months have passed since the establishment of the reconciliation government, shared fifty-fifty between the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) and the General Peoples’ Congress. To date, Yemenis continue criticizing government performance, saying it failed to achieve many objectives.

Divided reaction to newly established committee from members and public
Yemen Times — 23 July 2012
The reactions towards the Technical Committee of the National Dialogue have been mixed since its establishment a week ago. Some consider the Technical Committee a good start to pave the way for the National Dialogue slated for November. On the contrary, others voiced objections about the people involved with the committee.

Derailment of Transitional Justice Law provokes exchange of wild accusations
Yemen Times — 23 July 2012
The Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) and the General People’s Congress (GPC) continue to exchange accusations about the derailment of the Transitional Justice Law. The JMP accuse the GPC’s minister of stalling the process; however, the latter say they side with a decree which claims that the JMP are the culprits for foiling the implementation of the transitional law.

Teaching syndicate demands resignation of current rectors
Yemen Times — 26 July 2012
The Sana’a and Amran Teaching Staff Syndicate demanded the resignation of the current rectors in order to begin electing new academic staff. The syndicate’s plan would be to start with the rectors to heads of various departments, based on the decision of the Higher Education’s Supreme Council.

More protests for release of detainees
Yemen Times — 24 July 2012
The General Council of the Revolutionary Abducted Youth demanded the release of arbitrarily held detainees during a protest Tuesday in front of the Yemeni Cabinet. Abdulkarim Thua’il, head of the council, said names of the abducted were given to the Yemeni prime minister, the minister of defense, the interior minister and the minister of human rights. He said they have information and statistics about more than 117 detainees.

Economy/Governance:
Yemen likely to join WTO in October: official
Xinhua — 26 July 2012
Yemen has reached an agreement with Ukraine to end the latter’s opposition to Yemen’s access to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is likely to join the trade bloc as early as October, the country’s official Saba news agency reported Thursday, quoting an official of industry and trade. “Yemeni minister of industry and trade, Saad al-Din bin Taleb, reached a deal with Ukraine to conclude the bilateral negotiations between the two countries that have lasted more than three years to fulfill Yemen’s membership requirements with the WTO,” Saba said.

Ramadan: a burden on some families
Yemen Times — 23 July 2012
Every year, people tend to be excited about Ramadan, and buy eclectically in preparation for it; however, the situation is different this year since many families don’t have money to buy what they need for Ramadan. They have little except dates and rice.

Ramadan markets inundated by expired dates
Yemen Times — 23 July 2012
Yemeni markets have been flooded with lots of merchandise that locals demand for Ramadan this month, including dates. Lately there has been a big fuss over expired dates in markets that are still sold even though they are in bad condition. Last week, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said they disposed of three tons of expired dates that could pose a hazard to public health if eaten. Abdulbasit Al-Kumaim, general manager of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, said they have doubled their efforts to check and inspect goods, particularly now as people rush to buy goods during Ramadan.

Street vendors endure abuse in Sana’a
Yemen Times — 23 July 2012
In the crowded streets of Al-Sabeen roundabout in Sana’a, Fatima Abdu, 28, stands for hours under the scorching sun and soaring temperature to sell newspapers and tissues. She didn’t expect that she would live this hard life; but she has been driven to it by the harsh circumstances she faces.

Promotion of Turkish investment in Yemen discussed
Saba Net — 25 July 2012
Prime Minister Mohamed Salem Basindwa met here on Wednesday with Turkish ambassador to Yemen Fazli Churman.

Yemen comes first among 45 countries exporting bananas
Saba Net — 24 July 2012
Yemen has came the first among 45 countries exporting bananas at the Regional Roundtable for exporters of banana products, held in Geneva during the period (July 20-21).

Security:
Yemen second in arms possession
Yemen Times — 25 July 2012
Yemen is ranked the second highest country in the world for weapons possession, with 61 weapons per 100 civilians, according to a 2007 survey by Small Arms Survey reported on this week by The Guardian.

Where Terrorists Have Tanks: A Ride Through al-Qaeda Country
Time — 25 July 2012
More than a month after Zinjibar was “liberated,” it remains for the most part a ghost town: there are a few checkpoints, manned either by the Popular Committee or by soldiers from the CSF. Some of the townsfolk who did return were killed or maimed by mines and booby-traps, discouraging others from leaving makeshift refugee camps in Aden. Many soldiers have also been killed while trying to de-mine the streets and the wreckage of homes. It may be months before Zinjibar is habitable again.

Yemeni security official says at least 5 al-Qaida fighters killed in overnight air raids
AP via Washington Post — 24 July 2012
Yemeni warplanes killed at least five al-Qaida-linked militants in overnight airstrikes against hideouts in the southern Abyan province, a security official said Tuesday. The official said the attacks late on Monday concentrated on the al-Mahfad area, where militants took refuge after they were driven out from strongholds in the city of Zinjibar and the nearby town of Jaar, both of which the army recaptured from militants two months ago.

Yemen defuses bomb at Aden intelligence building
Reuters via Chicago Tribune — 23 July 2012
Yemeni security forces have defused a bomb planted at the entrance of an intelligence services building in the southern port city of Aden, the defense ministry said. The bomb was to have been detonated by remote control, the ministry’s website quoted a security official as saying late on Sunday.

Al Qaeda-tied militants attack south Yemen village
Reuters — 25 July 2012
Al Qaeda-linked militants attacked a village in south Yemen on Wednesday, fighting to regain control of territory for the first time since they were driven from their strongholds in a U.S.-backed army offensive last month.

A terrorist plot detected
Yemen Times — 22 July 2012
The Interior Ministry said Saturday that it detected a terrorist plot aimed to attack military, security and checkpoint locations, with militants disguised in military uniforms. The information assistant at the ministry, Mohammed Al-Mawrei, confirmed that there was no truth to the rumor that a man had been captured disguised in female clothes.

Yemeni-Iranian tension heightens
Yemen Times — 22 July 2012
The Iranian embassy in Sana’a has denied Yemen’s accusations that there has been an Iranian-led spy ring operating in the country for seven years. Hussein Abdullah, an employee of the Iranian embassy in Sana’a, told the Yemen Times that what has been reported by media outlets about the existence of Iranian intelligence cells in Yemen lacks veracity, calling for all reporters to visit the Iranian embassy to clarify ambiguous issues.

Yemen police warn of terrorists in women’s attire
Gulf News — 22 July 2012
Yemeni security forces are on high alert following the arrest of a man disguised as a woman, who it is alleged intended to attack a security checkpoint. No details were provided on the suspect. The Ministry of Interior said on Saturday that terrorists have adopted tactics, including wearing women’s attire or military uniform to target security and military checkpoints.

Gunman kills Yemeni security official, Qaeda blamed
Reuters — 20 July 2012
A gunman shot dead a Yemeni security official in the southern province of Baydha, the defence ministry said on Friday, in an attack it blamed on the country’s wing of al Qaeda.

Pentagon sending new aid to Yemen; aircraft, weapons to boost counterterrorism
AP via Washington Post — 19 July 2012
The Pentagon is pouring new funding into Yemen for weapons and aircraft to help bolster the embattled country’s counterterrorism forces, amid growing concerns about Iranian spying and meddling there. After freezing military aid to Yemen for the past year, as the country was wracked by internal chaos, the Defense Department has now agreed to deliver more than $112 million worth of equipment and military training this year. The assistance includes $75 million approved last month, and another $37.4 million this month.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard escalating activities in Yemen – Diplomatic source
Asharq Al-Awsat — 25 July 2012
A Yemeni diplomatic source, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, has revealed that Iran is continuing its espionage activities in Yemen under medical and trade guises. He added that Tehran is playing an “abhorrent sectarian card”, warning that Yemen is not alone and isolated from its Arab brothers. For its part, the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] announced its support for Yemen’s position in confronting espionage networks and Iranian intervention in its domestic affairs.

Senior Yemen army officer survives roadside bomb -govt
Reuters via Chicago Tribune — 22 July 2012
A senior military official in Yemen survived an assassination attempt on Sunday in the southern province of Hadramaut, residents and the defence ministry said.

Gulf States back Yemen in Iran spy cell row
AFP via Al-Arabiya — 23 July 2012
The energy-rich Gulf Cooperation Council on Monday expressed support for Yemen’s security days after Sanaa said it uncovered what it called an Iranian spy spell.  GCC secretary general Abdelatif Zayani praised Sanaa for dismantling the alleged spy ring and said the six-nation council “fully backs Yemen in all the measures it undertakes to reinforce stability and security,” a statement said.

Abyan:
Ongoing Challenges face IDPs in Abyan
Yemen Times — 24 July 2012
Landmines, water and power shortages still form the biggest difficulty for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Abyan governorate.

Concerns over AQAP role in Abyan
Yemen Times — 25 July 2012
Although Al-Qaeda was driven from Abyan and its activities have been limited, the security situation is still volatile. A security source at the Ministry of Defense told the Yemen Times that Al-Qaeda militants are in Al-Mahfad district in Abyan, and they try to launch extensive attacks on the patrolmen, particularly at night.

Hunger:
Yemen’s children caught in food crisis
USA Today — 23 July 2012
Half of Yemen’s children are chronically underfed, leading to stunted growth and other consequences. The country’s levels of malnutrition are second only to Afghanistan’s, according to the United Nations. In the province of Hodeida, where Sadeq lives with his family, one in three children are malnourished, double the United Nations emergency levels. The crisis is testing the West’s commitment to Yemen, whose leaders have been fighting an al-Qaeda faction here in cooperation with the U.S. military. Al-Qaeda has tried to win the loyalties of villagers by providing them food and improving living conditions.

Political crisis over, Yemen now faces a lack of food
Miami Herald — 25 July 2012
Yemen has long suffered from chronic poverty, but the past year – filled with political turmoil amid a protest movement that ended the 30-year rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh and a determined offensive by al Qaida-linked insurgents – has pushed the country to what international aid agencies have called a dire humanitarian catastrophe. As the country’s fragile economy has been brought to the brink of collapse, unemployment has risen and prices of staples like rice and flour have skyrocketed, leaving huge number of Yemenis struggling to afford basics like food, fuel and electricity.

A country malnourished
Yemen Times — 21 July 2012
UNICEF has stated that Yemen is the second-worst country in the world for rates of chronic malnutrition for children under five, with 58 percent suffering from the condition. Further, 13 percent of children in Yemen suffer from acute malnutrition, according to Barry Came, spokesman for the World Food Program (WFP).

Refugees:
Imprisoned refugees thrown on Sana’a streets
Yemen Times — 26 July 2012
African refugees and asylum seekers demonstrated outside the Human Rights Ministry in Hadda on Monday morning, protesting excessive force used by Yemeni security forces to remove them from the country’s immigration prison the previous evening.

Jewish Community:
Yemen’s Jewish community speaks up
Yemen Times — 23 July 2012
The Jewish community in Yemen has reached a pinnacle of suffering in recent times, according to the statements of some Yemeni Jews who spoke to the Yemen Times this month. It is estimated that there has been a Jewish presence in Yemen for thousands of years. There was religious tolerance, fraternity, cooperation, patriotism and the maintenance of rights and freedoms irrespective of religion or race, said Yahyia Marhabi, one of the Jewish immigrants who lived in Israel two decades ago.

Saudi Arabia:
Saudi ambassador returns to Sana’a
Yemen Times — 22 July 2012
Absent from Yemen for four months, Ali Mohammed Al-Hamdan, the Saudi Ambassador to Yemen returned this Friday to exercise his mission anew. According to the ambassador’s secretary, the work of the embassy has resumed as usual, and all Umra-Hajj related activities have been finalized smoothly. The secretary said visas have been granted to Umra-seekers without hindrance.

Environment:
Project supports biodiversity in Yemen
Yemen Times — 24 July 2012
Yemen signed a National Biodiversity Planning project on Tuesday which supports implementing an agreement on biodiversity in Yemen between 2012 and 2020. A statement issued by the United Nation Development Program (UNDP) stated that the Global Environment Facility-funded project, which costs $250,000, aims to help Yemen to fulfill its commitments regarding the biodiversity agreement that was signed in Nagoya, Japan in 2010.

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