Weekly News Update 9 August 2012

Ramzy Alawi/Yemen Times/http://www.yementimes.com/en/1596/report/1239/Heavy-rains-infiltrate-capital-city-at-height-of-Ramadan-season.ht.

Highlights:
Yemen restructures army, cuts powers of ex-leader’s son
Reuters — 7 August 2012
Yemen’s president ordered the restructuring of some military units on Monday, aiming to curb the powers of a son of former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh and stabilize a country where Saleh’s legacy still looms large.

Patronage stalls Yemen’s transition
IRIN — 8 August 2012
There is a common saying on the streets of the Yemeni capital Sana’a these days: “Those who ruled us in the past still rule us at present.” After a year of nation-wide protests and often violent clashes in the capital, Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi was declared Yemen’s new president in February, replacing Ali Abdullah Saleh, who stepped down after ruling for 33 years. But nearly six months after his departure, Saleh continues to hold significant influence and control over military forces, leading to several clashes between factions vying for power, including one last week in Sana’a, which killed at least 15 people.

Yemen’s Spaces of Disorder
World Politics Review — 8 August 2012
Spaces of disorder do not emerge from natural topography. They are man-made, shaped and reshaped by relations among local populations, authorities and economic structures and external players, including national, regional and international actors. While Yemen’s difficult mountainous terrain and its fiercely autonomous tribal culture have definitely posed serious challenges to all central authorities in the country’s modern history, many other important factors contribute to the development and expansion of Yemen’s spaces of disorder. These include the Saleh regime’s politics of manipulation and “management through conflict,” which contributed significantly to the undermining of the Yemeni state’s legitimacy and the flourishing of armed nonstate actors.

Security:
Yemen soldiers mutiny over restructuring: army source
AFP via Ahram — 8 August 2012
Hundreds of Yemeni soldiers have abandoned their posts in the south in protest at a decision by President Abrabuh Mansur Hadi to restructure the armed forces, a military source told AFP on Wednesday. They were protesting against a decision to incorporate into the southern military command the second infantry brigade of the Republican Guard led by the elder son of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Suicide bomber kills 45 in south Yemen city
Reuters via Chicago Tribune — 5 August 2012
A suicide bomber struck at a wake in Yemen’s southern city of Jaar overnight, killing at least 45
people and wounding dozens more, the defence ministry said, in the deadliest attack since the army declared victory over Islamist militants in June. Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia claimed responsibility for the attack, which targeted a group of tribal fighters in revenge for their alliance with the Yemeni army during an offensive against militants in the southern province of Abyan.

US drone strikes kill 10 al-Qaida militants
AP via San Jose Mercury News — 7 August 2012
U.S. drones killed 10 al-Qaida militants—one believed to be a top bomb-maker—in separate strikes targeting moving vehicles in Yemen, officials and the country’s state-run agency said on Tuesday.  The first attack hit two vehicles carrying seven passengers in the southern town of Radda late Monday, killing them all. The official SABA news agency said one was Abdullah Awad al-Masri, also known as Abou Osama al-Maribi, whom it described him as one of the “most dangerous elements” of al-Qaida in the militant stronghold of Bayda province and the man in charge of a bomb-making lab.

Yemen foils Qaeda plot, seizes 40 explosive belts
Reuters via Chicago Tribune — 8 August 2012
Yemen has foiled a plot by an al Qaeda-linked cell to carry out attacks inside the capital Sanaa and seized 40 belts packed with explosives, the mayor said on Wednesday, highlighting the risks posed by Islamist militancy in the impoverished Arab state. The Defense Ministry said seven militants had also been detained in the southern town of Jaar, where a suicide bomber killed 45 tribal fighters earlier this week and threatened further attacks on a bigger scale.

Violence on the rise in Sanaa
Al-Masry Al-Youm — 2-8 August 2012
Al-Qaeda has returned to the main strongholds in the south of Yemen after local tribesmen stopped fighting them. The government failed to pay all the tribesmen, known as anti-Al-Qaeda popular committees, to prevent the terrorists from returning to Jaar, and Zinjubar in the southern province of Abyan. The popular committees played a key role in driving Al-Qaeda out of the two towns last May, in cooperation with government troops. Thousands of unemployed young people from the local tribes who joined the committees wanted to have regular salaries from the army as rewards for their fighting against Al-Qaeda. “We should have salaries like the soldiers; we did better than them in the fight against Al-Qaeda,” said Yaslem Awadh, one of the prominent leaders of the popular committees in Zinjubar. The government cannot afford to pay all these people and at the same time cannot work without them. They know how to deal with Al-Qaeda more than government security and the army.

Yemen tribesmen release Italian embassy worker
Reuters — 3 August 2012
An Italian embassy security officer who was kidnapped in Yemen on Sunday by tribesmen has been released and is in good health, a Yemeni government official said on Thursday.

Hodeida Airport land disputes continue
Yemen Times — 6 August 2012
Fierce confrontations broke out Thursday after an argument between employers of the Aviation Public General Authority (APGA) and soldiers of the Air Forces at Hodeida International Airport regarding land linked to the airport. Four employers were wounded after soldiers shot at them. Ali Ibrahim, chief of Al-Hawak district, in which the lands of the airport are located, said, “Soldiers affiliated with the Air Forces are still launching attacks on the airport lands in order to have possession over them.”

Yemen seizes six militants in suicide bomb town
Reuters — 6 August 2012
Yemeni security forces seized six suspected Islamist militants on Monday in a flashpoint town where a suicide bomber killed 45 people last week, a security source said. The suspected members of the Ansar al-Sharia group, were taken from a building in the southern town of Jaar in possession of explosives and other equipment used for suicide bombs, the source said.

US Policy/International Community:
Yemen airstrikes part of broad strategy to curb al-Qaeda, Obama adviser says
Washington Post — 8 August 2012
President Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser on Wednesday defended the administration’s strategy to stem the growth of al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, saying its use of targeted killing is part of a wider approach that includes humanitarian, development and military assistance. The remarks by John O. Brennan at the Council on Foreign Relations were prompted in part by criticism from foreign policy experts who have argued that U.S. airstrikes in Yemen do not address the underlying causes of extremism there. With U.S. intelligence help and other indirect assistance, Yemeni forces this summer routed AQAP forces that had overtaken the southern towns of Jaar, Lawdar and Zinjibar. A senior Yemeni official said in an interview that development assistance is urgently required in those areas to prove to the local populations that the government is capable of meeting their needs. The militants “did smart things, like digging wells and hooking up electricity and telephones. People now have higher expectations,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to press for early delivery of promised U.S. aid.

Are you there, Margaret? It’s me, Yemen.
Foreign Policy — 8 August 2012
I do think that it’s an unambiguously good thing that Brennan felt the need and the desire to come out and publicly articulate the kind of comprehensive political strategy for Yemen for which many of us have long called. That comprehensive policy might not really be there yet, but the speech was an important point of entry for all future debate about Yemen and I for one found it a positive development to have these concerns addressed so directly. That’s the good. The bad? After Brennan’s speech about Yemen, moderator Margaret Warner asked only a few desultory questions about Yemen. She then immediately shifted to a series of questions about Syria, which while interesting had nothing to do with Yemen.

Yemen talks energy ties with U.S. envoy
UPI — 7 August 2012
Improved ties between the Yemeni and U.S. energy sectors are expected to develop within the next few months, officials said from Sanaa. Yemeni Minister of Oil and Minerals Hisham Sharaf met with U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein in Sanaa to discuss ways to improve ties in the oil and natural gas sector for the year, Yemen’s official Saba news agency reports. Sharaf, the report said, noted that Yemeni’s political transition strategy included special considerations for foreign investments in the country.

Feds more than double aid to Yemen
CNN — 7 August 2012
The United States will provide Yemen with the largest amount of U.S. government assistance to date for both the civilian and security sectors,the State Department announced Tuesday. The Obama administration will provide $337 million in assistance in the 2012 fiscal year, up from $147 million provided in the previous fiscal year, the State Department said in a news release.

EU, U.S. fund Yemeni transition
UPI — 8 August 2012
The European government said it was supporting political transition in Yemen through a package of measures meant to help address governmental challenges. A U.N. Security Council resolution passed in June calls on Yemen to convene a national dialogue, restructure the military under a unified command and implement political reform with the aim of general elections in 2014. The European Commission said new funding would target democracy, legal reforms and decentralization. The latest aid package is valued at $22.3 million. The U.S. State Department said the United States planned to provide $337 million in financial assistance to the developing Yemeni government.

Yemenis question US strategy in fight with al-Qaeda
BBC News — 2 August 2012
President Hadi was elected in February after a negotiated solution ended a year-long uprising in Yemen, and power was transferred from veteran leader Ali Abdullah Saleh to Mr Hadi, his then vice-president. Al-Qaeda’s presence in the country was, many here feel, part of President Saleh’s legacy. “Ali Abdullah Saleh was trying to cling on to power by showing the West that without him Yemen would fall apart,” says Abdul Ghani al-Iriyani, a Sanaa-based analyst. “So during the uprising he ordered troops to leave the entire areas in the south, handing them over to al-Qaeda.”

Yemen donors ‘to meet in Saudi in September’
AFP via Google News — 2 August 2012
An international donors meeting will be held next month in Riyadh to raise aid for Yemen, an impoverished nation grappling with a political transition, a minister said Thursday. “The ministry is now working on completing the documents for the Yemen donors’ conference to be held in Riyadh on September 4 and 5,” Yemeni defence ministry news website 26sep.net quoted the country’s Planning and International Cooperation Minister Mohammed al-Saadi, as saying.

UN official welcomes decree to restructure security sector
UN News Centre — 8 August 2012
A senior United Nations official has welcomed the decrees adopted by Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi Mansour on Monday to restructure the country’s security sector.  “The issuance of these decrees mark an important step in implementing Yemen’s November 2011 Transition Agreement,” said a statement issued by the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, on Monday evening.

China has trend to push investments towards Yemen
Saba Net — 6 August 2012
Chinese ambassador to Yemen Liu Deng Lin has confirmed his country’s trend to push the Chinese investments towards Yemen. In his meeting  here on Sunday with Minister of Oil and Minerals Hisham Sharaf, the Chinese ambassador renewed his country’s supportive position for Yemen’s security and stability. During the meeting, the two sides discussed aspects of cooperation between the two countries in a number of fields, especially the oil and gas, as well as promoting for the coming of a number of Chinese companies to Yemen to work in the areas of exploration and oil services.

Foreign Policy:
Yemen denies abstaining from voting on UN resolution on Syria
Saba Net — 5 August 2012
Foreign Ministry denied on Sunday reports that Yemen has abstained from voting on the UN General Assembly resolution on the situation in Syria. A source in the ministry said that Yemen was one of the countries that backed the resolution, however, it was not eligible to vote due to it did not pay the last year membership fees to the UN General Assembly.

Hadi returns home after short visit to Qatar
Saba Net — 3 August 2012
President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi returned to Sana’a Thursday evening after a short visit to Qatar at an invitation from Emir of Qatar Hamad bin Khalifah Al Thani. During the visit, a Yemeni-Qatari summit was held in Doha by the two leaders, during which they touched the bilateral relations between the two brotherly countries. In the summit, President Hadi reviewed a number of developments at the Yemeni arena in light of the political settlement process in Yemen, based on the Gulf initiative and the Security Council resolution No. 2014.

National Dialogue:
Protesters Denounce Ex-Leader’s Influence
AP via New York Times — 5 August 2012
Tens of thousands have rallied in the capital, Sana, and several other cities to demand the removal of the former president’s relatives and allies from critical military and security positions they still hold.

New appointments to head positions
Yemen Times — 9 August 2012
Ahmed Saleh Al-Faqeeh, a political analyst, played down the importance of these changes, indicating that President Hadi intends to support himself with well-known personalities on the political and military level to be more noticeable.

In Yemen, fears of renewed unrest
The National — 3 August 2012
Under the transitional plan that was brokered by the GCC, presidential elections are scheduled to take place in 2014. In the interim, the government’s main challenges are to advance the National Dialogue, restructure the army, and rework the constitution. Mohammed Abulahoum, the president of the opposition Justice and Building party, believes that now is the time for Mr Hadi to prove his credentials. “The president needs to standup to the challenge. People are waiting patiently for change but will soon give up on him,” said Mr Abulahoum. “Yemenis are still united behind him.”.

Revolutionary activities halt during the Ramadan season
Yemen Times — 9 August 2012
Yemeni revolutionaries presently endeavor to regain the revolutionary activities in Change and Freedom Squares after a considerable stalemate following the signing of the Gulf Initiative power transfer deal in February of last year. This year, Sana’a’s Change Square appears different in terms of the activities held.  Yasser Aqil, a revolutionary in the square, said 2012 activities are fewer in comparison with 2011, when the revolution was at its peak. The reason, he said, is the Gulf Initiative that resulted in political reconciliation.

President Hadi meets with youths’ preparatory committee
Saba Net — 5 August 2012
At the meeting, President Hadi welcomed the committee’s members and considered the formation of the committee as a progressed step towards an active participation of youth in the conference.   The President reviewed steps and decisions as well as achieved procedures, saying “We are at the threshold of the second stage which will be culminated in holding the national conference with the participation of all political, social and cultural segments.”

President Hadi steps in to assist with Hodeida airport land ownership issue
Yemen Times — 9 August 2012
An official delegation of Hodeida governorate met with President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi to discuss the Hodeida airport hijacking by influential figures affiliated with the air force. The meeting resulted in the formation of a committee from the visiting team. Hassn Haij, general secretary of the local council in Hodeida, revealed to the Yemen Times that the attackers’ names are Faisel Ahmed Al-Sulaihi, the commander of the Air Forces; Ahmed Mujahid Al-Kharashi, the commander of Battalion 30, Air Defense; Abdulmalik Al-Mohammadi, the commander of the air police in the airport; and others.

Economy/Governance:
In Yemen, production of fish, revenue wanes
Yemen Times — 9 August 2012
In a government report released by the Public Authority of Marine Science Center, it was pointed out that Yemen has witnessed an intimidating decline in sea life production over the course of the last years due to pirate activities and illegal fishing by some foreign ships. The impact of 2011’s political crisis also played a factor. The report found Yemen’s revenues of fishery exports dropped from $272 million in 2010 to $50 million in 2011.

Recycling in Yemen a double-edged sword
Yemen Times — 9 August 2012
The responsibility of collecting plastic littter from the streets is a double-edged sword; while the poor take advantage of this work to earn a living, there are no laws in Yemen to regulate the business. Turkey Ibrahim, who works by collecting plastic bottles, said, “I collect used water containers and sell them to the litter shop based on weight. One sack is sold for YR 1,000.” The plastic plant holders collect the recycled material and clean them. It is then dispatched to cleaning plants before exporting them abroad.

Vessels and oil tankers arrive again at Hodeida and Mokha Harbor sea ports
Yemen Times — 9 August 2012
Mohammed Salah, deputy of the Sana’a Commercial Chamber, said the Yemen Red Sea Ports Corporation turns a blind eye to deterioration in Hodeida’s port. He said the Yemeni private sector sustained heavy losses after ships and vessels moved for more than one month. This caused the expiration of many good, later destroyed by the Yemeni Specifications and Standardization Authority. He urged the government to support the Hodeida port and to work to develop it so it becomes a main port for receiving ships and oil tankers. Salah said the continuance of deterioration in Hodeida port indicates a real economic catastrophe affecting not only the Yemeni private sector but also Yemen’s economy in general—an economy undergoing difficulties, particularly after last year’s uprising.

Counterfeit money threatens Yemen’s economy
Yemen Times — 5 August 2012
The Yemen Central Bank warned of a broad process of money laundering particularly following the robbery of $70,000 and SR 50,000 from the Interior Ministry when reinforcement personnel broke into the ministry complex last week. The Central Bank issued general directions Thursday to all banks in the country, saying, “All the employees in all bank branches nationwide ought to be alert to exchange those sums; they should immediately give notice in case an attempted exchange is detected.” The directions indicated concerns about the use of the robbed money in markets or being deposited in banks. A security official who is not authorized to speak with the press said the theft occurred Tuesday in the minister’s office, where forged money was kept.

Cleaning workers receive their first ‘official salaries’
Yemen Times — 6 August 2012
After protests and talks with government officials, 2,463 cleaning workers are to receive their first salaries today from the primary funds in Sana’a after they are officially hired, according to Ahmed Al-Jawzzi, the acting executive manager at the Cleaning Fund, Sana’a. Street sweepers, some of the employees of the fund and cleaning van drivers are the first groups to receive their salaries today, he said.

Microfinance success stories lost in Abyan
Yemen Times — 6 August 2012
More than 50 percent of Abyan’s microfinance program clients were exposed to inconsistent material losses due to the military confrontations between the Yemeni army and Ansar Al-Sharia during the past few months.

Early marriage obstructs social development
Yemen Times — 6 August 2012
Researchers and activists believe that early marriages hinders social development in Yemen because women, half of society and an economic power that societies depend on, don’t work, leaving the burden to husbands and to society.

Hunger/Health:
Ramadan in Yemen – the hardest year ever
Huffington Post — 9 August 2012
At least one-third of all households in Yemen are surviving by buying food on credit. Shopkeepers, in turn, buy their stock on credit. The local markets mostly operate on this precarious system.  So far, its worked. But shopkeepers like 25 year old Ala’a Abdullah Farag Wans, who has a small store in Al Hawak, sleep poorly these days, worried that their customers won’t be able to pay them back – and the defaults could prove devastating. “The majority of my customers buy on credit” he said. “On average, my customers owe me about 30,000 riyals ($139 US dollars) each month.

UAE Red Cross ups famine relief efforts
Yemen Times — 4 August 2012
The United Arab Emirates Red Cross Organization doubled its efforts during Ramadan in an attempt to address the humanitarian situation in Yemen by providing more aid for victims in many Yemeni governorates. The organization’s delegation continues to distribute food relief for families with difficult  living circumstances due to the events Yemen has witnessed. The delegation offered a large amount of diverse food material for one thousand families in Amran, north of the capital Sana’a.

Evolving But Still Lethal Violence Plagues Yemen’s South
Doctors Without Borders — 8 August 2012
On August 4, a suicide bomber attacked a funeral service taking place in the southern town of Jaar in Yemen’s Abyan province, killing over 40 people and injuring many more. Some 50 casualties were admitted to the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) emergency surgical hospital in the town of Aden, where medical staff worked through the night to manage and treat the influx of patients. The following day, three people—two of them children—were admitted with severe blast injuries after coming into contact with unexploded devices in Jaar and Zinjibar. In this interview, Anne Garella, MSF project coordinator in Aden, discusses the ongoing violence in the south and the difficulties faced by patients trying to access adequate health care.

Culture:
Yemeni participant lights up Quran awards
Gulf News — 5 August 2012
Yemen’s Abdul Rahman Ahmad Mohammad lit up the Dubai International Holy Quran Awards (Dihqa) with an impeccable performance, leaving the competition wide open. The 20-year-old third-year student at the College of Islamic Science in the Yemeni city of Taez, didn’t falter at even a letter as he progressed from one question to another.

Yemeni-Scot filmmaker Sara Ishaq to the Yemen Times: “It’s silly for the government to restrict the cinema movement.”
Yemen Times — 9 August 2012
She said being a filmmaker in Yemen is easy in some ways and hard in other ways, criticizing the government for trying to limit the cinema movement. “It’s silly for the government to restrict the cinema movement,” she said, indicating that some people, including businessmen, underestimate the significance and the power of cinema. “Cinema can hugely empower Yemenis and raises awareness of Yemenis about the situation in Yemen,” she said. “We have a rich culture and beautiful scenery. Art can boost economy in Yemen.”

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