Weekly News Update 16 August 2012

Stephanie Sinclair/National Geographic/http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/09/yemen/sinclair-photography#/03-female-counterterrorism-pink-barracks-670.jpg

Highlights:
Days of Reckoning
National Geographic — September 2012
Um Mohammed was too frightened to divulge her real name but not too frightened to speak her mind. She showed me a cell phone video she had made three weeks earlier, this past January, during a trip home to Zinjibar to retrieve some belongings. It showed a bearded man hanging from a lamppost, his hands nailed to a wooden crossbeam. Speaking in a shrill voice muffled by the black cloth in front of her face, she said that the man, an al Qaeda operative, had been accused of spying for the Yemeni government. “He hung there for three days. It was a warning to the people: Every traitor should be killed like this.”

Yemen: Taking Charge of the Generals
PRI’s The World — 13 August 2012
The president of Yemen has begun restructuring the Yemeni army. Princeton scholar Gregory Johnsen tells Marco Werman that this power play has to be handled with care. Last Monday president Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi transferred the command of several Republican Guards’ units to his newly created Presidential Protection Force. That force will also include a brigade from the army’s First Armored Division led by General Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar, who last year supported opposition protests against the Salih regime. Other units from the Republican Guards, commanded by former President Ali Abdullah Salih’s son Ahmad, will move to other regional commands. “I think this is a significant story and one that has been developing for some time,” says Johnsen. “This is Hadi’s latest step in his attempt to simultaneously erode the ground from beneath the feet of Ahmad Ali Salih and Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar, while the whole time not bringing Yemen’s military crashing down around his ears.” But Johnsen is wary of the new Presidential Protection Force. “One of the things that was quite disturbing about president Salih’s rule is that he did exactly this sort of thing,” Johnsen tells The World.

Two years on, journalist still behind bars after alleging US cluster bomb use
Amnesty International — 15 August 2012
The Yemeni authorities must set aside the conviction of a journalist imprisoned after he alleged US involvement in fatal air strikes in the country – including the use of cluster bombs – and release him, Amnesty International said today. Thursday marks two years since Abdul Ilah Haydar Shayi’, an investigative journalist specializing in counter-terrorism affairs, was arrested at his home in the Yemeni capital Sana’a, on charges of links to al-Qa’ida. He has been behind bars ever since. On 18 January 2011, he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. On 1 February 2011, former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh issued an order to free him, but it was not carried out after US President Barack Obama expressed concern over the journalist’s release.

Security/Military:
Clashes in Yemen highlight ongoing tensions months after president’s ouster
Washington Post — 14 August 2012
Clashes erupted in Yemen’s capital on Tuesday between the new government’s forces and soldiers loyal to the former regime, highlighting the divisions and volatility in the country six months after a populist uprising ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Hours after current President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi left the country to attend a conference in Saudi Arabia, elite Republican Guard soldiers under the command of Saleh’s son surrounded the Defense Ministry. Government troops quickly moved to protect the building, located in the capital’s center.

62 troops to be tried over ministry attack
AP — 16 August 2012
Yemen’s top security committee says 62 officers and soldiers loyal to ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s son were charged with resisting authorities and mutiny after trying to storm the Ministry of Defense. High Security Committee spokesman Gen. Ali al-Ubaidi said on Thursday that the 62 will be referred to a military tribunal for joining a force of 200 in the attack on the Ministry two days earlier, where they clashed with ministry’s guards leaving five dead.

Echoes of Iraq: Yemen’s War Against al-Qaeda Takes a Familiar Turn
TIME — 10 August 2012
Morale has broken down. Popular Committee fighters from Lawder have stopped cooperating with government soldiers in their pursuit of Ansar al-Shari‘a, claiming that it is their land and they are responsible for protecting it. “My men won’t continue to fight alongside the military. We have shown that we can handle Ansar al-Shari‘a ourselves, and we are prepared do it, but not for nothing,” says Popular Committee leader Ahmed Ashawi from Lawder. Ashawi argues that the tribesmen need to be accommodated soon, before their allegiance shifts to other power brokers in the region. The tension has fueled mutual distrust between the two groups, leading some government troops to return to Sana‘a.

People’s Committees fighter shot in Abyan
Yemen Times — 15 August 2012
A fighter of the People’s Committees was shot Tuesday in Jaar, allegedly by the hands of Ansar Al-Sharia affiliates who attacked a military checkpoint in Abyan. Mas’wood Ali Rajeh, security chief of Khanfar district, said the man was at a checkpoint and was hit with three bullets.

Yemen bracing for more clashes challenging military reforms
CNN — 14 August 2012
Just hours after the new Yemeni president left for a conference in Saudi Arabia, members of the Yemeni military loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh attacked the country’s defense ministry on Tuesday. Hundreds of Republican Guards tied to Saleh and his son, laid siege the building near the center of Sanaa on Tuesday, a Defense Ministry official said told CNN. Four people were killed and nine injured, said the official, who did not wish to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media. The former president and his family still wield a considerable amount of influence inside the military and other sectors in Yemen.

Ex-president’s loyalists briefly blockade Defense Ministry over cuts in son’s command
AP via Washington Post — 10 August 2012
Hundreds of Republican Guard forces loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh encircled the Defense Ministry in Sanaa for several hours early on Friday, protesting a move to strip the ex-president’s son of part of his military command, officials said. The officers and soldiers of the country’s best trained force, which has been led by Saleh’s son, Ahmed, rallied at the ministry starting late Thursday. Officials said that military officers had informed them that the force would try to storm the ministry, prompting authorities to deploy tanks and armored vehicles to the area. Government forces threatened to open fire if the protesters didn’t leave. The demonstration ended several hours later.

Clashes in Yemeni capital over army restructuring
Reuters — 14 August 2012
Clashes broke out in Sanaa on Tuesday between Yemeni troops and about 200 members of the elite Republican Guards who surrounded the Defence Ministry in a direct challenge to a presidential reorganization of the military, an army source said. Extra government troops had been sent to defend the ministry building and shooting began after the Republican Guard soldiers surrounded it, the source said.

Saudi consul’s release unconfirmed
Yemen Times — 12 August 2012
Inconsistent reports continue with respect to the release of Saudi Deputy Consul Abdullah Al-Khalidi, who was abducted by Al-Qaeda four months ago in Aden. Prominent Sheikh Tareq Al-Fadhli confirmed to Al-Masdar online news website on Saturday that Al-Qaeda members released Al-Khalidi on Saturday evening; however, a tribal mediator who spoke with various publications said that Al-Qaeda retreated from setting Al-Khalidi free due to disputes over ransom. Reports suggest Al-Qaeda has doubled the ransom to $20 million.

New video of Swiss hostage in Yemen
AFP via Google News — 12 August 2012
A Swiss woman being held hostage in eastern Yemen has made a second video appeal to the Swiss government to help her, the Sonntags Zeitung reported Sunday. The Swiss foreign ministry confirmed the existence of the video but would give no further information to protect the woman’s security. More than 200 people have been abducted in Yemen over the past 15 years, many of them by members of the country’s powerful tribes who use them as bargaining chips with the authorities.

Bomb kills Yemeni officer, al Qaeda suspected
Reuters via Chicago Tribune — 10 August 2012
A senior Yemeni military officer was killed when a bomb planted in his car exploded in the southeastern city of Mukalla in an attack blamed on al Qaeda, a security official said on Friday. The bombing was the latest in a series of attacks on senior figures or government institutions in Yemen since a U.S.-backed offensive drove Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda from their strongholds in the southern part of the country in June.

Coastal security procedures uptick to stave off Somali extremists to Yemen
Yemen Times — 11 August 2012
Yemeni coastal forces joined together to increase security measures along the Gulf of Aden through intensifying patrols and inspections of boats arriving from African nations. Shuja’a Mahdi, the Operation Department head of the coastal forces, said these procedures were put in place in anticipation of the arrival of extremists from Somalia aiming to infiltrate Yemen and to support Ansar Al-Sharia, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group in Yemen.

Yemen set for new counter-terror aircraft
Arabian Aerospace — 15 August 2012
The Yemeni order for a single CN-235 was revealed on 13 May 2011, when Airbus Military announced its first quarter results. It subsequently became apparent that the aircraft was being purchased with funding from the USA. Section 1206 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2006 allows the US Department of Defense to use up to $200 million of its own appropriations for the training and equipment of foreign counter-terrorism forces, and which established a dedicated US DoD to fund equipment, supplies, support and training to foreign national military forces that were engaged in counterterrorist operations.  In mid-FY2010, when the CN-235 was funded, Yemen was the largest global recipient of section 1206 funding, receiving $252.6 million, including an estimated $38 million for the CN-235.

Economy/Governance:
Yemen’s Tax Revenue Increases 25% in First Half, SABA Reports
Bloomberg — 10 August 2012
Yemen’s tax revenue increased by 25 percent to 233 billion rials ($1 billion) in the first six months of the year compared with the same period in 2011, the state-run SABA news agency reported, citing Ahmed Ghalib, head of the tax authority.

Taiz Oil Company employees refuse decree banning strikes
Yemen Times — 12 August 2012
Personnel of the Oil Company, Taiz branch, have refused Minister of Oil Hesham Sharaf’s decree banning strikes in the oil and gas section. Mohammed Al-Dohaili, head of the Syndicate Committee in the Oil Company and a member of the Coordination Council of the Company, Taiz branch, said the Syndicate refuses the decree that bans strikes in the company because it is illegal, it prevents freedom of demands and it aims to quiet those who demand their rights.

Land Transportation Company to resume work after two-year halt
Yemen Times — 12 August 2012
The Land Transportation Company announced it will resume travel at the end of Ramadan after a more than two year suspension of work due to technical defects and a shortage of spares. “We will resume travel at approximately the end of Ramadan via five buses,” Jamal Al-Shawbali, the Land Transportation Company general manager in the capital city, said. “We are now working to fix the defects. We still have a team of 15 buses that require high technical fixing and spares so as to operate anew.” The debts owed by the institution to the Finance Ministry are estimated at 80 million riyals, and it is comprised in part of employee salaries for four years, let alone its debts to the Ministry of Electricity and Energy, Water Public Corporation and other private ones, Al-Harbi explained.

Al-Sabeen blocked to end traffic accidents
Yemen Times — 15 August 2012
On Tuesday, dozens of people blocked 45 Street, which stretches to Al-Sabeen Street, in reaction to the repetitive traffic accidents, which have recently claimed the lives of three people. Residents appealed to concerned authorities to make practical solutions in order to mitigate accidents on the road.  Colonel Mohammed Al-Ghadara, the traffic general manager in Sana’a, said incidents during this year’s Ramadan rose to 260, resulting in 15 people dead and 198 wounded. One hundred sixteen people were seriously injured.  Al-Ghadra said there is a decline in the number of traffic incidents on Al-Sabeen Street compared to the last year. He said there were 29 deaths and 182 injuries—of which 107 were serious—last year.

Expired goods infiltrate Yemeni market
Yemen Times — 13 August 2012
Ahmed Saeed Shamakh, an economic expert, said Yemen depends on imported goods from abroad by 90 percent and on local production of goods by 10 percent. Moreover, counterfeit goods and nearly expired goods represent approximately 60 percent to 70 percent of the market. Yemen has a coastline of about 2,500 square kilometers and land entrances, making the accusation direct toward concerned bodies charged with watching these borders and entrances. “The reason behind that is the rampant corruption and false economic policies,” Shamakh said.

Sex worker’s profession ensures survival
Yemen Times — 16 August 2012
The political instability of the past year has further intensifieda dire economic and humanitarian crisis in Yemen, pushing more and more Yemeni and non-Yemeni women into the world’s oldest profession. With rising food, fuel and water prices and nearly half of Yemenis facing food insecurity, sex workers say the number of women in the profession is increasing.

$150 million dollars of fish exports in the first half of the year [Arabic]
Al-Estethmar.net — 15 August 2012
Exports of fish through the first half of this year reached 62 thousand tons, which is valued at $150 million. A statement issued by the Yemeni Ministry of Fisheries on the latest statistics pointed out that the Ministry recently signed an agreement with the Food and Agricultural Organization for a project to develop the quality standards of fish products and raise the value of fish exports.

Civil disobedience and state institution failure
Yemen Times — 9 August 2012
The relationship between the state and the citizen in Yemen is very complicated and yet key to stabilizing the country. With the notion of civil disobedience spreading around the country, this relationship has become increasingly strained.

The South:
Yemen secessionist leader ‘detained at Aden airport’
BBC News — 15 August 2012
A South Yemen secessionist leader was detained by security forces when he flew into the city of Aden after years in self-imposed exile, activists say. A group of armed men boarded the plane carrying Ahmed Abdullah al-Hassani, a former navy commander and ambassador, and took him to an unknown destination. He is the secretary general of the Democratic Forum for South Yemen (TAJ).

National Dialogue:
Bold decisions, drones and suicide bombings
Al-Ahram Weekly — 9-15 August 2012
Meanwhile, the deputy chairman of Saleh’s party, Abdel-Karim Al-Eriani, was elected Monday as chairman of the 25-member preparatory committee for the national dialogue that will be held in November. The woman lawyer Rakia Humaidan, from the Socialist Party was elected as first vice president, and secretary general of the Nasserite Party Sultan Al-Atwani was elected a second vice president. The human rights activist Amal Basha was elected spokesperson.  Ahmed Awadh was elected a reporter. The 25 members of the preparatory committee represent all different groups that will be involved in the dialogue, which is due to reach agreement on a new constitution according to which presidential and parliamentary elections will be held in 2014.

Youth:
Yemen, WB discuss educational project of $70mln
Saba Net — 14 August 2012
Yemen and the World Bank (WB) have discussed the WB-funded project in education area with US$ 70 million, where the WB will grant $ 65 and the rest $5 million is the government’s portion.

Yemeni Council for Youth declared in Sana’a
Saba Net — 13 August 2012
The Yemeni Council for Youth was declared Sunday as a branch of the World Youth Council of the United Nations on the sidelines of the celebration of the International Youth Day, which marks August 12.

Politically independent youth propose national conference
Yemen Times — 13 August 2012
Mansour Al-Ashmali, coordinator of the project, said young people work together to achieve the conditions and requirements necessary for establishing a modern Yemeni civil state. Moreover, they intend to spread civil society culture, requirements of constructing a civil state and rule of law and civil rights. The group is also calling on all social and political parties to end fights and to involve themselves with civil society, which Al-Ashmali said is based on respect, peace, social security and tolerance. Al-Ashmali said the project targeted 300 young men and women in nine governorates who share the same viewpoint: forming a youth bloc to participate in constructing a democratic Yemen. This bloc will put pressure on those in leadership positions in order to achieve comprehensive change. It will also call on the youth to renounce sectarian, regional and tribal fanaticism and to address the problems of society and seek suitable solutions.

Human Rights:
Committee organized to investigate human rights violations nationally
Yemen Times — 8 August 2012
Minister of Legal Affairs Mohammed Al-Mikhlafi said the cabinet tasked the Legal Affairs Ministry on Tuesday to choose a mechanism to set up a committee addressing human rights violations. He said he assigned the task of reshaping the decision and developing the final draft to the committee in order to okay the proposal. He said drafting the decision would finish during the coming two weeks.

Water/Food:
Time running out for solution to water crisis
IRIN — 13 August 2012
While the water situation in many cities is dire, it is even more distressing in rural areas. According to the latest rural water survey by GRWA, completed this year, access to improved water supply – piped water, protected springs and wells – is limited to 34 percent of rural areas, compared to 70 percent of urban areas.

Water campaign aims to collect a million signatures
Yemen Times — 16 August 2012
A campaign, launched in Sana’a last month under the slogan “Water a Matter of Life,” continues its mission to gather a million signatures from residents in different governorates to support the right of having access to healthy and pure water. The campaign aims to make water an issue that is a government priority. The campaign started at the end of July and will last for three months. The campaign’s team attempts to reach the largest possible number of people through online social media networks such as  Facebook and Twitter. It also distributes forms to sign through companies and associations. Al-Maqtari said at the end of three months, the campaign team will hand over the signatures to Yemen’s prime minister along with the priorities of the Water Conference scheduled to occur in September.

India provides rice for food insecure in Yemen governorates
Yemen Times — 14 August 2012
The Indian embassy in Sana’a, with the co-operation of the World Food Programme (WFP), donated rice valued at around $2 million to assist with the current food shortage facing Yemen. Parry Came, an information officer for the WFP, said the donated food will be distributed to approximately 330,000 hungry people throughout the coming month.

US/International Community:
Hadi to Saudi Arabia for Islamic summit taking place in Mecca
Yemen Times — 15 August 2012
Yemeni political analysts said President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi’s visit to Saudi Arabia coincides with Yemen’s tough economic and security situations. Saudi Arabia is a main supporter of Yemen. Ahmed Al-Sabahi, a political analyst, said Hadi’s visit to Saudi Arabia is very reasonable; there was also a visit to Qatar. “That is to say, the Saudi-Qatari mercenary support is the biggest.”

U.S. confirms support for Yemeni president
UPI — 15 August 2012
Washington is working to support the administration of the Yemeni president as he works on political transition goals, a U.S. State Department official said. Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said “dead-enders from the ancient regime” were throwing up roadblocks to Hadi’s reform agenda.

US urges respect for Yemen reforms after violence
AFP via Google News — 14 August 2012
The United States on Tuesday urged all sides in Yemen to show restraint and respect reforms by new President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi after troops attacked the defense ministry. “We have been urging restraint on all sides, an immediate end to the violence and respect for President Hadi and the reforms that he is putting in place and the democratic transition,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

Assisting The People Of Yemen
Voice of America — 13 August 2012
The United States is committed to supporting the Yemeni people as they undertake their political transition.  Through a comprehensive strategy that promotes political, economic, and security sector reforms, we will help the Yemeni people address their challenges and achieve their aspirations.

Riyadh donors meeting for Yemen to be held in September: minister says
Saba Net — 14 August 2012
Minister of Planning and International Cooperation asserted Tuesday that the Riyadh donors meeting for Yemen is to be held as scheduled on September 4.

Bailed U.S. businessman fled to Yemen after threats -lawyers
Reuters — 13 August 2012
Bailed U.S. businessman Zack Shahin fled the United Arab Emirates to Yemen because he feared for his life after threats were made against him, his U.S.-based legal team said on Monday, but a Dubai security official denies this. “The man entered Yemen by car last week … He is currently being detained in Sanaa,” the security source told Reuters. Smuggling and undocumented travel is common across Yemen’s porous desert borders. Shahin is set to be deported back to the UAE this week, Yemeni sources told Reuters on Sunday.

UK backs Yemeni president’s army restructuring plan
Ahram — 15 August 2012
The UK government has pledged to intensify its security cooperation with the Yemeni government. Ahram Online understands the pledge was made during a meeting between the Yemeni provisional president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and Oliver Robbins, the British deputy national advisor, in Sanaa.

EU calls on all Yemeni parties to respect State institutions
Saba Net — 15 August 2012
The European Union (EU) has called on all parties in Yemen to respect the institutions of the state and to ensure the full implementation of the decisions issued by President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Transitional Justice:
UNDP Provides Technical Support to the Transitional Justice in Yemen
UNDP — 15 August 2012
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Yemen (GoY) signed today the Support to the Implementation of Transitional Justice in Yemen (2012 – 2014) Project, at the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation (MoPIC). The UNDP Project will assist the Government of Yemen and other strategic key national stakeholders in developing the transitional justice process, from design through implementation, focusing on civil society’s role, victims’ organisations, and issues of communication and outreach. The total budget of this project is US$ 4.033 million, UNDP provided US$ 1 million and the Office of High Commissioner on Human Rights provided US$ 50.000 thousand. Many donors have shown strong interest to support this project.

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