Weekly News Update 23 August 2012

Hani Mohammed/AP via NBC Blog/http://photoblog.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/20/13377142-funeral-for-soldiers-killed-in-suspected-al-qaeda-attacks-in-yemen?lite

Highlights:
Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen
Council on Foreign Relations — 21 August 2012
A recent paper from researchers at the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI) also draws the connection between rising food prices and conflict in Yemen. The paper argues that violence in Yemen before 2008 could be “…attributed to inter-group conflict between ethnically and religiously distinct groups,” but that “starting in 2008, increasing global food prices triggered a new wave of violence that spread to the endemically poor southern region with demands for government change and economic conditions.” To reduce the opportunity for terrorism, NECSI researchers argue, Yemen must address its high food prices.

Official: Yemeni militants infiltrated Egypt before Rafah attack
CNN — 17 August 2012
Ten Yemeni militants infiltrated Egyptian soil two months ago and trained local Jihadi cells in the Sinai peninsula, a security official said Friday. “Several foreign men were spotted shopping in the market by residents and we received intelligence that they were in communication with Jihadist cells in Al Mukataa, a remote area south of Sheikh Zuweid in Northern Sinai,” said a senior security official associated with Egypt’s North Sinai’s border guards, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We hope to capture them in our ongoing raids. They could be hiding in Jabal-Al Halal — a rugged mountain terrain in central Sinai.” The Yemeni militants were smuggled into Sinai from Sudan among groups of African migrants who have been sold to Bedouin who traffic refugees into Israel for cash, said Ibrahim Al Menei, a Bedouin leader from the Swarkeh tribe who has spearheaded a committee of hundreds of men to curb the illegal trafficking of Africans through the Sinai.

Reversing the Anti-American sway in Yemen
Foreign Policy — 16 August 2012
Looking ahead to the coming month, the United States should use the opportunity of the upcoming donors meeting in Riyadh on September 4 and 5 and the Friends of Yemen meeting at the U.N. General Assembly in New York on September 27 to rally international financial and diplomatic support for Yemen’s precarious transition. The United States, its European allies, and other interested parties should provide assistance for an inclusive national dialogue process, constitutional development, the creation of a new voter registry, and elections support. Perhaps most importantly, the administration should pressure Gulf states and other allies to follow its lead and contribute significant economic and food resources to address Yemen’s critical humanitarian conditions. President Hadi has taken important steps to move the GCC process forward; now the United States, the European Union, and the GCC countries need to carry their end of the bargain to ensure that Yemen has the tools and resources to capitalize on this narrow opening.

Economy/Governance:
Qat consumes about 30 percent of agricultural water in Yemen and provides half a million jobs [Arabic]
Al-Masdar Online — 19 August 2012
The Yemeni government announced that Qat, a plant many Yemenis chew, captures about 9.9 percent of the total agricultural space and consumes 30 percent of the water used for agricultural, but it provides more than 500,000 job opportunities. The government proposed a series of measures, according to Al-Hayat newspaper in London, to contain the detrimental effects of qat in the areas of water and the environment, including the termination of indirect support such as energy assistance in irrigation and encouraging the use of modern means.

Exports from Aden port and airport this past July were greater than 1.7 billion riyals [Arabic]
Aden Post — 19 August 2012
The value of fish, industrial products, and agricultural products exported through the port of Aden and Aden International Airport this past July was 1.717 billion riyals. Seventeen Arab and foreign countries received exports from Aden, with Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt topping the list.

More than 100 merchants have been in the central prison in Sana’a for years [Arabic]
Shaharah.net — 16 August 2012
A source in the central prison of Sana’a estimated that the number of merchants imprisoned for years because of debt is more than 100. The source said that the debts that the impoverished merchants owe fluctuate between 10 million and 100 million riyals.

Yemen oil revenues hit $381m in June
Gulf News — 22 August 2012
Sana’a: Yemen’s oil revenues rose to $381m in June this year compared with $185m in the previous month, government announced on Tuesday. The increase in revenues is attributed to the increase of government’s share in the total monthly amount of oil barrels which hit 3.85m barrels in June in comparison with 1.7m barrels in May.

130 thousand cars entering Yemen illegally [Arabic]
Al-Hadath-Yemen.com — 17 August 2012
The Head of the Customs Authority Mohamed Mansour Zimam said, “The Authority, in cooperation with the Interior Ministry and the General Directorate of Traffic, resolves to implement a broad campaign at the end of Ramadan to seize the different cars that entered the country illegally available in the car showrooms or the main streets.” He expects the customs duties, taxes, and other revenues from the process of marking the cars during the coming six months to approach seven billion riyals.

Yemen’s Food Crisis: 10 Million Starving
Huffington Post — 22 August 2012
With the lack of media attention, the international community and aid agencies have no choice but to increase their efforts in combating Yemen’s food crisis, whilst ensuring that they do not fall into the trap of viewing Yemen within the security spectrum. Yemen’s new ‘unity’ government is currently weak; overall international support is lacking, whilst figures from the past such as Ali Abdullah Saleh continue to stand in the shadows, any policy which places terrorism and security concerns over the dire humanitarian situation would not only be a catastrophe for the starving Yemeni people, but a catastrophe for the security interests of the international community.

Yemen patients seek health service in Egypt
Gulf News — 17 August 2012
Many patients in Egypt told Gulf News that they prefer to be treated in Egypt because of excellent doctors, easy travel procedures and affordable health care . Unlike travelling to GCC countries, Yemenis do not need to get a visa to travel to Egypt. They also say that health services in Egypt are less expensive than other countries like Jordan. Yemen minister of health, Dr Ahmad Qassem Al Ansi ,has said in an interview with a local private TV that only 20%-25% of patients who travel abroad are in pressing need for medical treatment from diseases that can’t be treated in Yemen.

Recycling ablution water advantageous
Yemen Times — 16 August 2012
Mosques in Yemen number approximately 75,000, according to the Ministry of Endowment’s 2008 report. The statistics suggest the number could rise to 95,000 this year. Although programs warn about water depletion in Sana’a Basin based on the current consumption rates, the water used for ablution in mosques across the nation reached 3 billion cubic meters annually, based on Environment Protection Authority estimates.

Security:
Yemen gas pipeline blown up
AFP and Reuters via The National — 22 August 2012
Unidentified attackers yesterday blew up a pipeline pumping liquefied gas to Yemen‘s southern Balhaf export terminal, causing a complete halt in operations. “Unknown gunmen blew up the gas pipeline… at Station 5, in the village of Zahira, in the Shabwa province,” said Brig Gen Ahmed Omeir, the provincial security chief. The attack took place at about 1am, he added.

Gunfire outside Yemeni intelligence HQ in Aden
Reuters — 21 August 2012
Suspected Islamist militants fought security guards at a Yemeni intelligence headquarters in the southern port city of Aden on Monday night, two days after 14 people were killed in an attack on the same building. The assailants fired machineguns from a nearby hill overlooking the building and the state television headquarters next to it, a local official and residents said. Guards responded but no one was hurt.

Seven killed in attack on Yemen mosque: official
Reuters — 21 August 2012
A gunman opened fire on a mosque during Eid prayers in southern Yemen on Sunday, killing seven people and wounding 11, a security official at Defence Ministry said. In a separate attack on Sunday, a suicide bomber with suspected links to Al Qaeda blew himself up in the southern Abyan province, killing three and wounding two, an official from the province told Reuters. The shooting at the mosque in the southern province of Dalea came during the prayers that mark the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Security forces followed the gunman home and surrounded the building, the official said. He added that the man appeared not to be related to Islamist militants who have been staging attacks for the past months.

Militants attack Yemen intelligence HQ, killing 20
AP — 20 August 2012
The death toll of an al-Qaida suspected attack on a Yemeni intelligence headquarters rose to 20 on Saturday, in the worst such attack in a year that highlights the challenges faced by the country’s new leadership as it struggles to bring security and reconcile a military with split loyalties. The attack, in the heart of the port city of Aden, underscored al-Qaida’s ability to launch deadly strikes despite a two-month Yemeni military offensive backed by the U.S. that earlier this year dislodged militants who had taken over a string of southern towns near Aden.

Intensifying of security measures to prevent a repeat of the attacks on government facilities [Arabic]
BBC Arabic — 17 August 2012
The Yemeni government revealed measures, described as intensified, to prevent a repeat of attacks on ministries and government buildings. The Interior Ministry issued orders to arrest any person roaming around the capital with weapons including soldiers except for those authorized with official business.

Al-Qaeda Has Become Desperate But Is Still Dangerous In Yemen
Al-Tagheer via Al-Monitor — 23 August 2012
Mohammed Seif Haidar, a specialist in terrorism issues, said the recent operations carried out by al-Qaeda prove the “level of despair” that they have reached. Haider told Asharq Alawsat that “al-Qaeda’s recent operations indicate that soon, the group will no longer be an issue. Their operations show a strategy of retaliation, including desperate operations that were carried out after a defeat in the Abyan and Shabwah governorates.” He added that “al-Qaeda wanted to deliver a message that the group is still present and able to launch operations. Al-Qaeda carefully selects its targets, often choosing to carry out operations on religious holidays. Security services have to pay attention to this fact and strengthen their precautionary measures.”

At least 14 killed in Yemen attack on intelligence HQ
Reuters — 18 August 2012
Suspected Islamist militants killed at least 14 Yemeni soldiers and security guards, and injured seven others, in a grenade attack on the intelligence service headquarters in the southern port city of Aden on Saturday, the Defence Ministry said. The United States has been pouring aid into Yemen to stem the threat of attacks from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and to try to prevent any spillover of violence into neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter.

Various security and military units participate in carrying out the plan to prevent weapons within cities [Arabic]
Al-Tagheer — 16 August 2012
Yemeni authorities announced that they seized 74,885 pieces of weaponry throughout the country between last July 31 and the beginning of 2012. The Interior Ministry released a statement saying that the security apparatus confiscated last July alone confiscated 12,483 pieces of weaponry, including 113 pieces within the cities while the rest were confiscated in the security belt surrounding Sana’a and the other principal cities of Yemen’s governorates.

Abduction of children a means of retaliation
Yemen Times — 16 August 2012
In Yemen, there are dozens of children who are exposed to kidnapping or have been kidnapped in the past. Nada Al-Faqih from the Observation Unit head in Syaj (Fence) Organization for Protecting Children said, “Kidnapping cases in Yemen have largely spread. This Ramadan, five kidnapping cases were reported. Most of these cases took place in Khawlan and Sanhan.”  She said the reason for this phenomenon is revenge and domestic problems among the tribes. It is a means that leads to victimizing children.

Women:
Safe Streets Campaign in Yemen
Jadaliyya — 20 August 2012
As part of the social protests sweeping the Middle East over the past year and half, a number of movements have arisen to tackle the issue of sexual harassment. One such movement is Yemen’s Safe Streets campaign, founded in the fall of 2011.

National Dialogue:
UN Security Council Considers Extending Hadi’s Term in Yemen
Al-Tagheer via Al-Monitor — 17 August 2012
Yemeni local media quoted diplomatic sources as saying that the Security Council is examining a resolution proposed by the Gulf Initiative sponsors. The resolution aims at extending the transitional term of Hadi by two additional years to allow for the continuation of security and economic reforms. According to the local news media, ambassadors from the countries sponsoring the Gulf Initiative held several meetings with Yemeni political parties to examine the extension of the transitional period  by two more years.

In Yemen, revolution continues in Change Square six months after Saleh’s fall
Washington Post — 17 August 2012
It’s been six months since a populist revolt ended President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-year rule. But here in Change Square — the nexus of the uprising, where tens of thousands once gathered — the revolution continues, but in a different shape and form. Some tents are empty. Others have vanished as the crowds have thinned. The protests are smaller, less boisterous. The activists are divided.

Yemen’s tradition of half-solving problems continues to haunt it
The National — 22 August 2012
“Yemen seems to be doomed to making historic, yet unfinished, accomplishments, which eventually lead to grave consequences,” wrote Ahmed Youssef Ahmed, director of the Cairo-based Institute of Arab Research and Studies, in yesterday’s edition of the Emirati newspaper Al Ittihad. During the unification of Yemen in the late 1980s and early 1990s, everything seemed to be going smoothly, the writer said. “A compromise was reached that tempted both sides of the equation, the northerners and the southerners, into unification.”

Yemeni Liberal Party Aims To ‘Cultivate the Individual’
Al-Hayat via Al-Monitor — 16 August 2012
The announcement by a group of revolutionary youth activists in Yemen of the founding of the Yemeni Liberal Party raised many questions about the prospects for such parties in society characterized by tribal ties, conservatism and religiosity. Yet some analysts believe that the party will be widely accepted, and perhaps even successful, provided it can maintain high standards of political integrity and refrain from slipping into the clutches of questionable sources of funding.

Six months later: Where Hadi fails and where Hadi succeeds
Yemen Times — 16 August 2012
Great challenges are still facing President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi since he was elected president in February following the ouster of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Although it appeared that stability was restored in Sana’a, Taiz and other governorates, and the military gained control of Abyan and cleared Al-Qaeda affiliates out of the area, terrorism and extremism remain the greatest challenges for Hadi in the upcoming period. Al-Qaeda militants have resorted to carrying out different operations targeting soldiers in several countries using car bombs and explosive belts.

Back to revolution?
Al-Ahram Weekly — 16-23 August 2012
The Friends of Yemen meeting will also coincide with the Yemen Donor Conference. Representatives of more than 30 multilateral donors, governments, businesses and non-governmental organisations will attend the New York conference to address Yemen’s worsening humanitarian and economic crisis. The global forum will discuss the transitional programme for stabilisation and development in Yemen. Donors are expected to announce additional funding to support Yemen’s transition process, addressing both short and long-term development needs. In addition, the conference will re-energise the delivery of previous aid pledges.

The South:
Yemeni secessionist leader released
Reuters — 18 August 2012
A Yemeni southern secessionist leader who was arrested on arrival in Aden from Britain on Wednesday said on Saturday he had been released by the security forces. Ahmed Abdullah al-Hassani had been living abroad but Yemeni media reported last week that he was planning to return to meet other leaders of the southern secessionist movement in Aden, the capital of the former state of South Yemen.

Culture:
Challenging the norm
The Economist Prospero blog — 16 August 2012
BOUSHRA ALMUTAWAKEL, a Yemeni photographer, aims to provoke discussions about social norms and question the ways people and cultures judge one another. Her stylised portraits, mostly of Middle Eastern women, challenge the view held by many in the West that the veil is a symbol of oppression. Issues of identity are central to her work. Though she is skeptical of veils that completely obscure the individual, she draws similarities with the way some women hide behind heavy make-up: in both cases, a woman is concealed behind a social mask of sorts, often for her own comfort. Ms Almutawakel (pictured below) is openly critical of certain social expectations of women in Yemen, yet she wears a long black abaya in public because she “wouldn’t feel comfortable otherwise”. This ambivalence pervades her work.

US Policy/International Community:
Bailed U.S. businessman jailed in Yemen may be deported to U.S
Reuters — 17 August 2012
Bailed U.S. businessman Zack Shahin, who fled the United Arab Emirates for Yemen, may be deported to the United States as the UAE has not yet requested his extradition, Yemeni officials said on Thursday. Yemeni authorities have contacted U.S. embassy officials to discuss handing Shahin to the United States, a Yemeni security source and a government official both told Reuters.

The Ba’ath Party in Yemen calls for Bashar al-Assad to step down honorably [Arabic]
Al-Teef News Network — 17 August 2012
A branch of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party in Yemen called for Bashar al-Assad to step down and exit with honor. It revealed the arrest of Abdullah al-Ahmar, assistant secretary-general and number-two man in the party behind Assad, at the hands of the Syrian regime in Damascus. A statement issued by the branch which is linked to the national leadership based in Damascus depicted the arrest of al-Ahmar as “political and moral bankruptcy.”

Over 600 African refugees land on Yemen coasts
Saba Net — 21 August 2012
The Security Information Center of Interior Ministry has said that 625 refugees from the Horn of Africa arrived in Yemeni coasts last two days.

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