Monthly Archives: September 2012

Weekly News Update 27 September 2012

Reuters via Al-Arabiya/

Saleh Resists Retirement in Yemen, Threatening Transition
Bloomberg — 25 September 2012
Saleh, who moves around Sana’a in convoys larger and better-equipped than Hadi’s, retains elements of the Presidential Guard and special forces as his personal guard. He uses al-Yemen al-Youm satellite television as a platform for his battle against the transitional government. It’s a contrast with the fate of the other Arab leaders ousted in last year’s revolts. Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali lives in exile in a Saudi palace in Jeddah on the Red Sea, and was sentenced by a Tunisian court to life in prison for complicity in the deaths of protesters. Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak is in jail appealing a life sentence on similar charges, and Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi was pulled out of a drainage pipe and executed by rebels.

Yemenis paint disappeared activists on Sanaa streets
Reuters — 25 September 2012
Yemenis are using street art to lobby the government to tell what happened to hundreds of people who disappeared in years of political turmoil, but even their images on the walls have troubled powerful figures who sought to remove the graffiti. Many disappearances are from the unrest last year, but some date back to the turbulent 33 years of Saleh’s rule that saw a civil war in 1994 and the uprising of 2011.

Firebrand cleric walks a fine line in Yemen
Al-Jazeera — 22 September 2012
The Sheikh has rarely appeared in the city for the past year. Now, with the transfer of power moving forward, and the Islamist party Islah gaining in power, his is more confident. But he still has powerful enemies – the result of his independent stance over the years. His house is surrounded by concrete walls and guards with automatic weapons. The Americans are not his only enemy. Even the Islah party refers to Zindani as someone who simply represents himself, wary of how his views can compromise their own political maneuvering. His firm belief that he developed a cure for AIDS was openly discussed despite the Sheikh having been scorned for years by the international community for the claim. He said the US put him on the terror list because of this, insinuating his “cure” could endanger pharmaceutical corporations’ profits. He also proudly announced his development of a new drug to cure heart disease. “This is an announcement for you, as an exclusive,” he smiled deeply, hands in the air with enthusiasm. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Weekly News Update 20 September 2012

Lindsay Mackenzie/The National/

The Innocence Protests Expose Deeper Tensions in Yemen
TIME — 16 September 2012
On the eve of the U.S. embassy attack, the President dismissed stalwart Saleh loyalist Major General Ali al-Anesi from his powerful posts as director of the Presidential Office and chairman of the National Security Bureau, as well as sacked four pro-Saleh governors across the country. The following morning, CSF forces under the command of Saleh’s nephew Yahya were pictured at a checkpoint outside the embassy signaling the mob of angry protesters to enter the premises. Video footage of the waning moments of the embassy attack showed exhilarated rioters embracing a CSF soldier before sprinting out of the compound.

Shabab of Sanaa’s Musayk ignored for far too long
The National — 19 September 2012
Many of the attackers appear to have come from Musayk, a crowded cluster of poverty nestled below where the US embassy now stands. When their fathers were born the whole area was little more than an empty slope where travellers rested their camels before entering Sanaa. Now, one generation on, it is a bifurcated world of private generators and privilege set off against their dismal world of absence. Nights in Musayk tend to be stifling and dark as the neighbourhood suffers through one of Sanaa’s routine electric outages.

DP World faces loss of Yemen port deal
Financial Times — 17 September 2012
Reports of the moves to cancel the DP World contract triggered jubilant crowds on the streets of Aden, celebrating the news as a victory for ridding the Arab world’s poorest country of part of the economic legacy of the former regime. Aden, a historic and once-thriving port thanks to its strategic location near the entrance to the Red Sea, had fallen on harder times by the time DP World arrived. Once a storied staging post for global trade, Aden lagged behind regional rivals, such as DP World’s home hub of Jebel Ali, as well as newer ports such as Djibouti. Yemeni officials including Mr Bathib, the transport minister, were unhappy because – they claimed – promises under the contract to raise container traffic from 500,000 20ft-equivalent units a year in 2008 to 900,000 had faltered, with throughput dropping as low as 140,000 a year in 2011. Officials say virtually all of Aden’s historic transshipment business has slipped away, with container traffic moving across the Bab al-Mandab strait, which joins the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, to nearby Djibouti – another DP World-operated port. Aden also finds itself operating in an increasingly competitive regional market, highlighted by the opening this month of a giant new port and industrial zone in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. Kuwait has also been developing a new facility just a few kilometres from Iraq’s Grand al-Faw terminal, causing tensions between Baghdad and Kuwait City, in another sign of how ports and politics in the region mix. Back in Yemen, although officials insist the decision to end the DP World contract is final, Abu Bakr al-Qurbi, foreign minister, has launched a last round of diplomacy to see if the argument can be resolved without expelling one of the UAE’s highest profile companies. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Weekly News Update 13 September 2012

Yuri Kozyrev/NOOR for TIME/

Turmoil Spreads to U.S. Embassy in Yemen
New York Times — 13 September 2012
In Sana, witnesses said Yemeni security forces had tried to disperse a crowd at the fortified embassy compound in the east of Sana, the capital. But protesters broke through an outer perimeter protecting the embassy, clambering over a high wall and setting fire to a building. They were forced to retreat after trying to plunder furniture and computers, the witnesses said. The protests came hours after a Muslim cleric, Abdul Majid al- Zandani, urged followers to emulate the protests in Libya and Egypt, Sana residents said. Mr. Zandani, a onetime mentor to Osama bin Laden, was named a ”specially designated global terrorist” by the United States Treasury Department in 2004.

The Case for Federalism, Not Separatism, in Yemen
Al-Khaleej via Al-Monitor — 9 September 2012
Here, federalism appears to be the wisest national choice for the both the north and the south. For the alternative is endless conflict between the two regions, inviting regional interventions and escalating militarization of society, to say nothing of the conflicts between contrasting visions and agendas within the south itself. Moreover one must take the lesson from history, insofar as the south was divided against itself into several districts throughout British occupation. The fear today is that separatist calls will not fall silent even if the south parts ways with the north.

Analysis: Al Qaeda in Yemen suffers another blow as top Saudi member is killed
CNN — 11 September 2012
There are also signs of division and defections within AQAP. A Gulf security analyst briefed by Saudi and other regional counterterrorism agencies tells CNN that a number of Saudis within AQAP have given up the fight in recent months. One of them was another former Guantanamo inmate, Adnan al-Sayegh, who gave himself up to Saudi authorities in late July. According to the Saudi newspaper Al Hayat, al-Sayegh and other Saudi fighters disagreed with the focus on fighting the Yemeni military and had grown weary of constantly shifting locations to dodge drone strikes. In addition, in an atmosphere of growing distrust within the group, AQAP commanders had banned Saudi militants from making unsupervised phone calls to their families, according to the newspaper, for fear of infiltration. In April a British mole within AQAP working for Saudi intelligence thwarted a plot by the group for him to target a U.S.-bound airliner on a suicide bombing. One senior official in the region said the bomb was more advanced than any the group had previously made. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Weekly News Update 6 September 2012

Rallying for Yemen in Riyadh
Atlantic Council Hariri Center — 4 September 2012
In previous Yemen donor conferences, a reticence among major donors to commit and deliver pledged funds surfaced due to the lack of clarity about how the funds would be used and a lack of accountability for disbursed money. The Yemeni government has taken this critique seriously and recognizes it must address donor’s legitimate concerns surrounding incompetence and corruption. To its credit, the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation delivered a comprehensive, two-year plan that details a nearly $14 billion Transitional Program for Stabilization and Development (TPSD) which includes specific initiatives to achieve four major goals: addressing macroeconomic stability, fulfilling urgent humanitarian needs, achieving security and the rule of law, and finalizing the peaceful transfer of power.  Notwithstanding the need for stronger mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability for international funds, the two-year plan should instill some greater confidence that the government will invest donor dollars in a coherent way according to a government vision that was developed with input from the Yemeni private sector.

Drone Warfare in Yemen: Fostering Emirates Through Counterterrorism?
Middle East Policy Journal — Fall 2012
The extensive use of UAVs for executive executions and signature strikes with Yemeni government partners is a dangerous precedent that lends itself to the creation of local-emirate enclaves. The counterterrorism co-dependency between the weak central governments of failing states like Yemen and their U.S. sponsors is aimed at an al-Qaeda whose perceived global aim is a caliphate. The classical caliphate, of course, derives its legitimacy from the notion of succession; a caliph is a vehicle for concentrated authority, inherited from the prophet and ultimately the deity. But, theorists of counterterrorism have fetishized the notion of the international caliphate, much as many intellectually naive Islamist extremists do.

29 Dead in 8 Days as U.S. Puts Yemen Drone War in Overdrive
Wired — 5 September 2012
The U.S. has two separate drone campaigns underway in Yemen — one run by the CIA, the other by the military’s Joint Special Operations Command. Together, they’ve conducted 43 strikes since the start of 2011, according to a Long War Journal tally, killing 274 people in the process. Exactly how many of the 274 were militants is tough to tell; the U.S. “counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants,” the New York Times recently reported. As long as someone acts like a terrorists — whatever that means — he could be taken out in a so-called “signature” strike. Either way, the drones are only one facet of a much American broader war effort in Yemen. U.S. commandos stationed inside Yemen are helping government forces target their militant adversaries. American warplanes, based in neighboring Djibouti, are also flying missions over the country. The U.S. has acknowledged it will spend $112 million on military assistance to the Yemeni military for gear like night vision goggles and commando raiding boats. More than twice that amount will help fund nation-building there, to include “food vouchers, safe drinking water and basic health services,” according to top White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized