Monthly Archives: October 2012

Weekly News Update 25 October 2012

AFP via Al-Arabiya/

Al Qaeda goes underground in Yemen against U.S.-driven crackdown
Reuters — 23 October 2012
A U.S.-backed military onslaught may have driven Islamist militants from towns in Yemen they seized last year, but many have regrouped into “sleeper cells” threatening anew the areas they vacated, security officials and analysts say. The resilience of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), despite increased U.S. drone strikes to eliminate militants, is worrying for top oil exporter Saudi Arabia next door and the security of major shipping lanes in the seas off Yemen.

Yemen takes tough sell message to U.S. businesses
Reuters — 19 October 2012
It has to be one of the toughest jobs around – trying to sell U.S. businesses on the investment potential of one of the poorest nations on Earth, a country battered by Islamist militants who bomb, assassinate and kidnap. Yet it is a job U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein is taking on by leading a delegation of 10 Yemeni businessmen on a 10-day, five-city tour of the United States. The executives come from the construction, pharmaceuticals, medical and technology industries. However, much of the discussion focused on developing clean water, a precious commodity in the dry Arabian peninsula landscape, as well as renewable energy such as wind and solar power. “Yemen needs power to grow the economy,” said Wael Zokari, chief executive officer of Griffin International, the technology arm of conglomerate Griffin Group. “The technology we need comes from the United States,” he said. Yemen produces less than half the electricity it needs now, let alone for the infrastructure it wants to build to grow an economy that contracted 10.5 percent in 2011 to under $29 billion.

Can southern separatists break up Yemen?
Open Democracy — 23 October 2012
The National Dialogue will set the bases for a new political structure and Constitution for Yemen.  Non-participation by any one party is likely to strongly and negatively affect not only its own future but that of the country as a whole. Given their past record, the current political ‘leaders’ of the southern separatist movement should at least show some modesty and behave in a manner suggesting that they have concerns other than their own self-promotion.  But they seem to live in a world of their own and are likely to come down with a major bump when they find that the population at large is very much against them and that other southerners do participate in the Dialogue and, indeed, these may be more representative of public opinion in the South. Continue reading


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Weekly News Update 18 October 2012


Wary Yemen refugees returning to former Qaeda-run towns
Reuters — 17 October 2012
Of the around 70,000 who sought refuge in Aden, some 30,000 remain, most of them camped out in schools that want them to leave so they can reopen. The refugees are resisting, however. They say that many of their homes are still in ruins and al Qaeda militants are still operating in their communities, making the resumption of hostilities possible at any time.

Aden remembers revolution, contemplates the South’s future
Yemen Times — 14 October 2012
The city of Aden celebrated the 49th anniversary of the October 14 Revolution that broke out in 1963 against British colonialism in Yemen’s southern region. Town squares were the sites of mass rallies full of people of all ages and factions of society commemorating the historical event.

S.Yemen separatists see new chance after Saleh’s demise
Reuters — 11 October 2012
Southern separatist leaders say al Qaeda would lose traction and be neutralised more easily in an independent south where resentment would no longer fester over what they call a corrupt, repressive and tribally defined system run from the north. Some senior separatists have returned to south Yemen of late to drum up grassroots backing via street rallies, tours of southern provinces and the creation of umbrella groups. The cause appears to captured hearts and minds in Aden. Once the capital of South Yemen, the ancient seaport at the foot of desert mountain outcrops is covered in pro-independence graffiti and flags of the old southern state hang from many lampposts. One figure drawing attention is Ali Salem al-Beidh, the Beirut-based south Yemeni leader who failed in a 1994 civil war to reverse a 1990 deal merging the former South Yemen with the north. Beidh now runs a pro-independence satellite TV station. “We know that Iran is interested in promoting some of the more extreme elements of the secessionist movement, providing funding to Beidh,” a senior Western diplomat in Sanaa said. Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 11 October 2012

BBC News/

Powerful Yemen tribal leader urges factions to start national dialogue, not fight
AP via Washington Post — 7 October 2012
Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar, leader of Hashid tribal confederation, told the first meeting of the alliance of Yemen’s tribes Saturday that the Hawthi Shiite Muslims in the north, the armed secessionists in the south and al-Qaida must reject violence and join in the political process, without preconditions. He said all of Yemen’s political parties, tribes and civil society groups should take part in the national dialogue, starting Nov. 15. Sheik Mohammed al-Shayef, chief of the Bakeel tribe, Yemen’s other main southern tribal confederation, boycotted the Saturday meeting. He warned that the call for al-Qaida to join the dialogue would lead the country to more fighting and chaos.

Creating a Modern Yemeni State Challenges Historic Tribal Power
Al-Tagheer via Al-Monitor — 8 October 2012
Tribes will be able to assume a pivotal and important role if the state wishes to restrict the Houthi expansion and stop their armed activity. They have been called upon and are concerned with taking the necessary position in this regard, and they are ready to contribute and participate in this role. The tribes confirmed as much during the conference, which was a meeting of the vast majority of tribes — an important initiative to strengthen the state and work to eliminate threats to its existence. The Houthi, terrorism and the mobilization of armed groups are the most threatening elements to the state and its stature.

Sheikh Abu Lohom talks to the Yemen Times
Yemen Times — 7 October 2012
Sheikh Mohammed Abu Lohom, head of the Justice and Building Party and member of the Technical Committee for the National Dialogue, said he senses there is a need for seriousness and credibility to help establish dialogue between Yemeni political parties. In an interview with the Yemen Times, he said he most looks forward to seeing the Joint Meetings Parties (JMPs), the General People’s Congress (GPC), Houthis and  the youth working together as one team. Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 4 October 2012

Mareb Press/

Houthi rebels seen gaining new influence in Yemen
Reuters — 3 October 2012
When riots erupted this month over an anti-Islam film made in California, Houthi rebels, long confined to remote corners of Yemen by then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh, covered the capital Sanaa in posters, banners and graffiti denouncing the United States. Western diplomats and Sunni Islamists were taken aback by the sudden show of strength in a city from which the Shi’ite rebel group had long been banished. Analysts and diplomats believe that the ascent of the Houthis, named after its leaders’ family, has turned Yemen into a new front in a long struggle between Iran and Western powers and the Arab regimes they back, centred on a nuclear programme that Israel and the West say is aimed at making atomic weapons and altering the regional balance of power. Iran denies those charges.

In interview, Yemeni president acknowledges approving U.S. drone strikes
Washington Post — 29 September 2012
Yemen’s leader said Saturday that he personally approves every U.S. drone strike in his country and described the remotely piloted aircraft as a technical marvel that has helped reverse al-Qaeda’s gains. President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi also provided new details about the monitoring of counterterrorism missions from a joint operations center in Yemen that he said is staffed by military and intelligence personnel from the United States, Saudi Arabia and Oman.
-Watch Hadi give a speech at the Woodrow Wilson center here.

U.S. Embassy Attack In Yemen Makes West Uneasy Over Ali Abdullah Saleh’s Role In Transition
Reuters via Huffington Post — 1 October 2012
Seven months after he reluctantly handed over the presidency, Ali Abdullah Saleh’s continuing sway over Yemen is worrying Gulf neighbours and Western nations who fear that the political transition could descend into chaos. While Saleh is held responsible by many Yemenis for the more than 2,000 deaths during last year’s uprising, it was the storming of the U.S. embassy on Sept 13 that appears to have jolted Western countries into changing their view of a man long seen by Washington as its best bet for containing militants. Continue reading

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