Weekly News Update 25 October 2012

AFP via Al-Arabiya/http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/10/24/245716.html

Highlights
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.

Economy/Governance:
Yemen Falls 17 Places in Doing Business Rankings
World Bank — October 2012
Yemen fell from 101 to 118 in the 2013 Doing Business rankings. The greatest drops were in the categories of “getting electricity” and “starting business.” The only aspect of Doing Business that became easier in Yemen was “trading across borders.”

Could ‘Earthy, Complex’ Coffee Help Save Yemen?
Bloomberg Businessweek — 21 October 2012
Coffee. The Yemeni city of Mocha is one of the world’s oldest sources of coffee beans. The website Specialty Coffee Advisor has this to say: “Yemen coffees are the epitome of a ‘wild cup’ and can border on scary at times because of their deep, earthy, complex pungency with overlays of dry fruit (think raisin), cardamom, dry cinnamon, and tobacco notes.” The Yemeni government is encouraging farmers to plant coffee instead of qat, which is the unofficial national drug of Yemen. The leaves of the evergreen qat bush are chewed as a stimulant. Qat is legal and not strongly addictive, but chewing it is a huge time-waster, and its cultivation contributes to Yemen’s severe water shortage.

Hodeida Airport to be fenced
Yemen Times — 21 October 2012
The Presidential Committee assigned to investigate the Hodeida Airport land dispute resolved Saturday to fence land by the Aviation Public General Authority (APGA), Ali Al-Twaiti, the deputy manager of Hodeida Airport, said.  Several figures belonging to various Yemeni military branches, as well as merchants and tribesmen, have been attempting to take control of airport land, according to a July Yemen Times report.

Sana’a livestock market sales are slow ahead of Eid al-Adha
Reuters via Al-Arabiya — 24 October 2012
It’s traditional to remember the poor during Eid, and is obligatory to give money to charity to help the poor buy new clothes and food so they too can celebrate. But one trader says many Yemenis have no money to do so. “People’s buying power is very weak, due to a number of factors. There are no salaries, the salaries are very poor, and we’ve just come out of a crisis, and all people’s savings have been spent,” said trader Mansour Shawai.

Hadi: attracting Arab, foreign investments in oil sector is national priority
Saba Net — 20 October 2012
President Abdo Rabu Mansour Hadi affirmed that attracting Arab and foreign investments in oil and gas sectors is a national priority for its importance as one of the pillars of national economy.

Yemen combats drug abuse through persistence and partnership
Al-Shorfa — 21 October 2012
“Lawlessness has attracted many drug dealers and pushers to sell drugs inside Yemen instead of risk the danger of smuggling them to Saudi Arabia” and other nearby wealthy countries, said Col. Ali al-Jahafi, deputy director of the interior ministry’s drug enforcement administration.  “Yemen represents a meeting and transit point for [sending] hashish and narcotic pills to nearby wealthy countries, which global drug mafias target,” he told Al-Shorfa. Yemen — with its long sea coast extending over 2,500 kilometres, its uninhabited coastal areas and its many armed tribes — is located near drug-producing countries and areas that consume those drugs, according to al-Jahafi. From 2008 until September 2012, security forces have seized more than 34,000 tons of hashish and 20 million narcotic pills, al-Jahafi said.

Wael Zakout, the World Bank’s Country Manager in Yemen, speaks to the Yemen Times
Yemen Times — 22 October 2012
Wael Zakout, the World Bank’s Country Manager in Yemen, began working for the organization in 1994. In the past, Zakout has worked on teams in East Asia, Europe and Central Asia, focusing on areas such as disaster risk management and sustainable development. He has a doctorate in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Wisconsin.

National Dialogue:
Political parties weigh in on who is, is not advantageous to National Dialogue success
Yemen Times — 22 October 2012
The National Dialogue Conference (NDC), scheduled for November, is quickly approaching, and the challenges and complications facing those participating continue to mount. Its success rests largely on political parties and civil society organizations.  Many are pondering the compelling question, “Which political parties and civil society organizations will be advantageous to the NDC?”

Youth:
Helal celebrates local schools’ achievements
Yemen Times — 21 October 2012
The Youth Leadership Development Foundation and Girls World Language Centers, in coordination with the Ministry of Education and the Secretariat, organized Sunday a ceremony for the winning schools of the Citizenship Project funded by the Arab Network for Civic Education. Nawal Dubais, the executive manager of the Girls World Language Centers, said the foundation has a future plan to integrate the subject of citizenship consolidation into the programs schools provide.

Human Rights:
Security Forces Raiding Aden Hospitals
Human Rights Watch — 20 October 2012
Yemeni state security forces are threatening health care in Aden by forcibly removing wounded alleged militants from hospitals, exchanging fire with gunmen seeking to block the arrests, and beating medical staff. One hospital in that southern port city has suspended operations as a result.

Security/Military:
Security plan in preparation for Eid holiday
Yemen Times — 22 October 2012
In preparation for the Eid of Sacrifice, which begins Oct. 25, the Interior Ministry has developed a special security plan to maintain stability during the holiday season nationwide. Omer Hulais, spokesperson of Aden’s security, said a security team, in coordination with the Tourism and Culture Office, prepared a complete plan aimed at protecting parks and beaches that witness a surge of visitors during Eid.

Al Qaeda No. 2 in Yemen denies reports of his death: audio
Reuters — 22 October 2012
The top Saudi in al Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing has apparently released an audio message denying reports he was killed last month, a group that monitors Islamist websites said on Monday. In the audio posted on jihadist websites on Sunday, a man identified as Said al-Shehri said reports of his death were fabricated and aimed to cover up the killing of civilians by U.S. drones, the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group said.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Sets Assassins Loose in Strategic Shift
The Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor — 18 October 2012
Along with this territorial setback, AQAP suffered other crushing blows as a consequence of U.S. drone strikes and a new momentum in the counterterrorist operations ushered in by President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s administration, which has resulted in the killing of several top-level figures and dozens of detentions. Bereft of its operational bases and under increasing pressure from improved Yemeni-U.S. counterterrorism cooperation, AQAP appears to be on the defensive, operating mostly in the shadows. Nevertheless the Islamist group is gradually adapting its strategy and tactics, not merely attacking political, security and military targets through a persistent campaign of low profile operations, but by also bringing its struggle to the capital Sana’a and other new areas of the country.

Renewed Violence in Abyan
Yemen Times — 22 October 2012
New clashes broke out between Ansar Al-Sharia militants, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s franchise in Yemen, and military forces in Abyan on Saturday. Government warplanes intensified their air raids in pursuit of Ansar Al-Sharia affiliates. In retaliation, militants carried out several suicide bombings targeting military sites. On Sunday, President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi issued orders to military and security leaders to broaden military campaigns against Al-Qaeda strongholds in Abyan. These orders are in response to an attack carried out by six suicide bombers Friday against the 115th Infantry Brigade, leaving 18 soldiers dead and 30 others wounded, according to a statement from the Ministry of Interior.

Revolutionary youth, Military Committee demand military restructuring
Yemen Times — 21 October 2012
Yemen’s revolutionary youth renewed their refusal to take part in November’s National Dialogue Conference (NDC) until it sees military restructuring. Meanwhile, the Military Committee, established to maintain security in Sana’a, asserted the importance of exerting intensive efforts to begin Yemen’s reshuffling of military and security forces. The committee called on all political powers to cooperate with them to solve any and all problems and to carry out the conclusions to work in this period.

Drone kills nine near formerly rebel-occupied Yemen town: sources
Reuters — 18 October 2012
Nine suspected al Qaeda militants were killed in what a local security source and residents said was a U.S. drone attack on a farmhouse outside a town in southern Yemen. The farmhouse just west of Jaar, one of two southern towns that Yemen’s army took back from rebel control this summer, was hit by three separate missile strikes at dawn, they said.

Suicide raid kills 11 Yemen soldiers, officers say
AP — 19 October 2012
Suicide bombers wearing army fatigues stormed into an army barracks in southern Yemen on Friday, killing 11 soldiers in a dawn assault, Yemeni officials said. The attack highlights the challenges faced by the country’s new leadership as it struggles to bring security to the impoverished Arab nation in the face of continued al-Qaeda strikes despite U.S.-backed efforts to drive it from the country.

Puntland seizes arms boat destined for Somali militants
Reuters — 19 October 2012
Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland has captured a boat coming from Yemen that was carrying heavy weapons destined for the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels, officials said on Friday. The incident raised concern about possible cooperation between the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al Shabaab, which formally merged with al Qaeda this year and has come under pressure from African Union forces.

Explosion at Yemeni military depot kills six soldiers
BBC News — 22 October 2012
The blast took place in a warehouse at an army base in the southern port city of Aden. The building contained large quantities of explosives recovered from al-Qaeda following its retreat from its strongholds in June.

Explosion at military headquarters leads to calls for army relocation
BBC News — 22 October 2012
Leaders have called for the evacuation of military camps following a blast in the arms cache at the First Armored Division’s headquarters in Sana’a on Thursday.  Four civilians died and one soldier according to  Major General Ali Saeed Obald, a spokesperson for the Military Committee. The Military Committee said there is no need for military camps in the capital or other major cities.  They advocate the relocation of military units to less crowded areas.

Houthi group sets up training camps
Sahwah Net — 24 October 2012
The Saaada-based Houthi group has set up three training camps in Saada and Amran, a tribal leaders affirmed. He said that the group operates to recruit fighters, particularly children, from Saada, Sana’a, Hajja and al-Jawaf governorates and train them at different fighting ways.

Drone kills three in Yemen’s Maareb Province
Reuters — 21 October 2012
Three men thought to be al Qaeda militants were killed in an apparent U.S. drone attack on a car in Yemen on Sunday, tribal sources and local officials said. The men’s car was driving through the south-eastern province of Maareb, a mostly desert region where militants have taken refuge after being driven from southern strongholds.

US:
A Biker, a Blonde, a Jihadist and Piles of C.I.A. Cash
New York Times — 19 October 2012
“This message is specifically for Sister Aminah,” Mr. Awlaki says in the video to his future bride, a comely 32-year-old blonde from Croatia who he hoped would join him in his fugitive existence. The woman had expressed fervent admiration for Mr. Awlaki on his Facebook page and later made clear in her own video reply that she shared his radical views, saying, “I am ready for dangerous things.” Neither Mr. Awlaki nor his prospective wife knew it, but their match was being managed by a Danish double agent as part of an attempt to help the Danish intelligence service and the C.I.A. find the cleric’s hiding place in Yemen. The attempt failed, but the undercover agent, Morten Storm, 36, a former motorcycle gang member who had converted to Islam, continued to communicate with Mr. Awlaki. When Mr. Awlaki was killed in a drone strike on Sept. 30, 2011, Mr. Storm was certain his efforts had been instrumental in it. But eventually Mr. Storm’s resentment at not getting what he regarded as sufficient credit boiled over. He phoned Jyllands-Posten, the second-largest newspaper in Denmark, and told the bewildered receptionist that he had helped track down one of the world’s most wanted terrorist leaders. The Danish newspaper spent 120 hours interviewing Mr. Storm and verifying his account.

In Yemen, Presence of Elite Marine Unit Raises Ire
Voice of America — 18 October 2012
The mid-September deployment of an elite team of 50 Marines to the U.S. embassy in Yemen has fueled growing opposition to Washington’s role in the small Arab nation, which remains mired in a fragile political transition after a tumultuous year of uprisings dethroned President Ali Abdullah Saleh after 33 years of authoritarian rule.

Guantanamo defense wants records from drone strike in Yemen
Reuters — 24 October 2012
Lawyers for a Guantanamo prisoner accused of masterminding the deadly attack on the USS Cole asked on Wednesday for government records about a U.S. drone strike that killed another man identified as the mastermind of the attack. The request came in a pretrial hearing in the case against Yemeni defendant Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, who is accused of sending suicide bombers to ram a boat full of explosives into the hull of the USS Cole off Yemen in October 2000, causing a blast that killed 17 U.S. sailors and injured dozens more.

Yemen, USA discuss counterterrorism cooperation
Saba Net — 23 October 2012
Yemen and the USA discussed here on Tuesday several issues to reinforce the mutual security cooperation relations, particularly in counterterrorism and organized crime fields. This came in a meeting brought together Interior Minister Abdul-Qader Qahtan and American deputy ambassador Elizabeth Richard, who lauded the achievements of the security authorities in restoring the security and stability of Yemen.

International Community:
Partnership with France is important: President Hadi
Saba Net — 24 October 2012
President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi said on Wednesday that the partnership with France is important at various levels. During his meeting with French ambassador to Yemen Franck Julie, Hadi said we build the strategy of the future with furnace, which is existing in Djibouti and has interests in the Somali coast, Bab al-Mandab and Gulf of Aden.

School opening symbolizes friendly relationship between Yemen, Turkey
Yemen Times — 21 October 2012
A Turkish School was opened Saturday in the Aser neighborhood of Sana’a in the presence of a slew of Turkish and Yemeni government officials. The school, which is largely a symbolic gesture of the continued friendly relationship between the two nations, was funded by Turkish businessmen and began construction in February 2011.

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