Monthly Archives: November 2012

Weekly News Update 29 November 2012

Mohamed al-Sayaghi/Reuters/via Al-Monitor/

Trouble again in the north
The Economist — 24 November 2012
Government troops are allowed to man their positions in a kind of unofficial stand-off, provided they do not attack the rebels, while armed Houthi fighters control checkpoints and let government soldiers receive their salaries. Across Yemen’s northern provinces, where the Houthis espouse a Shia-derived version of Islam known as Zaydism, their supporters have emerged from the shadows, spreading their writ into the neighbouring provinces of Amran, Hajjah and Jawf. Their influence extends even to Sana’a, where their slogan—“God is Great! Death to America! Death to Israel! Curse the Jews! Victory to Islam!”—is a common graffito on walls.

National Dialogue Conference’s share distribution decided
Yemen Times — 29 November 2012
The numbers give 50 percent to Yemenis from the south, 30 percent for women and 20 percent for youth. Additionally 62 seats of the participants will be allocated for President Hadi to fill in the gaps and add figures from the community as well as other entities such as marginalized, religious minorities, handicapped, artists, displaced persons, emigrants, businessmen, new parties, academics, religious leaders and so on.

Saudi Arabia and the Future of Yemen
Al-Tagheer via Al-Monitor — 26 November 2012
Although the Saudi leadership is keen on ensuring the success of the political settlement and implementing the Gulf Initiative, and is aware that exerting pressure and threatening both parties of the crisis with international sanctions was the main reason for the success of the political settlement until now, the kingdom has so far not shown any willingness to use its influence with the most prominent leaders of the secessionist movement at home and abroad, and try to pressure them to persuade them to participate in the national dialogue conference and abandon their impossible terms. Continue reading


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Weekly News Update 21 November 2012

Obstacles affect Military Pension Fund for Defense, Interior Ministry military
Yemen Times — 19 November 2012
According to Yemeni law, Military Pension Funds controlled by the Defense and Interior Ministries provide salaries for military personnel of all ranks. A recently study entitled “Investments’ effectiveness for the Military Pension Funds, the practical alternatives and the future perspectives,” conducted by Dr. Ali Saif, Assistant Professor of Economy at Sana’a University, finds that in spite of the establishment of two funds in 1981, they remained frozen until 1992’s decree number 33, which made amendments to the salaries and bonus’ given to armed and security forces.

The Jihadis of Yemen
New York Review of Books — 9 November 2012
Saleh’s successor, Hadi—who assumed power in February—has been a pleasant surprise to American government officials, who tend to view the country through the narrow lens of counterterrorism policy. He appears to have given the Americans carte blanche for drone strikes, and foreign diplomats find him more direct than the famously mercurial and manipulative Saleh. Even some protesters seem happy with his willingness to fire almost all of Saleh’s family members from their sinecures in the security services. But when it comes to deeper changes, Hadi’s options seem limited. He is dependent for protection and support on some of the same military and tribal figures who have been bleeding the regime of its oil revenues for years. He presides over a bloated and corrupt bureaucracy, a largely ineffective military, and a country riven by powerful tribal and regional divisions, with a de facto rebel statelet in the north and an angry secessionist movement in the south. His country is the poorest in the Arab world, and it is running out of oil and water very fast. The threats of jihad in Yemen are likely to last a long time.

Southern leaders – a stumbling block for NDC
Yemen Times — 19 November 2012
So far, one of the major challenges facing the National Dialogue Conference (NDC), scheduled to begin later this month, is the boycott of Southern Movement factions. Although President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and U.N. Special Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar have both been exerting extensive efforts to persuade the Southern factions to participate in the NDC, the positive indicators of Southern involvement in the dialogue remain nonexistent. Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 15 November 2012

Nadia Haddash via Yemen Times/

Southern leaders meet with Benomar, each other in separate Cairo meetings
Yemen Times — 12 November 2012
Haithm Al-Gharib, head of the political unit of the Southern Movement Supreme Council, said Southern Movement leaders meeting in Cairo this past weekend decided not to participate in the National Dialogue Conference slated for later this month. Southern Movement leaders met with U.N. Special Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar Friday night in Cairo to discuss Southern involvement in the conference. The next day, they met together to discuss conference participation.

Technical Committee member says NDC delay expected, cites lack of preparation
Yemen Times — 14 November 2012
Yasser Al-Roa’aini, member of the Technical Committee for the National Dialogue Conference (NDC), said the conference, scheduled for mid-November, will likely be postponed until early 2013 because of a lack of adequate preparation. Al-Roa’aini said the committee would present its final report to President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi at the end of this month. He said Hadi is expected to issue urgent decrees now that he has returned from his Gulf trip. The decrees, Al-Roa’aini said, are meant to pave the way for a “real” dialogue among Yemeni parties.

Yemeni Nobel winner criticises US drones
Yemen Times — 9 November 2012
Yemen’s Nobel peace prize winner Tawakul Karman has called on President Barack Obama to stop drone strikes in Yemen that could end up helping al-Qaeda, she says, by stoking popular anger against the west. Ms Karman – who received her Nobel last year, two years after Mr Obama won his – said the president should use his re-election to end targeted killings overseas that fall “outside the scope of law and due process”. Observers of Yemen believe Washington launched a drone strike in the country the day after Tuesday’s presidential election, part of a pattern of attacks that have killed high-profile suspected terrorists but are also alleged by activists to have caused many civilian deaths. Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 8 November 2012

Amal Al-Yarisi via Yemen Times/

Yemen: Journey to a land in limbo
Financial Times — 2 November 2012
Not everyone wants secession or feels implacably hostile to the central government. Many simply want government. Anssaf Mayo, head of the powerful Islamist political party Islah, argued that people demanding independence for the south are actually a minority. One of the pragmatic, if somewhat fudged, proposals being talked about is a federal solution, which would give the south more autonomy, and the right to hold a referendum on independence at a later date.  But the voices calling for more radical solutions are getting louder. “Al Ayyam was the first to talk about federalism after the war in 1994,” said Tammam Bashraheel, the managing editor of the now banned newspaper. “Now, if I were to go outside this door and talk about federalism, I’d be beaten.” “If not shot,” his nephew, Bashraheel Hisham, interjected.

Losing Yemen
Foreign Policy — 5 November 2012
After more than a decade of on-again, off-again aid to Yemen, the al Qaeda branch in Yemen is stronger than it was on September 11, 2001. The money the United States has spent in Yemen has enriched dozens and the missiles it has fired into the country have killed hundreds — and yet AQAP continues to grow.

Yemenis Say Restructured Army Is Needed for a National Dialogue
Al-Tagheer via Al-Monitor — 7 November 2012
According to Nabil al-Bakiri, a researcher on Islamic groups, any dialogue that takes place without considering clear steps towards restructuring the army will be doomed to failure, adding that the Coalition Agreement of 1993 is further proof of that. Bakiri provides a number of reasons proving that restructuring the army is crucial to the success of dialogue. Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 1 November 2012

Joe Sheffer/The Guardian/

Triage for a fracturing Yemen
Foreign Policy — 31 October 2012
The technical committee is doing its job, but it needs the support of the president, the government, and the political parties to build a supportive environment for dialogue. To date, this has not happened. Thus far, not one of the technical committee’s confidence building measures has been implemented on the ground. Granted, some requests are complex and would take considerable time, such as fully resolving land disputes or addressing illegal dismissals from public sector employment following the 1994 civil war between the North and South. However, the current government has not begun forming committees to begin addressing these issues, nor has it taken advantage of low hanging fruit, such as implementing steps to re-open the South’s most prominent independent newspaper, al Ayyam, which has been closed since 2009 following an attack on its offices by the central government on suspicion of supporting separatists.

Yemen’s ‘Death to America’ rebels bring calm to northern Yemen
Christian Science Monitor — 28 October 2012
Now signs bearing the group’s slogan, “God is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Damn the Jews, Power to Islam,” pepper the streets alongside tributes to fighters killed during the years of conflict. While government troops continue to man their posts, armed Houthis run checkpoints undisturbed, controlling the vast majority of Saada and parts of adjacent provinces. Life has seemingly returned to normal now. Markets in the province bustle and newly constructed hotels welcome guests. But the group’s bellicose anti-American rhetoric and unrestrained criticism of the US government’s policies in Yemen worry Western diplomats. Houthi leaders have sharply criticized members of Yemen’s current government for their cooperation with the United States, capitalizing on rising anti-American sentiment in the country. Many residents expressed enthusiastic approval of Houthi governance, saying the rebels’ rule has lead to security and stability. And as the frequent sight of construction attests, some here are confident enough about the current calm to invest, pouring money into infrastructure projects in the impoverished province. “We’ve seen so many difficult years,” says Abu Ahmed, a businessman in Saada overseeing construction work at his new soap factory. “But now, Saada is at peace, and we can actually imagine a better future.”

Building a Yemeni state while losing a nation
Foreign Policy — 28 October 2012
Hadi stated that the failure of the National Dialogue would be a disaster for Yemen. However, unless something happens before the conference is rescheduled, the lack of Southern Separatist representation poses a great challenge to its success. There are legitimate criticisms of the Southern leadership’s handling of the situation, such as their inability to act as a united front, put forth a clear proposal for separation, or even to represent most of the South. There are also some less legitimate criticisms, such as those who claim that since the president (a Southerner himself) has issued a specific invitation to separatists to join the dialogue, the separatists are being uncooperative. However, the separatists are hearing conflicting messages and fear that they will again be the losers in a compromise. While the government calls for dialogue of all parties, the so-called Friends of Yemen who support the government in this dialogue have made explicit their rejection of the possibility of secession. In fact, they have proposed sanctions on leaders of the Southern movement. The Southern leaders, meanwhile, have asked for international mediation to help put forth plans for separation. As the government in Sanaa lacks the capacity to deal with its most pressing issues — most notably the need for military reform — the voices in the South who believe that they will be better off alone are getting stronger. Continue reading

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