Weekly News Update 13 December 2012

Howida Al-Kibsi via Yemen Times/http://www.yementimes.com/en/1632/report/1712/Golden-Fingertips-exhibition-displays-Yemeni-women%E2%80%99s-artistic-stylings.htm

Howida Al-Kibsi via Yemen Times/http://www.yementimes.com/en/1632/report/1712/Golden-Fingertips-exhibition-displays-Yemeni-women%E2%80%99s-artistic-stylings.htm

Highlights:
Yemen’s Rocky Roadmap
Foreign Policy — 11 December 2012
The fears have been focused on the National Dialogue’s potential failure, which could very well plunge Yemen into conflict. But even if the dialogue succeeds, restoring unity to this notoriously fractious country will still prove a tall order. Across the country, powerful tribal leaders maintain their hold over their own fighting forces; even the Yemeni army, many here complain, are closer to a collection of private militias than it is to a truly national military. Rather than holding a monopoly on power, the post-Saleh government often appears to be at the mercy of various factions whose interests often seem to diverge from those of the nation as a whole. In some sense, it’s a thorny paradox: As the country aims to move forward, the cooperation of such divergent interest groups is key. But their continued sway, many argue, could render any progress in Sanaa moot.

Press freedom in the shifting Yemeni media landscape
Doha Centre for Media Freedom — 12 December 2012
Journalists are still threatened by numerous elements within and outside the authorities, and press rights groups have consistently highlighted the difficulties faced by local and international journalists in Yemen.  As recently as September 2012, RSF published a statement detailing a number of press freedom violations, expressing their serious concerns about media conditions in Yemen. Internet usage represents one of the most significant changes for the media in Yemen, and according to internetworldstats, the country had 3,691,000 internet users in June 2012, compared to 420,000 in 2010.

Yemeni president in standoff with Saleh son over Scud missiles
Reuters — 11 December 2012
The commander of Yemen’s Republican Guards has refused orders from the president to hand long-range missiles over to the Defence Ministry, political sources said, raising the risk of a showdown between the country’s two most powerful figures. The standoff between Brigadier General Ahmed Saleh, son of ousted former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, and President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi could delay an overhaul of armed forces that split last year during a mass uprising, worsening disorder.

Justice System:
UN committee deplores Yemen juvenile offender execution
BBC News — 12 December 2012
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has expressed deep dismay at the execution in Yemen of a woman who was a minor when she was arrested. Jean Zermatten said Hind al-Barti was believed to have been around 15 years old at the time of the alleged offence for which she was sentenced to death. He said her execution on 3 December violated a binding UN treaty. Yemeni media reports said Ms Barti had been convicted of murdering another girl about seven years ago.

Media:
The queen of Yemen’s newspaper remains silent
Radio Netherlands — 12 December 2012
The paper was effectively shut down in 2009 by the Yemeni government and has not reopened, even though the old regime has been replaced by a government of reconciliation. ‘Together we will build a new Yemen’ was the slogan of Abdurabu Mansour Hadi, the sole candidate in the presidential elections of February 2012. “Is there a new Yemen? I am not aware of it”, Bashraheel says with a smile. He is not the only one who feels that the promises of the new government have mostly remained just that: promises. Political prisoners for example were supposed to be released months ago, but they are still being held, often in unknown places and circumstances.

National Dialogue:
Technical Committee submits final report to President Hadi
Yemen Times — 13 December 2012
The National Dialogue Conference’s Technical Committee submitted their final reports to President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi on Wednesday, after holding a meeting on Tuesday.  Mohammed Mossa Al-Ameri, a member of the committee, told the Yemen Times that in the days to come the committee will determine the key components that will take part in the dialogue.

Yemen Threatens To Reopen Former Regime’s Corruption Cases
Al-Tagheer via Al-Monitor — 11 December 2012
Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi threatened to readdress corruption cases committed during the era of the former regime in response to the rebellion of the son of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. The president also stressed the need to “move beyond the past.”

Preparations to hold a Southern National Conference in Aden took place months ago
Yemen Times — 13 December 2012
Several factions of the Southern Movement will hold the National Southern Conference, headed by Mohammed Ali Ahmed, former defense minister, on Sunday. The Organizing Committee for the conference said in a statement that preparations and coordination between the factions of the Southern Movement took place months prior to this conference to unify them under one leadership.

One lesson to take from the Arab Spring
Yemen Times — 10 December 2012
The success of the Arab Spring is not to be judged according to the achievements or the failures of the governments who succeeded those fallen regimes. Instead, it should be viewed according to the strength of the youth revolutionaries and their struggles and determination to achieve. It should be applauded for those young people’s retention of high spirits, their confidence in themselves and their ability to ensure the renewal and the reoccurrence of their actions until the purposes for which their revolutions took place are achieved and until the obstacles and deviations in its path are eliminated.

Legal Affairs Minister cites major obstacles to Transitional Justice Law
Yemen Times — 10 December 2012
Legal Affairs Minister Doctor Mohammed Al-Mekhlafi said the General People’s Congress (GPC) and some of its leaders in government reject passing the Transitional Justice Law and don’t want the law implemented. In a workshop on Saturday, the minister said the Transitional Justice Law is being sabotaged. Al-Mekhlafi told Yemen Times on Sunday that the GPC refuses the stipulation in the Transitional Justice law that says all bodies must forget about past grievances and should look to the future. He said those who are against the law want Yemen to slide into chaos and disorder.

Shawqi Al-Mikhlafi to the Yemen Times
Yemen Times — 10 December 2012
Holding the Youth General National Conference is a must. By the end of June, a preparatory committee was set up, which included different opinions from the squares for the purpose of variety, which is in line with diverse national issues that need to be highlighted in the conference. We deem ourselves ready to hold the conference. Currently, preparatory committees are set up in the governorates, which should represent all the revolutionary factions in the squares nationwide.

Volunteers in Sana’a ready to clean streets
Yemen Times — 10 December 2012
“Yemen starts from here,” is a youth-driven initiative in Sana’a, which embodies the idea that change starts with individuals, homes, streets and neighborhoods, all cooperating to turn negative ideas into positive ones that serve the society. Currently, the group is preparing to launch a national cleaning campaign in Sana’a called “Sharik”, scheduled for Dec. 12. Under the slogan, “My contribution builds Yemen,” the event will target a 22 square km. area, cleaning streets, facilities and administrative departments across Sana’a. It will be held in cooperation with the secretary of the capital and aims to link students, military men, partisan leaders, members of parliament, the Shura Council and public and private sector workers. The campaign is meant to unite participants under a common goal.

Angry demonstrators disrupt Yemen’s first ever National Conference on Human Rights
Yemen Times — 10 December 2012
Amidst chaos and protests, the government attempted to hold Yemen’s first National Conference on Human Rights. The event, which aimed to comprehensively review the status of human rights in Yemen, was marred when demonstrators  used it as an opportunity to air discontent. Whilst many protesters were present to highlight the issue of human rights, some capitalized on the chance to express unhappiness with political representation at the National Dialogue Conference (NDC).

Political Disputes Threaten Unity of Yemeni Opposition
Al-Khaleej via Al-Monitor — 6 December 2012
According to columnist Abdullah Sabri, “it is still too early to say whether or not the JMP is on the verge of breaking down. However, the rate of representation in the national dialogue reveals that some of the JMP’s parties are keen to participate in the conference under the party’s banner. This is true, despite the fact that until recently these same parties have been condemning any attempt on the part of their peers in the JMP to stray away from ‘common work’ within the framework of the JMP.”

Women:
Golden Fingertips exhibition displays Yemeni women’s artistic stylings
Yemen Times — 12 December 2012
An art exhibition that showcased pieces from a creative group of 30 Yemeni women artists was held Thursday at the house of Turkish ambassador to Yemen Fazli Corman. The exhibition aimed to reflect the diverse features of a Yemeni woman’s life through the use of colors. Swzan Ghailan, an exhibition artist, talked about her panel, which included a multicolored drawing of a Yemeni woman.

Security:
Zinjibar Still Suffering From the Wounds of War
Al-Hayat via Al-Monitor — 12 December 2012
A wounded city, suffering from land mines, epidemics, destruction and the fear of the return of the al-Qaeda militants. This is the case of Zinjibar, more than five months after it was freed from the grip of armed groups. The houses have turned into ruins and the streets resemble minefields. Diseases have spread and services have run short, particularly in hospitals. The city’s visitors walk cautiously and fearfully as if they are walking on a tightrope. Official estimates indicate that there are 10,000 land mines in the city, which have killed about 100 people, mostly women and children. Moreover, the curse of the land mines has reached Aden, where three soldiers were killed when a land mine storage container brought from Abyan exploded. People spoke about collective looting that was carried out by the regime’s soldiers, the people and al-Qaeda militants. An official from the Yemeni Writers Union in Abyan said that the union’s headquarters was completely looted, except for the books. The looting in Zanzibar included electrical and telephone wires, and eyewitnesses said that a group of soldiers used a tank to remove underground wires.

Local organ trafficking group busted by security force for selling on blackmarket
Yemen Times — 13 December 2012
Sana’a Security  forces declared that they arrested a group of human organ traffickers on Tuesday. In recent years, security has arrested several traffickers who are often part of wider networks that are taking advantage of harsh economic conditions in Yemen. Colonel Mohammed Al-Sobari, the manager of Public relations in Yemen’s Criminal Investigation Department  told the Yemen Times that the absence of a law deterring human organ trafficking in Yemen has led to a spread of the phenomena.

Egypt affects Yemen again
Nasser Arrabyee’s blog — 11 December 2012
Hadi accused the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh of being behind all those assassinations and sabotage acts that took and still take place all over the country.  However, Hadi’s accusations were not official or completely public. Hadi was speaking on Sunday December 9th, 2012 to army and security officials in a symposium on restructuring the army and security, and all of a sudden he asked journalists to turn off all cameras and recorders. And then, he threatened to bring to justice all those spoilers of settlement including former President Saleh.

Yemen army official killed in ambush, army battles tribesmen
Reuters — 8 December 2012
A senior Yemeni army official was killed on Saturday in an ambush by suspected al Qaeda members, while the army battled tribesmen who blew up the country’s main oil export pipeline. The chief-of-staff for Yemen’s central military region in turbulent Maarib province, home to a large portion of the impoverished country’s oil, died when gunmen fired on his vehicle, a security official said.

Senior intelligence officer shot dead
Reuters via Khaleej Times — 12 December 2012
Masked gunmen shot dead a senior intelligence officer in southern Yemen on Tuesday, local and security officials said. Colonel Ahmed Barmadah, deputy head of the Political Security Office, the domestic intelligence service, was leaving his house in the port city of Mukalla in Hadramout province when gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on him, the officials said. No one claimed responsibility for the killing but a security official said he suspected that Al Qaeda militants, who are battling the US-backed government, were behind it.

Yemeni Militias Recruit Unemployed Youth
Al-Hayat via Al-Monitor — 12 December 2012
Rival political forces benefit from widespread poverty and illiteracy to recruit loyalists, thus increasing political and military tension. For the first time in the modern history of Yemen, religious parties — both Sunni and Shiite — have managed to turn the political conflict into sectarian infighting, something that the previous regimes had failed to do. In fact, these unofficial armed formations are not a new phenomenon. Although they have emerged in the last two years, they go back to the 1960s and are a main feature of the critical absence of the modern state in the north and the south. This is especially true given that the official institutions — such as the army and security forces — have remained governed by deep regional and sectarian loyalties.

Yemeni offensive on Qaeda kills 24: military official
AFP via Google News — 12 December 2012
A major offensive launched by the Yemeni army against Al-Qaeda following the assassination of a top officer has killed at least 24 people, including 17 soldiers, a military official said. “Troops backed by air forces launched a wide operation in the region of Wadi Abida,” targeting Al-Qaeda hideouts, a military official said on condition of anonymity. General Nasser Naji bin Farid, who commanded military forces in central Yemen, was killed Saturday in an ambush near the city of Marib, blamed by military and tribal sources on Al-Qaeda.

8 soldiers killed in militant ambush near oil pipeline
AP via Washington Post — 12 December 2012
Eight Yemeni soldiers including a senior officer were killed in an ambush by militants while visiting a main oil pipeline that had been destroyed in an earlier attack, the defense ministry said. In a statement, the ministry called the Saturday attack in Marib province a “terrorist ambush,” confirming that the chief-of-staff for Yemen’s central military region was killed.

Three militants and a tribesman killed in Yemen clashes
Reuters via Chicago Tribune — 12 December 2012
At least four people were killed during clashes between al Qaeda-linked militants and pro-government tribesmen in Maarib province, east of the Yemeni capital Sanaa, a tribal source said early on Wednesday. Three of the dead were Islamist militants and the fourth was a tribesman fighting on behalf of the government, the source said. The tribesmen, on whom the government depends heavily in its fight against Islamist militancy, have been seeking those responsible for the killings of 17 army officers and soldiers in an ambush on Saturday.

Yemen tribal officials: Attacks kill 4 militants
AP via Huffington Post — 9 December 2012
Yemeni military attacks on al-Qaida positions in Marib province Sunday killed four militants, including a senior member of the violent Islamist group, Yemen tribal officials said. The attacks followed an ambush Saturday that killed eight soldiers, including a senior officer. The tribal officials said airstrikes and heavy artillery shelling targeted the farm of Said bin Muaily, a senior al-Qaida member. He was killed, along with three others.

Officials say 3 soldiers killed in east Yemen
AP via Salon — 8 December 2012
A senior Yemeni army official was killed on Saturday in an ambush by suspected al Qaeda members, while the army battled tribesmen who blew up the country’s main oil export pipeline. The chief-of-staff for Yemen’s central military region in turbulent Maarib province, home to a large portion of the impoverished country’s oil, died when gunmen fired on his vehicle, a security official said.

Symposium addresses restructuring of Police
Yemen Times — 10 December 2012
A symposium held Sunday at the Police Academy in Sana’a aimed to reach a consensus on the academy’s restructure. The event, attended by President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and several high-ranking government officials, tried to balance study findings with the existing infrastructure of the Defense and Interior ministries.

Gas cylinder explosion kills two in Sahar, Sa’ada
Yemen Times — 10 December 2012
Two were killed and three others injured in an explosion on Saturday evening in Sahar district of Sa’ada governorate. Abu Hashim, a leading Houthi figure, told the Yemen Times that the explosion was caused by a gas cylinder. According to Hashim, the explosion occurred when one of the victims attempted to transfer gas from a big cylinder to a smaller one. Causing serious damage to the house where it occurred, neighbors rushed to the scene and took the dead and wounded from under the debris.

British sailor commits suicide in Yemen
Gulf News — 8 December 2012
Security forces in the western Yemeni port city of Hudieda said that a British sailor found dead had committed suicide. Carl Anthony Corner, 33, was found dead on board a commercial ship. Investigators revealed that Corner was having psychological pressure and had decided to end his life on Friday.

Economy/Governance:
Construction projects at a stand still, contractors blame ministries
Yemen Times — 13 December 2012
Abu Bakr Al-Aqeeli, the general manager of Abu Bakr Foundation for Contracting and Engineering Consultancy, said that his company sustained huge losses because of disruptions of his contracted work. He said many of his projects stopped even prior to the events of the revolution due to problems obtaining raw materials, namely asphalt. The only place to find asphalt was from state-controlled Aden Refineries, which became increasingly expensive as the revolution evolved. According to Al-Aqeeli, a ton of asphalt used to cost YR 126,000.   However, as soon as civil unrest started, the cost soared to YR 186,000. Although the refineries were state controlled, the Ministry of Public Works and Highways took no remedial actions to protect businesses or buffer the price rise.

Liquid pot of gold, Yemen’s honey trade
Yemen Times — 13 December 2012
Due to low start-up costs and a high processing rate, honey production in Yemen is rapidly becoming one of the fastest ways to make money. Abdulmalik Al-Nour, a university graduate, said, “Beekeeping has become a quick ways to tackle the poverty and unemployment problems that I encountered after I graduated in 2008. Now all I have to do is work for three months as a beekeeper, and I produce enough honey to easily sell it in markets.”

Protestors fed up with corruption, march on in name of transparency
Yemen Times — 10 December 2012
The Studies and Economic Media Center staged a protest on Sunday in Sana’a to commemorate International Anti-Corruption Day.  Mustafa Nassr, head of the center, said the protest was staged to demand the resignation of corrupt individuals in the state and call for the repeal of laws that prevent these prominent officials in the state from being held accountable for corruption, including the looting of public funds.

Hodeida Port — a ‘hidden treasure’
Yemen Times — 10 December 2012
Overlooking the Red Sea, Hodeida Port has long played an important role in Yemen’s economy.  After a long period of recession over the past few years both economists and locals are optimistic about its potential to recover and flourish again. Captain Jamal A’aish, the chairman of Hodeida Port’s board of directors, said the landing mass will play a vital role in developing the economy and services in Hodeida. He said it accommodates a lot of manpower and enormously contributes to supporting Hodeida locals and the larger economy of the country.

Young Yemeni programmers confront piracy and hacking
Yemen Times — 10 December 2012
Yemeni programmers and information technology (IT) technicians complain about a lack of protection from piracy for their creative programs and software. In Yemen, it’s commonplace for shops to sell pirated CDs and software. This is done openly and it widely accepted by the public. Technology is sold at low prices—often as little as 200 riyals (approximately $1 USD) for a CD—and the majority of Yemenis prefer to buy pirated copies instead of originals, which are far more expensive.

Yemen Kuwait Bank for Trade and Investment goes live on ICS BANKS
AMEInfo.com — 9 December 2012
Yemen Kuwait Bank for Trade & Investment (YKB), the first bank to be established by the private sector in Yemen, has successfully implemented ICS BANKS the universal banking solution from ICS Financial Systems Limited (ICSFS), the global software and services provider for banks and financial institutions.

Infrastructure:
KfW grants €12 mln to improve Abyan water and sanitation sectors
Saba Net — 12 December 2012
German state-owned development bank KfW granted on Wednesday Yemen €12 million to finance the projects of the Social Fund for Development (SFD) to improve water and sanitation sectors in Abyan province. The agreement was signed by Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Mohammed al-Sa’adi and SFD acting executive director Abdullah al-Dailami from the Yemeni side and Director of the KfW office in Sana’a Bernd Schonewald.

Qat:
Yemen considers Qat restrictions
Al-Shorfa — 12 December 2012
The Yemeni House of Representatives is examining a bill that aims to scale back Qat cultivation by banning new plantings and the digging of wells to irrigate Qat, among other measures. If the legislation is passed, Qat sellers would have to apply for special licenses when opening shops to sell the plant, and selling Qat on the street would become illegal.

Iran:
Yemen security chief tells Iran to stop backing rebels
Reuters via Yahoo News — 9 December 2012
Yemen’s security chief has told Iran to stop training and funding Shi’ite Muslim rebels who, along with al Qaeda-backed Islamists and southern separatists, are staging one of three insurgencies threatening to pull the chaotic country apart. Major-General Ali al-Ahmadi, president of Yemen’s National Security Board, also said al Qaeda appeared not to number more than 700-800 in the country, including a few hundred Saudis.

Saudi Arabia:
Yemeni Foreign Minister: Ties Between Sanaa, Riyadh Still Strong
Al-Hayat via Al-Monitor — 7 December 2012
Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi said that last week’s assassination of Saudi diplomat Khaled Anzi in Sanaa will not affect the relations between Sanaa and Riyadh. He said that incidents targeting Saudi diplomats in Yemen will only “consolidate the relation between the two countries, as it is based on a mutual strong desire to fight terrorism and extremism. The Saudi side is cooperating with us to follow up on the case.”

US Relations:
Losing points in Yemen
Washington Post — 10 December 2012
The hotel chain is expected to yank the Sheraton logo from the heavily fortified property — home to the diplos since political unrest broke out in Sanaa last year — by Jan. 1. On its Web site, the Sheraton Sana’a boasts of its excellent location, a five-star rating and a friendly staff. There’s no sign that it’s now off-limits to the traveling public and guarded by U.S. Marines. The U.S. Embassy took over the hotel last year as the demonstrations leading up to the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh turned violent. Diplomats are now shuttled from the hotel to the embassy, which is nearby, and otherwise don’t get out much unless they’re on official business.

United States and Yemen Initial Open Skies Agreement
U.S. State Department — 12 December 2012
Today, delegations representing the United States and the Republic of Yemen initialed the text of a U.S.-Yemen Open Skies Agreement. The Agreement, which will be applied on the basis of comity and reciprocity pending entry into force, will liberalize our bilateral aviation relationship.

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