Monthly Archives: January 2013

Yemen Digest 31 January 2013

C. Martin-Chico/ICRC/http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/photo-gallery/2013/yemen-2012-in-pictures.htm

C. Martin-Chico/ICRC/http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/photo-gallery/2013/yemen-2012-in-pictures.htm

Highlights:
Half of Yemen trapped in poverty
Financial Times — 28 January 2013
Yemen’s biggest problem is the grinding poverty which has plagued the country for decades. When the former northern and southern states – the Yemen Arab Republic and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen – unified in 1990 less than a fifth of the population lived under the breadline. Years of economic mismanagement later, the UN reckons that more than half of Yemenis live on $2 a day or less. The UN believes that 13m people – more than half the population – now need some kind of humanitarian assistance. Even if that can be managed, there is the tricky question of jobs, especially for Yemen’s young people, about 60-70 per cent of whom are unemployed. But Sana’a already spends 80 per cent of its budget on salaries and subsidies and will struggle to pay for a $3.2bn budget deficit forecast for 2013. The government cannot afford to create new jobs.

Yemen fighting stops as mediators try to release hostages
Reuters — 30 January 2013
Yemen suspended a military operation against al Qaeda-linked militants in the south on Wednesday while tribal leaders tried to secure the release three Western hostages the Islamists are holding, a tribal leader said. About 8,000 soldiers have been taking part in the offensive, which was launched on Monday against on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) stronghold in the small town of al-Manaseh, in al-Bayda province south of the capital Sanaa.

Corruption and inefficiency hinders Yemen’s local administration
Yemen Times — 29 January 2013
Dr. Abdullah Abu Al-Ghaith, a professor of political science at the University of Sana’a said that the local governance has failed to achieve its ends because the aim of establishing local rule in Yemen was not actually implemented with the interest of Yemen’s districts and areas in mind. “The aim was to only keep the citizens busy with something unreal and now this has become an obstacle to people’s access to service,” he said. He indicated that the majority members who entered the elections were corrupted figures. The professor highlighted that “the local councils have become just a tool in the hand of the regime to pass decisions without being accountable for the consequences.” Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Weekly News Update 24 January 2013

Amira al-Sharif/UNHCR/http://www.irinnews.org/Report/97292/Challenges-abound-as-aid-reaches-Yemen-s-south

Amira al-Sharif/UNHCR/http://www.irinnews.org/Report/97292/Challenges-abound-as-aid-reaches-Yemen-s-south

Highlights:
Challenges abound as aid reaches Yemen’s south
IRIN — 21 January 2013
So far, popular committees have not posed obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian aid, according to Singhal, but the lack of clear security has been a deterrent to larger aid operations. During his visit, Ould Cheikh Ahmed called for a stronger police presence in Abyan. The aid operation is still mainly dependent on national staff, with international staff limited to day trips into Abyan when security conditions allow. Many agencies still do not have offices inside the most affected parts of Abyan, commuting back and forth from Aden or safer parts of Abyan – though some agencies are looking to change that in the near future. The government now has more of an army presence in the area, but has not invested sufficiently in creating law-and-order structures, like prisons, courts, and police, observers say.

Drone strikes in Yemen escalating, officials report
Los Angeles Times — 23 January 2013
A U.S. drone strike targeting militants on motorbikes killed five in central Yemen on Wednesday, a senior Yemeni official said. It was the fourth strike in five days, marking what the official called a significant escalation in the U.S.-Yemeni campaign against that country’s Al Qaeda affiliate. The U.S. carried out 42 targeted drone missile strikes in Yemen last year and 10 the previous year, according to the Long War Journal website that tracks strikes through the news media. “The campaign has intensified,” the Yemeni official said, adding that the government has been repositioning troops targeting Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Why political parties are holding back names of representatives
Yemen Times — 24 January 2013
The reason is they want to take more than their share. They are trying to push for their supporters to join the dialogue via the seats for independents. Considering the influx of applications and the chaotic way our committee is operating, it is likely that this happens. This is why I am concerned. Political parties are trying their best to stall and maneuver so that they earn more representation. I will try my best to not allow the semi-independents to get through me, but our committee has unfortunately passed decisions regardless of my objections. Thus, I am not sure how effective our scrutinizing role will be. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Weekly News Update 17 January 2013

Mazin Shuga'a Aldin/Yemen Times/http://www.yementimes.com/en/1641/intreview/1855/Cartoonist-Mazin-Shuja%E2%80%99a-to-the-Yemen-Times-%E2%80%9CWe-were-deprived-of-comics-as-children-so-I-don%E2%80%99t-want-to-deprive-my-children-of-my-comics%E2%80%9D.htm

Mazin Shuga’a Aldin/Yemen Times/http://www.yementimes.com/en/1641/intreview/1855/Cartoonist-Mazin-Shuja%E2%80%99a-to-the-Yemen-Times-%E2%80%9CWe-were-deprived-of-comics-as-children-so-I-don%E2%80%99t-want-to-deprive-my-children-of-my-comics%E2%80%9D.htm

Highlights:
Yemen’s Tawakul Karman confident that change is unfolding
Los Angeles Times — 16 January 2013
Karman’s transformation from a rebel in the Arab world’s poorest country to a polished Nobel laureate remains unfinished. One newspaper ventured that she would “mature” into the role. Karman appears earnest, and possesses a keen ability to summon sound bites against injustice. She stopped wearing a face veil years ago, saying it hid her from her message. She and others became an example as more young women peeled away the fabric of custom. Today, her days are spent updating her website and traveling with a small entourage that meets at her headquarters, Women Journalists Without Chains. She speaks of stemming government corruption, restructuring military and intelligence services and writing a new constitution to speak to the ideals of the young.

Ask Brennan: Are Drones Really Working?
Atlantic — 16 January 2013
Advancing U.S. security interests in the Arabian Peninsula depends on Yemen’s long-term stability and reducing the terrain where extremists flourish, which will only be gained through the following: 1) a professional, integrated, and well-trained Yemeni military and security apparatus; 2) an accountable national government that is seen as legitimate and credible in the eyes of its people; and 3) the resources and capacity to provide for the basic needs of its citizens and to remove the incentives that drive young men to join extremist networks and tribes to protect them. The joint U.S.-Yemeni drone campaign is undermining at least two out of these three elements. Drone strikes that hit unintended targets and kill innocent civilians — particularly women and children — undermine confidence in President Hadi, generate hostility and hatred toward the U.S. and Yemeni government, and create fertile breeding ground for extremist elements to take hold of young Yemenis who lack opportunity, hope, and jobs.

TEDxSanaa: When TED came to Yemen
BBC — 11 January 2013
Many of the speeches at the five star Movenpick hotel were marked by the techno-enthusiasm that have made TED famous:  Emad Alsakkaf, who describes himself as a researcher, entrepreneur, IT specialist, and farmer, spoke of his vision of aquaponic agriculture. TEDx events like the one in Sanaa are affiliated with TED, but locally organized. They are an offshoot of the two, highly-successful annual conferences organized by TED itself. Since launching the idea of TEDx in 2009, there have been more than 4,000 events in more than 130 countries. And, within Yemen itself, there were some doubts about the event. One activist, who did not attend, criticized the exclusiveness of the event, citing the application process, which required a Western-style resume, something many Yemenis were not used to. Some also criticized the organizers for not live-streaming the event at Sanaa’s coffee houses, one of the few places in the city with reliable high-speed internet. In the end, only a little over 300 people viewed the event’s webcast. But, for many, the success of TEDxSanaa was simply that it took place: a decidedly progressive event at a time of enormous political change. The country is still struggling in the aftermath of last year’s anti-government demonstrations that pushed the country to the  of civil war before a political deal led to 33 year President Ali Abdullah Saleh stepping down from power.  The transitional government is now supposed to be paving the way for open elections next year, but political negotiations have been stalled for months. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Weekly News Update 10 January 2013

Khaled Abdullah/Reuters/http://news.yahoo.com/photos/view-village-haraz-mountains-west-yemeni-capital-sanaa-photo-193600423.html

Khaled Abdullah/Reuters/http://news.yahoo.com/photos/view-village-haraz-mountains-west-yemeni-capital-sanaa-photo-193600423.html

Highlights:
Finding Room for Positive Change and Growth in Yemen
Knowledge@Wharton — 8 January 2013
So, what does the business community have to do? We have organizations like the chamber of commerce and all this, but we need to get ourselves organized and get our act organized. It’s one thing to have a chamber of commerce that does what chambers of commerce are supposed to be doing, but we need to have a business community that can influence how the government is operated, how the government is run. And I’m not saying in a corrupted way, but actually making the government realize that this country cannot move forward unless the engine of the economy works. And the engine of the economy cannot work unless the private sector is strong. And again, you can’t have a private sector [that is] strong if it is in disarray, if it is working in different directions. So we need to bring together the different business leaders. Take a look at some of the laws that have been passed in the past — the VAT law, the investment law — these are laws that are in the heart of the private sector, yet the private sector hasn’t really been involved in discussing these laws with the government. The government will tell you, “Well, you have some members of parliament who are businessmen,” when that’s not enough; we need a broader discussion.

Saudi says its air force has not struck al Qaeda in Yemen
Reuters — 5 January 2013
Saudi Arabian fighter jets have not attacked al Qaeda targets in Yemen, Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said on Saturday, denying a newspaper report that some strikes attributed to U.S. drones were made instead by the kingdom’s air force. Britain’s Times newspaper on Friday cited an unnamed U.S. intelligence source as saying “some of the so-called drone missions are actually Saudi Air Force missions”. Any evidence of Saudi involvement in air strikes in Yemen risks damaging Riyadh’s efforts to target militants there by complicating its relationship with the government in Sanaa and with Yemeni tribal leaders, who control large parts of the country, including areas where al Qaeda members are present.

In Yemen, chewing khat offers ritual and repose
Los Angeles Times — 5 January 2013
This nation has long been defined by a flash of green at the tip of a stem. For many, chewing khat makes Yemen’s heat, poverty, rebellions, terrorist attacks, power outages, Islamic fatwas and political turmoil bearable. It calms at first. But its stimulant qualities kick in and suddenly men with leaves bulging in their cheeks, giving them the air of agitated blowfish, launch into talking jags, full of opinions and viewing the world with a restless clarity that eludes them in the non-khat hours. “It is our beer, our drug,” said one man, spitting out a sprig. Khat is the nation’s most lucrative crop, but it could also be its demise, sapping resources and resulting in countless hours of lost productivity.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Weekly News Update 3 January 2013

Reuters/http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/28/us-yemen-drone-idUSBRE8BR0CN20121228?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Reuters%2FworldNews+%28Reuters+World+News%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

Reuters/http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/28/us-yemen-drone-idUSBRE8BR0CN20121228

Highlights:
Yemen Economy Limps Into the New Year
Al-Hayat via Al-Monitor — 31 December 2012
At a conference organized by the Studies and Economic Media Center in Sanaa and a team focusing on economic reforms in conjunction with the Center for International Private Enterprise, a number of suggestions were unveiled for reducing the unemployment rate in Yemen, which now exceeds 60% among youth. One such plan entailed a focus on manual-labor job projects, accelerated job training and qualification programs tailored to the needs of the market and the reorganization and restructuring of the Yemen Skills Development Fund.

South not convinced military restructure will create balance
Yemen Times — 31 December 2012
President Hadi’s military restructure, which included a purging of the Republican Guard and the First Armored Division, has been met largely with lukewarm and uncertain feelings in the South, a region that has threatened secession on numerous occasions. Some southerners like Dr. Abdo Al-Ma’tari, a spokesman for the Southern Movement, have even called the decrees a “farce.” “These decrees are meant to tempt people to join the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) even though nothing has been changed in the military,” he said.

‘Abd al-Rauf al-Dhahab and Bad Intel
Waq al-Waq — 31 December 2012
On Saturday December 29 the US tried a third time (that we know of) to kill al-Dhahab.  And for a third time it missed.  This time killing three members of a local tribes who, again, may or may not be members of al-Qaeda.  At least one local report has identified one of the dead as an 11-year-old boy, although as is often the case there are other reports that give different names and ages for the victims. Even with all the sketchy details from the ground, this case raises several questions. First, how did ‘Abd al-Rauf al-Dhahab make it onto the US kill list? His family, as many readers of Waq al-waq will remember, was heavily involved in the Ansar al-Shariah takeover of Rada’a in early 2012 – on both sides actually, as one pro-government brother killed another pro-al-Qaeda brother before the pro-government brother was killed by yet another pro-al-Qaeda brother. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized