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.

Economy/Governance:
Roads maintenance, an unresolved challenge
Yemen Times — 17 January 2013
Roads in Sana’a are notorious for their almost unusable conditions.  Besides costing the motorists lots of money in damages, their neglect leads to many other problems.  Colonel Qais Al-Eryani, Sana’a Traffic Manager, said lots of traffic accidents occur because of poorly maintained roads, congested streets and a lack of commitment to road building standards. Mustafa Nasr, the Head of Studies at the Economic Media Center, said recent heavy rains have exposed the flaws of established roads.

Yemen resumes oil flow in main export pipeline: officials
Reuters via Daily Star — 12 January 2013
Yemen resumed pumping crude through its main oil export pipeline on Saturday, two days after armed tribesmen blew it up in the latest attack on the country’s energy infrastructure, government officials and oil industry sources said. Yemen’s oil and gas pipelines have repeatedly been sabotaged by insurgents or angry tribesmen since anti-government protests in 2011 created a power vacuum in the Arabian Peninsula country, causing fuel shortages and slashing export earnings for the impoverished state.

Presidential warning ends Yemen’s Central Bank strike
Yemen Times — 17 January 2013
A warning letter from President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi ended Yemen Central Bank’s employee strike on Monday.  In the letter, Hadi threatened to arrest strikers and use force against them if they did not immediately end their strike calling for improvements to their working and financial conditions according to striking employees.

Yemen’s antiques threatened by corruption, looters and smugglers
Yemen Times — 14 January 2013
According to Abdulkarim Al-Barakani, the Deputy Manager of Antiquities and Cultural Properties Protection, a lot of smuggling takes place at Sana’a Airport where illegal merchants seek to access lucrative markets outside Yemen.  However he says the Antiquities General Authority has done much to work with security at the airport. Since 2010, approximately 450 antiquities, including genuine artifacts, fake antiquities and folklore have been confiscated he says, 60 of those were in 2012.

Taiz: Yemen’s cultural capital
Yemen Times — 14 January 2013
President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi approved the Taiz governorate as Yemen’s cultural capital on Saturday. Huda Ablan, the Deputy Minister of Culture, said the decision was based on Taiz’s reputation as one of the most culturally active cities in Yemen. Taiz is known for producing many of the country’s academics and authors. According to Ablan, the title will help Taiz restore its reputation. “The government should build schools and universities in the governorate in order to further boost culture” she said.

Iran/US:
U.S. envoy says Iran working to destabilize Yemen: report
Reuters — 13 January 2013
Iran is working with southern secessionists in Yemen to expand its influence and destabilize the strategic region around the Straits of Hormuz, the U.S. envoy to Yemen was quoted as saying on Sunday. Yemen’s state news agency Saba cited U.S. Ambassador Gerald Feierstein as accusing Iran of supporting south Yemeni leaders trying to revive the formerly independent state of South Yemen, and naming Ali Salem al-Beidh, who runs a pro-independence satellite TV station from Lebanon, as one of them.

Migration:
A record 107,500 people reach Yemen in 2012 after risky sea crossing
UNHCR — 15 January 2013
The UN refugee agency announced on Tuesday that some 107,500 African refugees and migrants made the perilous sea journey from the Horn of Africa to Yemen in 2012, the largest such influx since UNHCR began compiling these statistics in 2006. The previous record high was in 2011, when more than 103,000 people arrived in Yemen on smugglers’ boats. Some 84,000, or more than 80 per cent, of the arrivals were Ethiopian nationals, while Somali refugees constituted the rest. Many migrants use Yemen as a transit stop en route to states in the Persian Gulf. Despite economic and security difficulties last year, Yemen continued to receive and host a record number of people fleeing the Horn of Africa in search of safety, protection and better economic conditions. All Somali arrivals are automatically recognized as refugees by Yemeni authorities.

National Dialogue:
Dialogue committee recommends candidates for leadership positions
Yemen Times — 17 January 2013
The National Dialogue Preparatory Committee has presented three candidates to President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi for the secretary general position of the upcoming National Dialogue Conference (NDC). The candidates are: Khalid Bahah, the former Minister of Petroleum and Yemen’s current ambassador to Canada; Ja’afar Basaleh, a current member of the dialogue committee and Dr. Ahmed Awadh Mubark, the head of the business department in the College of Commerce at Sana’a University, according to a member of the committee.

15 of January Movement commemorates beginning of Yemen’s 2011 revolution
Yemen Times — 17 January 2013
Many leading politicians, officials, citizens and students joined the 15th of January Movement and the Revolutionary Youth Committee at Sana’a University on Tuesday to celebrate the first protest in Yemen that marked the beginning of the 2011 revolution.

Two Years under President Hadi
Gulf News — 15 January 2013
That old and tired emotional argument that we cannot accept fracturing the country into South and North does not hold water, and each region could easily survive without the other as an independent state, now that the people in both regions have learnt their lessons about co-existence. On the other hand, a united geographical Yemen, provided the population of the South is treated as an equal in every way, would have an obvious advantage. Having survived four years of Sana’a, I can easily appreciate that!

National Dialogue Committee accepting nominees for specific allotted seats
Yemen Times — 15 January 2013
The National Dialogue Preparatory Committee is receiving applications for candidates for the youth, women and Non-Governmental Organization seats allocated for the National Dialogue Conference (NDC). They began accepting applications on Thursday.

Yemen president forms grievance committees
Al-Shorfa — 16 January 2013
The presidential decree follows increased pressure from the Yemeni Socialist Party, which was among the most vocal of those demanding official redress of South Yemen’s grievances. Last year, party representatives submitted a 12-point list of demands that was adopted by the National Dialogue Conference’s technical committee, which then recommended the list to President Hadi. “The step taken by President Hadi is a bold one and will resolve the issues that pose the severest challenge to Yemen’s future, namely the rights and grievances issues,” said Anis Hassan Yahya, a Socialist Party leader.

Parliament brawl draws criticism from the public
Yemen Times — 17 January 2013
Tuesday’s heated altercation in Parliament between the head of the General People’s Congress (GPC) parliamentary bloc, Sultan Al-Barakani and the Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Dr. Mohammed Al-Asa’adi provoked critics to question Parliament’s performance. Abdul-Karim Al-Aslami, an independent parliamentarian, told the Yemen Times that parliament is not fulfilling its required role due to events like this.  He says there is too much conflict and division between members.

Reconciliation and Tolerance Day commemorated in Aden
Yemen Times — 14 January 2013
Thousands of Southerners mobilized on Sunday to participate in the Southern Reconciliation and Tolerance Conference in the Khor Maksr area of Aden. The conference aimed to bring an end to internal Southern rifts on a historic day. On Jan. 13, 1986 the conflict known as the South Yemen Civil War began between two opposing Southern factions.

South-South reconciliation, a remedy for mistakes of the past
Yemen Times — 17 January 2013
Protestors participating in the seventh reconciliation festival in Aden last Sunday had many slogans.  They were not limited to the event they were marking. The slogans, which were chanted by the thousands of mostly young demonstrators, ranged from rejecting the upcoming National Dialogue Conference to demanding independence for the South. Flags of former Democratic Republic of Yemen were also raised. Unlike this day in the past, Sunday was distinguished by the unprecedented number of attendees and the peaceful tone of the demonstrations.

Wounded revolutionaries still suffering two years later
Yemen Times — 14 January 2013
Ahmed Al-Sermah, never thought his participation in the revolution that toppled former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime would lead to a living a life with only one lung. In September 2011, the 28-year-old was wounded in one of the political uprising marches, when a piece of shrapnel tore into his thin body, puncturing his lung.

Interview with leader of Yemeni Baath Party
Yemen Times — 14 January 2013
Naif Al-Qanis, a leader of the Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party, said Yemen will remain a ticking time bomb if the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) moves ahead without the necessary preparations put in place, like the implementation of the 20 Points. He said, in an interview with the Yemen Times, that the Ba’ath Party will partake in the (NDC) if the 20 Points presented by the Preparatory Committee to President Hadi are honored.

Security/Military:
Gunmen kill security official south of Yemen’s Sanaa
Reuters — 16 January 2013
Gunmen killed the deputy security chief of Dhamar province, south of the Yemeni capital Sanaa, an interior ministry official said, less than a month after an adviser to the minister of defense was shot dead in Sanaa. “Two gunmen riding a motor bike shot Brigadier Abdulwahab al-Mushki and killed him immediately,” the official said.

Yemen raid nets two al Qaeda militants: security sources
Reuters — 14 January 2013
Yemeni security forces arrested two al Qaeda militants near the capital Sanaa on Monday, seizing explosives, suicide bomb vests, assassination manuals and lists of targets for attack, security sources said. Although a third man escaped the raid on a hideout at Jader village, 14 km (9 miles) north of Sanaa, the arrests are likely to be seen as progress in government attempts to stem a spate of killings of security officials by suspected militants.

Yemen says al Qaeda holding western hostages
Reuters — 15 January 2013
A Finnish couple and an Austrian man abducted in Yemen last month are being held by members of al Qaeda after being sold to the militant group by tribesmen, a senior Yemeni official said on Tuesday. The three Westerners, who were studying Arabic in Yemen, were snatched by gunmen in the capital Sanaa on December 21. An Interior Ministry official had said they were being held by tribesmen who were demanding a ransom. “The tribesmen have sold the three abductees to elements from al Qaeda organization and they were transferred to Bayda province (in the south),” the official told Reuters. “There are negotiations to pay a ransom and free them.”

A new FAST platoon secures embassy compound in Yemen
Marine Corps Times — 12 January 2013
The beginning of the new year has been marked by the presence of a new Marine Corps Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team in Yemen. The 50 or so members of Charlie Six Platoon, Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Company, Central Command, from Naval Support Activity, Bahrain, have replaced Charlie Five Platoon in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. During its 111-day deployment, Charlie Five Platoon helped secure the embassy compound and also trained Yemeni security forces in sound tactics and strategies to prevent violent protesters from reaching U.S. facilities. The FAST Marines deployed to Yemen in mid-September after protesters stormed the embassy in reaction to the You Tube posting of a movie trailer mocking the Muslim prophet, Muhammad. The movie was created by amateur filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, an Egyptian Coptic Christian residing in the U.S.

Jordanian military committee helps Interior Ministry with internal security restructure
Yemen Times — 17 January 2013
A Jordanian military committee tasked with providing reorganization recommendations to the Interior Ministry started working on its mission Sunday, after reaching Sana’a the day before.

Houthis accused of attacking Islah members in Sa’ada
Yemen Times — 14 January 2013
Houthis and members of the Islah party have experienced a number of violent clashes in the Sa’ada governorate over the last week. Abu Azam, a leading figure form the Islah Party in Sa’ada, said  that a number of armed men affiliated with the Houthi movement broke into mosques on Friday in the Sakeen district.  They reportedly detained a number of locals and attacked persons who were  ideologically opposed to them.

Qat:
Yemenis find attempts to ban qat tough to swallow
The National — 15 January 2013
“We were once famous for our coffee, not qat,” said Abdullah Shaban, a businessman considered a role model because of his role in supporting residents in the area, especially farmers, among Haraz residents. “We wanted to take lead and show Yemenis that other options do exist.” Against this tide of custom and high economic stakes, the anti-qat campaigners are determined but not starry-eyed. There is historical precedent, too. The last person to have seriously lobbied against qat was in 1972, when the then-prime minister, Mohsin Al Aini, banned qat chewing in all public offices. Al Aini was greeted with death threats and soon forced from office.

Warm reception for anti-qat day campaign
Yemen Times — 14 January 2013
Calls to officially make Jan. 12 a national Anti-qat Day were met with positive reactions by many Yemenis. After a successful campaign a year ago that spread awareness through social networking sites about the negative aspects of qat, activists are lobbying the government to dedicate a day focused on this.

Women:
Women in rural areas suffer despite available services
Yemen Times — 17 January 2013
Females in Yemen are often caught in a cycle of poverty and women in rural areas like Mohammed, are especially vulnerable. Two psychology experts at Sana’a University, Dr. Najat Saem and Dr. Arwa Al-Ezi, recently conducted a study that focused on ways to eliminate poverty in rural areas.

UN:
UN launches humanitarian aid plan for Yemen
Al-Shorfa — 16 January 2013
Yemen’s Minister of Planning, Dr. Mohammed al-Saadi, told representatives from donor nations and organisations that the UN response plan aims to mobilise regional and international support to assist Yemen in dealing with urgent humanitarian needs.  He said the UN initiative also shows that the donor community is ardent in supporting the government’s humanitarian efforts to alleviate the suffering of Yemenis affected by the country’s 2011 political crisis.

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