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.

National Dialogue:
Yemen’s political transition reaches tipping point
Deutche Welle — 21 January 2013
It’s not just the recalcitrance of Saleh loyalists that has delayed the transition process. Although the so-called “national dialogue” was supposed to begin at the end of 2012, Petschulat does not expect it to actually kick off before February, maybe even March 2013. “The time frame is too tight,” Petschulat said. He pointed out that, in South Africa, a similar political transition took years, whereas Yemen has just months to resolve its problems. A constitution and electoral laws have to be drafted and fundamental questions about the nature of the state must be discussed. For example, whether the country will be a presidential republic, or will adopt a parliamentary system.

Deadline passed – political parties still appear unready to partake in the upcoming Dialogue Conference
Yemen Times — 24 January 2013
Although the time limit for political parties to submit representatives for the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) has ended, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) and the General People’s Congress (GPC) have yet to submit their lists of representatives, according to a Technical Committee member.   The deadline for submitting party representatives was previously extended from last Saturday to last Monday, as the Technical Committee tried to accommodate requests for more time.

Karman calls on Mohsen to fulfill pledge and let go of power for good
Yemen Times — 21 January 2013
The human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Tawakul Karman called on General Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmer via her personal Facebook page to fulfill the pledges he made when he sided with the youth revolution on March 21, 2011 and officially resign from the military. When he defected from the former regime of Ali Abdulla Saleh, Mohsen pledged that he would let go of power, abide by the rule of law, and asserted his willingness to stand a trial if required.

Leadership positions for NDC announced, deadlines for participants extended
Yemen Times — 21 January 2013
President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi has announced the secretary general for the upcoming National Dialogue Conference (NDC)  as Dr. Ahmed Awadh Mubark. Mubark is the head of the Business department at in the College of Commerce at Sana’a University.

Change square tents gradually disappear
Yemen Times — 21 January 2013
Two years after setting up camp in Change Square, near the University of Sana’a, dozens of protesters began packing up their tents this week under increasing pressure from neighbors to move on.  At the beginning of February 2011, Change Square was the epicenter of Yemen’s revolution as thousands of protesters gathered to demonstrate against former President Ali Abdulla Saleh and his regime. Many locals, even those who took part in the revolution, greeted the news that tents were being removed with happiness.

Abdulkawi Mohammed Rashad Al-Shabei to the Yemen Times: The Southern Movement was the first one to reject injustice and humiliation
Yemen Times — 21 January 2013
Abdulkawi Mohammed Rashad Al-Shabei, the head of the Coordination Council for Southern Revolutionary Groups and a member of the National Dialogue Committee, said the Southern issue has a long, complicated history. The Southern issue emerged following the 1994 war. Al-Shabei says this marks the beginning of marginalization of Southern governorates. Al-Shabei said, in an interview with the Yemen Times, that the anniversary of January 13 will forever be a national tragedy, but he believes reconciliation is possible in the South.

International Aid:
Aid groups seek $716m for Yemen
AP — 22 January 2013
U.N. agencies and other aid organizations are appealing for $716 million in donations to help Yemen deal with a deepening humanitarian crisis that includes widespread malnutrition in the Arabian peninsula’s poorest country. The funds would provide necessities such as food, clean water and medical supplies for Yemen, which is wracked by militant attacks and instability after the end of the three-decade rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh last year.

Britain to host ‘Friends of Yemen’ summit in March
Yemen Times — 22 January 2013
Britain is to host a meeting of the international “Friends of Yemen” group on March 7 to discuss the “dire” security situation in the impoverished nation, Foreign Secretary William Hague said Tuesday. Representatives of more than 35 countries and organisations will attend the meeting of the group, which was set up in 2010 to help Yemen combat Al-Qaeda and other security problems.

Security:
Yemen gunmen blow up oil pipeline
AFP via Al-Arabiya — 19 January 2013
Gunmen in southeast Yemen have blown up an oil pipeline that transports some 8,000 barrels per day to export terminals on the Gulf of Aden, suspending operations, a local official said on Saturday. The unidentified assailants “planted an explosive device under the pipeline” overnight in the village of Rudum in Shabwa province, some 25 kilometers (16 miles) from the Nushaymah export terminal, the official said. The blast brought oil pumping to a halt, he added. The pipeline is operated by the Korea National Oil Co (KNOC), and transfers crude from oilfields in the Iyadh region, also in Shabwa.

Drone strike kills six suspected militants in Yemen
CNN — 24 January 2013
A U.S. drone strike on a vehicle just outside the capital of Sanaa killed six suspected al-Qaeda militants Wednesday night, three Yemeni Defense Ministry officials told CNN. The strike took place in Al-Masna’a village of Khawlan district, 35 kilometers southeast of the capital. Three of the killed were senior members of al Qaeda, two of whom were Saudi nationals, the officials said.

End of assassinations in Yemen?
Al-Ahram Weekly — 16 January 2013
Not far from the capital Sanaa, in a small house rented by an alleged security man, Al-Qaeda was implementing assassinations against military and security officials, through a cell that was arrested early Monday, after a total of 66 military and security officials were assassinated during 2012. Two Al-Qaeda operatives were arrested in that house which was like a small factory for explosives and weapons that were supposed to be used in new assassinations, said security sources Monday. Counter-terrorism forces raided the Al-Qaeda hideout in Jader, 14km north of the Yemeni capital. Authorities confiscated improvised explosive devises, electronic circuits, suicide vests, wires, batteries, antennas, cell phones, magnetic plates, mortar shells and bomb making equipment.

Yemen minister urges ground ops, not drones, against militants
Reuters — 22 January 2013
A cabinet minister criticized on Tuesday the use of pilotless U.S. drones against suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen, a tactic that has outraged communities in targeted areas, and urged a move to ground operations to avoid hurting civilians. Yemen, an Arabian Peninsula country plagued by lawlessness that has been exploited by al Qaeda to launch attacks on Arab and Western targets, has witnessed a rising tempo of U.S. missile strikes in recent weeks.

Suspected assassins in military murders presumed to be Al-Qaeda affiliated groups
Yemen Times — 24 January 2013
An increase in attacks against Yemeni intelligence and military officials are likely to be Al-Qaeda affiliates who are using retaliation tactics in response to anti-terrorism activities in Yemen, according to a key military official. Colonel Mohammed Al-Khalid, a researcher focused on security issues, believes Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has taken advantage of weak state control in the country to carry out their agenda. Staff Brigadier Ali Naji Obaid, the Head of Strategic Studies of Military Forces, said rifts in military, tribal and political leadership following the revolution and the state’s inability to act cohesively has further fed Al-Qaeda operations. This has allowed them to continue military assassinations with relative impunity, he said.

Security campaign in Sana’a receives praise
Yemen Times — 21 January 2013
Now in its third week, the capital’s security campaign, has already been called a success, according to a statement from the Ministry of Interior released last week. The Ministry of Interior implemented its intensive security campaign in an effort to decrease crime in Sana’a.  The ministry was pressured to take action following a sharp rise in assassinations attempts in 2012 that targeted military and security figures. The campaign is focused on confiscating unlicensed guns, cars and motorbikes. The number of motorbikes in Yemen is estimated to be 200,000, most of them are unlicensed, according to the traffic administration. The security campaign says it has achieved about 70% of its goals, according to Staff Colonel Omar Abdulkareem, the capital secretariat’s senior security chief. This calculation is based on confiscated unlicensed weapons, motorbikes and criminal arrests. The Ministry of Interior released figures that reveal 2,000 motorbikes, 535 cars, almost 200 unlicensed firearms have been confiscated.

U.S. drone kills four al Qaeda members in Yemen: sources
Reuters — 22 January 2013
A U.S. drone killed four suspected al Qaeda militants on Tuesday in a strike on their car in northern Yemen as they drove away from a militant training ground, according to tribal sources and local officials, the fourth such attack in four days.

U.S. drone strike kills four Qaeda militants in Yemen: sources
Reuters — 21 January 2013
A U.S. drone killed four suspected al Qaeda militants on Monday in a strike in central Yemen, tribal sources said, in the third such attack in three days. The United States never comments on strikes by its pilotless aircraft, which it has used to track down militants in Yemen for years. The Yemeni government tolerates such strikes but usually does not comment on the U.S. role in specific incidents. The four men were travelling in a vehicle through the desert in the Yemeni province of al-Jawf, near the border with Saudi Arabia, a tribal source told Reuters, declining to be named.

Saudi Arabia’s most wanted Qaeda man killed in Yemen: Correspondent
Yemen Times — 21 January 2013
The Saudi national, Saeed al-Shahri, who previously claimed to be al-Qaeda’s second-man in Yemen, was killed, an Al Arabiya correspondent reported Tuesday. Shahri fought in Afghanistan and spent six years in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, before being released in 2007. According to an Al Arabiya correspondent, Shahri’s family said he was severely injured after a joint Yemeni-U.S. operation targeting al-Qaeda members in Yemen in the second week of December, 2012. After falling into a coma, Shahri was later declared dead and was buried in Yemen.

Blast, drones kill 16 al Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen
Reuters — 20 January 2013
More than 10 suspected al Qaeda operatives were killed by an explosion in a house in south Yemen where they were making bombs, and at least six others died in two strikes from U.S. drones, tribal and official sources said on Sunday. A bomb ripped through a house in the province of al-Bayda on Saturday night, the state news agency Saba and a local official said. The house destroyed in al Bayda had been used for making bombs, an official from the area told Reuters on Sunday. In Maarib, a pilotless plane carried out two strikes against a car on Saturday, a witness said. “One of the strikes missed the target and the other hit the car and left the bodies of the three people in it completely charred,” the witness told Reuters by telephone from the area. He said unidentified people evacuated the bodies while tribesmen blocked the main road linking the capital of Maarib province with Sanaa on Saturday after the strikes.

Three Somali pirates jailed in Yemen for Gulf of Aden attack
AFP via The National — 19 January 2013
The defendants went on trial in 2011 after being charged with hijacking a Yemeni fishing boat and a foreign yacht with the aim of using the Yemeni vessel to carry out piracy attacks. The judge also ordered the defendants to pay the owner of the boat 750,000 rials (Dh12,800) in compensation for the amount he fished on the day of the attack and for the 15 days they held him captive, Saba reported.

2012: a year marked by murders
Yemen Times — 21 January 2013
Last year Yemen coped with unstable situations across the nation.  A transitional government attempt to assert state control by improving security, but the country was inundated with weapons and a lack of enforcement. Consequently, crime rates jumped up across the country, according to a recent study. The Security Information Center released a report that says almost 1,400 criminal incidence took place in 2012, claiming 1,500 lives. About 1,200 of those crimes were solved, according to the report, with 190 crimes still under investigation.

Economy/Governance:
Yemen parliament drops budget objections – lawmaker
Reuters — 19 January 2013
Yemen’s parliament approved the transitional government’s 2.77 trillion rials (8.1 billion pounds) 2013 spending plan on Saturday, four weeks after it was passed by the cabinet, after the former president’s party withdrew objections to some spending. The cabinet said in December its budget plan for this year projected spending of 2.77 billion rials and a deficit of 682 billion rials. A source in parliament told Reuters the breakthrough came after a meeting on Wednesday between interim President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and members of parliament. Saleh’s party, the General People’s Congress, holds a majority in parliament, giving it powers of veto over important laws such as budgets. It had objected to the amount of “general spending” in the budget plan.

Cement Corporation factories, on brink of collapse due to hike in price of diesel
Yemen Times — 24 January 2013
With factories in Bajel, Amran, and Bahr, the Public Corporation for Cement Industry and Marketing’s has been a leading manufacturer in cement material for the past two past decades. However, in recent years, these government-owned factories have managerially deteriorated and are now in danger bankruptcy. In large part, this is due to an increase in  the cost of fuel. In 2010, the Yemeni Petroleum Company approved a hike in the price of diesel from YR90 to YR180 per liter. This increase in cost was a result of government subsidies for other fuel derivatives like petroleum and kerosene.

YPC employees lift strike provided agreement is fulfilled
Yemen Times — 24 January 2013
The Yemeni Petroleum Company (YPC) said it reached an agreement on Tuesday with its staff syndicate to stop a strike that  began that morning and lasted 12 hours, said Noman Al-Ghafari, the general director of stations for the YPC. He said the compromise is based on an agreement  that will take 30 days to implement and begin in February. The staff will be offered job security without exception, and they will be given incentives, awards and allowances to improve their living standards, Al-Ghafarai said.

Report reveals worrisome child labor statistics
Yemen Times — 24 January 2013
The latest report released by the International Labor Organization, says there are 1.5 million children currently working in Yemen. The report also highlights that 21 percent of  Yemen’s 7.7 million children have at one point in time worked in the labor market. The agriculture sector was the worst offender for child labor, comprising a little over 56 percent of the industry’s workforce. The household services sector comes in second at 29 percent.

Yemeni company to begin processing sugar
Yemen Times — 24 January 2013
The Yemeni Company for Sugar Manufacturing, a sugar importer, is planning to begin processing its own sugar in three months time, making it the first company in Yemen to do so.  The company, which is privately owned by the Hael Saed Anam Group, said that it has taken them three years to construct a factory capable of processing sugar.

Yemen receives promises for more aid from Gulf states
Reuters via Al-Arabiya — 21 January 2013
Gulf Arab countries have promised Yemen aid on top of the $7.9 billion pledged by foreign donors last autumn, but an amount has yet to be specified, a Yemeni government minister said on Monday. “We got promises from the Gulf … regardless of previous commitments … to fund other projects,” Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Mohammed al-Saadi, whose ministry negotiates with donors, told Reuters. He said Yemen had received promises that any additional projects will be funded by Gulf donors once the government has allocated the initial $7.9 billion of aid.

Women:
Yemeni females often ‘used’ in intermarriages with foreigners
Yemen Times — 21 January 2013
In Yemen and many other Arab countries, men customarily give dowries to women in order to secure a marriage. In countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the price of dowries has increased significantly in recent years. This has resulted in men struggling to meet dowry demands and marrying later in life when they are more financially secure. In Yemen, women typically offer a cheaper alternative to their gulf counterparts.  Men from these countries have often come to Yemen to find brides that won’t break their bank balance says Aref Ghaleb, the deputy of the Documentation and Registration Office in the Ministry of Justice.

An interview with presidential advisor and human rights advocate Faiqa Alsaid
Yemen Times — 24 January 2013
Faiqa Alsaid is a Yemeni woman who through human rights advocacy has been working to propel the image of a strong, independent female into the spotlight. The Yemen Times met with her, to discuss highlights of her long battle for women’s rights. The recently appointed presidential advisor says that women have achieved a lot over the past 60 years including becoming ministers and judges, which has laid the groundwork for her achievements today.

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