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.”

Notes from CIPE Event:
“Yemen’s Ongoing National Dialogue: Moving Forward”
The POMED WIRE  — 29 January 2013
Amat al-Alim Alsoswa began the discussion by acknowledging the economic reality in Yemen, pointing out that Yemen is the poorest country in the region, has the highest unemployment, and has one of the highest population growth rates in the world. In moving forward with Yemen’s National Dialogue, Alsoswa said it was important to examine how the youth were participating and to see how they were represented in the Dialogue.  Since they were the ones behind the initial revolution, their presence in the Dialogue will signal weather the decisions match popular opinion. Alsoswa sees the biggest challenge facing the Dialogue as the question of whether the al-Harak movement will participate.  She sees this as being far from a reality. Alsoswa also voiced her concerns about the Yemeni media, which she sees as “highly politicized. Stephen McInerney followed Alsoswa, and was able to share experiences from his recent trip to Yemen. He started by saying Alsoswa’s remarks resonated very much with what he saw on the ground and that one of the most striking things from his visit was the mood of deep disappointment and frustration at, what many youth saw as, a failed revolution. He believes most people want the dialogue to succeed but there isn’t much confidence, when he pressed them on why they felt unconfident, it was usually not specific grievances but an overall feeling that the deep fundamental change they had been fighting for was lost.

Economy/Governance:
IMF says Yemen has room to cut interest rates
Reuters — 27 January 2013
Yemen has room to gradually reduce interest rates to support economic recovery and needs to focus on consolidating its public finances, an International Monetary Fund official said. “In view of the continued decline in inflation, there is scope for a further gradual reduction in the interest rate to stimulate bank lending to the private sector,” Khaled Sakr, the IMF mission chief for Yemen, told Reuters. The rial fell to about 243 to the dollar in 2011 during a year of political turmoil, which toppled President Ali Abdullah Saleh in February 2012 and led to a rise of al Qaeda militants. Although some violence continues, the rial is now at 215. Sakr also said Yemen’s 2013 government budget deficit should be slightly larger than the 2012 estimate of around 5.5 percent of gross domestic product. That is still a more optimistic forecast than the government’s recent forecast of a 9 percent gap. In order to cut the shortfall, Yemen should mainly focus on slashing energy subsidies of around 8 percent of GDP and the public sector wage bill now at more than 10 percent, he said.

Yemen to get huge oil and gas discoveries, Total official says
Saba Net — 29 January 2013
Huge and vital oil and gas discoveries would be discovered in Yemen according to relevant studies, President of Middle East in Total Group said Tuesday. During his meeting with Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa, Arnaud Bruyak expressed the company’s willingness to increase its investments in Yemen.

Yemen Net Company vows to improve service
Yemen Times — 30 January 2013
Following protests organized in front on Yemen Net Company’s (YNC) headquarters, the deputy manager of the Public Telecommunication Corporation, Lutfi Bashrif, pledged to improve Internet services in Yemen. Web users in Yemen have long been dissatisfied with the government owned company that serves as the primary provider of Internet services in the country. Protestors told the Yemen Times that they are dissatisfied with the speed and cost of services.

Yemeni customs works towards instigation of tighter restrictions
Yemen Times — 30 January 2013
The Customs Authority announced on Monday it will be increasing inspection procedures at land and marine crossings in cooperation with security authorities, Mohammed Zimam, the head of the Customs Authority told the Yemen Times. Specific border check points like Al-Tiwal, which is located between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and Aden Port, a major sea hub, will be targeted as high levels of cargo pass through both locations.

International Support:
U.N. Security Council envoys in Yemen to bolster peace efforts
Reuters — 27 January 2013
Britain’s U.N. representative Mark Lyall Grant, speaking at a news conference in Sanaa after talks with President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, warned what he called a minority against spoiling reconciliation efforts in the Arab world’s poorest country. Witnesses said thousands of Yemeni troops backed by armored vehicles and helicopters were deployed across Sanaa as the ambassadors arrived for the one-day trip. Grant said the visit was the first to Yemen by the Security Council and the first it had made for five years to the Middle East.

Yemen, UNDP discuss establishing fund to utilize donors’ aid
Saba Net — 26 January 2013
Yemen and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) discussed here on Saturday the joint cooperation to establish a fund to utilize donors’ aid to Yemen. The fund will be chaired by Prime Minister with the partnership of donors and the concerned governmental bodies.

Yemen, China sign $5 mln agreement, discuss aid for dialogue
Saba Net — 28 January 2013
Yemen and China discussed here on Monday the possible Chinese aid to help overcome the current situation in the country and succeed the national dialogue conference. This came in a meeting gathered Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun, who is visiting Yemen currently. Under which, China provides medical equipments and furniture worth of $5 million for the Yemeni-Chinese Friendship Hospital being established now by Chinese fund.

Media:
Post revolution, newspapers in Yemen fight to stay in print
Yemen Times — 28 January 2013
Many Yemeni newspapers are struggling to stay afloat, with an increasing number of nationwide newspapers such as Al-Ayam and Al-Nida, closing down. Although finances are often blamed for the decline of print media, various other factors have played a role in Yemen, including orders from the former regime that still permeate. Throughout the politically tumultuous events of 2011, many newspapers were confiscated at military checkpoints because of news articles they published that were considered anti-regime. Al-Ola newspaper and Akhbar Al-Yoom were examples of papers that suffered huge financial loses due to this practice and were eventually forced to close.

Education:
Yemen seeks to raise education, research standards
Al-Shorfa — 28 January 2013
Yemen’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research is implementing a series of initiatives to expand its capacities and harness scientific research to serve the needs of society, officials said. At the forefront of these is a project titled “Strengthening the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research”, whose funding is being overseen by the Dutch foundation, Nuffic. The first phase of the project, already under way, focused on restructuring the ministry. The second phase, which began this month, comprises four major components.

National Dialogue:
Political parties bargain their way to the NDC
Yemen Times — 31 January 2013
After a week of tense debates and heated arguments, major political parties are coming closer to reaching an agreement that could be the final step needed to launch the National Dialogue Conference (NDC). Political tensions peaked as the chairperson of the Preparatory Committee for the NDC, Dr. Abdul Karim Al-Eryani, suddenly left the country Sunday evening. According to members of the committee, Al-Eryani left a note saying he was frustrated with Yemen’s two major political players, his own party, the General Peoples Congress (GPC) and their opposition, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP).

Major parties threaten to boycott national dialogue
Yemen Times — 28 January 2013
Large political signatories of the November 2011 Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Initiative threatened to boycott the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) if their demands highlighted in Sunday’s meeting with the Security Council were not met. Yemen’s Socialist Party, the Nasserite Party and a reluctant Islah Party  voiced their joint demand that Saleh be removed from his position as head of the General People’s Congress (GPC) before the NDC is to start.

Southern Movement denies rifts at Hadrami festival, condems protest
Yemen Times — 28 January 2013
Following a surprise protest at a Hadrami Group festival on Wednesday, Brigadier Nasser Ahmed Awdh Hawaider, the Head of the Southern Movement Supreme Committee in Shabwa, condemned the disruption, saying it was an attempt to create havoc and discord between various Southern factions. The Hadrami Group, which formed in May of last year, wants to create an independent city-state on the basis that Hadramout has a unique identity separate to the rest of Southern Yemen. Some Southern Movement supporters say the group is not consistent with demands for a unified Southern state, independent from the North.

Yemen’s stalled on talks
NOW! Media — 25 January 2013
Perhaps the biggest stumbling block preventing the conference from kicking off is to what extent the Southern Movement (known locally as Hirak) will participate; although the country’s two largest political parties also ignored a deadline earlier this week to submit lists of participants for the dialogue. Established in 2007, Hirak is difficult to pin down. “Hirak is not one thing,” Yemani journalist Nasser Arrabyee told NOW. “It’s hundreds of things.” The group has many notable and respected figures but no central leader. It also has no central demand. Some members of Hirak want complete secession and independence. Haidar al-Attas, a member of Hirak and the Southerner tapped to be Prime Minister in the Yemeni government formed post-unity in 1990, told NOW, “the South wants a state.” He said Hirak would not agree to dialogue without that precondition being agreed upon and would not settle for autonomy. However, others who identify themselves as members of Hirak do not take such a hard line. Indeed, earlier this month, Southerners gathered in the port city of Aden for a seventh “reconciliation” celebration, aimed at working on overcoming such differences.

Protests break out at four Yemeni universities
Yemen Times — 28 January 2013
A spokesperson for the Sana’a University Employees’ Syndicate, Mohammed Abdulqawi Al-Absi, declared a comprehensive strike on Sunday at several of Yemen’s government universities to protest the passing of a law that allows academics to be elected to senior positions at the university while preventing administrative staff from running for the positions. Al-Absi told the Yemen Times that the syndicate agreed with Sana’a University employees on Saturday to instigate a strike.

Abdulghani Al-Mawri to the Yemen Times
Yemen Times — 28 January 2013
Abdulghani Al-Mawri is a well respected political analyst who comments extensivelty on the upcoming National Dialogue Conference (NDC).  He currently sees the Islah Party as a united force who will present a strong case for their agenda at the NDC.  Al-Mawri also counters the argument that the Houthi movement wants to build a civil state.  He says that is no possible as long as they continue as an armed insurgent group.  The political forecaster also sheds light on Yemen’s situation as pawn in Saudi Arabia and Iran’s struggle to assert their influence in the Southern Gulf nation.

Scores of children on prison hunger strike after minor sentenced to die
Amnesty International — 30 January 2013
Despair and hopelessness pervade in a Yemeni prison where scores of children are on hunger strike to protest at their conditions and about a fellow inmate’s recent death sentence, activists have told Amnesty International. Since Sunday, 77 alleged juvenile offenders have refused to eat their prison meals at the central prison in the capital Sana’a until the authorities comply with a list of demands made in a handwritten signed statement.

Houthis:
Guns, banners and slogans: Houthis in Sada’a celebrate the prophet’s birthday
Yemen Times — 28 January 2013
Hanging out of Hilux cars in Sa’ada governorate last Thursday, children of all ages with dusty faces and unkempt hair chanted their eagerness to make sacrifices in the name of the Prophet Mohammed as drivers praised their piety on a microphone. In the city of Sa’ada, about 250 km. Northwest of Sana’a, celebrations of the Prophet Mohammed’s birth flooded the war-torn governorate. The prophet’s name was plastered over posters, flags, billboards, hats, cars, and scarves and even on guns.

Forced Migration:
UNHCR office says African refugees poured into Yemen in 2012
Yemen Times — 28 January 2013
A little more than 107,000 refugees arrived in Yemen from the Horn of  Africa in 2012, with a majority of the refugees making the voyage by sea, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
This influx is the highest since UNHCR started collecting statistics on this in Yemen in 2006. In 2011, roughly 103,000 refugees from the Horn of Africa found their way to Yemen. UNHCR says a vast majority arrived via smuggling on ships.  Nearly 80 percent of the refugees were from Ethiopia.  A Somalian population constitutes the remaining percentage.

Security:
Yemen Seizes Sailboat Filled With Weapons, and U.S. Points to Iran
New York Times — 28 January 2013
The authorities in Yemen have seized a boat in their territorial waters filled with a large quantity of explosives, weapons and money, according to American officials briefed on the interdiction. The officials said Monday that there were indications that Iran was smuggling the military contraband to insurgents inside Yemen, although they declined to provide details. If the weapons turn out to include the Iranian-made Misagh-2 surface-to-air missile, as cited in the reports from Yemen, it would reflect a significant increase in lethality for the insurgents. Yemen is already awash with small arms and explosives acquired over years of war and insurgency, much of it brought in from a number of foreign sources through its poorly controlled ports. There has been little effort to regulate the supply — one governor of a northern province is also a major arms dealer — and insurgents have often raided the stores of Yemen’s corrupt and divided military. Many of Yemen’s unruly tribes command powerful arsenals. American intelligence played a role in the seizure, most importantly in pinpointing the vessel from among the large numbers of traditional fishing and cargo boats sailing in and out of Yemeni waters. Officials declined to describe the intelligence that identified the vessel, except to say that it was moving erratically and sitting low in the water, and that various standard techniques, like human intelligence, overhead surveillance and communications analysis, went into the effort.

Hundreds of Qaeda-linked militants reinforce south Yemen bastion
Reuters — 29 January 2013
Hundreds of al Qaeda-linked militants arrived in southern Yemen on Tuesday to reinforce Islamist fighters facing a major government offensive following the breakdown of talks to free three Western hostages, an official and residents said. Air strikes against militant targets in the al Qaeda stronghold of al-Manaseh and ambushes by the Islamist fighters after Monday’s army assault, killed at least six insurgents and 14 soldiers, including 11 killed by a suicide bomber. More than 2,500 people had fled Manaseh, and were housed in schools in nearby villages and towns, the official said. About 8,000 soldiers took part in the offensive on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) bastion in al-Bayda province, south of the capital Sanaa, a local official told Reuters.

Attackers blow up main oil pipeline in Yemen: officials
Reuters via Yahoo! News — 26 January 2013
Unidentified attackers blew up Yemen’s main oil pipeline, forcing the country to shut down one of its most lucrative sources of income, government and tribal sources said on Saturday. Yemen’s oil and gas pipelines have been repeatedly sabotaged by insurgents and tribesmen since anti-government protests created a power vacuum in 2011, causing fuel shortages and slashing export earnings for the impoverished country. Witnesses said the pipeline linking production fields in the central Maarib province to the Red Sea was attacked on Friday night.

No. 2 Leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen Is Killed
New York Times — 24 January 2013
The Yemeni government statement gave no specifics about how Mr. Shihri was killed, although both the C.I.A. and the Pentagon in the last several months have escalated America’s clandestine campaign against militants in Yemen with a series of drone strikes. The Yemeni statement said Mr. Shihri had been wounded in a strike on Nov. 28 in Sadah Province in northern Yemen and was buried in an undisclosed location. A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment on the death of Mr. Shihri, who was a Saudi citizen.

South Yemen clashes kill 3 police, civilian: officials
AFP via Daily Star — 30 January 2013
Assailants shot dead two Yemeni policemen on Wednesday in the southern town of Daleh, triggering clashes that killed two more people including another policeman, officials said. The two policemen were gunned down by suspected southern secessionists before the police launched a manhunt for the attackers, sparking the shootout in which another officer and a civilian died, a security official said.

Suicide bomber kills 11 Yemeni soldiers
Reuters — 28 January 2013
A suicide bomber killed 11 Yemeni soldiers on Monday after troops backed by tanks attacked an al Qaeda stronghold following the collapse of talks to free three Western hostages, local officials and residents said. Tackling lawlessness in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state, which flanks the world’s biggest oil exporter Saudi Arabia, is an international priority. The United States views Yemen as a frontline in its struggle against al Qaeda.

Rewards for security personnel, has led to motivated employees, security officials say
Yemen Times — 28 January 2013
A reward and promotion from President Abdu Mansour Hadi for men at a checkpoint in Hais district, who seized over 5,000 Turkish-made pistols last month has led to an increase in illegal confiscations, according to security officials. Security forces recently siezed a large amount of hashish and weapons at a checkpoint in Hodeida governorate.

Government forces continue to ‘purge’Ra’ada of terror affiliates
Yemen Times — 31 January 2013
A military campaign in Al-Mansih district in Ra’ada killed 40 alleged Al-Qaeda affiliates on Monday and injured four soldiers during an air raid on a health care center, said Hamoud Al-Amari, the manager of Ra’ada district.  Ra’ada is located southeast of Sana’a.  Al-Amari said members of the terrorist group used the center as a military barrack to launch their operations. He confirmed the army now has control of the majority of Ra’ada district.

Yemen seizes arms shipment originating from Turkey
AFP via Al-Arabiya — 28 January 2013
Yemeni authorities in the port of Aden seized a shipment of weapons that originated from Turkey, state news agency Saba reported on Friday. Head of the Customs Authority Mohamed Zumam told Saba that the initial information on the new arms shipment showed that there are 115 of T14 Turkish automatic rifles ,and there are 63 cartons will be inventoried and each carton contains 60 automatic rifles.

Water:
Locals in the capital feel pressure of water shortages
Yemen Times — 31 January 2013
In recent years Yemeni families say they have been searching for ways to cut back their spending.  While a family may be able to search for a market with cheaper tomatoes, there are certain things families cannot skimp on, and water is one of them. Combined with Yemen’s deteriorating economic situation and decreasing wages for the majority of individuals, the lack of access to safe drinking and bathing water has placed an extra financial burden on many families.

Health:
Associations and parents unite to increase autistic children support
Yemen Times — 31 January 2013
The Yemen Center for Autism (YCA) recently brought together parents, therapists and special care specialists from different associations with the aim of training them to deal with autistic children effectively. The five-day training provided participants with skills that help the development of autistic children. Currently, the YCA is the only center in Yemen that works exclusively with autistic children and adults. However, there are associations that receive children with multiple disabilities and disorders such as blindness or cerebral palsy, in addition to autism.

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