Weekly News Update 14 February 2013

As'ad al-Emad/http://www.yementimes.com/en/1651/report/2011/Two-years-later-Yemenis-reflect-on-change-and-stagnation-after-the-revolution-in-2011.htm

As’ad al-Emad/http://www.yementimes.com/en/1651/report/2011/Two-years-later-Yemenis-reflect-on-change-and-stagnation-after-the-revolution-in-2011.htm

Highlights:
A Lasting Peace? Yemen’s Long Journey to National Reconciliation
Brookings — 11 February 2013
In a new paper from the Brookings Doha Center, A Lasting Peace: Yemen’s Long Journey to National Reconciliation, Ibrahim Sharqieh outlines a process of national reconciliation that is Yemen’s best hope for stability. Based on extensive field research and interviews with key Yemeni figures, Sharqieh describes the challenges facing post-revolutionary Yemen and the key actors in the country’s national reconciliation, from the Islamist Islah Party to the country’s tribes. He also lays out the mechanisms for a successful reconciliation process, discussing not only the country’s nascent national dialogue but also the sort of transitional justice bodies that must follow it. Finally, he concludes with how the international community can help Yemen achieve reconciliation – and warns against regional and international powers acting as spoilers.

Gun Control, Yemen-Style
Atlantic — 12 February 2013
More broadly, there are an estimated 4,000 violent deaths here annually, a pre-revolution count that has likely increased over the last two years. Either way, the per capita rate is even higher than in America. A 2010 Yemen Armed Violence Assessment report detailed the casualties, saying, “Political violence was responsible for roughly two-thirds (64 percent) of all media-documented deaths from armed violence and almost three-quarters (71 percent) of all violent injuries.” The escalating political conflict in Yemen has led to the arming of almost every faction in the country’s complex landscape, from the government and tribes to northern rebels and Al-Qaeda. The ongoing conflagrations — along with kidnappings, assassinations and other politically motivated crimes — combine to produce a security situation that is, as it has been for most of the last five decades, precarious at best.

Yemen plans body to speed aid spending
Financial Times — 13 February 2013
Yemen is pressing to speed up spending of $7.9bn in post-conflict economic aid pledged by foreign governments, amid concerns about Sana’a’s widening budget deficit and rising levels of poverty. Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa’s government has set up a department to secure more of the $7.9bn pledged to Yemen – the Arab world’s poorest country – at meetings in Riyadh and New York in September 2012. Of that amount, which was pledged by foreign governments and development agencies led by Saudi Arabia, less than $500m in aid has been disbursed so far along with a $1bn soft loan from Riyadh to the Central Bank of Yemen.

Economy/Governance:
Yemen economy starts to recover from political crisis
Reuters — 13 February 2013
JTI and tens of other Yemeni firms moved their construction businesses to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states during the 2011 turmoil. If Yemen’s construction sector starts to recover, many of these companies will return and the sector could absorb 150,000-200,000 local workers, Jumaan said. A construction recovery will require the cash-strapped Yemeni government to issue a large number of infrastructure tenders, however. And for that to happen, at least two conditions will have to be met. One is further improvement in security. Yemen depends on crude oil exports for about 60-70 percent of its state budget income, and its finances are still being sapped by bombings of oil and gas pipelines by insurgents or disgruntled tribesmen. “You are talking
about a $400-500 million loss every month because of the sabotage, which is big money for Yemen,” Maytami estimated. The second condition for a construction recovery is larger inflows of foreign aid. Last autumn wealthy Gulf Arab countries, Western governments and other donors pledged $7.9 billion over several years to Yemen, but only a small fraction of that money has so far arrived; Maytami estimated under $750 million. The Yemeni government is seeking $12 billion.

Tourism industry: ‘innocent victim’ of insecurity
Yemen Times — 13 February 2013
Security instability in Yemen has not only resulted in thousands of deaths, injuries and the displacement of locals in governorates across the nation, but it has also devastated the tourism industry, leaving guides, agencies and shop owners without a source of steady income. “The tourism situation is tragic. The majority of tourism agencies have lost millions of riyals,” said Basel Al-Ariqi, an executive member of the Yemeni Union for Tourism. “Tourism agencies laid off their employees even leading companies had to layoff their staff’s services.”

Yemen boasts huge hidden natural gas potential
Yemen Times — 11 February 2013
The Petroleum Exploration and Production Authority estimated the potential volume of natural gas in Yemen to be a little over 18 billion cubic meters.  Adel Alhazmi, the general manager of exploration in the authority told the Yemen Times that between 80-85 percent of Yemen’s natural gas is located in Marib governorate, with remaining reserves in Shabwa and Masila districts. Abdulsalam Alkamel, the general manager of petroleum production in the authority, indicated that the current annual production of natural gas is estimated to be 2 billion cubic meters.

Rift between two ministries halts start of electrical substation project, Sana’a
Yemen Times — 11 February 2013
Following the General Authority of Environment Protection (GAEP) notification to the capital secretariat that trees of historical value were uprooted in Faj Atan, Sana’a for the construction of an electrical sub-station, the capital secretariat has halted the project in the area, pending further investigation. The move signals the latest step in a wider feud between the GAEP and the Ministry of Electricity over the Faj Atan area of Sana’a.

Price cap for gas cylinders enrages sellers
Yemen Times — 11 February 2013
After the Minister of Petroleum and Minerals, Ahmed Abdullah Daress, endorsed a decision on Sunday setting a price cap for the sale of 20 kg. natural gas cylinders at YR1,200, or about $6, sellers of the products began protesting as they say their profits will be unsustainably affected. The state controlled gas containers are sold to merchants for YR1,160, which predetermines a seller’s profits with the new price cap.

Unpaid electric bills cause headache for Electricity Corp
Yemen Times — 11 February 2013
Revenue for the Public Electricity Corporation declined by 87 percent in 2012, the state-run organization said at a two day meeting held last week with the Ministry of Electricity and Energy. They say this is largely due to unpaid bills. The corporation is owed YR69 billion, or almost $321 million in unpaid electric bills from the past year. Abdulrahman Saif Aqlan, the director of the Electricity Public Corporation, said citizens owe over half of the unpaid lump sum at YR39 billion, about $181 million, and government institutions owe the remaining YR30 billion, about $140 million.

Yemen’s Aden Refinery seeks up to 960,000 T gasoil for March-June
Reuters — 14 February 2013
Yemen’s Aden Refinery Company is seeking up to 960,000 tonnes of gasoil for delivery over March to June, one of its biggest requirements in recent months, traders said. The refinery is seeking 16 cargoes of about 60,000 tonnes each of high sulphur gasoil for delivery over March, April, May and June, they added. The tender closes on Feb. 14.

Yemen’s main oil pipeline attacked, pumping halted
Reuters — 8 February 2013
Attackers blew up Yemen’s main oil export pipeline on Friday, halting the flow of crude, an official working for the state-run Safer oil company said, the latest in a series of attacks. Yemen’s oil and gas pipelines have been repeatedly sabotaged by insurgents and tribesmen, especially since anti-government protests created a power vacuum in 2011, causing fuel shortages and slashing export earnings for the impoverished country.

Security:
Deaths mar Yemen’s 2011 revolt anniversary
BBC News — 11 February 2013
Two people have been killed in clashes in Yemen during rallies marking the 2011 uprising that led to the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Officials say the fighting was between separatists and Islamists in the southern city of Aden. Meanwhile, thousands of people marched peacefully in the capital Sanaa.

Security forces attack on protestors provokes public condemnation
Yemen Times — 11 February 2013
In a press conference on Wednesday, a Ministerial Committee responsible for treating injured revolutionaries denounced a security forces’ attack on protestors outside the Cabinet building the day before. According to eye witnesses, on Tuesday security forces used batons and tear gas to disperse the protestors who have been camped out for two weeks, demanding medical treatment for injured revolutionaries.

Disagreement over a financial post in Hajja delays release of 20,000 employees salaries
Yemen Times — 11 February 2013
Armed men in Hajja governorate shut down several financial institutions including the branch of the Central Bank of Yemen, the Yemen Bank of Construction and Development and CAC Bank, because protestors say they have not received their salaries for the second consecutive month. Faisel Hassn, a political activist in Hajja governorate, said the move was provoked by a recent disagreement between the governor of Hajja, Ali bin Ali Al-Qaisi and the Ministry of Finance about the appointment of a new financial director for the governorate. The disagreement has delayed the release of funds for over 20,000 employees in the governorate. Traditionally, the governor of Hajja selects three potential candidates for the position of finance director in Hajja and the candidate is chosen from this list.

Exclusive: U.N. monitors see arms reaching Somalia from Yemen, Iran
Reuters — 11 February 2013
As the United States pushes for an end to the U.N. arms embargo on Somalia, U.N. monitors are warning that Islamist militants in the Horn of Africa nation are receiving weapons from distribution networks linked to Yemen and Iran, diplomats told Reuters. The supply chains in Yemen are largely Somali networks in that country, council diplomats said on condition of anonymity. Yemen is proving to be crucial for arming al Shabaab, the monitors’ reporting shows, because it is feeding arms into northern Somalia and because it has become a playing field for Iranian interests in Somalia and elsewhere.

European team to assist in Interior Ministry restructuring
Yemen Times — 11 February 2013
A team of European military experts will arrive in Yemen in the coming two weeks to oversee the implementation of the restructuring process of the Interior Ministry, said Brigadier Dr. Abdulmunem Al-Shaibani, an assistant academic member in the Restructuring Committee for the Interior Ministry. A host of Jordanian military experts have already been offering counsel and technical support to the Yemeni team tasked with restructuring the Interior Ministry. “The arrival of European experts in Yemen will contribute to creating many choices considering the experts are knowledgeable about the security and administrative fields,” Al-Shaibani said.

What We Don’t Know About Drones
New Yorker — 7 February 2013
When I read the news that John Brennan was set to appear before the Senate in hopes of becoming of the C.I.A. director, I thought of the group of villagers I met at a seaside hotel in Yemen two years ago. They had driven many miles to see me, coming from the Yemen countryside in a pair of battered taxis, and they were waiting in the hotel parking lot. There were about a dozen of them in all. It was a beautiful hotel, called the Mercure, with panoramic views of Aden harbor. The villagers, dressed in robes and rags, looked out of place, but they’d come to talk. Indeed, if there is one overriding factor in America’s secret wars—especially in its drone campaign—it’s that the U.S. is operating in an information black hole. Our ignorance is not total, but our information is nowhere near adequate. When an employee of the C.I.A. fires a missile from an unmanned drone into a compound along the Afghan-Pakistani border, he almost certainly doesn’t know for sure whom he’s shooting at. The same is true of opponents of the drone war, who sometimes lay claim to much more knowledge than they actually possess. And so, when a Pakistani newspaper reports that twenty civilians were killed in an attack, it is often taken as gospel truth, even though, as is often the case, the reporting is done over the telephone.

National Dialogue:
Political parties submit lists by deadline – Southern Movement participation to be discussed by Hadi
Yemen Times — 13 February 2013
Political parties delaying their lists of representatives for the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) finally handed in their names on Wednesday, according to Preparatory Committee (PC) members. The Islah Party, the General People’s Congress (GPC), the Nasserite Party, the Socialist Party, the Justice and Development Party and the Houthis all secured their representation at the conference, slated to being March 18, the committee said.

Two years later, Yemenis reflect on change and stagnation after the revolution in 2011
Yemen Times — 11 February 2013
Much has happened in the two years since revolutionaries took to the streets and called for a regime change, a transitional government has taken over, a national dialogue is in the making and a former president was dethroned. But, as Yemenis reflect back on the 700 days that have passed, they opine about the successes and failures of the revolution. Some are quick to call what happened in Yemen nothing short of a miracle, while others scoff at the idea that life has changed for Yemenis.

Mohammed Al-Maqaleh speaks to the Yemen Times
Yemen Times — 11 February 2013
Mohammed Al-Maqaleh, a writer and political activist, said there are currently no indictors that denote the earnestness of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC). He says Yemen is moving further away from a comprehensive and peaceful dialogue. In his opinion, the Gulf Initiative went against the aims of the revolution and did nothing more than spare the old regime. He said it did not save Yemen from a crisis, but instead did the opposite.  In the interview, Al-Maqaleh slams the Islah Party, saying they used the revolution to advance their influence in the military and the government.  He is also critical of the influence global powers play in shaping Yemen’s future.

Yemen needs Security Council support to continue political transition, UN envoy says
UN News Centre — 8 February 2013
Yemen needs the full support of the Security Council as it proceeds to the next phase of its nascent political transition, a United Nations envoy told the 15-member body, which recently visited the country. “The situation in Yemen remains fragile and many tasks lie ahead for the transition to succeed, and the risk for the violence to be averted. We must remain attentive to the continued attempt to obstruct the transition,” the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Jamal Benomar, told journalists yesterday following a closed-door briefing to the Council.

Justice and Human Rights:
Yemeni authorities ‘ignored pleas’ to save prisoner from execution
Amnesty International — 14 February 2013
Authorities in Yemen “played deaf” to last-ditch calls to save a prisoner who was executed on Wednesday, Amnesty International has said. Ahmed Saleh Abdullah al-Ma’ouri was shot despite repeated appeals by Amnesty International and after being pardoned by members of the victims’ family – normally grounds for a reprieve under Yemeni law. “We are dismayed that Yemeni authorities went ahead with this execution despite appeals to prevent it happening,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Political Interference in Massacre Probe
Human Rights Watch — 12 February 2013
Investigators never questioned top officials in the criminal investigation by Yemen’s previous government into the shooting of demonstrators during the so-called Friday of Dignity Massacre on March 18, 2011, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh dismissed his attorney general when he demanded that government officials be questioned in the shooting deaths of 45 protesters – three of them children – and wounding of 200 others. It was the deadliest attack on protesters of Yemen’s uprising. The 69-page report, “Unpunished Massacre: Yemen’s Failed Response to the ‘Friday of Dignity’ Killings,” found that the previous government’s criminal investigation was fraught with political interference and ignored evidence implicating government officials. Prosecutors also failed to investigate why security forces led by Saleh’s nephew abandoned their posts at the scene before the gunmen opened fire. Yemeni authorities should reopen the investigation, Human Rights Watch said.

Iran:
Yemen demands Iran halt support for insurgents
Reuters — 7 February 2013
Yemen’s president has asked his Iranian counterpart to stop backing armed groups on its soil after coastguards seized a consignment of missiles and rockets believed sent by the Islamic Republic, a government official said on Thursday. Iran has denied any connection to the weapons, found aboard a vessel off the coast on January 23 in an operation coordinated with the U.S. Navy.

Seizure of Antiaircraft Missiles in Yemen Raises Fears That Iran Is Arming Rebels There
New York Times — 8 February 2013
Matthew Schroeder, an analyst who follows missile proliferation for the Federation of American Scientists in Washington and the Small Arms Survey in Geneva, said that while a definitive identification was not yet possible from the information released, the missiles appeared to be either QW-1M missiles from China or Misagh-2 missiles from Iran. “If these missiles are indeed one of these systems and were bound for an armed group, this is a significant development,” he said. Many questions remain about the seizure, which Yemen said also included small arms ammunition, ground-to-ground rockets, explosives, military-grade binoculars and more.

U.S. Praises Yemen for Probe That Found Iran Shipped Weapons
Bloomberg — 9 February 2013
The U.S. praised the government of Yemen for having intercepted a vessel attempting to smuggle a cache of Iranian-supplied weapons, explosives and other munitions to armed insurgents in the country.  “The origin of the vessel and weapons underscores Iran’s ongoing evasion of six relevant UN Security Council resolutions,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement today. “Iran continues to defy the international community through its proliferation activities and support for destabilizing action in the region.”

Humanitarian Aid:
Rise in humanitarian funding needs
Yemen Times — 13 February 2013
A recently released international response plan drafted by the United Nations that details Yemen’s humanitarian needs in 2013, revealed that funding requirements for humanitarian crises in Yemen have risen to $716 million compared to $585 million in 2012.

War-torn Hasaba to be rebuilt again
Yemen Times — 11 February 2013
More than 4,000 damaged houses, hotels, commercial shops and private hospitals in the Hasaba area, north of Sana’a, will be rebuilt after a damage control plan is carried out by the Secretariat of the Capital. “The damage control report is ready and the compensation payment is included in the 2013 budget and will be distributed to the affected very soon,” said Mohammed Hamoud Othamn, the head of Al-Thawra District.

Qat:
In Haraz: Steps for qat-free Yemen
Yemen Times — 11 February 2013
Althuhra indicated that the project was not an easy ride, as farmers often met the project with hostility. He says they feared a loss of income if asked to quit growing trees. However, by providing farmers with alternative sources of income – such as other saplings – and compensating them through the initial period of transition, the project helped turn Haraz from a qat center, to a qat -free zone. “We brought coffee, fruit and vegetable saplings, as well as pressing the government to build dams and water barrages in the district to facilitate cultivation,” said Althuhra.

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