Weekly News Update 21 February 2013

Samuel Aranda/New York Times/http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/19/world/middleeast/yemen-hailed-as-a-model-struggles-for-stability.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Samuel Aranda/New York Times/http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/19/world/middleeast/yemen-hailed-as-a-model-struggles-for-stability.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Yemen, Hailed as Model, Struggles for Stability
New York Times — 18 February 2013
“I have never felt the anxiety I feel now,” said Sami Ghalib, a political analyst and former newspaper editor. “There was always geographical conflict, but now it is turning ideological. There are assassinations taking place everywhere. And at the helm, we have a leader who behaves like Saleh but doesn’t even have his political skills.” Unlike his predecessor, Mr. Hadi is a virtual recluse who rarely speaks in public and has failed to offer a clear vision for addressing any of the crises afflicting the country. His fierce praise for the American drone-strike program, which is unpopular here, has further eroded his small base of public support. He is widely said to fear for his life and has appointed many family members and old allies to security positions. In a paradox, Mr. Hadi is a southerner and was chosen in part on the premise that this would help him to placate the secessionists. Instead, he is widely hated in the south, in part because he is seen as a pillar of the northern political system after serving for 18 years as Mr. Saleh’s deputy.

Saleh ‘albatross’ hangs over Yemen dialogue
Democracy Digest — 14 February 2013
The fly in the ointment is former President Saleh who continues to hold court with supporters and issue pronouncements through the media outlets controlled by his son, Ali Ahmed.  While not overtly disruptive, his presence is a provocation that, over time, could threaten to derail the fragile political truce currently holding sway.

Youths are changing Yemen’s political landscape
Daily Star — 13 February 2013
Murad, an artist, joined with other young artists to raise awareness around the issue of forced disappearances, which have been occurring in Yemen since the 1970s. Over a 20-week period, they drew the faces of almost 70 missing persons on the walls of Sanaa, Ibb and Taiz as part of a voluntary initiative using art as a peaceful tool in order to send a strong message regarding a topic that has remained hidden in Yemen for decades. In this way, Murad and his friends were able to help the families of the disappeared raise their voices, grieve openly and present their cases to the public. These youths are forward thinking, creative, passionate, self-motivated, result-oriented, fast learners and have the energy and time to participate in new ventures. Youth are the real asset of Yemen today, and the real builders of Yemen’s tomorrow.

National Dialogue:
Yemen arrests southern separatists ahead of rallies
AFP via Daily Star — 20 February 2013
Police arrested two separatist leaders in south Yemen ahead of planned rival rallies marking the first anniversary of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s ouster, an official and activists said Wednesday. Qassem Askar, a leader of the hardline faction of the separatist Southern Movement, was arrested early in the morning in southern port city Aden, activist Yasser al-Yafie told AFP. “He was taken to an unknown location.” Southern cleric Hussein bin Shouaib was arrested late Tuesday after he chaired a meeting urging protests in Aden, the ex-capital of the formerly independent south, a security official said.

Three Technical Committee members withdraw in protest
Yemen Times — 21 February 2013
Three members of the National Dialogue Technical Committee withdrew from Wednesday’s meeting in protest against the detainment of several prominent Southern Movement activists by the state following protests in the south, National Dialogue Secretary General Ahmed Awadh Mubark said. The focus of the meeting was supposed to be discussion of the lists of representatives provided by participating political parties.

Parties buy more time to fix NDC lists while Hirak solidifies participation
Yemen Times — 18 February 2013
Deadlines for the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) have been extended once again.  The deadline for political parties to hand in their modified lists of participants for NDC has been moved from Sunday to Monday. The modified lists were requested by the dialogue’s committee because all parties, except for the Yemeni Socialist Party, did not adhere to the lists’ regulations – 50 percent of representatives are supposed to be from the South, 30 percent women and 20 percent under the age of 40.

Yemen’s powerful families still cast shadows
Washington Post — 13 February 2013
Today, Saleh and his family, Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar and the influential al-Ahmar tribal family — which is not related to the general — are all seeking to dictate the path of this impoverished Middle Eastern country as it heads toward elections next year.  “The reason why Ali Abdullah Saleh and his family are still present in the political life is because the other sides, General Mohsen and the Ahmars, are still present,” said Ali al-Bukhaiti, 36, a youth activist leader who participated in Yemen’s 2011 uprising.

U.N. Security Council warns against arms transfers to Yemen
Reuters — 15 February 2013
The U.N. Security Council warned on Friday against attempts to destabilize Yemen with weapons shipments as the country tries to rebuild after two years of upheaval and expressed concern that former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was undermining the process. The 15-member council said it was ready to consider further measures, including sanctions, “if actions aimed at undermining the Government of National Unity and the political transition continue.”

GPC and Saleh supporters defend ex-president’s right to stay in Yemen
Yemen Times — 21 February 2013
Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh said in a speech delivered on Tuesday in Sana’a in front of supporters, that leaving Yemen is not an acceptable option for him. This comes after a statement released this week by the United Nations’ Security Council (SC) threatened Saleh with sanctions, accusing him of attempting to derail political reconciliation in the country.

Yemen’s former leader opens museum dedicated to himself
The Independent — 20 February 2013
Those who want to reminisce about three decades of authoritarianism will soon be able to visit the museum, whose main entrance is fronted by an enormous portrait of the man himself. The exhibition, generously described by Arabic news website,Bashayer, as “a journey into the land of dreams,” displays items such as Saleh’s glasses, watch and prayer rug. It also holds such wonders as the pair of trousers Saleh was wearing when a rocket struck his palace in an assassination attempt 2011. The museum also contains pieces of shrapnel extracted from Saleh’s body in hospital in Saudi Arabia after the attack. The museum is located in a wing of the Saleh mosque, the largest mosque in the country which the ex-leader built in 2008. During the opening ceremony, Saleh was reported to have toured the museum and apparently praised it for its “class and elegance.”

Yemen’s Revolutionary Youth Again Feeling Marginalized
As-Safir via Al-Monitor — 18 February 2013
In spite of attempts by the United Nations to put youth in 40 seats — out of 565 — at the national dialogue, there has been talk that exceeding this allocation is a sign of youth empowerment, but the minimum age was set at 40. Additionally, the national dialogue takes place over a short period of time that will not allow long-term or real power gains, as well as the fact that the number of seats is miniscule compared to the total number of seats. This has also led to serious rifts among the youth that were capitalized upon by the traditional forces, resulting in the current situation today.

Injured revolutionaries continue to protest for third consecutive week to access medical care
Yemen Times — 18 February 2013
Two bullets struck Mohammed Al-Nahari’s on Sep. 18 2011 near the Kentucky roundabout in Sana’a. It was one the bloodiest days in Yemen’s 2011 popular uprising. A soldier shot at him from point blank range only 10 meters from a military vehicle, Al-Nahari says. On that day, the young revolutionary became one of the 28,910, according to the Council of Injured and Martyrs’ Families, to go down in history as Yemen’s injured revolutionaries.

Children’s Parliament, where are they now?
Yemen Times — 21 February 2013
Established in August 2003 as a joint initiative by the Democratic School, a non-government organization, the Ministry of Human Rights, the Ministry of Education and the Supreme Commission of Motherhood and Childhood, the Children’s Parliament has proven an effective way to enlighten children about their rights and engage them in the political decision making process. Since its inception it has helped 30,000 children from across the country connect and has held over five elections, installing democratic values in the next generation of politicians. Recently in the spotlight due to their interrogation of representatives from the government and armed groups regarding issues like childhood marriage, child soldiers and crime, Yemen’s Children’s Parliament is playing a relevant role in a country where a youth driven revolution toppled a regime. Former members of the Children’s Parliament regularly speak about the influence of the experience on their life, which has enabled them to effectively deal with a range of child-related social issues.

Yemeni Air Force suffers embarrassing crashes as Yemenis get angry at US
Christian Science Monitor — 20 February 2013
The heartrending absurdity of yesterday’s incident has tempered the typically ubiquitous conspiracy theories, while activists have reiterated calls – first made in the wake of an apparently accidental explosion at an arms depot in the capital last December – for military installations to be removed from Yemeni cities. The plane crash has also served as a tragic reminder of the state of Yemen’s dysfunctional, unequipped Air Force. In Yemen itself, the poor state of the Air Force is often embarrassingly cited as a symbol of rampant government corruption, but it is ultimately an issue with international significance.

Two killed in south Yemen clashes: southern separatists
AFP via Daily Star — 21 February 2013
Two south Yemen separatists were killed on Thursday during clashes in Aden between police and members of the Southern Movement, a member of the group told AFP.

Hostage for a Day
Foreign Policy — 19 February 2013
In a way, what happened to me was an odd testament to the resilience of the informal conflict resolution mechanisms embedded in Yemeni society. Everything transpired without the involvement or knowledge of Yemen’s government or, for that matter, my country’s embassy — “tribalism” caused the problem, and a few hours later, it provided the solution. That’s not to say, of course, that the rather painless resolution of my kidnapping means that all’s well here. A diverse group of Yemenis may have taken to the streets in 2011, but when you asked those demonstrating what they wanted, most of them ended up saying the same thing. “Dawla madania,” they repeated, “a civil state.” In English or Arabic, they’re rather flexible words — they could suggest a genuine attachment to  secular ideals, or nothing more than political posturing.

Yemeni warplane crashes in capital Sanaa, 12 dead
Reuters — 19 February 2013
A Yemeni air force plane crashed in the capital Sanaa on Tuesday, killing at least 12 people, security sources said. State news agency Saba said three women and two children were among those killed when the plane, on a training flight, came down in a western residential district. Eleven people were wounded, security sources said. Pictures of the crash on social media sites showed one body near burning wreckage of the aircraft. Several cars were on fire and debris littered the street.

Locals criticize effectiveness of authorities responding to plane crash in Al-Qadesia
Yemen Times — 21 February 2013
One day after a Sukhoi 22 aircraft on a military training mission crashed into the Al-Qadesia neighborhood in Sana’a, wreaking havoc and killing several, locals condemned concerned authorities for their slow and “ineffective” response. “The Air Forces came to the scene, took the torn parts of the plane and the black box and then left without giving a hand in the rescue operation,” said Abdullah Al-Kuhlani, a resident in Al-Qadesia neighborhood, which is located near Change Square, the area famed for housing Yemen’s revolution.

Yemen court jails 3 Albanians over arms smuggling
AFP via Ahram — 17 February 2013
A Yemeni court on Sunday sentenced three Albanians arrested in the eastern Hadramawt province to six years in prison for smuggling arms and explosives into the country, a judicial source said. The three were arrested in December as they smuggled 179.5 tonnes of ammunition in a ship and were found guilty of trafficking military equipment into Yemen, the source said.

Dutch kidnap victim released, five abducted foreigners still missing
Yemen Times — 21 February 2013
Although one victim was released this week after being kidnapped, five other foreigners are still missing, suspected to be in Al-Qaeda’s captivity. The Interior Ministry’s official website said that security forces freed a Dutch national on Sunday who had been kidnapped a week earlier near Al-Ziadia in Hodeida governorate.

Local stores in Sana’a help shoppers with online purchasing for consumer goods
Yemen Times — 18 February 2013
Although Yemen has one of the lowest Internet user rates in the Arab world, with many statistics indicating a 15 percent user rate, those that are using it, are taking advantage of many global trends like online shopping. While most Yemenis still prefer to shop traditionally by going to the market, shops offering purchasing options for items found on Internet websites are slowly spreading in Sana’a, and they say the number of customers demanding such services are increasing.

Youth to start micro businesses with international support
Yemen Times — 21 February 2013
The first phase of a Youth Economic Empowerment Project (YEEP) funded by the Japanese government and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) that helps young people start their own businesses was announced on Monday. The project aims to create sustainable employment for young, disadvantaged Yemenis.

Oil pipeline bombings add to Yemen’s suffering
Al-Shorfa — 18 February 2013
The SAFER Oil Exploration and Production Company in Yemen estimated its daily losses from the oil pumping stoppage at 100,000 barrels, resulting in a loss of $310 million per month. On February 7th, the Shabwa province local authority signed an agreement with Yemen Liquefied Natural Gas whereby the latter will compensate homeowners affected by the gas pipeline bombing in Jardan directorate in December, according to Yemen’s official news agency, Saba. Twelve people will receive a total of 27.2 million riyals ($127,000), the news agency said. In the financial statement of its 2013 budget, the reconciliation government indicated that Yemen incurred losses from acts of sabotage totalling $500 million in 2012, with daily losses of $15 million. Mustafa Nasr, head of the Studies and Economic Media Centre, said the oil pumping stoppage is a “disaster” for Yemen, both politically and economically.

Institutional upheaval in Yemen, micro Arab Springs
Yemen Times — 18 February 2013
Al-Thawra Hospital is one of at least 40 public institutions whose staff went on strike or carried out some sort of institutional protests over the last two years. Nationwide, the use of protests by employees against management has become a growing trend since the emergence of the protests in 2011 that toppled former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s reign of power. In many instances, management did not put up much of a fight against the protestors and relented within days or a couple of weeks, leading to agreements between management and employees regarding issues like official contracts and unpaid wages.  However, out of the reported institutional protests in 2012, less than 50 percent led to actual upheaval. In 2011, employee protests caused management changes in 18 government facilities.

Secretariat and street vendors disagree over designated markets
Yemen Times — 18 February 2013
Street vendors haphazardly scattered throughout the capital city have led residents to complain about overcrowded streets.  In response, the Capital Secretariat initiated a campaign in January to create specific areas for official markets, but vendors have ignored requests and continue to stay put. “The new markets are not good because people don’t know about them. I cannot make a living in these markets. Selling our goods on the main streets is better,” said Hisham Mahdi Al-Wesabi, a street vendor.

Fishing industry says it needs to be taken seriously
Yemen Times — 18 February 2013
At a recent workshop held in Sana’a by the Fishery Cooperative Union and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Dr. Fathia Bahran, the director of IFAD, said fishing revenues are the third highest earning sector in Yemen, with over two million people benefiting from the industry. He went on to say that fisheries are a significant source of employment for current and future generations and therefore need to be managed effectively.

Building violations on the rise in the Old City
Yemen Times — 18 February 2013
Since it was declared a United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site, 1,700 architectural violations have been reported in Sana’a’s Old City, according to local council members. These include the use of concrete stones, constructing buildings higher than restrictions have stipulated and unregulated construction. There are about 8,500 buildings and approximately 20 percent of the buildings constitute violations, said Khalid Al-Akwa, the head of the local council in the district that has jurisdiction over Old Sana’a.

Sana’a to host Annual Tourist Festival again
Yemen Times — 21 February 2013
The Ministry of Tourism is preparing to host the fifth annual Summer Tourist Festival in Sana’a this year. The director of  Sana’a’s  tourism office, Adel Al-Lawzi said the festival will include art exhibitions, musical performers and theatre.

City to organize and enforce traffic in Old Sana’a City with new plan
Yemen Times — 21 February 2013
The Old City’s chaotic streets are slated to get a traffic face lift. Khaled Al-Akwa, the director of Old Sana’a district, said a plan will be implemented in mid-2013 to organize traffic movements in the Old City by placing regulatory traffic signs that indicate directions.

Prepaid electricity meter system to reduce Electricity Corporation’s debt
Yemen Times — 21 February 2013
Yemen’s Ministry of Electricity started installing new prepaid electricity meters for residents last week, as well as government institutions, as an alternative for old meters where customers were billed later.  Harith Al-Omari, the deputy of the Public Electricity Corporation, said the corporation adopted the prepaid system to reduce the organization’s deficit which is largely due to unpaid bills by both residents and government institutions.

World Bank:
Fulfilling Promises in Yemen
World Bank — 14 February 2013
In recognition that commitments only have value if they are fulfilled, the World Bank has begun converting its pledges into action. Three new projects totaling US$206 million are the first installment of a pledge made at last year’s donor conference of an additional US$400 million in support. We spoke with World Bank Country Manager for Yemen, Wael Zakout about the significance of the new projects and what role the international community can pay in helping create the conditions for a successful political transition in Yemen.

Sa’ada’s IDPs left to live with the ‘bitterness of being away from home’
Yemen Times — 18 February 2013
Um Ali’s deteriorating eyesight is clouded by tears she cannot hold back as she recounts the story of her son who was arrested by Houthi militants in Sa’ada governorate more than three years ago.  “I was screaming, asking the armed kidnappers not to take my son,” said Um Ali in heartrending tones. “I held my son’s clothes and cried bitterly as the kidnappers grabbed him violently. My son told me he would stab himself if I didn’t stop crying.”


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