Monthly Archives: March 2013

Weekly News Update 28 March 2013

Can Yemen Talk Its Way to Peace?
Foreign Policy — 22 March 2013
In a country with long memories, every politician’s gripe is now on the table — and many of the most contentious, bloodiest rivalries are on display at the dialogue. When the list of National Dialogue delegates from the General People’s Congress (GPC), Saleh and Hadi’s party, was leaked to local press, other groups balked at the names. GPC delegates include a handful of so-called “thug leaders,” who organized the killing of unarmed protesters in 2011. The Islah list elicited a similar response: Many of those named as delegates had waged war in the streets of Sanaa during the uprising and threatened to pillage southern governorates if the separatist movement resorted to violence. Not surprisingly, tensions ran high before the conference even started.

Yemenis voice cynicism and hope as powerbrokers discuss reforms
Reuters — 22 March 2013
Secessionist leaders in a coalition known as al-Herak al-Janoubi (Southern Movement) complain that unity turned them into second class citizens. Having taken to the streets to air their own grievances against Saleh’s rule, many in northern Yemen recognize the deep feeling of injustice that drives ordinary people to join regular protests in downtown Aden, capital of the former South Yemen. A divorce by southern Yemen, where much of the country’s dwindling oil is located, could set off further fragmentation of the country at a time when the central government is still struggling to impose its control over the country.

The flawed media narrative on Yemen
Yemen Times — 28 March 2013
In mainstream articles and books, there is hardly any mention of the majority of Yemenis who dislike extremism. A notable survey in 2011 concluded that 86 percent of Yemenis have an unfavorable opinion of Al Qaeda. Media failed to report that when the American teacher Joel Shrum was killed, many protests were held in the city of Taiz against the killing, and against extremism. In fact one year later, people in Taiz organized a silent memorial to remember him on the anniversary of his death. Only local media reported this event. Al-Qaeda has overshadowed most reporting on Yemen. Mainstream media has not only perpetuated and enhanced stereotypes but by doing so, has unintentionally caused damage to Yemen’s reputation. Journalists are slowly erasing the long history of Yemen and its traditions, and depriving people of their voice. Yemen at large remains extensively unexamined. It is no wonder that at home, some have began feeling suspicious. “Are you taking pictures to make us look bad?” asked a taxi driver to a foreign journalist. “No that is not my intention, you have a beautiful country,” he responded. Driver exhaled in relief explaining that sometimes journalists pick the most un-common event and say this is Yemen. Continue reading


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Weekly News Update 19 March 2013

Can Yemen be a nation united?
Foreign Policy — 14 March 2013
The greatest source of Yemen’s continuing problems is the poor foundation of its 1990 national union. The political culture of this early union unfortunately showed an intolerance of differences among people from multiple regions. Yemeni society was always more diverse than indicated by the old north-south border. Intolerance of political and social differences existed on both sides of this border. But it was especially bad in the north among Sanaa’s elites, most who preferred to define the national interest in exclusivist terms. Through much of the 1990s and 2000s, these elites refused to admit a prominent newspaper publisher from Aden, the late Hisham Bashraheel, had as much right to define the national interest as anyone in Sanaa. Bashraheel and his family were constantly harassed by Saleh’s regime, which raided the Bashraheel home in 2010 and closed down their newspaper, al-Ayyam, the oldest in the country. Many other Yemenis, like factory workers in Tihama, business entrepreneurs in al-Mukalla, and devout Zaidi followers in Saada, have also been denied opportunities to define the national interest in their own terms. Until all Yemenis find a way to create a system of government tolerant of differences, the country will be burdened with division, conflict, poverty, and a lack of development. Indeed, the tolerance of differences is the only way for Yemen’s national union to continue.

Overcoming the pitfalls of Yemen’s National Dialogue
Foreign Policy — 18 March 2013
The government has called up 60,000 troops to ensure security for the dialogue in the capital; while the streets are generally quiet now, checkpoints have been established on nearly every street and the city’s residents are holding their breath. Yet despite opposition to the dialogue, it is clear that the status quo is unsustainable. The oft-repeated mantra among many Yemenis is that the question is one of dialogue or civil war. Given the stark choice, there is consensus that the dialogue will proceed. The most important issue to be discussed is the status of the South, which joined Sanaa in 1994 after a bloody civil war, and has suffered persistent and systemic marginalization since.

Yemen’s Friday of Indignity
Huffington Post — 18 March 2013
Compensation to the victims of the uprising is lagging alongside prosecutions. Only in recent months have the authorities begun to dole out partial payments, equaling at most a few thousand dollars, to families of slain protesters or to severely injured survivors. In late January, dozens of these wounded, many of them amputees, began camping outside the cabinet building in Sanaa to press their demand for medical treatment abroad. On February 12, Central Security Forces attacked some of the wounded protesters and beat a member of parliament who was demonstrating with them so severely that he was hospitalized. When pressed on accountability, Yemeni officials rightly plead to having many burning issues on their plate. These include a Huthi rebellion in the north, armed separatists in the south, al Qaeda militants seemingly everywhere, a mysterious arms shipment allegedly from Iran, and a humanitarian crisis. But justice that falls by the wayside was a driver of Yemen’s uprising. Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 14 March 2013

Yemen’s Southern Intifada
Foreign Policy — 13 March 2013
Hirak’s leadership has worked in recent years to reconcile the differences between the Toghma — the winners of the 1986 war — and the Zomra — Nasser Mohammed’s “desperate band” of followers — hoping that the common goal of independence will be enough to patch over past rivalries and resentments. Since 2009, Hirak has held reconciliation marches every January 13 to mark the anniversary of the civil war. The 2013 rally was the biggest ever, according to the local Yemen Post. A number of Hirakis, who see the march as a watershed moment for the independence movement, claim that one million people attended (more reliable estimates run to the tens of thousands). But many Toghma still view their Zomra counterparts with suspicion. Some of the bloodiest fighting during the 1986 war occurred between militias loyal to Ali Ahmed and Baoum in Abyan; Shaye’a still recalls how his father, ministry of interior at the time, was killed by Nasser Mohammed’s men at the January 1986 politburo meeting.

Who Is The King and King-maker In Yemen?
Nasser Arrabyee’s blog — 14 March 2013
Ali Abdullah Saleh ( ranks the first) and Abdullah Bin Hussein Al Ahmar (ranks  the second).Saleh was the king and Abdullah Al Ahmar was the king-maker.   Families of these two men are now  leading  the current traditional forces that dominate the dialogue. More specifically, the two sons of these two men are the centers of these forces ( if not actual leaders). Ahmed Saleh and Hamid Al Ahmar.  The big and only difference now is that the two sons (Ahmed and Hamid) are enemies not like the fathers who were strong allies over the 33 years  of Saleh’s rule, even  when their parties were in disagreement. “So, if they agree with each other, they steal  our power and wealth, and if they disagree, they destroy us and kill us,” said Fahd Al Omari, a youth revolutionary, referring to the two families who fought and destroyed the capital Sanaa in 2011. Sanaa remains divided until today between these two families.

Government rolls out increased security in anticipation of NDC
Yemen Times — 11 March 2013
A tightened security campaign that targets all governorates nationwide began on Saturday.  The campaign is being streamlined under the auspices of the Military Affairs Committee in preparation for the National Dialogue Conference (NDC), beginning March 18. In Sana’a General Ali Saeed Obaid, the spokesperson of the Military Affairs Committee, said the city has been divided into four areas, each managed by a security official, who will ensure that check points throughout the city are confiscating unlicensed weapons and vehicles.

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Weekly News Update 7 March 2013

The South (of Yemen) Will Rise Again
Vice — 5 March 2013
Referred to as the “Godfather of the Southern Movement,” Hassan Ba’om’s past largely mirrors the past of the South itself. In the Sixties, he fought the British occupation; today, he heads the struggle against what he refers to as the “northern occupation” in Sanaa. After years of frequent imprisonment and unceasing persecution, Ba’om is arguably now the most popular man in south Yemen. Ba’om’s resolute, gravely voice projects the comforting charisma of a true believer. “We’re waging a just struggle,” he said. “And the whole of the world must comprehend that we’ll continue, peacefully, until victory.” Ba’om is a rare unifying figure is the fractious Southern Movement. Herak leaders like to emphasize the “unity” of the southern people, but divisions are widespread. Loyalties often fall along regional and tribal lines. The memory of the south’s 1986 civil war persist on. Beyond that, many leaders diverge in terms of their strategies and goals. Ba’om wants complete secession and says that any talks with Sanaa must take place with that as a precursor. Others are more open to dialogue. Some say they’re aiming for a federal solution.

South Yemen Separatists Call For Secession
Al-Monitor — 1 March 2013
With two weeks to go until Yemen’s crucial national dialogue, aimed to set in motion transitional imperatives like writing a new constitution and scheduling parliamentary elections, tensions are rising between North and South Yemen as Southern separatists renew their calls for secession. Sensitivities over Southern secession were particularly apparent during Hadi’s visit as police checkpoints erected large Yemeni flags and Southern flag graffiti was partly painted over to show only the red-white-and-black colors that represent the unified Yemen flag. “To us, there is no dialogue with murderers and we will not talk with murderers,” said Abdulhameed Darwish, a Hiraaki activist whose brother Ahmed was gruesomely tortured to death in police custody in 2010, sparking fury across the South. “Until today, my brother’s case is still on hold in the courts. Nothing has changed. The situation is going from bad to worse.” Yemen needs “either unification with decentralization, local governance with full authority, or federalism with more than two regions, which I think it is a bad solution,” said Fekry Mansour Muhammed Aydh, director of the Islah party division of students affairs in Aden. “If I feel as an Islah youth that secession will guarantee me diversity and freedom of opinion and political beliefs, I will be the first one to support separation.”

Juvenile Offenders Face Execution
Human Rights Watch — 4 March 2013
Yemen’s government should stop seeking and carrying out the death penalty for child offenders, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi should immediately reverse execution orders for three alleged juvenile offenders on death row who have exhausted all appeals and could face a firing squad at any moment. The 30-page report, “‘Look at Us with a Merciful Eye’: Juvenile Offenders Awaiting Execution on Yemen’s Death Row,” found that at least 22 individuals have been sentenced to death despite evidence that they were under age 18 at the time of their alleged crimes. In the last five years, Yemen has executed at least 15 young men and women who said they were under 18 at the time of their offense. Most recently, on December 3, 2012, a government firing squad in Sanaa executed Hind al-Barti, a young woman convicted of murder whose birth certificate indicated she was 15 at the time of her alleged crime. Continue reading

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