Weekly News Update 7 March 2013

Highlights:
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.

National Dialogue:
NDC technical preparations completed
Yemen Times — 7 March 2013
The Preparatory Committee for the National Dialogue Committee (NDC) held a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the lists of the independent youth, women and civil society organizations and to select the names of the Standards and Discipline Committee members and the committee heading the conference. The committee is lead by President Abdu-Rabu Mansour Hadi and composed of eight members. The committee resumed holding its regular meetings on Tuesday after a nearly two week recess, due to the unrest in Aden following government forces clashes with Southern separatists on the first anniversary of President Hadi’s election.

Better than expected, but still not enough: Can Hadi hold Yemen together?
Christian Science Monitor — 1 March 2013
“No one knew Hadi was this clever – he’s kept his cool despite the pressure,” says Hamza al-Kamali, a leading youth activist. “But even if a lot of what Hadi’s done has been good, it’s not enough.” Still, definitive progress remains elusive. Hadi’s generally praised steps toward restructuring Yemen’s military have been overshadowed by continued uncertainty over the fates of the country’s most powerful military leaders. Charged with restoring security and stability to Yemen, the transitional government has been paralyzed by partisan gridlock, leading many Yemenis to dismiss it as ineffective. Meanwhile, across the country, Yemenis continue to buckle under the stagnant economy. And with the central government’s hand still weak, others, from Al Qaeda-linked fighters to rebels based in the far north, have proved eager to fill the power vacuum.

In some parts of Yemen, ‘the free south lives’
Christian Science Monitor — 6 March 2013
The rugged mountainous districts of al-Dhale, Radfan, and Yafa’ have long been hotbeds of revolt. Local tribesmen fought the British for independence in the 1960s and the northern forces in the 1994 civil war. Now these mountains have become the base of the Southern Movement, a collection of the most strident of the southern secessionist factions. Anger toward the capital simmers in this neglected, economically depressed area. Supporters assert that the area is under “military occupation,” stressing that they view Sanaa’s control of the area as illegitimate. The flag of the former People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY) flies openly on civilian buildings, the flag of unified Yemen flies over military checkpoints on the roads connecting the towns and troops, and tanks sit stationed on mountain ridges overlooking populated areas. Locals see the military presence as a sign that another crackdown is a constant threat.

Yemeni president in rare meeting with southern separatists
Reuters — 3 March 2013
Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi met southern separatists for the first time in Aden on Sunday ahead of a conference aimed at drafting a new constitution before elections in 2014, the state news agency said. “We have an historic opportunity to resolve all our problems including the most persistent ones via comprehensive national dialogue,” news agency Saba quoted Hadi as telling leaders of the southern separatist movement known as al-Herak al-Janoubi. A spokesman for the separatists said Hadi gave instructions for 17 southern activists killed during clashes with security forces last month to be considered as martyrs and for their families to be paid 5 million Yemeni riyals ($15,500) each. “The meeting was positive and all issues were discussed,” said Ali al-Darb, from one al-Herak al-Janoubi faction. But Hussein Zeid bin Yahya, from another faction of al-Herak led by the last president of the Socialist southern state, Ali Salem al-Beidh, said: “The dialogue we want is between two sides, north and south, on the basis of separation.”

JMP, the beginning of the end
Yemen Times — 7 March 2013
Today the situation has changed. The common enemy, the GPC, is fading away – or so it seems – and we are about to make significant decisions at the National Dialogue Conference in about ten days, deciding on the country’s development. Understanding this, the JMP Parties have decided they do not want to enter the dialogue as one coalition any more, even though they signed an agreement that says they will present themselves at the conference as one entity. They were the ones that fought for this.

Dr. Saeed Al-Amiri to the Yemen Times: Southerners have the right to raise the ceiling of their demands but peacefully
Yemen Times — 4 March 2013
Dr. Saeed Al-Amiri, a leading figure in the Islah Party, says his political party upholds a modern civil state, furthermore asserting there is no contradiction between a civil state and Islamic law. Al-Amiri also stated  in an interview with the Yemen Times that the Islah Party supports women’s political participation. He also commented on recent clashes between The Southern Movement (SM) and the Islah Party in the South.  He defended the SM’s right to peacefully assemble. He condemned the use of what he calls excessive force in the South.

Security:
Assailants blow up Yemen’s main oil pipe again: industry source
Reuters — 6 March 2013
Unknown assailants blew up Yemen’s main oil pipeline again on Tuesday night, an oil industry source said on Wednesday. Yemen’s oil and gas pipelines have been repeatedly sabotaged since anti-government protests created a power vacuum in 2011, causing fuel shortages and slashing export earnings for the impoverished country.

One person killed, four injured in south Yemen protest: medics
Reuters — 2 March 2013
Yemeni security forces shot and killed one activist and wounded at least four other people on Saturday during clashes with southern separatists who had blocked roads and attacked police, medics and witnesses said. U.S.-allied Yemen, thrown into political disarray in early 2011 when mass protests ousted long-time ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh, still faces frequent fighting between separatists and security forces.

Seized Chinese Weapons Raise Concerns on Iran
New York Times — 2 March 2013
Among the items aboard the dhow, according to a review of factory markings on weapons and their packing crates, were 10 Chinese heat-seeking antiaircraft missiles, most of them manufactured in 2005.  The missiles were labeled QW-1M and bore stencils suggesting that they had been assembled at a factory represented by the state-owned China National Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation, sanctioned by the United States for transfers of missile technology to Pakistan and Iran.

Yemen president rejects truce with al-Qaida
AP — 4 March 2013
A senior security official has disclosed that Yemen’s president rejected a truce with al-Qaida militants. The official said President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi sent his intelligence chief to mediate an end to months of fighting between Yemen forces and the Islamic militants. He said Hadi expected a proposal for an amnesty for militants who renounce violence but was surprised with a two-month truce offer, which he rejected. Yemen’s al-Qaida branch posted a statement on militant websites Monday claiming that the intelligence chief agreed to the truce.

Al Qaeda in Yemen posts online English magazine calling for holy war
AP via Fox News — 4 March 2013
The edition appeared on militant websites Thursday after an almost nine month interval. The magazine’s former editor, American Samir Khan, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in September 2011 in Yemen, together with the U.S.-born militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. The magazine’s new editor, Yahia Ibrahim, praised the two slain al Qaeda figures as a “team whose martyrdom inspires” others.

Military reinforcements sent to Ra’ada district, government continues fight against Al-Qaeda
Yemen Times — 4 March 2013
Although officials say the situation in Ra’ada district has calmed since the military launched a campaign at the end of January to “purge” the area of Al-Qaeda affiliates, they say they are prepared should confrontations break out again. “We have taken all necessary security measures, and we are prepared for any confrontations with Al-Qaeda,” Ra’ada’s security chief, Hamoud Al-Amari told the Yemen Times.

Twelve pro-army militiamen killed in Yemen – commander
Reuters — 4 March 2013
A suicide bomber killed at least 12 members of a pro-government militia that helped the Yemeni army to drive al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants out of southern strongholds in a U.S.-backed campaign last year, a commander said on Monday. Nizar Jaafar said 15 other people had been wounded in the attack on an office of the Popular Committees in the town of Lawdar in the southern province of Abyan. In a separate incident, a local official said that four suspected militants have escaped from a prison in Lawdar on Monday. The official gave no further details.

Former Saleh security chiefs to appear at Yemen bombing trial
AFP via The National — 6 March 2013
A Yemeni court lifted a freeze on the assets of two former security chiefs today after they finally agreed to appear in court over a deadly 2012 suicide bombing in Sanaa. It was not immediately clear whether the two men, both appointees of the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, would face charges over the bombing, which rocked the capital shortly after the veteran strongman was forced from power, or would merely be required to testify.

Al-Qaeda militant killed planting bomb: Yemen official
AFP via Daily Star — 7 March 2013
An Al-Qaeda militant was killed Thursday when a roadside bomb he was trying to plant at a central market in the southern town of Loder exploded, a security official told AFP. Witnesses in the town where a suspected Al-Qaeda suicide bomber killed 12 pro-government militiamen earlier this week said the militant’s body was torn to pieces in the blast.

Committee blames Sukhoi 22 crash on manufacturing defects
Yemen Times — 7 March 2013
The committee assigned to investigate the crash of a Sukhoi 22 aircraft into a highly populated area of Sana’a’s Change Square on Feb. 19, announced on Wednesday that manufacturing technical faults were the main reasons behind the incident. Disclosures from the airplanes black box highlighted that the plane suffered from a series of technical malfunctions that were outside of the pilot’s control, according to the head of the fact-finding committee tasked with investigating the crash, pilot Abdulkareem Al-Sa’r.

How Did Chinese Missiles Get Into Yemen?
Popular Mechanics — 7 March 2013
However the weapons got there, it’s a proliferation nightmare. Either a state bought the weapons from China and is transferring them to a proxy group in Yemen, or corrupt Chinese officials diverted them to the black market. “There is one other option: leakage from the arsenals of importing state,” Schroeder says, suggesting a legitimate purchaser could have lost the Chinese missiles to theives. To find out, arms-control groups are looking for clues about the weapons’ destination. “We hope to get more information… possibly from the U.N. delegation looking into this,” Schroedersays. “It would be good to get some kind of confirmation of to whom they were headed. If we can get that, we can assess the significance [of the find] with a bit more certainty.”

Capital city takes action to ban weapons carrying in public spaces
Yemen Times — 4 March 2013
The Interior Ministry ordered security authorities to enforce a public weapons carrying ban in the capital city on Saturday. The ban is actually a part of a 1992 firearms organizational law that has been loosely enforced. The law stipulates a ban on carrying firearms unless permitted by concerned authorities.

Friends of Yemen:
Yemen Matters
Chatham House — 6 March 2013
In September 2012, $6.4bn was pledged in aid at a major donor conference in Riyadh and by March 2013 the total had increased to $8.1bn. Yet according to the Yemeni government only $1.76bn has been spent, and so this week’s meeting offers an opportunity for Yemen to press for the disbursement of the promised aid. However the allocated aid is heavily weighted towards capital projects ($2.99bn), which are unlikely to translate into tangible benefits for ordinary Yemenis until 2014 at the earliest. Humanitarian agencies have raised the alarm over relatively small allocations to humanitarian spending: only $648m of the initial $6.4bn pledged was earmarked for humanitarian support. Additionally, the 2013 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan – a coordinated appeal by UN agencies – assessed needs to be 22% higher than in 2012. Spending cuts and competing priorities in the region mean that donors are less willing to commit funding, and agencies believe they will struggle to raise the $716m asked for.

Yemen’s humanitarian crisis masked by faltering steps towards democracy
The Guardian — 7 March 2013
The difficulty is that Yemen faces a humanitarian crisis of a magnitude that could render political progress redundant. Figures compiled by the World Food Programme suggest almost half of Yemen’s population of 25 million has fallen into debt as a result of buying food on credit (pdf). More than 10 million people do not have enough to eat, and chronic malnutrition is widespread among children. A million children are acutely malnourished, with 250,000 at risk of death without immediate assistance. “Colleagues who work on food and hunger issues globally always come up short when they see the figures on Yemen,” James Whitehead, Oxfam’s regional programme manager for the Middle East, says. “They are shocking, and my worry is that that becomes normalised, that we say ‘That’s just Yemen.’

U.S. to relay concerns at Yemen meeting
UPI — 6 March 2013
The United States is sending a deputy secretary of state to a London conference to discuss meaningful reform in Yemen. A Friends of Yemen meeting is set for this week in London. U.S. officials said Deputy Secretary of State William Burns would attend the meeting to reaffirm U.S. support for Yemeni reform efforts. Burns, during a similar meeting on the sidelines of last year’s U.N. General Assembly, said “there can be no lasting stability and no freedom from extremism in Yemen without political reform and economic progress.”

Yemen’s capability to meet foreign donors’ pledges to be discussed at London meeting
Yemen Times — 7 March 2013
The latest meeting of the Friends of Yemen, headed by the U.K. and Saudi Arabia and in the presence of officials from over 35 countries, will be held on Thursday in London. Representatives will discuss political, economic and security progress in Yemen, obstacles that obstruct the political compromise and appropriate procedures to solve them. “The meeting will come up with an agenda to evaluate ongoing preparations to launch the National Dialogue Conference (NDC), slated for March 18,” said Dr. Mohammed Al-Haweri, Yemen’s deputy minister of Planning and International Cooperation.

Media:
Yemen to launch counter-extremism satellite channel
Al-Shorfa — 1 March 2013
Preparations are in full swing for the March 18th launch of a satellite educational channel in Yemen that aims to instil national loyalty and moderation in young people and protect them from extremist ideas. The Yemeni Ministry of Education signed an agreement Monday (February 25th) with telecommunications company MTN Yemen, which is to sponsor the project with 77.5 million Yemeni riyals ($361,641). Education Minister Abdul Razzaq al-Ashwal told Al-Shorfa the channel will broadcast educational programmes for students and interactive training programmes for teachers.

Education:
Schools failing to get books in the hands of students
Yemen Times — 4 March 2013
Although libraries are recognized by local educators as a benchmark of quality schools, few teachers in Yemen can say they are able to provide their students with the valued institution.  An estimated 94 percent of schools in Yemen lack libraries, according to the Yemeni Center for Historical Studies and Future Strategies (Manarat). “Children cannot acquire knowledge in the absence of libraries inside schools,” said Abdulla Al-Olfi, the studies and training coordinator at the center.

Allegations of 700 forged distance learning certificates spark ongoing protests at Dhamar University, officials deny claims
Yemen Times — 7 March 2013
Although their numbers have dwindled, students are still protesting at Dhamar University, demanding the resignation of the school’s chancellor, Dr. Ahmed Al-Hadrani.  Protests began on Monday to draw attention to Al-Hadrani’s alleged issuing of hundreds of false university certificates accredited by Dhamar University from an unaccredited office in Jeddah in a presumable scheme to earn money.

Hundreds of schools currently being rebuilt
Yemen Times — 7 March 2013
During the revolution, armed militias and government forces used hundreds of children’s schools as barracks and firing points. When the soldiers and militiamen left, the schools were left in complete disrepair, some destroyed entirely. Now, nearly two years later, 380 of those schools have been repaired. Abdulkareem Al-Jindari, the deputy minister of the Education Ministry, told the Yemen Times that approximately 146 schools in Abyan, in addition to 200 schools in Sa’ada, were seriously damaged between 2011-2012. Hundreds of schools in other parts of the country were also damaged. The repairs have been made possible by funding provided by a group of foreign organizations and states, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the German government, UNICEF, Save the Children, Oxfam and others. The Social Fund for Development, a relief program launched by the Yemeni government and funded by foreign sources, also carried out the rebuilding. The American government has funded the repair of 10 schools, too, Al-Jindari said.

Economy/Governance:
160 hazardous, unliscenced gas stations to be shut down in Sana’a
Yemen Times — 4 March 2013
The Yemen Gas Company (YGC) says it will shut down over 160 gas stations in the capital city of Sana’a because they are not meeting safety standards. The stations include locations where people refuel their vehicles and locations where residents fill gas cylinders for household needs like cooking. Sana’a has witnessed many explosions at gas stations. The latest reported incident happened near the Effil restaurant on Jan. 31, leaving many wounded and causing considerable damage.

Marib power station resumes work after attack
Yemen Times — 4 March 2013
The Marib power station was back in full action Saturday midday, following an attack on Friday by unidentified armed men, leading to power outages all over the country, some lasting longer than 24 hours. Abdulrahman Saif Aqlan, the director of the Public Electricity Corporation, said engineers fixed the targeted power lines, ending power outages in all governorates. Asked if the corporation has future strategies to hinder these attacks, Aqlan said, “We can’t talk about strategies amid the crisis Yemen is currently witnessing,” adding that Yemen in general needs strategies to solve its problems. Residents are growing increasingly frustrated with power outages.  The Public Electricity Corporation issued a report in December that revealed 148 attacks have been carried out on the Marib-Sana’a electricity lines since 2010.

Prominent jambiya trader Obad Al-Ozairi to the Yemen Times: “The original jambiya will prevail despite the invasion of ‘Chinese’ ones”
Yemen Times — 4 March 2013
In 2009, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared  Yemen as a major threat that encourages rhino poaching for the use its historic daggers. The IUCN called on Yemen to ban janbiya traders from using rhino horns. Al-Ozairi found himself on a black list for using horns of endangered rhinos and left Kenya. But, since janmbiya trader Obad Al-Ozairi and many Yemenis have complied with the IUCN’s wishes.  “We’ve adhered to the agreement of banning rhino horn trading and stopped importing them,” Al-Ozairi said. However, the jambiya trader feels that environmental groups must also keep in mind people’s livelihoods, “We demand compensation from the government and the IUCN because this agreement has highly affected our trade and caused a big financial loss.” With changing thoughts and movements in conservation, Al-Ozairi’s profession has also been affected by a fairly recent phenomenon, the spread of the plastic-stuffed jambiya handle, commonly referred to as a “Chinese” jambiya, although they are made in Yemen. Many Yemenis, Al-Ozairi says, now prefer to buy plastic jambiya for its cheaper price, between YR 2,000 – 10,000 (about $10-50). Although tourists are currently a rare spotting in Yemen, Al-Ozairi says they have also driven up the popularity of new jambiyas.

Never leaving work, shop owners and employees sickened by living quarters
Yemen Times — 7 March 2013
In 2012, the General Department of Civil Defense reported 7 people in Sana’a suffocated and died while sleeping in their place of work. Although the Civil Defense Department is now warning people of the dangers associated with turning their shops into sleeping quarters, they say they have been ineffective in convincing people, or coercing them with fines, that it is very dangerous to inhabit places like junk, carpentry and other small manufacturing shops.  “These places contain chemical substances and oxygen is almost non-existent,” said Abdulla Al-Hamili, an information assistant in the Civil Defense Department, explaining that the small spaces often lack windows and doors, cutting off oxygen circulation. “Some shops use lanterns which burn the already inadequate oxygen,” he added. Most shops are very small, which doctors say is the biggest problem.

Smugglers thwarted at airport, ancient artifacts headed to museum in Sana’a
Yemen Times — 7 March 2013
Over the past seven years, around 1,500 antiques—including coins, and pre-Islamic stone carvings—have been confiscated at Sana’a International Airport. Smugglers have been tucking these ancient artifacts inside clothing and hiding them in bags, hoping to sell them abroad. Now, instead of entering the black market or ending up on a wealthy collector’s shelf, these relics are headed to the Sana’a National Museum next week, Muhanad Al-Saiani, head of the Heritage Authority said.

Yemeni world heritage site threatened to be kicked off UNESCO’s preservation list
Yemen Times — 7 March 2013
One of Yemen’s listed world heritage sites, Zabeed city located in the western part of the country, has a final chance to make its case at an upcoming United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) meeting, slated for June in Cambodia. Yemen’s government will attempt to save the historic city from being axed from the list and cut off from UNESCO’s funding by presenting a report demonstrating how the state has implemented procedures to preserve the site, renovate its buildings and curb unofficial construction. After numerous violations noted by UNESCO, the organization gave Yemen’s government a three year trial period to comply with standards.  If Zabeed is removed from the World Heritage List, no other city in Yemen will be eligible to be added for 20 years. Currently, Otma, Hawf and Bora reserves, as well as the city of Thula and the island of Socotra are being considered as additions to the list.

Foreign Relations:
Yemeni-Turkish agreement to boost tourist cooperation; growing ties between countries
Yemen Times — 4 March 2013
A Yemeni-Turkish agreement was signed in Istanbul on Saturday to facilitate medical tourism between the two countries. Tourism Ministry deputy Mutahar Taqi told the Yemen Times that cooperation between Yemen and Turkey is at its zenith due to a protocol the two countries signed in 2011. The protocol enhanced Yemeni-Turkish relations and encouraged tourism.

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