Weekly News Update 14 March 2013

Highlights:
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.

National Dialogue:
South Yemen leaders push for participation in national talks
AFP via Daily Star — 10 March 2013
South Yemen leaders vowed at a meeting in Dubai to continue talks on participating in a national dialogue this month to end the country’s political crisis, as a separatist faction withdrew from the meeting. “We have decided to continue the meetings to make a decision on our participation” in the UN-brokered talks which will begin on March 18, said Salem Saleh Mohammed on Sunday. He did not say where the meetings would be held. Southern leaders met in Dubai late on Saturday in a gathering attended by UN envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar. But exiled former vice-president of south Yemen, Ali Salem al-Baid, whose radical faction of the Southern Movement demands full independence for the south, handed Benomar a list of demands and pulled out of the meeting.

‘Yemen’s forgotten citizens,’ Muhamasheen community anticipate participation at NDC
Yemen Times — 11 March 2013
Though Yemeni, they typically live on the edges of society, often called “pariahs” in their own country. They’re distinguishable by their dark complexions and African heritage and locally, they’re still derogatorily referred to as the “Akhdam” — literally “servants.” But activists from this community, one of Yemen’s poorest, call themselves another name: Muhamasheen, the “marginalized ones”—and intend on presenting demands at the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) this month. Although still unofficial, the conference’s Preparatory Committee say the Muhamasheen are slated to be granted at least one seat from the 62 that will be distributed by President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi.

Tehama Hirak: the former regime marginalized us
Yemen Times — 14 March 2013
A group who call themselves the Tehama Hirak threatened to escalate protests in this governorate in western Yemen, accusing local sheikhs—who activists claim have ties to the administration of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh—of seizing their land illegally. “The former regime marginalized the governorate for 33 years, and we don’t want the current regime to do so,” Khalid Khalil, a prominent activist in the Tehama Hirak, said.

Benomar calls Dubai meeting with Southern leaders ‘fruitful’
Yemen Times — 11 March 2013
United Nations special envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar arrived in Sana’a on Sunday, a day after he met with Hirak leaders in Dubai to negotiate their participation in the National Dialogue Conference to begin March 18 and to put an end to recent clashes in the South.  Hirak, also known as the Southern Movement, has repeatedly threatened to boycott the conference.  Benomar told media outlets the outcome of the meeting was fruitful and positive.

Dr. Fuad Al-Salahi speaks to the Yemen Times
Yemen Times — 11 March 2013
Like many academics, Dr. Fuad Al-Salahi, a sociology professor at Sana’a University, has opinions about the upcoming National Dialogue Conference (NDC). Set to begin March 18, Al-Salahi is hesitant to say the conference will kick off successfully. He says many obstacles still stand in the way of implementation, including the government’s inability to fully address issues in the South.  Unlike many optimists, Al-Salahi takes issue with the view he says many have – the dialogue will change Yemen over night. He says even after the conference, Yemen faces a long road ahead.

Yemen needs stability for dialogue
Daily Star — 12 March 2013
Yemen’s National Dialogue is scheduled to start on March 18, but despite government measures, the country’s overall security remains under threat. Political assassinations are on the rise, and armed struggle in the south is gaining momentum. Addressing these security issues is the only way to allow for the success of the National Dialogue.

International Support:
‘Friends of Yemen’ Meet in London
Al-Khaleej via Al-Monitor — 7 March 2013
In other developments, six Yemeni cities — Sanaa, Aden, Taz, Hadhramaut, al-Hudaydah and Saada — were chosen to host the national-dialogue conference scheduled for March 18. According to sources in the dialogue committee, the conference will begin on time despite the obstacles it faces. Moreover, political parties will sign an agreement for media pacification in order to set a suitable environment for the dialogue.

Iran aiding terror in Bahrain, Yemen, Arab ministers say
AFP via Gulf News — 14 March 2013
Arab interior ministers gathered for a security meeting in Riyadh have accused Iran of supplying “logistic help to terrorist operations” in Bahrain and Yemen. In a statement, the ministers “strongly denounced logistic aid supplied by Iran to terrorist operations in Bahrain and Yemen,” and congratulated security services in both countries for “dismantling cells and uncovering dangerous terror plots.”

UK’s Hague warns any attempts to alter Yemen elections will incur UN action
AP via Washington Post — 7 March 2013
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Thursday that any attempt to disrupt elections in Yemen will be met with a “serious” response from the U.N. Security Council. The warning came as Hague welcomed representatives from 39 countries and organizations to the fifth meeting of the Friends of Yemen group for talks on challenges facing the nation.

UN urges ‘Friends of Yemen’ to continue support for transition and humanitarian crisis
UN News Centre — 7 March 2013
The international community has a responsibility to assist the people and the Government of Yemen in its democratic transition, the top United Nations political official said today, adding that further efforts are needed to address the humanitarian crisis in the country. “Despite progress, Yemen’s transition remains fragile,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said at the opening of the latest ‘Friends of Yemen’ meeting in London.

Security:
Yemeni president raises security concerns ahead of crucial dialogue
National — 8 March 2013
The army and security forces must be “vigilant” and be on the lookout “for the enemies of security, stability and unity in Yemen,” ahead of the March 18 talks, the official Saba news agency reported him as saying. The dialogue between Yemen’s many political and tribal factions comes more than a year after a popular uprising against his forced Ali Abdullah Saleh to hand over the presidency. The talks are seen as key to Yemen’s transition to a democratic government in 2014 – as per a Gulf Cooporation Council plan. While Yemen’s delicate power transfer moves ahead, Yemenis are fearful for the future. Deep political divides, a failing economy, a growing separatist movement in the south and a shadow war being fought against a branch of Al Qaeda hampers progress towards stability.

Security guards fired from US Embassy protest severance, demand compensation
Yemen Times — 11 March 2013
Dozens of protestors have been standing outside of the massive, heavily-guarded United States Embassy since Saturday, when the embassy fired 25 Yemeni security personnel. The protestors, some of whom had  been working for the embassy for up to five years, say that their contracts had been violated. Protestors said that they don’t know why they were fired. Their rights, both as workers under Yemeni law and in accordance with the contracts that they signed with the embassy, have been denied, they said.  Before their dismissal, the security guards at the embassy earned around $400 to $800, or YR86,000 to YR172,000, a month.

Yemeni clashes over Egyptian ship leave one dead
Egypt Independent — 9 March 2013
A young man was killed and 30 others injured in violent clashes in Hodeidah, western Yemen, between military police forces and members of  a group called “Al-Herak al-Tohamy,” advocating the rights of Tihamah region in Yemen. The clashes resulted in the death of man named Abdel Rahman al-Gendy, while security forces arrested 80 people after group members and Yemeni fishermen kept an Egyptian vessel, the Golden Star, hostage, claiming its crew had attempted to run over a Yemeni fishing boat Thursday at dawn.

How a U.S. Citizen Came to Be in America’s Cross Hairs
New York Times — 13 March 2013
Back in Yemen, the C.I.A. and the Pentagon used the pause in the air campaign to develop more sources inside the country. The National Security Agency stepped up monitoring of cellphones in Yemen and penetrated computer networks to intercept electronic messages. Aware that Mr. Obama, shaken by the underwear bombing attempt, was closely following the hunt, agencies competed to get new scraps about Mr. Awlaki into the president’s daily intelligence briefing, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst said. And, very quietly, the C.I.A. began to build its own drone base in Saudi Arabia. Saudi officials had given the C.I.A. permission to build the base on the condition that the kingdom’s role was masked. And the base took care of a separate problem: the government of Djibouti, where the military was basing its drone operations in the region, put tight restrictions on any lethal operations carried out from its soil. The Saudi government made no similar demands.

Old feuds reignite, leading to death in Taiz; more checkpoints and armed patrols set up
Yemen Times — 14 March 2013
On Monday, state authorities ramped up security procedures in Taiz, fearing clashes with and between local militia and villagers. These new measures are in part a response to an ongoing dispute between two villages on the outskirts of the city which resulted in the death of one man last week. Authorities set up seven security checkpoints on the streets of this governorate in the Yemeni Highlands; an additional 12 patrols will canvass the city at night, Mohammed Al-Shaeri, the security manager in Taiz, told the Yemen Times.

Are Drone Strikes Strategically Counterproductive in Yemen?
Lawfare — 8 March 2013
One of this country’s most knowledgeable writers about Yemen is Greg Johnsen, author of The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al-Queda, and America’s War in Arabia. Johnsen is often read as arguing that American drone strikes in Yemen do more harm than good, because they spawn increased membership in the jihadi forces there. Johnsen was here at NYU Law School for a discussion this week and I learned that his views are considerably more nuanced than that simple characterization suggests. Based on his experience, he believes that a more refined drone program remains necessary — not that the US should end its drone program altogether. In particular, he believes that targeted killing in Yemen of high-level figures in AQ and associated forces does not tend to generate greater support and membership for these forces. Most Yemenis do not support these figures, are not outraged when they are killed, and do get mobilized against the US or the Yemeni government as a result.

Yemen militants try, execute man suspected of carrying out deadly al-Qaida attack in south
AP via Fox News — 11 March 2013
A member of a militant group in Yemen’s south says residents in the town of Jaar tried and executed a man suspected of carrying out a deadly attack for al-Qaida last year. The local militants, known as Popular Committees, fought alongside Yemen’s military to kick al-Qaida out of their towns last year. Its members have come since under attack.

6,000 landmine survivors reported in Yemen
Yemen Times — 14 March 2013
Yemen may have been one of the first signatories of the Landmines Ban Treaty in 1997, but victims of mines in this country number over 6,000. Since the 1960s, landmines have been used in conflicts, by both government and non-government forces. It’s unknown how many mines are still active and dangerous, scattered throughout mountains and fields. The majority of those injured by landmines are children and women, Aisha Saeed, the head of the Landmines Awareness Association, said.

Justice System:
Yemen: Halt Execution of Alleged Juvenile Offender
Human Rights Watch — 8 March 2013
President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi of Yemen should immediately halt the scheduled execution of a man who may have been under 18 at the time of the alleged crime, Human Rights Watch said today. Mohammad Abd al-karim Mohammad Haza`a is due to face a firing squad on the morning of March 9, 2013. International treaties to which Yemen is a party, as well as Yemen’s penal law, specifically prohibit the execution of anyone convicted of committing a crime as a child – that is, under age 18. International law requires that in cases in which the age is uncertain, the person should have the benefit of the doubt.

Yemen Still Sentences Children to Death by Firing Squad
Atlantic — 12 March 2013
The problem in Yemen appears to be two fold. One major issue is determining the age of prisoners in a country where the birth registration rate stands at only 22 percent, the other is a dysfunctional judiciary. Experts say that both the age verification process and Yemeni courts are plagued by unprofessionalism, bias, and corruption. According to the HRW report, age certification is conducted using questionable methods and inadequately trained staff. “Forensic doctors” rely on wrist or arm x-rays to make their determinations, a technique that has a margin of error of up to two years in either direction. In poverty stricken Yemen, the fact that “bone-age assessments may be influenced by factors including socio-economic background and nutrition,” further compounds concerns over the accuracy of the tests. Even when the defendant’s age is determined correctly, they face an uphill battle. The victims’ families, especially influential ones, are said to pressure prosecutors and judges, who in turn often act with impunity. As Mohammed Al-Awadai, the manager of juvenile administration in Yemen’s prison authority, understands it, “In the Yemeni law, the judge has the right to be discretionary.”

Water:
Fertile valley in Dhamar threatened by ongoing water depletion practices
Yemen Times — 11 March 2013
Randomly-dug water wells in the Jahran Valley of Dhamar governorate are now numbered at 1,000, according to officials. An area known for its agricultural productivity, the number worries local experts as water supplies are being depleted at unsustainable levels, said Colonel Ahmed Ali Obad Al-Saqri, the official manager of Jahran District. Water levels are decreasing by three meters each year due to random consumption and are shrinking much quicker due to modern machinery.

Economy/Governance:
Taxis in Sana’a: 46,000 and counting
Yemen Times — 11 March 2013
In a country where unemployment is at 60 percent, there is one place where men can still find work: behind the wheel of a taxi. In the past 17 years, 46,000 licenses have been issued to taxi drivers and there is no end in sight. The Automatic Issuance Center, which works under the Ministry of Interior has set no ceiling on the number of license issued, either to private or commercial vehicles

Shrinking profits: gas vendors take on new state-imposed price cap
Yemen Times — 14 March 2013
A dozen resolute men have been staging a sit-in in front of the Yemeni Gas Company (YGC) for over a month now. The group are minor-league gas vendors who say until the government issued a price cap in February, they were making a profit off the 15 kilograms cylinders they sell.  Now they want the YCG to defend their right to set their own price for the cylinders, which are used in homes and restaurants all over Yemen for cooking and household needs. The Ministry of Oil and Minerals oversees the state-run YGC that controls gas prices and sells the commodity to merchants. In 2010, the Ministry tried to set a price cap, but it was never enforced.  Nearly three years later, they have issued a regulation that vendors cannot sell the cylinder for more than YR1,200, about $6.

Heavily guarded, electricity technicians repair power in Marib
Yemen Times — 14 March 2013
Electricity technicians on Wednesday finished repairing one electrical circuit in the Marib Power Gas Station, located northeast of the capital Sana’a. Mohammed Amir, the manager of Marib Operations Department, said that a number of security personnel and tribesmen safeguarded the electricity technicians when they started working at 12 p.m. on Tuesday, immediately after the station was allegedly attacked by local tribesmen. Amir said that the team finished its work at 3 a.m. on Wednesday.

YR 10 billion to build digital map of Sana’a
Yemen Times — 14 March 2013
An estimated YR20 billion, or $93 million, has been dedicated to developing municipal infrastructure in Sana’a, including building bridges, sanitation facilities and paving streets. Half of that YR20 billion will be used building something less concrete, but perhaps just as important for future development—a digital map of the city. Waleed Rase, the projects coordinator in the capital secretariat, imagines that mapping the city will lead to full scale improvements in Sana’a. It will provide a much-needed comprehensive database, including names and locations of streets, traffic circles, administrative buildings and schools.

Millions of leaky, combustible gas canisters sold in local markets
Yemen Times — 11 March 2013
Across Yemen, there are millions of leaky gas cylinders being used—in homes, restaurants and small shops—which could explode at any moment. The Civil Defense Council will launch a campaign this coming week to collect a limited number of the canisters and raise awareness about the dangers that Yemenis face when shopping for gas. “We desperately need stricter regulations,” Ahmed Al-Baraq, a member of the Gas Cylinders Sellers’ Assembly said. Prior to the 2011 revolution, the Assembly had planned to launch a campaign to regulate unsafe gas containers. The popular uprising, however, brought the Assembly’s efforts to a standstill. According to the organization, there were a reported 400 fires in homes last year. Faulty gas canisters were the cause of 50 of them.

Efforts underway to clean up Sana’a’s trashed streets
Yemen Times — 14 March 2013
Sana’a streets are in store for a little dusting. The local council has approved a new plan to clean up Yemen’s capital. The plan includes installing 32 new trash compactors and buying top-quality trash cans to be distributed across the city, according to Jamal Juhaish, the manager of the cleaning sector in Sana’a.

Tourism Ministry proposes $20 million plan
Yemen Times — 14 March 2013
Yemen’s Tourism Ministry outlined a new five-year strategy at the beginning of March to boost the listless industry that collapsed in 2011 following Yemen’s popular uprising. Despite travel warnings from several foreign countries, the Ministry wants to attract back the estimated 1,000,000 visitors they say came through the southern Arabian country in 2010.

In Sana’a’s restaurants, little is wasted
Yemen Times — 14 March 2013
A 2011 United Nations study, carried out by the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology, found that one third of edible food is wasted annually, which amounts to 1.3 billion tons of food worldwide. However, restaurants  all over Sana’a are not culpable of this practice that environmentalists and advocacy groups say is careless.  Mostafa Sharjabi, the head of the kitchen in Al-Shaibani restaurant in Sana’a, said that in his restaurant, they never cook more than they need—and in the rare event that they have prepared too much of an order in the kitchen, they save the food and donate it to an orphanage. If there are scraps left on plates, it is given to beggars or other poor street workers, he said.  Annually, Europe and North America waste around 640 pounds, or 290 kilograms per capita. By contrast, countries in Central Asia and North Africa waste around 190 pounds, or 86 kilograms per capita. Of the food lost in countries like Yemen, 90 percent of the loss happens before the food even reaches consumers. Once the meat, grain, vegetables or poultry is in the hands of a restaurant or other consumer, every bit is used.

Abyan:
Yemen to compensate Abyan terrorism victims
Al-Shorfa — 12 March 2013
The Abyan reconstruction fund board of directors said Monday (March 11th) it has set aside 7 billion riyals ($32.7 million) in compensation for those whose houses were damaged in terrorist operations last year, Yemen’s Al-Thawra reported.

Nujood Ali:
Yemen’s youngest divorcee says father has squandered cash from her book
Guardian — 12 March 2013
It’s been five years since Nujood Ali became known as the world’s youngest divorcee after escaping the man who bought her as a child bride aged nine. The story of Nujood’s marriage and subsequent court victory was turned into a bestselling book, bringing hope to thousands of Yemeni brides forced into marriages they are too young to understand or consent to. The royalties from I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced were supposed to pay for the girl’s schooling and allow her to follow her ambition to become a lawyer. Instead, Nujood says, the money has been squandered by her father – who has now sold her younger sister to a man twice her age.

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