After 2 years, Yemenis dismantle tents, declare end of revolution that toppled regime
AP via Washington Post — 21 April 2013
In a symbolic move, Yemenis on Thursday began to dismantle protest tent camp in the capital, Sanaa, and other cities across the country, declaring the end of their revolution. On Thursday, The Organizational Committee of the Popular Youth Revolution and Youth Groups, which organized the protests, said in a statement that it decided to suspend its sit-ins in all Freedom and Change Squares, the name given to city centers where tent camps were set up, decreeing that all the tents would be removed. By nightfall, traffic flowed for the first time in main and side streets that for two years were sealed off by tents. Shops, forced to close, were reopening. Habib al-Ariqi, a member of the committee, said the group decided to suspend Friday Muslim prayers in city squares, but he warned that “option to return to the squares … is open.” “Our choice now is revolutionary oversight on the works of the National Dialogue,” in reference to six-month marathon sessions of meetings and talks among all political, social and religious sectors of Yemeni society, aimed at drawing a new political map and governing system for Yemen. The process is part of the power transfer deal.
Farea Al-Muslimi’s statement
Senate Judiciary Committee — 23 April 2013
For me it is deeply troubling, astonishing, and challenging to reconcile that the very same hand that taught me English, awarded me scholarships, and dramatically improved my life is the hand that droned my village, terrified my people, and now makes it harder for them to believe the good things I tell them about America and my American friends.
In Yemen, journalists face threats from all directions
Committee to Protect Journalists — 18 April 2013
Police defused a bomb hidden in a black bag on Wednesday at the entrance of a building housing the daily newspaper Al-Masdar and the Yemen Youth TV channel in Sana’a, the paper reported. An expert from the Ministry of Interior told Al-Masdar that such an explosive was often used by military intelligence, and said the bomb had parts from Russia and the U.S. No group has taken responsibility for planting the device. It is unclear who the bomb was supposed to target. In an unrelated case, Abdul-Raqeeb al-Hudayyani, editor-in-chief of the news website Aden Online, told CPJ that he received anonymous death threats after his website published an article on March 5 that alleged corruption within the government-owned daily 14 October. The article said the paper had used money to print pictures of a southern secessionist leader and former vice president of Yemen. The paper denied the accusations and said Aden Online had cited forged documents. More than a month later, a judge told al-Hudayyani the paper had filed a case against him for forging documents, the journalist said. Continue reading
Land disputes threaten south Yemen stability
Al-Jazeera — 13 April 2013
Unresolved land disputes are contributing to increasing discontent in the south. This month, UN special envoy Jamal Benomar warned the Security Council: “A civil disobedience movement is now attracting large numbers to the streets. The calls for secession have grown. “After nearly two decades of discrimination, repression, and unaddressed legitimate grievances, the people in the south are weary and skeptical of promises of reform.” But resolving land disputes in the region is highly complicated, explains April Alley, a researcher with the International Crisis Group (ICG). “Patterns of land ownership have dramatically changed several times over the past 50 years,” she told Al Jazeera. “There are usually multiple claims on the same property.”
Yemen’s Military Earthquake
Al-Monitor — 15 April 2013
Broad international support is perhaps one of the least discussed aspects of the recalibration of the political-military power balance. While Hadi’s decision bears little semblance to Saleh’s political domination of the country prior to the transition, there are concerns that Hadi’s newfound credibility may be used to delay the transfer of power beyond February 2014, when elections are scheduled to take place. According to the GCC plan, Hadi retains final say in any decision on the transition of power. Furthermore, the absence of viable competitors, Hadi’s background as a southerner unaffiliated with the northern tribes and widespread international support could translate into there being few obstacles to a proposal to delay elections. Today, postponement also seems more likely than ever given the slow progress by the Supreme Commissions for Elections and Referendum to prepare the country, not to mention the need for widespread voter registration and renewal programs.
Volatile Yemen risks economic false dawn
Financial Times — 15 April 2013
Yemen’s great economic hope is the more than $8bn in infrastructure and other investment promised by the unusually unified coalition of world powers backing its transition. But diplomats admit there is a danger that assistance will end up being skewed to the more stable and thus less needy areas because security there is better, widening the already large inequality between urban areas where the government is in control and tracts of the countryside where it is not. “It’s a huge risk,” said one diplomat, citing the power vacuum in the southern province of Abyan, after battles between government forces and Islamist militants there. “It all comes down to this question of the government being present in territories in a way they are not at the moment.” Continue reading
South Yemen Struggles In Wake of Unrest
Al-Monitor — 7 April 2013
Local discontent with the government for not working hard enough to rebuild the town is greater than ever, challenging central government claims of victory. Such sentiment is particularly striking in places such as Abyan, the home province of the president and his defense minister. The government has brought back electricity and water to damaged towns in this southern province, and some hospitals are again serving the public. This is the case in Zinjibar, site of the heaviest battles. In Jaar, the main hospital, once targeted by drone strikes for treating injured al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) troops, functions again with the assistance of the Red Crescent. The post office headquarters, a makeshift hospital for local citizens during the war, now functions as it was meant to. That, however, has not calmed the local populace nor made it satisfied with government efforts in the province, particularly when the government did not reopen important offices such as those dealing with public education. Dozens of schools are still closed.
Yemen’s Military-Security Reform: Seeds of New Conflict?
International Crisis Group — 4 April 2013
In a larger sense, the key obstacle to meaningful reform remains the absence of an inclusive political pact. It is hard to see major military-security stakeholders relinquishing hard power or fully accepting change that could leave them vulnerable to domestic rivals in any circumstance; it is near impossible to imagine it when distrust runs so high. There are other, related complications: two major constituencies, the primarily northern-based Huthi movement and southern separatists, share profound scepticism toward a restructuring process from which they have been essentially excluded; they are unlikely to support decisions taken without broad agreement on the parameters of a post-Saleh state.
Yemen president orders military shakeup
AP via Yahoo! News — 9 April 2013
In his latest move, Hadi not only removed Saleh’s son and two nephews from their posts, but also effectively ordered them to leave the country by posting them abroad. He removed Saleh’s son Ahmed as head of the Republican Guard and appointed him ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. The force is an elite army unit that was once the backbone of Saleh’s rule. It was supposed to be reorganized and brought under the control of the Defense Ministry according to Hadi’s orders last year, but those changes had not materialized on the ground. In other changes, Saleh’s nephew Ammar, the deputy intelligence chief, was made a military attache in Ethiopia. Ammar’s brother, Tareq Yahia, head of the Presidential Guard, was made a military attache in Germany. The decrees also affect one of Saleh’s top foes, Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who defected during the 2011 uprising along with his First Armored Division and joined opposition forces. He commanded more than 50,000 soldiers and up to two dozen generals. Hadi ordered that al-Ahmar, one of the most powerful men in Yemen, leave his post and serve as a presidential adviser, a move that diminishes the general’s reach. It comes a year after the president ordered his division dispersed among other military units. Continue reading
Mixed views as talks open on Yemen future
Financial Times — 3 April 2013
After two weeks of lofty speechmaking in the commanding heights of Sana’a’s Mövenpick Hotel, the so-called Yemen ‘National Dialogue’ conference has been credited with airing long-stifled views, but also criticised for being too elitist, too lucrative for participants and too dominated by figures from the country’s troubled past. Further arguments have raged over the stipends paid to conference attendees to compensate them for lost earnings. These have ranged from $100 for Sana’a residents to $180 for those who have travelled from elsewhere – a lucrative contrast to the average Yemeni’s earnings of about $2,000 a year. Noaman Qaid al-Hothifi, a representative of the historically marginalised al-Akhdam minority group, told the conference his people hadn’t spoken “for 1,300 years”. His speech was widely acclaimed and moved one blogger to anoint him the “Obama of Yemen”.
Saudi deports thousands of Yemenis, remittances to suffer-official
Reuters — 1 April 2013
Saudi Arabia has begun deporting thousands of Yemeni labourers following new regulations requiring foreigners to work only for their sponsors, a Yemeni official said on Monday, a move that could “significantly damage” the poor country’s economy. Some two million of Yemen’s 25 million citizens work abroad, more than half of them in larger and richer neighbour Saudi Arabia. Remittances bring in $2 billion a year to Yemen, a country still grappling with revolt, a separatist movement and an Islamist insurgency. The Yemeni Defence Ministry’s website estimated up to 2,000 Yemenis were being deported daily since the new regulations went into effect some 10 days ago.
Drone policy hurts the U.S.’s image in Yemen
Washington Post — 1 April 2013
Although the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development are engaging Hadi’s government on development and humanitarian issues, most Yemenis feel only the negative effects of U.S. counterterrorism policy. Rather than the steady stream of military delegations, a more robust economic assistance program and public diplomacy strategy — including a visit by Secretary of State John Kerry and other high-level diplomats — would signal support for Yemen’s transition and its democratic aspirations. Continue reading