Weekly News Update 25 April 2013

Highlights:
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.

Economy/Governance:
GPC and the JMP bicker over candidates’ list for anti-corruption authority
Yemen Times — 22 April 2013
New disagreements between the General People’s Congress (GPC) and the Joint Meeting Parties (JMPs) regarding the list of the candidates who are going to fill the vacant positions for the Supreme National Authority for Combating Corruption (SNACC) have emerged. The list of potential candidates was presented to Parliament on Saturday. SNACC is a national authority that is government-funded but does not operate under any ministry. It has legal power to combat corruption and investigate individuals accused of corruption.

Yemenis say Saudi fence will have adverse effects on economy and security
Yemen Times — 22 April 2013
There is fierce resentment among in Yemen over the new fence that Saudi Arabia is currently building along its frontier with Yemen, with some likening it to the controversial barrier Israel is building in an and around the West Bank. Saudi Arabia has recently resumed the construction of a high 1300 mile-long wall designed to seal off its troubled frontier with Yemen. The barrier will stretch from the Red Sea coast in the west to the edge of Oman in the east. The oil-rich state started building the fence in 2004, but quickly suspended it due to the strong opposition by the Yemeni government. The border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia has long been a conduit for smuggling drugs, hashish, illegal workers and terrorists. Saudi officials say smuggling has been increasing since unrest hit Yemen in 2011 and that it wants to secure its border. However, Yemeni officials and analysts say Saudi Arabia can achieve that by cooperating with Yemen’s government, not by isolating it. They warn that the wall will deal a serious blow to Yemen’s security and economy.

355 companies were registered in 2012 in Yemen
Yemen Observer — 24 April 2013
Last year 355 companies with a capital of 13 billion riyals ($60.7 million) were registered in Yemen, a development officials, businessmen and experts attribute to improving economic conditions. Companies registered in 2012 include 329 limited liability companies and 26 private companies, said Aayad Baabad, director general of the General Directorate of Companies at Yemen’s Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Scant profits and social stigma accompany female street vendors
Yemen Times — 25 April 2013
Because street vending is not regulated or tracked in any way, officials say it can be a hard issue to tackle.  “We don’t know how many [female vendors] there are but we realize that the number is increasing,” said Abdu Mohammed Al-Hakimi, first deputy of the Ministry of Social Affairs.  Without knowing numbers, Al-Hakimi says the small solutions his ministry can offer—like  providing YR6,000, around $30, annually to 1.5 million families—is insufficient.

If passed, new bill could encourage both domestic and international investment
Yemen Times — 25 April 2013
The General Investment Authority (GIA) has presented a bill to the Cabinet in order to amend the current investment law created in 2010 under former President Ali Abdulla Saleh. The GIA, which is the governmental group in charge of promoting and facilitating  investments in Yemen, said the bill would create a more positive and attractive atmosphere for both domestic and international investors in the hopes of boosting Yemen’s economy.

From morning to night, locals in Al-Khafji neighborhood live with ‘unbearable’ sewage
Yemen Times — 22 April 2013
Entering Al-Khafji neighborhood in Sana’a, you have to be careful where you step. There are pools of sewage in the street. And you might want to cover your nose—the air stinks.  This area, in the southern end of the city, is lacking basic sanitary infrastructure. Human waste lays open in the street. On top of that, the roads are not paved and the electricity lines are strung haphazardly between homes.

Yemeni merchants cash in on Turkish movie stars’ fame to sell products
Yemen Times — 22 April 2013
Turkish movie stars like Almdar are very popular here. Their faces adorn labels in shopping centers and in markets and are pasted on perfume bottles, cosmetics and clothes. But all of this advertising is done without their permission. “Recently, people have begun following Turkish TV series,” Amar Al-Kaboudi, a clothes trader, said. “And, there’s nothing that stops us from promoting our products using names and photos of those Turkish stars.”

Security:
‘Qaeda’ gunmen kill Yemen intelligence officer
AFP via Google News — 20 April 2013
Suspected Al-Qaeda militants shot dead a Yemeni intelligence officer overnight in Mukalla, capital of the southeastern Hadramawt province, a security official told AFP. “Al-Qaeda gunmen on a motorbike opened fire on the officer Ibrahim Bameshel as we was on his way back home, killing him immediately,” the official said, adding that the assailants had fled. Al-Qaeda militants were driven out of most of their strongholds in Yemen’s south last June in an all-out offensive by government forces aided by local “resistance committees”. But local sources say jihadists from the Al-Qaeda linked Ansar al-Sharia group have started distributing posters and leaflets in several towns across the province threatening members of the security forces and urging jihad (holy war).

Shots fired near French embassy in Yemen
AFP via Google News — 23 April 2013
Shots were fired near the French embassy in Yemen on Tuesday, the foreign ministry said, after a car bomb attack on France’s embassy in Libya wounded two French guards and caused extensive damage. France is watching the situation in the capital Sanaa “carefully”, a ministry spokesman told AFP. Paris stepped up security around its diplomatic missions after the bombing in Libya early Tuesday. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned that the “terrorists” would pay, during a visit to Tripoli.

Judges resume working, Sana’a security forces pledge to protect them from threats
Yemen Times — 22 April 2013
Following negotiations between the Judiciary Council and Sana’a’s security forces, the Judges’ Forum in Sana’a has ended its two-week strike. Three-hundred-and-fifty judges from the forum, which in total represents 690 judges, will resume work on Saturday. The strike had originally been protesting an increase in violent assaults and threats against judges in the capital—of which there were a reported 34 in the past two months—and was called off after Sana’a’s Security apparatus pledged to provide police escorts to judges from now on and apprehend the assailants.

Yemen court sentences 11 convicted al-Qaida militants to up to 10 years in prison
AP via Washington Post — 23 April 2013
A Yemeni court on Tuesday sentenced 11 convicted al-Qaida militants to up to 10 years in prison for forming armed gangs to destabilize the country and planning attacks on foreign embassies and security forces. The sentencing came as militants attacked a military camp in the central town of Radda, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Sanaa, setting off clashes that killed three soldiers and eight militants. Radda was briefly seized by al-Qaida militants last year before the Yemeni government waged an offensive to drive them out. In the court in Sanaa, Ahmed al-Hababi, one of the defendants, threatened to kill the judge, shouting, “we will teach you a lesson and we will drag you on the ground.” Two raised an al-Qaida flag inside the defendants’ cage. Others shouted “God is great” in Arabic. In another trial on Tuesday, a court in Aden, Yemen’s second largest city, began trying nine Yemenis for smuggling Iranian-made weapons on a ship. Eight were captured in January in the country’s territorial waters and one was tried in absentia. The trial was adjourned until April 30.

Rada’a residents praise withdrawal of troops from First Mountain Infantry Brigade
Yemen Times — 22 April 2013
After a three- month stay in the area, 700 soldiers affiliated with the First Mountain Infantry Brigade, a branch of the Republican Guards, evacuated their barracks in the Rada’a district on Thursday. This comes following the recommendations of a fact-finding committee assigned by the Defense Ministry to investigate acts of violence that broke out between soldiers and residents in the district earlier this month. “Now we are very happy and living peacefully because they have left the area,” said Sheikh Jar’on Mohammed Jar’on of Qaifa area in Rada’a.

Yemen drone strike kills two suspected militants: security source
Reuters — 21 April 2013
Two suspected members of al Qaeda were killed on Sunday in a U.S. drone strike on a site used for training members of the Islamist network in central Yemen’s Marib province, a security official told Reuters. The official said the strike was carried out at dawn and that a cache of weapons was found at the site. No further details were available. The reported strike was the second in less than a week against suspected members of al Qaeda who have exploited unrest in the impoverished country since popular protests broke out in 2011.

Security officials blame Al-Qaeda for attack in Rada’a
Yemen Times — 25 April 2013
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, around 60 armed men surrounded the Thalib military camp in Rada’a district and attacked the 50 soldiers who are stationed there, local sources and military officials reported. The assault lasted six hours and left four soldiers wounded and several military vehicles destroyed. Colonel Hamoud Al-Ammari, Chief of Security in Rada’a, said he was “90 percent sure” that the attack was carried out by Al-Qaeda affiliates.

Debate on US Drone Strikes:
Yemeni at U.S. hearing describes drone strike on his village
Reuters — 23 April 2013
In an emotion-filled voice, Farea Al-Muslimi, a writer, described his shock at the drone attack and the blowback in public opinion from residents against the United States. His comments stood out among the debate over the legal aspects of President Barack Obama’s drone policies at a rare public hearing on the topic held by a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, titled: “Drone Wars: The Constitutional and Counterterrorism Implications of Targeted Killing.”

Drone Strikes and the Boston Marathon Bombing
Atlantic — 23 April 2013
When Lisa Merriam celebrated the assassination of al Awlaki in Forbes, she was under a misapprehension that seems to have motivated that assassination and has helped sustain Obama’s drone strike program: that the enemy should be thought of as a kind of overseas army, and if we kill all its soldiers, we’ll have won.  In truth, the enemy isn’t just jihadists, but jihadist memes. And if every time you kill a jihadist you create several more by spreading the memes, you’re not winning. That’s especially true if some of the jihadists you create are already in America–assets more valuable to America’s enemy than 100 jihadist foot soldiers in Yemen.

National Dialogue:
Concerns over dialogue surface as leading representative suspends participation
Yemen Times — 22 April 2013
Sheikh Ahmed Bin Fareed Al-Suraima, the deputy president of the NDC and the head of the Southern Issue Working Group, has announced his temporary withdrawal from the National Dialogue Conference (NDC). Al-Suraima, dissatisfied with the course of the conference, also urged fellow members of the Southern Separatist Movement, or Hirak to join him in his withdrawal, particularly seven members from Shabwah, an eastern governorate where the sheikh has ancestral roots. However, it appears that Al-Suraima is on his own.

Southern Issue Working Group moves ahead without leader
Yemen Times — 25 April 2013
The National Dialogue Conference’s Southern Issue Working Group is in the middle of discussions relating to the roots of the Southern Issue—including historic economic, political, cultural and legal dimensions—despite the departure of its leader earlier this week. Balqis Al-Lahbi, the first deputy head of the group has been leading his committee members since prominent Hirak (Southern Movement) leader, Ahmed Bin Fareed Al-Suraima officially withdrew his participation on Saturday. Al-Suraima told the Saudi Arabian newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Wasat on Wednesday that he will not be returning to the conference despite media speculation. He has said he will not return unless a list of conditions are met including the implementation of the 20 Points, a list that was prepared by the National Dialogue’s Technical Committee preconference to appease Southern participants.  The list includes an official apology from the state to Southerners for the 1994 Civil War.

The bright side of the Southern Issue’s bottleneck
Yemen Times — 25 April 2013
Another silver lining is that it also provides evidence that the NDC is not operating isolated from the rest of the real world. Although the sessions are being held at a luxury hotel, the participants are aware there are urgent problems that need to be urgently dealt with simultaneously as the dialogue progresses. Finally, in a way, this allows the Southern Movement time to decide what they really want. Until now, the National Dialogue has not really resonated in a lot of ways. Many thought it would ever happen. Now, it is moving on, and many people in the South and specifically in the Southern Movement are trying to identify their priorities. In other words, now they are inclined to focus on what can be accomplished and dismissing the ridiculously high ambitions that are still in the air.

NDC Update
Yemen Times — 22 April 2013
Conference working groups have been given until May 22 to complete their midterm plans. The second general assembly will begin on June 8 and last for one month. In this midterm session, the working groups will present their reports to the General Assembly for their approval. The Consensus Committee will be announced by the end of the week.

Administrative court gives political parties filing lawsuit against Hadi a week to sort legal problems
Yemen Times — 25 April 2013
The Administrative Court in Sana’a, which specializes in issues relating to the executive authorities of the state, announced a one-week recess during which the eight political parties that have filed a case against President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi must prove they are legally-recognized parties and hire a new lawyer. The Ministry of Legal Affairs, the body that represents the president, called into question the legality of eight newly-formed parties’ licenses. The ministry also said the lawyer representing them is illegitimate, as he is also a state-employee.

Migrants:
Thousands of Migrants Stranded in Yemen
Voice of America — 21 April 2013
Recently, Yemen forces raided smuggler camps along the border at Haradh. They are reported to have rescued nearly 2,000 migrants being held against their will. Some had been sold from one smuggling group to another and some were held for ransom. But even after being freed from the camps, there’s little humanitarian aid available for them. Aid agencies said their resources are already stretched very thin. The IOM is appealing for $1.2 million dollars to help Yemen provide shelter, food and health care.

Press:
Following attacks on journalists, press freedom in Yemen at an all-time low
Yemen Times — 25 April 2013
The Freedom Foundation for Media Freedom, Rights and Development issued a statement on Monday saying media freedom in Yemen is at an all time low, following several assassination attempts on journalists recently.  Using their own labeling system, they have called the situation “hazardous.” Since the foundation began in 2012, Khaled Al-Hamadi, the head of the organization, said they have documented a record amount of violations against journalists. Al-Hamadi said 108 journalists have been subject to violations, including assault and the confiscation of their materials like cameras, since the beginning of 2013.

Detainees:
Yemen Wants Their Guantanamo Detainees Back
VICE — 18 April 2013
Yemenis tend to focus on the contradiction between the “American” values of justice, due process, and concern for human rights, coupled with the government’s willingness to hold more than a hundred people in secret for years without trial. Yemeni officials have harped on this incongruity repeatedly. Still, they stress, they are just beginning a long process of bringing the detainees home. Hooriya Mashhour, the Yemeni minister of human rights, hopes to lead an official delegation to Guantanamo soon. In our conversation, she stressed that anything other than the repatriation would be unacceptable. “They don’t just need to be brought home,” she said, noting the challenges detainees would face in finding jobs and reckoning with the psychological effects of their detention. “They need to be rehabilitated.”

Women:
Yemen women divided over rights fight
Al-Jazeera — 20 April 2013
Female activists hope the conference will pave the way for a new, moderate constitution, and an equitable interpretation of Yemen’s penal code and the personal status laws that govern women’s lives. But Aden’s women are split. While some are fixed on achieving this goal through the National Dialogue, others dismiss it as irrelevant, and prioritise their struggle for a separate southern state.

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