Monthly Archives: May 2013

Weekly News Update 30 May 2013

Amal al-Yarisi/Yemen Times/http://www.yementimes.com/en/1681/report/2401/Forgotten-in-Bani-Jarmouz.htm

Amal al-Yarisi/Yemen Times/http://www.yementimes.com/en/1681/report/2401/Forgotten-in-Bani-Jarmouz.htm

Highlights:
New political parties for similar players
La Voix Du Yemen — 26 May 2013
Since the start of the transitional process in Yemen, after that former president Ali Abdallah Saleh was removed from office, the Committee for Affairs of Political Parties and Organizations (CAPPO) recognized 16 political parties and unions during the past two years. According to the CAPPO, only 22 parties were registered between 1995 and 2010. Only two out of the 16 new parties got official representation in the process: the Justice and Building party, founded by former General Popular Congress (GPC) members – Saleh’s ruling party – who defected from the regime during the 2011 uprising, and the salafi Rashad Union. They both received seven seats at the conference.

The Myth of the “Yemen Model”
Huffington Post — 29 May 2013
Each NDC participant receives $100 or $180 (for those coming from outside the capital) per day, in a country where 40 percent of the population lives under $2 a day. A participant told me “I don’t believe this [NDC] will bring about any change, but I can’t find a job either, so why not participate?” This not only destroys any sense of civic duty but it is also in contrast to the two years of civic engagement felt during the uprising. The wide range of volunteer activities by revolutionaries was an important stop in promoting civic engagement. Yet, the way the NDC is organized is also reminiscent of Saleh’s patronage system. It creates what writer Ibrahim Mothana calls, “Per-diocracy” rather than democracy. These challenges have made the NDC the butt of new nicknames: “the market of illusion”, “national sleep hypnosis conference”, and “the foreign national dialogue”. The role of external players in Yemen is perceived negatively for a number of reasons.

Battered By Revolution, Old Sana’a Could Lose Its World Heritage Designation
Wall Street Journal — 28 May 2013
Since the start of Yemen’s 2011 revolution, the inhabitants of this Medieval-era city took advantage of the chaos to repair their crumbling buildings, slapping cement on cracks and replacing traditional carved wood doors with cheaper metal. More than 6,000 houses in Sana’a’s old city create a maze of castle-like structures known for their gingerbread architectural design – where heavy red earth-colored brick buildings with lavish stark-white arches encircle stained glass windows. But this June, UNESCO will determine whether to place old town Sana’a on its list of “World Heritage Sites in Danger,” which could lead to a delisting. Sana’a’s old city was made a UNESCO heritage site in 1998 and the Yemeni government must present a report to UNESCO on how it will preserve the old city to keep its status as a World Heritage Site. The municipality of Sana’a is responding by providing low interest loans to residents of the old city to preserve their homes and shops as long as repairs stay true to the architectural style. And Sana’a’s city council will also provide $1.5 million to finance a “containment plan,” to maintain the old city. Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 23 May 2013

Highlights:
Yemen seeks to answer southern grievances
Financial Times — 19 May 2013
There is pride here – at times shading into snobbery – at what people see as an education and sophistication that is in part a British legacy and compares favourably with Yemen’s “tribal” north. There is also a bitterness at perceived efforts by the north to stifle the south’s development, whether through mismanagement of Aden’s once world-renowned port, or the running down of basic services. “In Ta’iz [in the north] they don’t let the kids cheat in exams,” said 15-year-old Muataz Shamsan, one of a group of teenagers who saluted spontaneously for the camera in front of a southern flag in central Aden. “Here they let us cheat in class because they want us to grow poorer still.” In the cramped claims room of the assets tribunal – which officials say received more than 5,000 cases in its first 15 days – Yahya Hassan Yahya, a 39-year old former soldier, clutches a plan of the house he says was grabbed by the authorities in 1993. Some southerners are also unhappy that influential western powers view a united Yemen as axiomatic, even though the UK, for one, is allowing a referendum on Scottish independence to take place. “Our viewpoint is that a decision [on southern independence] has been made and we can’t keep revisiting settled issues,” one western diplomat said. Other independence sceptics point out that the south – though it has much of Yemen’s small oil reserves – is neither brimming with thriving industries, nor culturally homogenous.

Yemeni Houthi Leader Committed To National Dialogue
Al-Monitor — 19 May 2013
Mohammed Nasser Al-Bakhiti, the representative of Ansarullah (the Houthis’ movement) at Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference, told Al-Monitor in a phone interview about his group’s new religious-political approach for Yemen. Bakhiti asserted that his movement has a great interest in the success of the national dialogue, indicating that the regime’s old guard, the Islamic party of Islah (which combines Salafis and Muslim Brotherhood members) and the Al-Ahmar family don’t want the dialogue to succeed. He added that these powers promote the continuation of corruption in order to protect their interests. The Houthi official said that his group’s new approach for Yemen calls for building a civil democratic state. He added that this approach supports a federal parliamentary system in Yemen based on a “relative electoral Law,” because this system will be able to dismantle the former regime.

Yemen’s National Dialogue: Reshaping the Social
Atlantic Council — 22 May 2013
As for redefining the state-citizen relationship, significantly more engagement should be made with the general population about the Dialogue’s aims and how ordinary Yemenis can contribute to what should be a national reconciliation and rebuilding process not only limited to five hundred sixty-five people. Delegates from each of the working groups will conduct field visits to various governorates to raise awareness, listen, and convey citizens’ concerns, but the scope and reach of their outreach is far too limited. To be sure, there will be security problems that may limit delegates’ ability to travel, but a grassroots process that is locally led could be introduced to gather and transmit input from Yemenis outside the capital, Sanaa. Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 16 May 2013

Highlights:
The Yemeni Way
New York Times — 11 May 2013
The official dialogue has stimulated an even bigger unofficial one. Yemeni Facebook pages and Twitter feeds have exploded with debates about politics, women’s rights and the Army. After decades of being silenced, everyone wants to talk now. Women are one-third of the dialogue delegates, and the men are having to adapt. An American democracy adviser here told me this story: “We find that the women members of the dialogue usually come prepared and show up on time. It’s open seating, so sometimes they sit in the front row. The other day a tribal leader came late and went to the front seat, which was already occupied by a woman, and he said, ‘That’s my seat.’ And she said, ‘No, it’s not.’ ” The dialogue is possible because of the gradual (and messy) way Yemen’s awakening played out. It started in 2011 with youth-led protests that escalated into near civil war and a government breakdown until then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh handed power to a transitional government. Saleh’s party and his followers, along with the biggest opposition bloc, Islah, Yemen’s Muslim Brotherhood, still retained influence. There was no “de-Baathification” or “de-Mubarakization” in Yemen — but much more of a “no-victor-no-vanquished.”

Iran’s Angle in Yemen
Al-Monitor — 14 May 2013
On May 10, the president of the political council of the Houthi movement (Ansarullah) in Yemen, Saleh Habra, met the Iranian ambassador in Sanaa, Mahmoud Hassan Ali Zadeh, in a first public meeting between the two sides. The senior representative of the Houthis in the National Dialogue Conference, Mohammed Nasser al-Bakhiti, confirmed the meeting and told Al-Monitor in a phone interview that the Iranian ambassador had visited Habra in his office in Sanaa. A Zaydi cleric, close to the Houthis and based in Beirut, told Al-Monitor that the Zaydi conditions for the imam apply also to Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, since he is a Hashemite Alawite and he declared his opposition to the unjust rulers and enemies of Islam. Thus, the Houthis and some other Zaydis consider Ayatollah Khamenei, and previously Ayatollah Khomeini (1902-1989), a just imam. Bakhiti did not deny that connection and said to Al-Monitor that since the majority of members of the movement are Zaydi and believe in the Imamate of the prophet’s family, but that the new approach of the group is that the ruler should follow the values of Islam, and he should not necessarily be from Hashemite descent.

Will military rebellions lead to a fractured country?
Yemen Times — 13 May 2013
Hadi’s military restructure—originally announced in December, but really put into action in April—moved troops to other governorates and placed them under new leadership. However, troops have had a tough time making the transition and some are maintaining their loyalty to commanders they served under former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime, Hizam believes. Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 9 May 2013

Highlights:
Postcard From Yemen
New York Times — 7 May 2013
“Yemen suffered from two drugs: qat and easy oil money,” says Eryani. Qat drank all the water, and the easy oil money seduced the rural manpower into leaving for unskilled jobs. But now that most of the Yemeni workers have been sent home from Saudi Arabia, they are finding a country running out of water, with few jobs, and a broken public school system that teaches more religion than science. As a result, what Yemen needs most — an educated class not tied to an increasingly water-deprived agriculture — it cannot get, not without much better leadership and a new political consensus. There is a ray of hope, though. Yemenis are engaged in a unique and peaceful national dialogue — very different from Syria and Egypt and with about a third of the input coming from women — to produce a new leadership. They may be starting at the bottom. But, of all the Arab awakening states, they do have the best chance to start over — now — if they seize it.

Saving the South of Yemen from Itself
Foreign Policy — 7 May 2013
Mr. Hassan al-Yafa’ei, head of the secessionist “Hirak” in al-Houtta South of Yemen, spoke with passion and grief about his region. He is filled with indignation over the unfair discrimination of the South. He is completely convinced, however, that the 1986 civil war is a historical incident that will not be repeated. In his view, the almost 10,000 deaths that occurred in a single month is just an “aberrant phenomenon.” Al-Yafa’ei, just like many other Southerners, underplays the possibility of violence occurring if a Southern secession should take place. Such incessant denial of the possibility of the past repeating itself is convenient for many Southerners who want to become an independent Southern nation — putting the chapter of “Unity gone bad” behind them. The question of “What will happen to the South if a secession takes place?” has rarely been probed by Hirak. The mechanisms of this desired disunion are left to the same politicians who plunged the South of Yemen to its previous fate of wars and instability. And once again, sentiments of people in the streets are high on “self-determination” rhetoric, without adequately thinking through how this step would resolve their political differences and leaders’ penchant for popular exploitation.

Yemen National Dialogue Considers Federal Option
Al-Monitor — 7 May 2013
In this context, the option of “federalism” seems to be the most likely choice among the proposals made during negotiations so far. It is the favored option of the Yemeni Socialist Party, as was made evident by its proposed vision concerning the identity and form of a future state. It is also the most preferred choice of the People’s Congress Party, headed by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and his allies. They were joined by the Baath Party, Nasserite Party and the South Yemen Movement, with small differences between them concerning the details of future governmental “decentralization.” The Socialist Party leans more toward establishing a composite state, with Yemen divided into an unspecified number of federal provinces possessing local governments and parliaments united by a central federal government located in Sanaa that administers all issues relating to sovereignty, such as defense, natural resources and the distribution of wealth. A central government would be overseen by a proportional parliamentary system and a presidency council composed of province governors. Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 2 May 2013

Highlights:
Youth take action
Free Arabs — 29 April 2013
Those posting from Yemen seem to have fully embraced the notion that a total liberation for a nation won’t happen if half of its population is oppressed. The dissemination of this concept is particularly important in a country like Yemen, which is often characterized by its ultra-conservative mores. Luckily, we can see some changes taking shape there – changes I never imagined I’d see. One instance occurred in March of 2013 when a women’s rights activist, Renad Mohammed, managed to hang a massive, feminist, political poster in the heart of Sana’a city for a week. The poster showed women’s rights activist Ala’a al-Eryani holding the following statement: “I’m with the Uprising of Women in the Arab World because I won’t stop demanding my rights.” It was an unprecedented step that brought women’s rights issues directly to the people.

How does Yemen’s revolution end?
Foreign Policy — 26 April 2013
Yemen has had this debate before, after the February 2012 referendum that formally ushered in Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, previously Yemen’s vice president, into the role of transitional president. Then, protesters told the New York Times that they would wait for military reforms. Though the reforms are ongoing, the Yemeni government formalized a large shake-up in the military leadership earlier this month. But revolutions have a tendency to linger — there are no closing ceremonies, as Lebanese satirist Karl Sharro suggested, not even in the speeches delivered at the dismantling of Yemen’s Change Square camp. As she called for an end to the revolution that toppled the president, Karman proposed a new stage. “We have a new revolution,” she told the remaining protesters in the square, “to cleanse the state from corruption.”

Court in Sana’a and general attorney order investigations of former President Saleh and company
Yemen Times — 29 April 2013
General Prosecutor Dr. Ali Al-Awash ordered on Sunday the investigation of former President Ali Abdulla Saleh, his son Ahmed Ali Abdulla Saleh, his brother Ali Saleh Al-Ahmar and affiliates. They are accused of being responsible for the killing of five men who were part of a tribal mediation team killed during the uprising of 2011, which prosecutors are calling an “act of terrorism.” One of the stipulations of the Gulf Initiative signed in November 2012 by Saleh was in return for stepping down from power, he would be granted total immunity from criminal and judicial persecution in Yemeni courts. However, aides and officials who worked with the former president could potentially be brought to court as “terrorists.” Continue reading

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