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.”

Qat:
Quitting Qat
The Arabist — 29 April 2013
In the district of Haraz , they are replacing qat with coffee and almonds, the northern [region] of Haraz will be qat-free in three months. There is a firm that is buying the almond and selling it outside Yemen. The farmers there said that they are gaining more money now, they plant almond. There is a law that has a long-term strategy (to be implemented over the next 20 years) that would give the farmers alternative crops and uproot 10% of all qat trees [annually]. Besides banning the chemicals farmers are applying to qat trees to make it grow the whole year (the trees must be specially treated to produce leaves all year round) and protesting for bans on qat use by government officials, many of whom use it during work hours.

Press:
Journalists attacked, threatened amid Yemen protests
Committee to Protect Journalists — 29 April 2013
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns an attack on Al-Jazeera journalists and threats against a Sky News Arabia news crew by anti-government protesters in Aden on Saturday–the latest in a wave of violence against the press in the country. Al-Jazeera correspondent Yasser Hassan and cameraman Samir al-Nimri were beaten by dozens of supporters of Yemen’s southern secessionist movement in the southern city of Aden, a network spokesman told CPJ. Hassan was hospitalized with a broken nose and Nimri’s body was covered in bruises. A third crew member, correspondent Safa Karman, was unharmed, news reports said.

Saleh:
Court Orders Investigation of Ex-President
Human Rights Watch — 30 April 2013
“The court ordered investigation of former president Saleh and several top aides for the ‘Friday of Dignity’ massacre may prove a breakthrough for justice in Yemen, but only if prosecutors now do their jobs,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities should leave no stone unturned until they have identified the people responsible for these killings and held them to account.” A day after the court order, Attorney General Ali al-Awash also ordered an investigation of Saleh and his son Ahmed Ali, until recently the commander of the elite Republican Guard, in connection with the May 2011 shelling of a home belonging to the country’s powerful al-Ahmar tribe. The strike killed several people including tribal mediators. At the time of the attack, the sheikhs had been trying to end a political standoff between Saleh and al-Ahmar family members who supported the uprising.

US Counterterrorism:
Yemenis languish in Guantanamo prison with scant hope of release
Reuters — 29 April 2013
Yemeni rights activists say a U.S. military committee that studied the cases of the inmates had recommended that 58 of the Yemenis at Guantanamo prison be returned home. Abdelrahman Barman, a Yemeni human rights attorney, said the United States had demanded that the Yemenis be sent to Qatar or to Saudi Arabia to ensure they did not return home to join al Qaeda. About 11 Saudis freed from Guantanamo later quit a Saudi rehabilitation programme and disappeared, security analysts say. “Those who returned to al Qaeda did so because they were kept under constant harassment by security forces and found the doors (for normal life) closed,” Barman said.

Senator Urges Transfer of Guantánamo Detainees to Yemen Amid Revolt
New York Times — 29 April 2013
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who is chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, declared on Thursday that it was time to consider lifting a ban on repatriating low-level detainees to Yemen from the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, amid rising desperation and a hunger strike among inmates there.  Of the 166 wartime detainees who remain at Guantánamo, 86 were approved for transfer more than three years ago, but remain in Cuba. Of those, 56 are from Yemen, where President Obama halted any further transfers after the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner by a Yemeni-based branch of Al Qaeda on Dec. 25, 2009.

Guantanamo strike sparks outcry in Yemen
Al-Jazeera — 25 April 2013
An ongoing hunger strike by nearly half of Guantanamo’s 166 prisoners has galvanised street protests outside the US embassy in Yemen, where detainees’ long-suffering families have been raising their voices. Amina al-Rabaia, a 34-year-old schoolteacher from the capital, is the sole member of her close-knit family – ripped apart during the past decade – who is still able to speak out. In 2001, Amina’s worried parents had sent her 19-year-old brother, Salman al-Rabaia, to Afghanistan to bring back their older brother Fawaz, who had lived there for years.

US drones strain on Yemeni’s dual loyalties
BBC News — 30 April 2013
Joshua Foust, PBS’s National Security Columnist, and a regular writer on the issue, believes that US policymakers choose drones because it is the best current option on the table when it comes to dealing with Yemen.  “They [the US] cannot solve the problem of the [secessionist] Southern Movement or the [insurgent] Houthis or even AQAP… but they can disrupt AQAP to where it can’t organise another attack on the US,” he said.  Mr Foust said drones must be seen as part of a wider strategy. “Drones can be an effective tool if they’re part of a larger strategy to counter and marginalise terror groups,” he added. “But if drone strikes are the entirety of the strategy, or the only publicly visible part of that strategy, then they will not work.”

Living in Terror Under a Drone-Filled Sky in Yemen
The Atlantic — 29 April 2013
More significantly, thousands of Yemeni residents are showing signs of a vast range of psychological disorders linked to the fear of living under spy planes and drones, including trauma, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, particularly since many report hearing a constant buzzing sound from the drones flying overhead. Some women claim to have miscarried from the sound of nearby strikes, and activists say this is a growing phenomenon. None of the families interviewed has received any type of compensation for damage or death. “Whether true or false, if Yemenis believe drones are causing miscarriages, that’s as detrimental to the U.S. winning hearts and minds as if it were reality,” said Letta Tayler, a Yemen expert with New York-based Human Rights Watch. “There is an enormous amount of anger over the targeted killing program. If the U.S. makes mistakes, it needs to apologize, compensate, and hold thorough investigations to help prevent further deaths of civilians.”

National Dialogue/The Southern Movement:
Four leading Hirak members freed from prison after years of detainment
Yemen Times — 2 May 2013
On Monday, security authorities in Sana’a and Aden released four detainees belonging to Hirak including Bajash Al-Aghbari, a leading figure in the Southern secessionist movement. Al-Aghbari was arrested in 1994. Abdu Rabu Mahraq, who has been imprisoned in Aden for the past year, was also released. Additionally, Hassan Banan and Khalid Saleh, were set free from the central prison in Sana’a. The prisoners were released following orders from President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi.

Hundreds of thousands of Southerners commemorate Civil War of 1994
Yemen Times — 29 April 2013
Hundreds of thousands of Southern Movement supporters gathered in the Khor Maksar district of Aden on Saturday to commemorate the 19th anniversary of former President Ali Abdualla Saleh’s declaration of war on the South in 1994. During the demonstration, protestors raised flags of the former Southern state and held photos of former Southern President Ali Salem Al-Beidh. Al-Beidh remains a contentious figure who has been accused of disrupting Yemen’s transitional process by calling for separation. Although no acts of violence were reported in Aden on the war anniversary, in the Southern governorate of Seyon, a group of Southern Movement members reportedly burned down a commercial center believed to belong to a Northerner, according to Al-Nawba.

NDC Update
Yemen Times — 2 May 2013
Ansar allah, also known as the Houthis, threatened to boycott the conference next week if the president does not release two of their affiliates currently imprisoned. Both men, Mohammed Qasim Al-Hasimi and Hussien Al-Jabri were arrested last month at Sana’a airport in separate incidents.

NDC Update
Yemen Times — 29 April 2013
The Standards and Order committee of the conference, which is responsible for the individual performance of participants, suspended 20 members on Sunday because of their truancy. The Yemeni government has spent more than YR240 million, a little over $1 million, on allowances for conference participants between March 18 and April 5. It is expected that the size of the NDC will increase by at least 20 participants when new members from the Southern Movement who are currently abroad join the conference next month.

Security:
Yemen blames al-Qaeda for troop deaths
Al-Jazeera — 28 April 2013
Suspected Al-Qaeda fighters have killed five Yemeni soldiers in an attack on a checkpoint southeast of Sanaa, according to an official, while two assailants have reportedly been killed. The attack on Saturday targeted an army checkpoint in the district of Rada, where the interior ministry said it had mounted security measures late on Friday following intelligence about possible attacks by al-Qaeda fighters. Five soldiers were killed and several others were wounded in the attack, the local government official told AFP news agency, adding that some assailants were also killed.

Yemen issues wanted terrorists list
Al-Shorfa — 30 April 2013
According to an Interior Ministry statement, 82 people wanted in connection with various crimes carried out in Sahara district and Hadramaut province have been added to the blacklist, yemen-press.com reported. The list was widely distributed among security agencies, provincial security departments and Amanat Sanaa.

Yemen military intelligence official assassinated
Reuters via Daily Star — 28 April 2013
Two suspected Islamist militants shot dead a provincial military intelligence chief in Yemen on Saturday, a security official said, the latest in a series of assassinations in the impoverished state’s lawless south and east. The gunmen opened fire from a motorbike, killing Colonel Ahmed Abdulrazzaq, intelligence head in Yemen’s Hadramawt Province, outside his home in Mukalla on the Arabian Sea.

Prisoners continue hunger strike at Political Security Bureau, say unjustly being detained
Yemen Times — 29 April 2013
An estimated 20 terror-suspects detained at the Political Security Bureau in Sana’a are going into their second week of a hunger strike. Human rights organizations say the prisoners are protesting their detainment, which they call arbitrary. Mohammed Al-Ahmadi, a representative from the Al-Karama Foundation, an organization dedicated to human rights, said the detainees have either not received a trial, have been acquitted, or in some cases have served their penalty.

Economy/Governance:
Yemen honors its workers, the backbone of the nation’s economy
Yemen Times — 2 May 2013
Even those with the coveted government jobs had complaints this Labor Day. Of the estimated 500,000 government employees in Yemen, only about 10 percent of them have official contracts, according to Adnan Abdulaljubat, the head of the department for salaries and wages at the Civil Service Ministry. To have an official contracts offers an employee and their offspring lifetime employment and benefits.

Religion:
“Yemenis will accept ideas heard from the pulpit:” When religion and politics mix
Yemen Times — 2 May 2013
Mosques have long been loci of political and social transformation in Yemen, Al-Madani said.  “There was cooperation between the former regime and the Muslim Brotherhood in [the Civil War of] 1994. The Muslim Brotherhood issued a fatwa, calling the invasion of the South religiously ‘legitimate.’” The Ministry of Endowment is the government body that is meant to monitor the performance of mosques—and the content of their sermons—throughout the entire country.  Mahmoud Al-Mukhtar works in the Guidance Office in the ministry and says they released notifications during the uprising, urging imams to make their speeches neutral, not provocative.

Education:
Libraries in Sana’a Underfunded, but still havens for learning
Yemen Times — 29 April 2013
This library, which opened in 2005 and now has over 500 books on its shelves, has been hailed as the biggest success in a library creation project that was started in 1998 as part of a Social Fund for Development initiative. The Social Fund for Development, a government entity that provides money for social issues, helped start 87 libraries with this project in cooperation with the Yemeni Association for Culture and Knowledge Dissemination (YACKD), a local non-profit. These libraries were established as public spaces for children, but some have grown into facilities for people of all ages and some seek funding from international book organizations to keep their libraries growing.   While each library was started with anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000 from the Social Fund for Development, they are all run by private organizations or individuals. All project proposals had to be in a densely populated area lacking educational services.

Aisha School: struggling but back on track after revolution
Yemen Times — 29 April 2013
When Yemen celebrates Teachers’ Day it doesn’t last just one day, but instead extends for over three weeks, starting on April 16 and ending on May 6. Across the country, teachers receive praise. Schools hold small celebrations and the Ministry of Education distributes awards—including a certificate and a small prize—to teachers of all levels. There are around 300 public schools, like Aisha School, in Sana’a and around 20,000 teachers. Dr. Abdulrazaq Al-Ashwal, the Minister of Education, said 200 teachers country-wide will be awarded this year at an upcoming ceremony in Sana’a on May 6. Mohammed Abdulla Al-Fadhli, the manager of the Education Office of Sana’a, said the ministry selecting the awardees based on what they call “excellent performance,” taking into account the number of classes held weekly and how long they’ve been working in the field.

Migrants:
Over 30,000 refugees and migrants arrive in Yemen so far this year
UNHCR — 26 April 2013
In Yemen, UNHCR has recorded the arrival of over 30,000 refugees and migrants so far this year. Most are Ethiopian nationals, with the rest coming from Somalia and a very small number from other African countries. In total, and since 2006 when UNHCR began gathering data, close to half a million people (477,000) have arrived in Yemen by taking the perilous boat journey from the Horn of Africa. Recorded arrivals in Yemen of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants have been rising in each of the past six years. Last year 107,500 people made the journey. The arrival rate so far this year compares to 33,634 arrivals in the same period of 2012.

Stranded Ethiopians in Sana’a ask government to take them home
Yemen Times — 2 May 2013
The Passport Authority says they are working on the case of around 60 Ethiopian migrants who having been sitting outside the authority’s building for about a week, asking to be repatriated to their home country.  “I don’t have [enough] money to pay for a smuggler to take me to Saudi Arabia, and I didn’t find work in Yemen,” said one of the protestors who asked not to be named.

Oil Pipeline:
Yemen pipeline attacked, oil flow halts: officials
AFP via Google News — 30 April 2013
Saboteurs on Tuesday blew up the main pipeline linking oilfields in Yemen’s eastern Marib province to an export terminal on the Red Sea, almost halting the flow of oil, officials said. The armed group attacked the pipeline in the Wadi Abida area of Marib, the local government officials told AFP. “Oil flow came to a near complete halt,” said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The same group late on Monday sabotaged Marib’s power lines, leaving the province in “total darkness” and bringing the gas plant services to a halt, another official said.

Saudi Relations:
Yemen denies border maps’ modification with Saudi Arabia
Saba Net — 30 April 2013
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs categorically denied on Tuesday what has been reported by some local websites about modifying the maps of the borders with Saudi Arabia.

Turkey:
No visa-free travel to Turkey for Yemenis yet, agreement postponed
Yemen Times — 2 May 2013
The Turkish Embassy in Sana’a announced on Tuesday that the previously-promised removal of travel visas between Yemen and Turkey will be delayed. Both countries had agreed in 2011 to do away with visa requirements, meaning that both Yemenis and Turks could travel more freely. The new agreement was meant to come into effect on Wednesday, but Fazli Corman, Turkey’s ambassador to Yemen, said “legal obstacles” have forced them to change plans. The reasons for the delay are technical, and have to do with a clause about “readmission.”

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