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.

National Dialogue:
Yemen Confronts Rising Pressure to Divide
Wall Street Journal — 28 May 2013
A federal state is likely to emerge from the talks, officials say, which could see Yemen divided into as many as seven semiautonomous states with San’a remaining the capital. But whether the constitution will be ratified in a countrywide referendum in November is questionable, as Hirak—the southern secessionist party that has largely boycotted the talks—demands that Yemen be partitioned into the northern and southern states that existed before unification in 1990. “The question is, can we sell what we’ve agreed on here in the street to the ordinary citizen? Can we do this, especially in the south?” asked Ahmad Awad Bin Mubarak, the secretary-general of the national talks. “If we can’t prove that we’re implementing real change, then we won’t win over the street. We don’t have the street now, because we’re still talking about promises.”

Former South Yemen President To Continue to Call for Secession
Al-Monitor — 27 May 2013
Ali Salim al-Beidh, who was born in 1939, was the president of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen) and the secretary general of the Yemeni Socialist Party that ruled from 1986 to 1990. It was Beidh who signed a unity agreement with the Yemen Arab Republic’s (North Yemen) President Ali Abdullah Saleh, establishing the Republic of Yemen on May 22, 1990. On May 21, 1994, a war broke out between the two sides and ended on July 7 of the same year with the defeat of the south, as northern forces took control. On May 21, 2009, responding to calls from the Peaceful Southern Movement, Beidh announced his desire for a split between the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, which he represented given that he was president when the unity agreement was signed, and the Yemen Arab Republic. Al-Monitor’s correspondent met with Beidh in his office in Beirut, and asked him about his demands for secession, his position on the establishment of a federal region, the national dialogue and relations with the Houthis, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Russia.

Yemen Making Strides in Transition to Democracy After Arab Spring
New York Times — 25 May 2013
The national dialogue was supposed to address all those problems within six months after it started on March 18. Participants divided into nine specialized committees are forging a new constitution, and presidential and parliamentary elections are planned for February 2014. While they took to the task with gusto, the schedule is in doubt.  Most working groups “have not come to the so-called nitty-gritty,” said Abdul Karim al-Iryani, a former prime minister and one of the men who shaped the dialogue. “They are discussing general things.” A plenary session is scheduled for June 8 to review progress, and many expect an extension of four to six months.

NDC Update
Yemen Times — 30 May 2013
A survey by Percent Corporation polling 1,000 Yemenis in 19 governorates indicated that around 60 percent of Yemenis are aware of the National Dialogue Conference and the highest interest in the NDC is in Dhamar governorate. The least level of interest is in Al-Baidha governorate.

30 withdrawals and replacements in the National Dialouge
Yemen Times — 30 May 2013
The Secretary General of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC), which started over two months ago, announced that in total 30 people have withdrawn from the conference so far because of organizational and personal reasons. Yaser Al-Ro’ini, deputy secretary general of the NDC, said all participating parties and groups are free to replace their NDC members, but it must be done according to procedure.

Police disperse south Yemen protesters
AFP via Gulf News — 26 May 2013
Police fired live rounds and tear gas on Sunday to disperse protesters who tried to storm a hotel in southern Yemen to disrupt a meeting on national dialogue, wounding five people, activists and officials said.

Details about slated election revealed
Yemen Times — 27 May 2013
The Supreme Commission for Elections and referendum announced its schedule to register the voters in the electronic registry for upcoming election, slated for February, 2014. In a press conference held on Sunday in Sana’a, the head of Supreme Commission for Elections and referendum Mohammed Al-Hakimi discussed the amount of funds the commission has received from international donors.

Economy/Governance:
International companies will invest in Yemeni oil
Yemen Times — 27 May 2013
In a speech delivered at the first Yemeni-Turkish forum held in Sana’a this past Saturday, oil and minerals’ minister, Ahmed Dares,  confirmed that 35 international companies are currently competing to invest in 20 oil sites throughout Yemen. The ministry intends to carry out surveys on oil sites in order to provide investors with necessary information and attract more companies to invest in Yemen. The decision to go through with the investment project in Yemen has not yet been finalized. Dares said that this announcement will come in mid-July.

IMF hopes to agree loan for Yemen, mobilize donor aid
Reuters via Al-Arabiya — 25 May 2013
The International Monetary Fund hopes to agree a new longer term loan for impoverished Yemen by the end of 2013 and mobilize aid from international donors which has been slow to arrive. The IMF has not decided yet on the exact size of the program, a central bank official has put at as much as $500 million, as it depends on the financing gap and how much money it will be able to get from the donors, Deputy Managing Director Nemat Shafik said on Tuesday.

Turkey and Yemen Proceed With Energy Partnership
Al-Hayat via Al-Monitor — 28 May 2013
A Yemeni oil source told Al-Hayat yesterday [May 26] that Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yildiz announced his country’s readiness to provide Yemen with electric power needs in return for the purchase of large quantities of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Women:
Need help? Hotlines provide safe space for Yemeni women
Yemen Times — 27 May 2013
Mental health remains a stigma in the most liberal of countries—in conservative Yemen, where the conflicts are many and the solutions seem slow-coming, discussing one’s personal issues comes at a risk. Hotlines are giving Yemenis, women in particular, a new outlet without risking their reputations. When Um Ihab has conflicts with her husband, she calls a hotline and speaks to a woman she has never met and never will.

Four women empower others with vocational center in Sana’a
Yemen Times — 27 May 2013
Outside the Kunuz Educa- tional and Vocational Center in the Al-Noor neighborhood on Taiz Street, children play outside, but inside the building some serious work is going on. “The center is as active and as bustling as a beehive,” said Safa, one of the four women who opened and coaches at this center dedicated to teaching other women vocational skills in income-generation projects. About six months ago, Safa along with her sisters Samah, Aisha, Rufaida received a license from the Ministry of Social Affairs to take their start-up from informal skills training courses to an official entity with non-profit status and tax exemption under Yemeni law.

IDPs:
Displacement, trauma in northern Yemen
IRIN — 27 May 2013
While Yemen’s overall IDP figures have declined by more than 100,000 since 2011 when roughly 463,000 sought temporary refuge around the country, progress has been lopsided and resource flows disproportionate. The military expulsion of al-Qaeda groups last summer in Abyan and neighbouring governorates in the south paved the way for the return of 143,187 returnees, but in the north only 36,845 IDPs returned to Sa’dah.

Guantanamo Bay:
Obama lifts ban on transfer of Guantanamo detainees to Yemen amid improving security there
AP via Washington Post — 23 May 2013
President Barack Obama is lifting his self-imposed ban on transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees to Yemen, where a leadership upheaval has improved the country’s security but not eliminated a terrorist organization trying to recruit jihadists.

Repatriating detainees to Yemen key to closing Guantanamo
Reuters — 23 May 2013
Lifting the ban does not mean transfers to Yemen will immediately take place. Current law requires the Defense Department to certify for each transferred prisoner that the destination country is not a state sponsor of terrorism and would take action to make sure the individual would not threaten the United States. Unless those provisions are removed or expire, they would have to be followed. No prisoners have been certified yet so it is not known how long the process takes.

Yemen: Investigate, Respond to Landmine Use Reports
Human Rights Watch — 27 May 2013
The government of Yemen should investigate and respond to allegations that the Republican Guards laid banned antipersonnel landmines at a location north of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, in 2011, Human Rights Watch said today ahead of a week-long meeting of state parties to the Mine Ban Treaty. Yemen should take immediate action to assist civilian victims of the recently laid mines and to clear the mine-affected areas, Human Rights Watch said.

Yemen Applauds Obama’s Gitmo Decision
Wall Street Journal — 23 May 2013
Mohammed Albasha, spokesman for Yemen’s U.S. embassy, said the government “will work with the United States to take all necessary steps to ensure the safe return of its detainees and will continue working towards their gradual rehabilitation and integration back into society.” Mr. Albasha added: “Yemen’s partnership with the United States is strong, and [the government] values the ongoing cooperation to tackle mutual threats and promote the unity, stability, and prosperity of the nation.”

Security:
Yemen appeals for funds for Guantanamo prisoners rehab center
Reuters — 29 May 2013
Yemen’s human rights minister appealed to the United States and Gulf Arab countries to help fund a $20 million rehabilitation centre that Sanaa says will stop Yemenis released from Guantanamo Bay prison going back to militant activities. Washington halted the repatriation of Yemeni prisoners in 2010 after a man trained by al Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen attempted to blow up a U.S.-bound plane in 2009 with a bomb concealed in his underwear.

Yemen’s main oil pipeline attacked, pumping stopped
Reuters — 24 May 2013
Attackers blew up Yemen’s main oil export pipeline on Friday, halting the flow of crude, the government and industry sources said. “Subversive elements” in Serwah in central Maarib province had blown up the pipeline, which leads to the Red Sea, at dawn on Friday, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

US Should Move Beyond Drones in Yemen
Al-Monitor — 22 May 2013
Evidence suggesting that the aid is going to waste exacerbates this neglect. A March 2013 GAO report noted that two counterterrorism units in Yemen’s defense and interior ministries had received significant American assistance, but had limited or no involvement in actual counterterrorism operations. These internal obstacles are largely the result of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s influence over certain units, as well as a lack of coordination between the Ministries of Defense and Interior. While recent reforms have alleviated some of these issues, the Yemeni military’s decades-long history of dysfunction could render hundreds of millions of dollars in US assistance ineffective without rigorous oversight. This assistance could be used as leverage to encourage essential reforms, but the Pentagon needs to know where it is going and how it is being used for it to be effective.

Yemen says fighting in south leaves 3 al-Qaida militants , 2 soldiers dead
AP via Washington Post — 24 May 2013
A security official says al-Qaida gunmen attacked a military position in a southern province, touching off fighting that left three militants and two soldiers dead. The official said the Friday attack in the mountainous al-Thalib region in the militant stronghold of al-Bayda province was repulsed, and nearby army positions responded with heavy artillery shelling.

Bomb in Yemeni military vehicle kills two and injures six
Reuters — 25 May 2013
A remotely-detonated bomb planted in a military vehicle killed a soldier and a civilian and injured six other soldiers in the Hadramaut region of eastern Yemen on Saturday evening, a local security official said. The explosion took place in the town of al-Shehr as the vehicle drove along a main road, the official said. He added Islamist militants were suspected of the bombing.

Gunmen kill regional special forces commander in Yemen
Reuters via Chicago Tribune — 25 May 2013
Gunmen on a motorbike shot dead a special forces commander in Yemen’s eastern Hadramaut region on Sunday, a security official said. The attackers were believed to be al Qaeda members, the official said. They shot Captain Majed Muttair as he left his home in the city of al-Qatar.

Police: Lawmaker behind abduction of 2 South Africans in Taiz, Yemen’s second largest city
AP via Washington Post — 27 May 2013
Gunmen abducted two South African citizens Monday in Yemen’s second largest city, Taiz, and police said a lawmaker was behind the kidnapping to pressure the government to hand over a disputed piece of land. It was the latest twist in Yemen’s bumpy road to democracy after more than three decades of autocratic rule that ended with longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s ouster in an uprising last year. The country’s new president is struggling to unify the country and its armed forces in the face of resistance from an active al-Qaida branch in Yemen and powerful tribes.

Yemen: Lawmaker Denies Connection to Kidnapping
AP via ABC News — 29 May 2013
A Yemeni lawmaker has denied involvement in the abduction of two South African nationals in the city of Taiz after authorities accused him of orchestrating the kidnapping to pressure authorities to give him a disputed piece of land.

S. African diplomats go to Yemen over kidnapped couple
AFP via Google News — 29 May 2013
South African diplomats were Wednesday heading to Yemen to try to secure the release of a couple kidnapped this week in the central city of Taiz, the foreign affairs ministry said. “Yes they (the couple) are South Africans and our officials from the neighbouring country of Saudi Arabia are travelling to Yemen to see how we can help secure their release,” ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela told AFP.

Tribal mediation freed abducted journalists in Mareb
Yemen Observer — 27 May 2013
The three abducted journalists were released Friday night, May 24, after a tribal mediation was held, a close source told Yemen Observer. The source stated that a tribal mediation led by Mareb Province governor Sultan al-Ar’ada and Sheikh Sultan al-Bakeri, sheikh from the same area, resulted in freeing the journalists abducted by masked gunmen after being detained for more than two weeks in Mareb province while heading for Mahra province.

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