Weekly News Update 6 June 2013

Slate/http://www.slate.com/blogs/atlas_obscura/2013/06/04/the_mud_skyscrapers_of_the_walled_city_of_shibam_yemen_known_as_the_manhattan.html

Slate/http://www.slate.com/blogs/atlas_obscura/2013/06/04/the_mud_skyscrapers_of_the_walled_city_of_shibam_yemen_known_as_the_manhattan.html

Highlights:
What’s Behind the Sectarian Tensions in Yemen?
Al-Monitor — 5 June 2013
After the so-called national reconciliation of 1970 between republicans and royalists in northern Yemen, an effort similar to today’s National Dialogue Conference, Saudi Arabia recognized the new regime as a fait accompli and then sought to spread Wahhabi fundamentalism in Yemen. A center was established in Dammaj, Saada, headed by Moqbel al-Widai. Saada was the center of Zaydism, a Shiite school of thought during the imamist era. Saada is also next to the Saudi border. After the 1979 Iranian Revolution, some moderate Zaydi figures adopted the Iranian Shiite Jaafari doctrine in response to the spread of Saudi Wahhabism in the Zaydi region. Most Salafists allied with the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen, and in September 1990 they became a political party called the Yemeni Congregation for Reform (YCR), which sought to spread Sunni doctrine in Zaydi areas in Yemen. For a time, there was a cold war between Sunni political Islamism (YCR) and Shiite political Islamism (Hizb al-Haq and religious figures before the Houthi movement). That was followed by the Houthi movement in 2004.

Institutional Reforms in Yemen
Yemen Times — 6 June 2013
Advocates of the separation of the South referred to the Sudanese experience as a model to solve the Southern question. After signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA, of Sudan in 2005, a political referendum was held in 2011 where Sudanese southerners decided to establish their own independent state. As a result of this, the Republic of South Sudan became the youngest nation to join the United Nations in the last two years. The irony of separation, however, is that it did not bring peace between the two signatories of the CPA because of their unsolved political issues and persistent political mistrust. Recent military tensions and hostilities between North and South Sudan demonstrated that separation in the presence of unsolved security, economic, and border issues may not help end political conflict within and between such states. North and South Yemen had their share of political conflict and military disputes before the unification of 1990. The unification period from 1990 to 2011 did not help in building a united, modern state in the country.

Yemen’s Real Blackout
Al-Monitor — 31 May 2013
Despite its current state of general disorganization, the transitional government has become quite creative in its suppression of national movements. Rather than outright confrontation, it engages a variety of ploys to isolate movements from international attention, fearing that more “traditional” tactics of using force might garner unwarranted attention and sympathy for such groups. The new policy involves media blackouts of events combined with the intimidation of reporters, preventing them from visiting the South. Checkpoints in Lahj and Abyan have also been fortified with central security officers in an attempt to stop protesters reaching Aden. Some of these officers exchanged gunfire with protesters the day before the May 21 demonstrations.

National Dialogue:
NDC Update
Yemen Times — 6 June 2013
More than 260 participants—both men and women—of the NDC signed a condemnation statement to the president complaining that the percentage of women in the consensus committee is less than the agreed percentage mentioned in the internal charter of the conference. There are six women among the 24 member committee which makes it 25% As agreed previously, there should be 30%.

Quite a novelty
The Economist — 29 May 2013
Though some powerful southern secessionist leaders and factions have boycotted the conference, it has gone better than expected. But some nonetheless detect an air of unreality. “There are two Yemens,” says a delegate, “the Yemen inside the conference and the Yemen outside it.” For many in impoverished Yemen, the dialogue seems an expensive distraction, amid a moribund economy, high unemployment, and the repeated sabotage of the nation’s electricity infrastructure, which plunges the capital and other cities into 20-hour blackouts.

Houthis:
Houthi leader laid to rest
Yemen Times — 6 June 2013
Hundreds of thousands gathered yesterday morning in Sa’ada to attend the funeral procession of Houthi leader Hussein Badr Al-Dain Al-Houthi, who was killed by government forces in 2004 during the first war waged between Houthis, who were fighting for regional sovereignty, and the state in this northern governorate. The remains of the man many call the spiritual leader of this Zaidi Shia group had been held by the government in Sana’a for nine years before being finally being released for burial.

Justice:
Yemen: Order to Free Hunger Strikers Ignored
Human Rights Watch — 6 June 2013
Prison officials in Yemen should carry out a June 5, 2013 order by President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi to the attorney general to release immediately 19 of 22 detainees on a hunger strike. The detainees have been held for 18 months without charge.

17 Revolutionary Youth go home Thursday, 5 still behind bars
Yemen Times — 6 June 2013
At 11:00 a.m. Thursday morning, 17 out of 22 Revolutionary Youth who have been detained for the last 2 years, left prison. Late Wednesday night, the 17 now-free men had voluntarily stayed imprisoned, in a show of solidarity with five other men who are still being held.  These five other detainees insisted that the 17 leave, Abdulkareem Thu’ail, head of the General Council of the Abducted Revolutionary Youth, said. Thu’ail said that the freed prisoners will continue to advocate for the release of all detained Revolutionary Youth in the days to come.

Economy/Governance:
Yemeni entrepreneurs present their ideas in Sana’a
Yemen Times — 31 May 2013
It’s difficult for Yemenis to find platforms to show their talents and promising projects. But last week, Startup Weekend, a global network of entrepreners, brought dozens of talented youths together in Sana’a to present and share their ideas and small projects. Startup Weekend works to motivate, educate and enable ambitious youths and teams to share their ideas, talents and projects.

Yemen’s ousted president blames new government for widespread power outages
AP via Washington Post — 31 May 2013
Yemen’s ousted president is blaming the country’s new government for widespread power outages that have hit the nation in the past weeks, saying the authorities are failing in their job. Ali Abdullah Saleh spoke in an interview on Yemeni television on Friday, saying that the new leadership is quick to blame him for everything, from “power cuts to sabotages on oil pipelines.”

Yemen, IMF discuss supporting financial policies
Saba News — 4 June 2013
Yemen and International Monetary Fund (IMF) discussed here on Tuesday the mutual cooperation in supporting the technical and financial policies of the public budget and achieving the national economy stability.

Yemen assigns 80% of donor funds to development projects
Al-Shorfa — 4 June 2013
Yemen has received around 80% of the $8 billion pledged to it at donor conferences held last year in Riyadh and New York, officials told Al-Shorfa.

The WB Encourages Other Donorsto Allocate Their Financial Pledges
Yemen Observer — 5 June 2013
Hartwig Schafer, World Bank Director for Egypt Yemen, and Djibouti in the Middle East and North Africa Region, confirmed that about $6.1 billion out of $7.8 billion of donors pledges, closed to 80% has been allocated to specific projects. Schafer called donors to step forward and honor their commitments to advance the development in Yemen. Yemen Observer interviewed Mr. Schafer during his visit to Yemen.

Security:
Yemen gunmen kill senior air force officer
AFP via Al-Arabiya — 1 June 2013
Unidentified assailants shot dead a senior Yemeni air force officer on Saturday in the eastern province of Hadramawt, where Al-Qaeda remains active despite a government crackdown, a security official said. The gunman sped off on the back of a motorbike after killing Colonel Yahya al-Umayssi, commander of the air force detachment at the town of Seiyun, in the inland north of the province, an official said. A witness said that both assailants were masked but that the gunman removed his mask before opening fire, saying: “In the name of God, Allah is great,” as he did so.

Security manager survives assassination attempt
Yemen Times — 3 June 2013
Brigadier Abdulkareem Al-Odaini, the security manager of Dhamar governorate said that an “armed gang” is behind a recent attack that was launched against him. On Saturday, bullets spattered Al-Odaini’s car while on Al-Husainya road, near the headquarters of the security department of the governorate.

Al-Qaeda steals government cars in Taiz
Yemen Times — 6 June 2013
In recent months, the theft of state vehicles has become a serious problem throughout the country and in this central governorate in particular, security officials said. Brigadier Mohammed Al-Shaeri, the security manager of Taiz, said that in the past three months, five cars—bearing government license plates—were hijacked by members of Ansar Al-Sharia, an offshoot of Al-Qaeda. The government plates, Al Shaeri said, allow the gangs to travel incognito, passing for government employees and passing freely through checkpoints.

Two high level officers assassinated in Hadrmout
Yemen Times — 3 June 2013
An unspecified but large number of soldiers from the Seyon air police are threatening to close the airport if authorities do not intervene and bring the murderers of two senior official who were killed in recent days to justice, Hussein Hashim, the security manager of Seyon district, said. Two high level government officers were assassinated Saturday in Seyon district of Hadrmout governorate in two separate accidents.

Yemen launches assault on al Qaeda, several killed
Reuters — 5 June 2013
At least nine people were killed on Wednesday when Yemeni troops launched an offensive on an eastern city, targeting al Qaeda-linked fighters who have declared they aim to set up an Islamist state there, officials and residents said. A Yemeni military source said three soldiers, including the force commander, and at least seven militants were killed in the fighting at Ghail Bawazeer, north of the Hadramout provincial capital of al-Mukalla.

Thousands of weapons seized in Taiz
Yemen Times — 3 June 2013
On Friday, the security apparatus seized a truck in Maoza District, loaded with weapons believed to have originated in Turkey, according to military officials. Brigadier General Mohammed Al-Shaeri said the arms were concealed in mounds of salt. The seized truck was taken to the Security Directorate in order to record the smuggling, and later sent the arms to a military region in Taiz.

Two drone strikes kill seven in southern Yemen-local official
Reuters — 1 June 2013
Two drone strikes killed seven suspected al Qaeda militants in southern Yemen on Saturday, a local official said, nine days after U.S. President Barack Obama said he would only use such strikes when a threat was “continuing and imminent”. In two separate attacks, militants believed to be linked to al Qaeda killed two senior police officers in the eastern part of the country, a local security official said.

Obama must follow Guantanamo promise with action: Yemen
Reuters — 2 June 2013
Yemen gave a qualified welcome on Sunday to President Barack Obama’s promise to lift a ban on repatriating Yemeni prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, saying he now had to back up his words with actions. Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi said his government was building a “rehabilitation center” to house Yemenis who have been detained at the U.S. camp in Cuba for more than a decade.

Rejecting Obama’s plea, House GOP defense bill keeps Guantanamo open, restricts transfers
AP via Fox News — 3 June 2013
Rebuffing President Barack Obama’s latest plea, House Republicans on Monday proposed keeping open the military-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by barring the administration from transferring its terror suspects to the United States or a foreign country such as Yemen. The provisions dealing with the fate of the remaining 166 prisoners are part of a defense policy bill drafted by Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif. The chairman released the bill Monday, two days before Republicans and Democrats on the committee will vote on the measure.

Comedy:
The Show Must Go On
Al-Jazeera — 4 June 2013
Mohammed Al-Ruba’a satire as well as other popular satirical programmes played their part in educating Yemenis too, despite the country’s high illiteracy rate and a firm government control over its media. Al-Ruba’a believes the Arab Spring has set the country on the right path but that the revolution will take a generation to achieve its goals. Many Yemenis agree with him, while others who backed the Arab Spring at the beginning withdrew their support when the political parties jumped on the bandwagon.

Syrian Refugees:
Syrian refugees in Sana’a
Yemen Times — 3 June 2013
Al-Zurqa estimates that about 200 Syrian families, around 1,000 or 1,2000 individuals, have come to Sana’a since 2011. These families can be classified into three categories, Al Zurqa said: merchants and businessmen who arrived in Yemen and start their own businesses, middle-income families who have been hosted by families here and those lower income Syrians, who Al-Zurqa said are living in poor, “destitute” conditions here.

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