Weekly News Update 20 June 2013

Tik Root/BBC News/http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22933234

Tik Root/BBC News/http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22933234

Highlights:
Fears Grow Over Yemenis’ Ties to Iran
Wall Street Journal — 18 June 2013
Iran is training militants who are aligned with a separatist movement in southern Yemen, while Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, is providing some funding and media training to the group, people familiar with the situation say. Iran has also directed arms, including heat-seeking missiles, toward these militants, Yemeni and Western officials say, citing intelligence reports. “If the south of Yemen were to break away and become an ally of the Iranians, it would be a major strategic gain for Tehran,” said Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow and director of the Brookings’ Intelligence Project, part of the Brookings’ Institute. “It might more than compensate for the loss of Syria if Assad’s government falls.” “Some Hiraki youth have gone to Iran for training. They got tired of our promises and sought the funds and training to fight the northern occupation,” said Qassem Askar, Hirak’s secretary-general. “And senior leaders [from Hirak] went to the Houthis for weapons about a year ago, and we warned them to stop.” Hezbollah has also provided some funding to Hirak’s leadership and given media training for Hirak’s antigovernment TV station, Aden Live, which is broadcast into Yemen from Beirut, said Mr. Askar.

Alaa Jarban: One of Yemen’s first openly gay men
BBC News — 18 June 2013
Last week, inspired by the hope the revolution created, Alaa became one of the first people to come out publicly as gay while still living in Yemen. Those following him on social networking sites found out about his sexual orientation through a link to his blog where he announced: “I’m Queer.” Asked why he came out so openly when the repercussions could be so severe, Mr Jarban replied: “It’s very difficult to live a life that is not you every single day. Kamal al-Solaylee – author of Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes, a book about the trials he faced coming out as member of the Yemeni diaspora – described Mr Jarban’s decision as brave, especially for a man so young.

Yemen’s National Dialogue Behind Closed Doors
Atlantic Council — 17 June 2013
This shortage of information and lack of community is still at times blamed on budget constraints even though the NDC’s official website reports that a total of 138 computers, thirty-five laptops and 225 cell phones were purchased. The initial budget for the NDC was an estimated $35 million dollars and according to more recent reports, $29 million has already been utilized. It is public knowledge that members of the NDC residing in Sana’a are compensated $100 per day and those residing outside of Sana’a are compensated a $180 per day.

Power:
Yemen struggles to keep the lights on amid frequent power line sabotage
Christian Science Monitor — 14 June 2013
Arguably, the most hated man in Yemen today is not a corrupt businessman or controversial politician, but a once-unknown sheikh named Mohamed Kalfoot. The sheikh is certainly not the only man to blame. But the tribal leader, depicted by government statements as the self-interested key ringleader of a sabotage-ring in the central province of Mareb, has become so synonymous with attacks on power lines that even Yemeni newspapers have come to refer to saboteurs and their supporters as “kalafeet” or “kalfoots.” The power line attacks often plunge Sanaa and other cities into 20-plus-hour blackouts. Power cuts in Sanaa were once largely limited to hour-long rolling blackouts. But as the central government’s already fragile hold on much of the country unraveled amid the 2011 uprising against former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, the government proved unable or perhaps unwilling to prevent power line sabotage. The country experienced months of near-constant power cuts.

Sheikhs call for execution of power line saboteurs
Yemen Times — 17 June 2013
The largest tribes in Marib, the Al Hutaik and Al Jardan tribes, signed a tribal order declaring the legality of executing those behind oil and gas pipeline attacks. The move came after military forces launched an attack on the alleged location of the saboteurs. Last week saw several attacks that left numerous governorates without power for up to five days.

Houthis:
Yemen’s Houthi rebels defy years of war and repression
BBC News — 17 June 2013
The Houthis were among the first to join the uprisings. In a way, it was a battle they had been involved in for years. “They were one of the first predecessors of the Arab Spring. They were anti-Saleh, they were anti-repression,” said Madeleine Wells, a PhD student at George Washington University and author of a comprehensive Rand report on the Houthi conflict.  Also known as Ansar Allah (Supporters of God), the Houthis have seen their standing rise dramatically during the transition period.

Yemen Zaidis say rebels freed after clashes
AFP via Google News — 15 June 2013
Shiite rebels in Yemen known as Zaidis said on Saturday several of their men arrested during clashes with police in Sanaa have been freed under an “arrangement”. “The authorities have released a number of detainees, members of Ansarullah (Supporters of God),” their spokesman Ali al-Bukhaiti told AFP. Bukhaiti, one of the group’s representatives in a Yemeni national dialogue, said they were freed “in an arrangement with the authorities” under which members of the group wounded in clashes last Sunday will be treated.

Who was Hussein Al-Houthi?
Yemen Times — 17 June 2013
Although nine years have passed since Hussein Al-Houthi, the founder of the Houthi group, was killed, he was laid to rest just this month.  His funeral was held in Sa’ada, in the mountainous Marran area north of the capital, where the bearded religious leader hoped to create a new, more religiously devout society.

Guantanamo:
Yemen protesters rally in front of US Embassy, call for release of Guantanamo detainees
AP via Washington Post — 17 June 2013
Mohammed Nagi of Yemen-based National Organization For Defending Rights and Freedom known as Hood says activists are demanding that President Barak Obama enforce his pledge to close Guantanamo Bay and transfer 68 detainees home, including 56 Yemenis. Seven American activists joined the rally Monday. Protesters dressed in orange clothes similar to detainees’ uniforms.

Security:
Yemen security official says Dutch couple kidnapped in capital
AP via Washington Post — 15 June 2013
Yemeni security officials say a Dutch couple is believed to have been kidnapped from the capital, Sanaa. The officials say police received a phone call that prompted them check on the couple in their apartment. They broke down the door after no one answered and found only the couple’s pet dog.

Yemeni kidnap 11 soldiers to swap for relative
AFP via Fox News — 20 June 2013
Yemeni tribesmen have kidnapped 11 soldiers, including two officers, and are demanding the release of a relative convicted of murder, tribal sources said on Wednesday. Members of the Al-Marakisha tribe, in the southern province of Abyan, kidnapped two colonels and nine soldiers, to pressure authorities to release Ahmed al-Marakisha, the sources said.

Economy/Governance:
Yemen to receive $144m loan from Arab Monetary Fund in 2013
Reuters via Al-Arabiya — 17 June 2013
The AMF loan will support a set of reforms begun in 2012 that aim to stabilize the Yemeni economy, improve living standards and restructure government departments and their services, the fund said in a statement. The first, $96m-tranche of the loan was signed on Sunday and a second tranche will be provided later. The latest loan brings the total AMF support to Yemen to $1.1 billion in the past two years, the fund said.

International Community Urged to Fulfill Commitments to Yemen
World Bank — 19 June 2013
The World Bank urged international donors to deliver on commitments to Yemen at a meeting in Sana’a today which focused on the country’s reform agenda and took stock of progress made so far.  On the sidelines of the meeting, the World Bank also signed two grant agreements with the Government of Yemen totaling US$9.2 million designed to underpin the sort of initiatives Yemen’s economy needs urgently to boost small businesses and help rebuild trust in public institutions. Since the donor meeting in Riyadh in September last year organized by the World Bank, Saudi Arabia, the GCC Secretariat and the Government of Yemen, over US$7.9 billion was committed to support Yemen’s political transition. Today’s meeting, the second follow up, determined that a total of US$2 billion has been disbursed so far, US$6.7 billion (85%) has been allocated and US$3.5 billion (45%) has been approved by respective donors and the government of Yemen.

Presidential consultancy for anticipated price increase implementation
Yemen Observer — 17 June 2013
Daily newspaper said according to a reliable political source that a final consultancy is ongoing between President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the Reconciliation Government (RG) for approval of new price hikes of food commodities and the cost of living in the country.

Yemen has 6 more months to meet UNESCO standards
Yemen Times — 20 June 2013
During the World Heritage Conference in Cambodia this past week, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) gave Yemen six months to meet the standards it has set for Zabid and Sana’a’s Old City or risk losing its World Heritage List status.

World Bank, IMF pressure Yemen to end fuel subsidies
Yemen Times — 20 June 2013
Before receiving funds from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and donor nations, Yemen must first end government subsidies for fuel, a member of parliament revealed to Yemen Times.  The source said that the government intends to issue a decree ending the subsidies. It’s a move the government will be forced to take, he said, to meet the requirements necessary for receiving the economic reform package.

Swarms of locusts in Sa’ada and Al-Jawf
Yemen Times — 20 June 2013
Swarms of red desert grasshopper locusts have descended on Sa’ada and Al-Jawf governorates, threatening this year’s harvests, the Ministry of Agriculture announced. Locusts can consume 100,000 tons of crops a day—enough food to feed half a million people for an entire year. They munch on leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds and sprouts. Their combined weight is sometimes too much to bear for trees, leaving them with broken branches and worse.

National Dialogue:
Is the Tehama Movement represented at the NDC?
Yemen Times — 20 June 2013
Khalid Khaleel, the founder of Tehama Movement and a member of the NDC, said the sessions of the NDC have not addressed the claims of the group. The sessions focused on limited remedies of some rights issues and violations committed against people in Hodeida, Khaleel said. Abduljaleel Al-Abdali, a youth activist in Hodeida, worried that the actions of the movement could further fracture the country. “We should not protest like this. Otherwise, every governorate would have a movement,” he said.

Electronic voting system coming to Yemen
Yemen Times — 20 June 2013
The electronic registration and voting system will cost $22 million, El-Eryani said. When the Yemeni government fell short of the sum needed, the United Nations and other donor countries stepped in to provide funding.

NDC Update
Yemen Times — 20 June 2013
A recent survey by the NDC Secretariat and Save the Children indicated that 57 percent of Yemenis trust that the National Dialogue will solve Yemen’s problems. Around one third of the respondents to the survey, mostly men, think of agreement when they hear the word National Dialogue and very few think of power sharing, modern state, security or even federation.

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