Weekly News Update 19 July 2013


Yemen Times

Al Qaeda in Yemen: On the ropes
CNN — 18 July 2013
A Yemeni tribal leader close to AQAP says the drone strikes have sown mistrust within the group, where there is “a feeling that the Americans have infiltrated its ranks, especially with the killing of several of its leaders.” And despite its focus on attacking U.S. targets, AQAP has not tried to attack one since its October 2010 attempt to plant bombs hidden in printer cartridges on cargo planes destined for the United States. (Last year AQAP plotted to send an operative with explosives in his underwear aboard a plane bound for the United States, but that operative was actually secretly working for the British and Saudi intelligence services, so the plot was never a real threat.)

Watching Cairo from Sanaa
Foreign Policy — 12 July 2013
For a few brief days, there was talk about building a Yemeni Tamarod (or rebels, as the Cairo protestors called themselves). There were unofficial discussions between activists from across the political spectrum; the date for massive protests aimed at “correcting the course of the revolution” was tentatively set for July 7. Even at the speculative stage, though, disagreements about everything from demands to acceptable protest slogans foreshadowed that things would eventually come to naught. July 7 came and went with only street protests in the south, as secessionists marked the anniversary of their defeat in Yemen’s 1994 civil war. The closest thing I witnessed to an outburst of discontent came a few days prior. Driving with a friend past the home of Yemen’s embattled prime minister, Mohamed Basindowa, he rolled down his car window, stopped briefly, and shouted “Leave, Uncle Mohamed!”

Yemen Divided Over Egypt
Al-Monitor — 12 July 2013
Lately, the Egyptian crisis has rippled into Yemen, and has been addressed by the official rhetoric of the elite, public, activists and partisans. The discussion can be heard everywhere — cabs, buses and nightly Ramadan gatherings. Seculars and liberals gloated over the Muslim Brotherhood’s loss, provoking responses from Yemen’s Brotherhood. Yemen’s own issues — regardless of how delicate they may be — were rarely discussed in comparison with Egypt’s. This was further highlighted when Sanaa barely spoke of an important event commemorated by the South Yemen Movement, the July 7 anniversary of the 1994 civil war against the south. Usually this event attracts media attention, but this time, Egypt stole the limelight.

After year-and-a-half disappearance Sana’a man returns home
Yemen Times — 18 July 2013
Investigations by the Ministry of Human Rights and the office of the General Prosecutor are underway to confirm the claims made by Zuhair Al-Qurashi, who appeared early on Tuesday morning after a year-and-a-half disappearance, that he had been held and tortured by the National Security since 2011. Before dawn on Tuesday morning, 27-year-old Al-Qurashi appeared at a relative’s home on Al-Siteen Street, in a weak and disoriented state. He said three other captives were also released that morning, but the whereabouts of these men is unknown.

Yemen’s Big Chew: In Defense of Khat
Roads and Kingdoms — 17 July 2013
This is the world of khat: other countries might have six degrees of separation, but in Yemen, a degree or two of chewing seems to link nearly everyone in the country together. An invitation to chew is, in American social currency, like an invite to a happy hour—they’re usually held after the work day, they tend to be quite informal and they often feature a great deal of venting and discussion.  Plenty of ink has been spilled regarding khat, but reports that cast chewing as catastrophic custom (memorable headline: Is Yemen Chewing Itself to Death?) miss the mark. Yes, there are negative effects of excessive khat consumption: its widespread cultivation is straining Yemen’s diminishing aquifers, and many families devote a shocking percentage of their household income to purchasing their daily supply. But I am a khat chewer, and proudly so, because if you want to live in Yemen, and especially if you want to be a correspondent here, khat is the door you have to walk through.

In Yemen, drones’ ill effects linger long after dust settles
Al-Monitor — 17 July 2013
It’s been months since an American airstrike has occurred in Mareb Province, but past strikes still cast a heavy shadow here. Many say that they associate the United States almost solely with one thing: intermittent, unannounced drone strikes. Despite the fact that Yemen’s government openly allows the drone campaign, opposition runs deep in Mareb. Locals say the strikes have inflamed preexisting resentment of the central government, stoked fear among civilians and fueled anti-American sentiment. They also argue that the strikes have ultimately hampered the fight against Al Qaeda.

U.S. citizens advised to leave Yemen
UPI — 17 July 2013
The U.S. State Department issued a travel warning advising against all travel to Yemen because of terrorist activities and civil unrest. “U.S. citizens currently in Yemen should depart,” the Tuesday warning said. “The security threat level in Yemen is extremely high.” Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula called for more homegrown attacks on the United States in a 6-minute video posted online in early June. The al-Qaida franchise, which counts Yemen as its base of operations, has been linked to terrorist plots on the United States and Europe.

Dutch couple kidnapped in Yemen plead for help in video
CNN — 17 July 2013
When contacted by CNN, the Yemeni Interior Ministry would not address who was behind the latest kidnapping. “It is for the best interest of this case that comments are not given by the ministry. But I would like to assure that we are doing our best,” a senior official in the minister’s office said. The official would not say if the government had information on the whereabouts of the Dutch couple. Interior Ministry records show that some 35 kidnapping attempts have taken place in Yemen this year. Most of the victims have been released, all unharmed.

Tentative tribal truce reached
Yemen Times — 18 July 2013
Tribal mediation appears to have initially succeeded in reaching a truce between two warring tribes on the borders of the Marib and Shabwah governorates. “The situation is still volatile,” said Ali Abdu Rabu Al-Qadi, the head of the mediation committee.

In Yemen, Qaeda Branch’s No. 2 Is Dead, Group Confirms
AP via New York Times — 17 July 2013
The Yemen-based branch of Al Qaeda confirmed Wednesday that the group’s No. 2 figure, a former Guantánamo Bay prisoner, was killed in an American drone strike. The announcement gave no date for the death of Saeed al-Shihri, who was born in Saudi Arabia. The confirmation was significant because Mr. Shihri had twice before been reported dead, but the terrorist group denied those reports.

Militants in Yemen kill man suspected of being gay, security officials say
AP via Washington Post — 16 July 2013
Yemeni security official say militants have shot dead a 20-year-old man suspected of being gay in the latest attack targeting homosexuals in the conservative Muslim country. Security officials say at least 33 people have been killed in similar attacks in the past two years. Most of the extrajudicial killings took place in the southern province of Abyan in 2011 when al-Qaida was in control of large swaths of territory.

Deputy of Southern Movement Supreme Council killed
Yemen Times — 15 July 2013
Mohammed Fadhl Jubari, Deputy of the Supreme Council of the Southern Movement, or Hirak, was buried on Saturday, three days after he was shot and killed in Al-Dale City. Al-Dale Security Chief Brigadier Ali Al-Amri said the Southern leader was assassinated on Thursday by armed men in front of a hotel in the center of the city. His killers rode a motorcycle, he said.

Al-Qaeda targets mosque in the vicinity of the US embassy
Yemen Observer — 18 July 2013
A security source revealed that a number of al-Qaeda militants and their allies aim to target al-Mofadhal Mosque which is close to the US Embassy in Sa’wan northeast of the capital Sana’a. “The Ministry of Interior (MoI) received a report on Monday disclosing that two al-Qaeda elements; Hefdhullah al-Azzab and Abdulhakeem Maher along with another group want to target the Mofadhal Mosque in Sheraton neighborhood, near the US embassy” Said the source.

Yemen generator blast kills 14
Gulf News — 14 July 2013
A generator exploded in a home in a village in Yemen killing 14 people, most of them members of a single family, a provincial official said on Sunday. Eight women were among the dead in the blast, which flattened the two-storey house in the village of Qadam, in Al Mahwit province west of the capital, the official told the state-run Saba news agency.

The journey of a Yemeni date
Yemen Times — 15 July 2013
“Yemeni dates are not promoted enough in markets,” said Engineer Abdulkareem Qarhsh, the general manager of production at the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation. “The trust of the Yemeni locals in the national products is shakey.” Even though imported dates-mostly from Saudi Arabia and Iraq-cost almost twice as much, they account for about 90 percent of the demand in markets, because Yemeni suppliers just cannot keep up with the demand, the Ministry of Trade and Agriculture says.

Port of Saleef dispute sparks outcry
Yemen Times — 15 July 2013
This week the Yemeni Company for Industrial Investments was turned away by the Red Sea Ports Corporation, the body that operates the port because the ships they were bringing in weighed more than the 50,000 tons that the port allows. A representative from the Information Department at the Transportation Ministry, Mohammed Al-Sharafi, said the Red Sea Ports Corporation had every right to deny the boat entry as over-weight ships can destroy the port’s docks.  However, after the Yemeni Company for Industrial Investments complained to local authorities, officials forced the port’s administration to unload the ship. A judge ordered the CEO of Red Sea Ports Corporation, Mohammed Abu Bakr Ishaq be arrested.

Houses in Old City of Sana’a date back to more than 400 years, Sanhani
Yemen Observer — 18 July 2013
Old Sana’a just like other Yemeni cities was subject to political turmoil during the recent period when the executive and security role of the state was absent extensively which enable some to play with the ancient city. Salim al-Haimi the vice mayor of the capital Sana’a and vice chairman of save Old Sana’a campaign explained that there are saboteurs who play with the old city and try to change its architectural fabric as some historic buildings were changed and repaired in modern way that deviates the old way.

National Dialogue:
Threatened Unity: Understanding the Tihaman Hirak
Yemeniaty — 16 July 2013
Tihamans want relative autonomy in a Federal Yemen. When it comes to financial matters, they demand that more revenues be allocated to their region. They demand that some of their own resources be dedicated solely to the people of Tihama. Also, they demand the government’s assistance in purchasing agricultural equipments in order to revive what once used to be fertile farmlands.

NDC Update
Yemen Times — 18 July 2013
Over 51 percent of the participants in an online vote in the NDC website agreed the reports presented in the mid-term session are excellent while 18 percent thought they were good. About 14 percent thought they were acceptable and 17 percent decided the next phase will produce better reports.

Newly-minted law backs electronic voter registration
Yemen Times — 18 July 2013
President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi signed off on amendments to the Elections and Referendum Law on Tuesday. The Parliament voted on and ratified the legislation two weeks ago. The amended law, number 13 of 2013, enables the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum (SCER) to move ahead with the nation’s first electronic, electoral register to be used in Yemen’s post National Dialogue Conference (NDC) referendum elections slated for the end of the year and presidential elections, slated for February 2014.

Hadi praises Fired Southerners’ Committee
Yemen Times — 18 July 2013
In a report submitted to President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, Sahl Hamza, head of the Fired Southerners’ Committee, said the committee “finalized 90 percent of its work” but still has a considerable amount of tasks to complete. The Fired Southerners’ Committee was established by President Hadi this year and is working to address outstanding grievances of Yemenis from the South who lost their jobs during and following the brief, brutal civil war of 1994, during which Aden was occupied by military forces from Sana’a.

Can Yemen and Egypt be compared?
Yemen Times — 15 July 2013
But, Ali Al-Ansi, a Parliamentarian who represents the Islah Party, said the situation in Egypt and Yemen cannot be compared. He points out that while Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood controlled the majority of the government the Islah Party affiliates only head four out of Yemen’s 34 ministries. There are further divisions of powers he argues, as Yemen’s Prime Minister isn’t associated with any party and the National Dialogue Conference was designed to provide opposition to Yemen’s powerhouse, the General People’s Congress Party.

Media and the NDC
Yemen Times — 15 July 2013
Media institutions have unfairly covered the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) and have produced a distorted image of the conference to citizens, said director of the NDC Media Center Mohammed Al-Asadi. The NDC has garnered heavy media coverage since the formation of the NDC technical committee in July 2012 and its opening session in March.

Ethiopian migrants tell of torture and rape in Yemen
BBC News — 14 July 2013
But Yemen is ill-equipped to solve this problem when it is fighting two insurgencies that have displaced tens of thousands. International aid is mainly directed towards them and the 200,000 Somali refugees in the south. In the vacuum, gangs of kidnappers and torturers seem to operate at will. But many Ethiopian migrants say the Yemeni army is complicit.

Yemen – living with trauma
IRIN — 14 July 2013
At about one psychiatrist per 500,000 people, the statistic reflects one of the lowest psychiatrist-to-patient ratios in the Arab world. Apart from Al-Amal, there is only one other major treatment centre for mental disorders – the Al-Salam psychiatric hospital in Aden. “The Ministry of Health [and Population] focuses on bodily diseases to the detriment of mental illness,” one medical coordinator at an international humanitarian agency in Sana’a, who asked not to be named, told IRIN. “The ministry doesn’t keep records of how many mental health professionals there are in the country because they don’t know.”

In Yemen, a major campaign to immunize under-5s
UNICEF — 16 July 2013
Although Yemen was declared polio free in 2009, new cases were reported in 2011 and 2012, and routine immunization coverage is well below the optimal level set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO). With 48 cases of wild polio virus recently confirmed in Somalia and Kenya and an influx of migrants from the Horn of Africa to Yemen, the risk of cross-border transmission is also a significant concern.


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