Weekly News Update 25 July 2013

Ali Abulohoom/Yemen Times/http://www.yementimes.com/en/1697/report/2669/Street-vendor-by-day-prize-winning-international-weight-lifter-by-night.htm

Ali Abulohoom/Yemen Times/http://www.yementimes.com/en/1697/report/2669/Street-vendor-by-day-prize-winning-international-weight-lifter-by-night.htm

How Yemen Chewed Itself Dry
Foreign Affairs — 23 July 2013
As policymakers butt heads over the best course for Yemen, the dwindling water supply is already leading to instability: according to Al-Thawra, one of the country’s leading newspapers, 70 to 80 percent of conflicts in Yemen’s rural regions are water-related. And across the country, Yemen’s Interior Ministry estimates, water- and land-related disputes result in about 4,000 deaths each year — 35 times the number of casualties in the deadliest al Qaeda attack in the county’s history.

Yemen’s youth and the fight against corruption
La Voix du Yemen — 22 July 2013
A recent survey by Transparency International seems to confirm this feeling as 56 percent of respondents said the level of corruption in Yemen has increased over the past two years. YTB documents and watches corruption cases especially in governmental apparatuses. Last month, they sued the administration of the Field Hospital, a medical NGO that used to provide medical care for the injured protesters in Change Square in Sana’a during the 2011 uprising, for looting medical equipment and ambulance vehicles that were given to the hospital, and disappeared when the facility closed down.

Voice of Yemen’s hungry poor struggles to be heard in peace dialogue
Financial Times — 24 July 2013
But the country’s poor – over half Yemen’s 25m people – are largely disconnected from the talks. Like Fatima’s parents, they are more concerned with finding food to put on the table. In a survey conducted by the Sana’a-based Yemen Polling Centre in 2012, some 54.3 per cent of interviewees said that their biggest concern was the economy. A July report by the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the body that oversees humanitarian requirements in Yemen on behalf of the UN, found that although rising volumes of aid were reaching the country the humanitarian situation had remained largely unchanged since reaching crisis levels 2011 and 2012. Some 10.5m people do not have enough food to eat, while 1m children are suffering from acute malnutrition, according to OCHA.

Bringing peace, stability and aid back to Yemen’s north
IRIN — 23 July 2013
More than three years after a tentative truce between the Houthi-led Shia movement in the north of Yemen and the government, humanitarian access is starting to open up in the areas still under the control of the Houthi militant forces. Despite repeated skirmishes, the Qatar-supported ceasefire has largely held since February 2010, not least because of a shift in the military’s focus to the south, where Islamist forces seized parts of Abyan Province in 2011, and the end of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-year rule in 2012.

Amid Yemeni Unification Efforts, Houthis Remain Delicate Issue
Al-Monitor — 19 July 2013
It is still unclear to this day how the Houthis were transformed from a small religious group into an organization that becomes more powerful day by day. It is likely that the latest tensions will result in a new scenario that was never seen before: It could be a seventh round of battles or a Houthi expansion of powers.

Sunnis and Shiites wage battle for Yemen’s mosques
AFP via The National — 24 July 2013
Sunni Salafists have been trying to seize control of a mosque led by a Zaidi imam in Sanaa, in response to a similar move by Ansarullah supporters against another mosque led by a Sunni cleric in the capital. This has sparked clashes involving knives as well as abomb attack that wounded five people last week, according to witnesses and police.

Abdulelah Haider Shai:
Yemen journalist pardoned after three years in prison
Reuters — 24 July 2013
A Yemeni journalist and expert on al Qaeda has been released after serving three years of a five-year sentence for aiding the Islamist militant network in Yemen, the president’s office said on Wednesday. U.S. President Barack Obama had personally intervened to keep freelance journalist Abdulelah Haider Shai in jail in 2011 after reports that he was about to be released. Shai is known for his expertise on Islamist militancy and his contacts with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Security official says armed men kidnap Iranian diplomat in capital
AP via Washington Post — 21 July 2013
Gunmen on Sunday kidnapped an Iranian diplomat who was driving his car in the capital, Sanaa, a Yemeni official said. Iran condemned the abduction. The official said armed men stopped the diplomat’s car and forced him into their vehicle before speeding away. He did not disclose the diplomat’s name or any further details, saying the incident is under investigation.

Prominent Popular Committee leader assassinated in Aden
Yemen Times — 22 July 2013
Abyan Popular Committee leader Mohammed Obad Al-Hassani was assassinated by Al-Qaeda affiliated militants in Khor Maksr, Aden governorate on Friday, according to initial investigations by Aden Security Department.

US drone strikes in Yemen cast a long shadow over life on the ground
Guardian — 23 July 2013
Officially the most recent attack on Rada’a was on 20 May, ending a three-week break in hostilities to allow time for “national dialogue” in the capital, supposed to solve the country’s problems. At Obeiraq there are no soldiers to be seen, no wrecked houses. Visually the war is elsewhere, but it is omnipresent in people’s minds. When the people of Manasseh took flight in January, on foot or in their pickups, they thought there was some escape. But the war found its way into their hastily packed belongings. More than 70 families landed in Obeiraq, but there are only about 35 left, roughly 300 people in all. Of course Baraka is relieved at no longer having to hide in the caves or venture home to fetch a bag of flour or dried vegetables. The old woman knows the drones will not kill her here. She is safe in the home of a cousin. “I was sick there,” she says, “and I’m sick here. Sick of the noise, at the thought of what has become of those who stayed behind, at the thought of my home. I’m 100, you know. I’m tired and sick.” She rests on a stick, her deeply lined face surrounded by a brightly coloured shawl, typical of this remote part of Yemen. She is certainly old, but probably not quite as old as she makes out.

Comedian shot to death
Yemen Times — 22 July 2013
Instead of letters of congratulations that she was expecting to see after her wedding—which was to be held this upcoming Eid—the fiancée of young Yemeni actor Sam Al-Mualimi has been flooded with letters of condolence. On Friday early morning, the comedian Al-Mualimi, 28, was killed when armed men opened fire on his car in Saref area, in the suburbs of Sana’a. He was riding with a group of friends, none of whom were injured. The group of armed men had set up a roadblock, stopping drivers and demanding money from them.

High-ranking official injured in bomb blast
Yemen Times — 22 July 2013
Sunday morning, a bomb placed on the underside of a vehicle exploded on Ribat Street in the heart of the capital. Brigadier Abdulla Al-Mihdar, a member of the Military Academy, was seriously injured in the explosion. Eyewitnesses told the Yemen Times the explosion took place at 10:30 a.m. while Al-Mihdar was on his way to work.

New security plan and rapid intervention forces in the capital
Yemen Observer — 22 July 2013
The Military Affairs Committee for security and Stability achievement, chaired by the  Ministers of Defense and Interior Mohammed Nasser Ahmed and Abdul-Kader Mohammed Qahtan stood  in its Sunday meeting, on a new plan for the  restoration of security deployment in the Capital Secretariat.  The committee discussed all the procedures concerning the plan, the proposals, perceptions and visions prepared for attentiveness and security awareness intensification and the enhancement of security presence in certain points for the control and coordination between the military and security units.  for increasing the preparedness of the security and military checkpoints, the mechanisms of their highly professionalism and competence so as to promote security and stability values and gain the  citizens’ confidence in security men.

Two die in clashes in Hadrmout between police and YEC guards
Yemen Times — 22 July 2013
Clashes between police forces and guards of the Yemen Economic Corporation (YEC) left two dead and several injured Saturday in Mukalla, Hadrmout. Hadrmout’s security manager, Fahmi Mahroos told the Yemen Times the clashes broke out because of a misunderstanding regarding the food aid that police forces received from the state-run YEC.

Hodeida Industrial Zone to be developed
Yemen Observer — 19 July 2013
The Cabinet approved forming a steering committee to develop a project of Hodeida Industrial Zone’s origin, with an area of 315 hectares. The memorandum showed that an estimated fund worth of $3.371 million for the project was provided as a grant by Deauville partnership interested in helping the Arab Spring countries.

Mukalla residents condemn oil spill, report health effects
Yemen Times — 22 July 2013
Hundreds of protestors in Mukalla on Thursday condemned a tanker’s oil spill that took place in coastal waters on July 11. Residents gathered on the coast in front of the wrecked ship, which is marooned nearby,  to demand officials take a more proactive role in stopping the tanker’s ongoing leakage of oil.  Mukalla resident Abdulkadir Al-Habashi called the spill a catastrophe  and  criticized officials for their slow response to clean it up. Last week officials tried to move the ship but were unable to stop the seeping oil. The ship is believed to have lost control  after hitting some rocks near the coast and spilling over.

Sewers overflowing in Hodeida, locals take to the streets
Yemen Times — 22 July 2013
Over 50 locals in this western city are protesting against the sanitary conditions of their city, which they say are substandard.  The sewers have repeatedly overflowed, protestors said and they are now calling for the removal of their governor and other local authorities.

Street stands flourish but bring traffic and congestion
Yemen Times — 25 July 2013
A year ago, the city of Sana’a set up small wooden stands in five Sana’a neighborhoods: Madbah, Nokum, Bab Al-Yemen, Hesaba and Shumaila. Public Works Assistant Manager Khalid Abdul Moghni told the Yemen Times that street vendors are not satisfied with the designated locations. “The vendors want specific, busy streets such as Hael Street or Jamal Street,” Moghni said. “When we make huge efforts and launch campaigns to rectify the problem, they flee.”

National Dialogue:
NDC Update
Yemen Times — 25 July 2013
After many attempts to remove the quota for women at 30 percent of elected positions in legislative bodies from the recommendations of the conference, the State Building working group approved it as a constitutional article. This means the next parliament should include at least 30 percent women. The State Building working group also approved with 97 percent consensus the closed proportional list as the electoral system for the new Yemen. This was one of four choices including closed proportional lists, a mixed system and open proportional lists.

Parliamentary vs. presidential
Yemen Times — 25 July 2013
We are at a defining moment in the National Dialogue Conference’s (NDC) State Building Working Group. We are discussing the new state structure of Yemen. The debate is about whether we should have a parliamentary system or a presidential one.  Currently the votes are in favor of a parliamentary system, mostly because the only presidential system we have known failed miserably, scarring all of us.


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