Weekly News Update 1 August 2013

Highlights:
Reorienting Public Spending Would Create Jobs, Fight Poverty
International Monetary Fund — 31 July 2013
Although the authorities carried out prudent monetary policy in 2012, in the second half of the year, money expansion accelerated, and that partly reflected the financing of a larger-than-planned budget deficit. This deficit expansion occurred because of an increase in untargeted energy subsidies and the public sector wage bill. As a result, the government’s large financing needs are reducing the funds available for private investment. A full 70 percent of banking sector’s credit is to the government. So that leaves less for private investment. Plus, this drives the interest rate up, making it more expensive for small and medium-sized private enterprises to obtain sufficient financing to operate, which contributes to lower growth and higher unemployment.

A reluctant refuge for al-Qaeda
The Economist — 27 July 2013
Yet amid the poverty the province of Marib has an abundance of natural wealth: it is the source of much of Yemen’s modest oil and gas income. Locals complain, however, that most of the revenues go into the coffers of corrupt government officials. They insist that the province’s reputation as a haven for al-Qaeda is unfair. For sure, it is undisputed that fighters loyal to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which the Obama administration has marked down as a direct threat to the United States, hide in the province. But local tribes have not given them an eager welcome. Rather, AQAP fighters have exploited the security vacuum in areas where tribal structures have broken down and people are too weak to drive them out.

Offer some oxen: How tribal mediation works
Yemen Times — 29 July 2013
In May, in Hajja governorate, a local tribal sheikh, a social leader in Yemen, used his jambia, a traditional Yemeni dagger, to threaten an employee at the government-owned Electricity Corporation over an alleged dispute. As a result, employees shut off electricity in the governorate for almost a week. The employees turned the electricity back on when the sheikh placed an oxen in front of the corporation. The animal, which was to be slaughterd, served as all the employees needed in terms of an apology and the blackouts came to an end.

President Hadi to Washington:
Yemen’s President to Visit Washington
Wall Street Journal — 29 July 2013
Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi will visit the White House on Aug. 1 for talks about counterterrorism cooperation and the uneven pace of democratic reforms, which have been  undertaken in the strategically important Arab country since popular uprisings helped oust his predecessor 18 months ago.

Yemen’s president meets senators as U.S. grapples with Guantanamo detainee issue
Reuters — 31 July 2013
Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi talked to U.S. senators on Wednesday as he to tries to persuade Washington to repatriate dozens of Yemeni detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison. Expectations that the Obama administration is moving closer to its long-held goal of closing the facility were raised last week when the White House announced it was sending two detainees back to Algeria in the first repatriations for nearly a year.

National Dialogue:
Yemen’s New Government Retains Bad Old Habits
Al-Monitor — 25 July 2013
The most dangerous outcome of the weak government performance — especially at the security and economic levels — is the formation of primitive forces based on religious or regional affiliation, due to the political void which the government has failed to fill. This void will be filled irrespective of the nature or origin of those who will fill it.

NDC seeks reconciliation, justice for Southern Issue
Yemen Times — 29 July 2013
Political parties participating in the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) presented on Saturday their visions for resolving the Southern Issue. Previous sessions had been spent discussing the roots of the conflict. Southern Movement representatives to the conference demanded self-determination and the conditions and freedoms southerners enjoyed prior to unity in 1990.

Youth call on Hadi to prosecute tribesmen behind killing of Southern youth during wedding procession
Yemen Times — 29 July 2013
Hundreds of demonstrators marched in the capital city on Friday, calling on President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi to bring those responsible for the deaths of Khalid Al-Khateeb and Ja’far Aman to trial. The demonstrators marched to the president’s house on Al-Siteen Street.

Apology to the South and Sa’ada drafted
Yemen Times — 29 July 2013
The Ministerial Committee assigned to implement the 31 points says it has finished the final draft of the apology to the south and Sa’ada. The 31 points were created to solve the Southern and Sa’ada issues. The committee held a series of meetings headed by the foreign affairs minister on Friday to craft the apology, according to a press release by state minister and committee member Ahmed Sharf Al-Deen. The draft has been submitted to the Cabinet and will then be referred to the president, Al-Deen said.

Yemeni politicians urge national unity
Al-Shorfa — 26 July 2013
“What I hope at this stage is that Yemenis of all sects feel a sense of responsibility towards this country and work to spread a culture of love, dialogue and tolerance, because following any other path would lead to the state’s collapse,” Minister of Youth and Sports Muammar al-Eryani told Al-Shorfa.  Al-Eryani described the dialogue as an “historic opportunity” for Yemen, and urged all to work to ensure its success, casting aside narrow interests that seek to ignite sectarian strife and rejecting foreign interference that aims to sow discord.

Security:
Time to Start Sending Yemeni Prisoners Home
Huffington Post — 31 July 2013
Yemen is often portrayed as an insoluble mess too terrorist-ridden to be able to accept former detainees safely on its soil. But the improving relationship between the United States and Yemen over the last few years, most of it based on mutual support of their counterterrorism programs, provides a strong basis for the two presidents to develop a solid plan. Even Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who originally supported the ban on transfers to Yemen, last Spring wrote to the White House urging the President to re-consider, saying “it would be prudent to re-visit the decision to halt transfers to Yemen and assess whether President Hadi’s government, with appropriate assistance, would be able to securely hold detainees in Sana’a.”

Drone strike kills four militants in Yemen: residents
Reuters — 28 July 2013
Rockets fired from unmanned aircraft killed at least four suspected Islamist militants in southern Yemen late on Saturday, residents said. The fighters were believed to belong to Ansar al-Sharia, a Yemeni militant group linked to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al Qaeda’s regional arm, the residents told Reuters.

US drones strike again in Yemen, kill 3 AQAP operatives
Long War Journal — 30 July 2013
The US launched its second drone strike in four days in Yemen, killing three al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula operatives today as they traveled in the south of the country. The remotely piloted Predators or the more deadly Reapers launched missiles at a vehicle carrying AQAP operatives as it drove through the town of Saeed in the southern province of Shabwa, The Associated Press reported. Yemeni tribesmen told the news agency that “a known Saudi member” of AQAP was among the three fighters killed. The names of those said to have been killed in the strike have not been disclosed.

Yemen Houthi rebels want security body dismantled
AFP via Gulf Times — 30 July 2013
Yemeni Zaidi rebels demanded dismantling the national security services at a Thursday funeral in Sana’a of 13 fellow Shiites killed in weekend clashes with police, as Human Rights Watch demanded the incident be probed. “The people want to dismantle the national security services,” chanted thousands who marched from University Square in the north towards the Grand Mosque in central Sana’a, before burying the dead whose bodies had been carried aboard vehicles in the procession.

Saudi guard shot in Yemen border firefight
AFP via Fox News — 27 July 2013
A Saudi border guard was wounded in a gun battle with three compatriots who were trying to cross the kingdom’s southern frontier illegally into Yemen, authorities said on Saturday. A border guards statement said Thursday’s clash took place when a patrol spotted a vehicle attempting to cross in the Sharoora area in southwestern Najran province.

Economy/Governance:
Helping Yemen Lay the Financial Foundations for Growth
World Bank — 25 July 2013
Economic activity in Yemen is constrained by an inefficient and outdated financial infrastructure that excludes the majority of the population and fails to match available funds with credit needs. A new World Bank Group project will support government efforts to create an economic environment in which financial institutions can reach out to and compete for new customers, with better means for evaluating risks and more effective ways of delivering funds. “The ability of the private sector to generate jobs is a vital component of the roadmap for Yemen’s future, and it will depend  on lenders being able to lend and borrowers having access to credit,” said Wael Zakout, World Bank Country Manager for Yemen. “Building the necessary confidence on both sides to achieve this will only occur in the sort of transparent and well regulated system this project will help develop.”

Out of work in Yemen
Yemen Times — 29 July 2013
Many out-of-work individuals have opened up their own small business, in order to become their own bosses. This is a great way to fight the high unemployment rate, but unfortunately the procedures keep getting more and more complicated. What he spends on bribes will exceed the amount of money he needs to open up the business. By the time he gets his papers, approvals, and taxes sorted out, he’ll go back to square one.

Yemen begins Marib plant installation
Al-Shorfa — 31 July 2013
Yemen’s Ministry of Electricity announced Wednesday (July 31st) it has started installing a huge power plant in Marib province that aims to meet the country’s energy needs. Ministry of Electricity spokesman Sadeq al-Rouhani said the “Marib 2” plant “will produce 400 megawatts of electricity and is expected to enter service in mid-2014 after the Indian construction company completes the installation of turbines,” Yemen Today newspaper reported.

With his wheelbarrow, young boy supports himself and family
Yemen Times — 29 July 2013
Anwar Obad, a nine-year-old child from Al-Mahweet governorate, leaves his room early each morning. He collects his wheelbarrow and makes his way to Al-Qa’ market in Sana’a where he works late into the day, lugging goods through the market. Obad lives with ten other children, packed into their one-room apartment in the Sonina area of Sana’a.

Somali pirates now protecting illegal fishing ships, says UN report
AP via Washington Post — 30 July 2013
Frustrated by a string of failed hijacking attempts, Somali pirates have turned to a new business model: providing “security” for ships illegally plundering Somalia’s fish stocks — the same scourge that launched the Horn of Africa’s piracy era eight years ago. Up to 180 illegal Iranian and 300 illegal Yemeni vessels are fishing Puntland waters, as well as a small number of Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean and European-owned vessels, according to estimates by officials in the northern Somali region of Puntland. International naval officials corroborate the prevalence of Iranian and Yemeni vessels, the U.N. report said.

Main Yemen oil export pipeline blown up, flow halted: officials
Reuters — 28 July 2013
Tribesmen blew up impoverished Yemen’s main oil export pipeline on Thursday, halting the flow of its main source of foreign currency, security and oil officials said.

Youth:
Girl’s online plea highlights plight of Yemen’s child brides
BBC — 26 July 2013
In a three-minute video posted online, Nada al-Ahdal, a slight and pretty 11-year-old girl, has caught the attention of millions in her home country, Yemen, and abroad, as she tells her story.  Sitting in a car, she speaks to the camera eloquently and forcefully, and tells of an alleged attempt by her parents to forcibly marry her to an older man.  “Does it satisfy you for me to be married? Does this satisfy you?… Mum, accept this: I don’t want you. You killed my dreams, all of them.” The video went viral, first in Arabic, and then in a version that was translated into English, and clocked over seven million views in three days.

IDPs:
Nation adopts new plan to deal with IDPs
Yemen Times — 29 July 2013
Yemen’s governmental body tasked with managing the country’s Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) population announced on Saturday the approval of a national policy for addressing issues related to internal displacement. The Displaced Executive Unit said the policy aims to return home the over half a million Yemenis who have been displaced over the past years due to natural disasters as well as wars and conflicts between the state and non-governmental actors like Al-Qaeda and the Houthis in the North.

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