Yemen’s Southern Question: Avoiding a Breakdown
International Crisis Group — 25 September 2013
Changing negotiation dynamics in large part hinges in turn on the speedy implementation of confidence-building measures that positively affect daily lives, restore trust in the government and open space for compromise. NDC delegates, the government and their international supporters should define a list of prioritised steps for the South that incorporate and build upon the twenty and the eleven points. To be credible, these ought to be accompanied by clear implementation timelines and mechanisms, including who will be responsible for carrying them out, how they will be funded and who will monitor them.
Yemen’s Brotherhood: Early Losses and an Unknown Future
Al-Monitor — 25 September 2013
The current national reconciliation government prime minister’s allegiance to the Reform Party has allowed the Brotherhood to control quite a few of the key posts in the state’s civil and military institutions. But, at the same time, this has led to the Brotherhood losing their partners in the revolution. The latter regarded this as an attempt by the Brotherhood to marginalize them, monopolize power, and renege on the principles of partnership that they all agreed upon. As a result, many leaders and members of the JMP became opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Corruption, Capital Flight and Global Drivers of Conflict
Chatham House — 25 September 2013
The GCC deal has bought political time, but it cannot buy economic time. Despite rhetorical commitments to donors and international financial institutions, the government will continue to defer painful reforms, and its underlying economic challenges will continue. To some extent, Yemen will hope to be seen as ‘too big to fail’, and therefore to be bailed out by continued aid from Western donors and Saudi Arabia, raising some moral-hazard risks. Dependence on Gulf aid, relative to Western aid, is likely to increase as Western development budgets are squeezed. The OECD predicts that about half of the states it defines as ‘fragile’ will receive less programmable aid in 2015 than in 2012 as a consequence of smaller overseas development budgets in Western countries. Continue reading
Forgotten Gas Attacks in Yemen Haunt Syria Crisis
Bloomberg — 15 September 2013
The Egyptian-led intervention in this protracted civil war would later be dubbed “Nasser’s Vietnam,” and as the conflict worsened, the Egyptian response to the insurgency’s guerrilla tactics grew desperate. The local population opposed the Egyptian presence, and tribes began shifting their support to the opposition. Eager for a decisive breakthrough, Nasser hoped a massive bombing campaign using poison gas would terrorize the local population into submission. While the deployment of chemical weapons was no secret, President John F. Kennedy’s administration responded with restrained diplomacy. The U.S. ambassador to Egypt sat Nasser down for a private talk on the folly of using chemical weapons. Nasser’s initial denials were followed by excuses that his military commanders in the field were free to make their own strategic decisions, for which he wasn’t responsible. Under Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon Johnson, economic aid to Egypt was rescinded in part because of the occupation of Yemen and the use of chemical weapons.
Vast amounts of money are missing
Transparency International — 17 September 2013
Recently, the Yemeni government issued a decree to provide healthcare and compensation from the state budget for people injured during the 2011 revolution. However, many of the injured so far have received neither healthcare nor compensation and are at risk of chronic illness. The government announced that it had paid 2 billion YER (€7.1 million) to Al Wafaa Foundation to provide such healthcare. The foundation claims it never received these funds. The Public Funds attorney general announced he had suspended the funding transfer. But nobody is able to say where this money is. A 2008 study reports that 50 per cent of total annual government subsidised diesel was smuggled out of country – at the time equalling 12 per cent of that year’s GDP.
Effort to rebuild Yemen snags on row over restive south
Reuters — 17 September 2013
Wrangling over demands by southern secessionists is holding up efforts at Yemen’s most important political gathering in decades to tame the country’s multiple conflicts and repair the oil-dependent economy. A so-called National Dialogue conference of political groupings had been due to end its six months of deliberations on Thursday with recommendations on a new constitution and voting system, paving the way for full democratic elections in 2014. Continue reading
Kamran Jebreili/AP via The Atlantic/http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/09/yemeni-tribesmen-are-capturing-this-endangered-leopard-for-money/279399/
Yemen’s fitful dialogue
Foreign Policy — 6 September 2013
Many activists believe that the call for secession is a tactic intended only to raise the bar high in order to score points in the negotiations over federalism. Given the only two choices between secession and federalism, the latter appears to be the lesser of two evils. But if federalism is the only option for Yemen, the street has certainly not caught up with it. Furthermore, the National Dialogue has done very little to explain the haphazard ideas for federalism to the public. Many regions in Yemen desire some sort of administrative and financial autonomy but are fearful that a federal system will still not protect them from the greedy elites who have always managed to find creative ways to exploit their people.
Yemen sets up $1.2 billion fund for sacked state employees, soldiers
Reuters — 10 September 2013
Yemen has launched a $1.2 billion fund to give back tens of thousands of southern Yemenis jobs they lost after the 1994 civil war, a minister said on Tuesday, part of efforts to revive talks aimed at ending longstanding political divisions. International Cooperation Minister Mohammed al-Sa’adi said the fund, agreed on Sunday, had persuaded southern separatists to return to talks they boycotted last month in protest against the government’s handling of their demands. Sa’adi said Qatar would contribute $350 million to the fund, which will be used to rehire or compensate tens of thousands of civil servants and soldiers sacked after North Yemen won the civil war.
End Child Marriage
Human Rights Watch — 11 September 2013
Tawakkol Karman, the Yemeni activist who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, has criticized the transitional government’s failure to ban child marriage. She told Human Rights Watch that: “[Yemen’s] popular, peaceful revolution came about for the sake of fixing these societal problems. It didn’t happen just to solve political problems, but also to address societal problems, the most important being child marriage.” A 2011 Human Rights Watch report documented severe and long-lasting harm to Yemeni girls forced by their families to marry, in some cases when they were as young as 8. Human Rights Watch spoke to 34 Yemeni girls and women. They said that marrying early meant that they lost control over their lives, including the ability to decide whether and when to bear children. They said that it had cut short their education, and some said they had been subjected to marital rape and domestic abuse. Continue reading
Justice for Hassan will show if Yemen has really changed
The National — 2 September 2013
The person who is accused of killing Hassan and Khaled was identified as a nephew of Sheikh Ali Abd rabbou Al Awadhi, a powerful tribal sheikh, an NDC delegate and high-ranking member of the Islamist Islah party. This case has been widely publicised. To many, this case resembles the fate of Yemen. As writer Salah Al Dakkak put it: “It is not simply an act against a citizen, it is an act against citizenship.” Most importantly, it has become the test for the performance of the transitional government. Three months after Hassan and Khaled died, their killer has not been arrested and a file for the case has not even been officially opened in the Ministry of Interior.
National Dialogue Member: Drone strikes in Yemen are an obstacle to democracy
Al-Jazeera — 2 September 2013
Drone strikes in Yemen might seem like an appealing, quick-fix option for Obama. But with every death, the number in al-Qaeda’s ranks increase. Although Hadi likes to assure the US that he gives the green light to these strikes, the reality is that he has no mandate to do so. In fact, Yemen’s people overwhelmingly oppose the strikes. Last month, Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference – a body formed from across the political spectrum to draft Yemen’s new constitution and to solve its current challenges – decided by a 90 percent supermajority that the use of drones in Yemen should be banned. The main reason behind the broad support for such a law is that National Dialogue members know that the current policy in fighting al-Qaeda is totally counter-productive.
Yemen’s Independent Youth and Their Role in the National Dialogue Conference
German Institute for International and Security Affairs — August 2013
The 40 youth in the dialogue do not have a common demographic or educational background. In terms of regions, the youth come, at least nominally, from all the 18 governorates. Also, their qualifications vary significantly. While some are highly educated and articulate technocrats in their late 30s from the political elite, others are as young as 20, less educated and do not necessarily have knowledge of the political scene. They also have different political experiences. Some, like Mubarak Al-Bahhar, whogave the opening remark on behalf of the youth, are members of newly established parties. He, for example, is a member of Al-Watan party, which recently gained recognition but had not gotten the approval for registration at the start of the dialogue yet, and hence he was still considered an independent. But the majority have never been members of any political party, nor directly engaged in politics prior to the revolution. Continue reading