Weekly News Update 6 September 2013

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.

Yemen’s Economic Quandary
Atlantic Council — 22 August 2013
First, the government must deal with unemployment. According to official estimates, the unemployment rate is anywhere between 25 to 40 percent, and as high as 60 percent for the youth. The World Bank has estimated that in 2011, about 55 percent of the population was unemployed. The situation is complicated further by stringent labor restrictions being imposed by the Gulf countries which would result in higher unemployment and lower remittances if workers are repatriated. For example, it is estimated that there are some 2 million Yemenis working in Saudi Arabia, and Riyadh just imposed new regulations forcing more than 200,000 Yemenis to return. According to the World Bank, more than 97 percent of firms in Yemen are small and medium-sized enterprises employing less than 25 workers. Encouraging more of these firms to invest and expand by developing the required infrastructure and easing business regulations will create productive jobs and put the economy on a higher growth trajectory.

Could al-Qaeda have helped Yemen kick its oil habit?
Al-Jazeera — 26 August 2013
Had the thwarted al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) attack on Yemen’s oil industry succeeded, its impact would have been immense. This country of 25 million people now suffers greater dependency on oil exports than its neighbour Saudi Arabia, although it produces 50 times less. A generation ago, when Yemen didn’t know it had oil, the country’s biggest source of foreign exchange was Yemenis themselves, the two million worked across the Gulf and sent remittances home. Most experts now give the oil industry five to ten years at best. But lack of progress in diversifying the economy will continue as long as the oil is pumping. Political and business elites will remain focused on extracting the last drop of rent.

Yemen, S Korea’s Kogas start talks on LNG price hike: reports
Platts — 29 August 2013
The Yemeni government and South Korea’s state-owned Korea Gas Corp, or Kogas, will start on Thursday negotiations on raising the Yemeni LNG price under the terms of their contract, Yemeni state-run 26sep.net reported, quoting oil and minerals ministry spokesman Abdulqawi al-Odaini. Oil and minerals minister Ahmed Dares arrived in Seoul for the negotiations with Kogas. He also plans negotiations with Hyundai and SK on cooperation and especially on investment in Yemen’s oil and gas sector, al-Odaini was quoted as saying.

Yemen May Boost Grain Imports While Production Gains, UN Says
Bloomberg — 30 August 2013
Yemen may import 3.75 million metric tons of grain, up from about 3.5 million tons a year earlier, the UN’s Rome-based Food & Agriculture Organization said in an online report dated yesterday. Wheat purchases will account for almost 3 million tons of the imports, with the rest made up of about equal shares of rice and corn. Yemen is dependent on imports for about 95 percent of its wheat consumption, the FAO said.

Yemen chases new beginning with drive to lure Asian tourists
The National — 5 September 2013
The minister has been participating in international exhibitions in China, India and Turkey, as well as Malaysia and Indonesia, two countries with a large number of immigrant Yemenis from the 19th century and earlier, to lure tourists and businessmen who could bring much-needed revenue for the impoverished country.

Yemen inflation climbs to 15-mth high in May, reserves fall
Reuters — 2 September 2013
Yemen’s annual inflation climbed to a 15-month high of 14.2 percent in May, mainly due to increases in food, tobacco and qat prices, while June foreign currency reserves fell to their lowest level since August 2012. Inflation had retreated from a peak of 25 percent in October 2011 to as low as 5.5 percent last November as the economy started picking up after two years of political unrest. But price growth rebounded again to hit 14 percent in April.

Yemen’s Modern Coffee Shops Are Progressive, Yet Exclusive
Al-Monitor — 5 September 2013
Until the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s, Sanaa still had four cinemas and some theaters, before Islamist extremism invaded them via Yemen’s Wahhabi neighbor (Saudi Arabia), trespassing all ideological and geographical barriers. Moreover, this extremism has been recently promoted by Shiite Muslim clerics, including Houthis, taking on different forms such as the new religious police that control society’s freedom. Currently, female and male students are not mixed in schools. In a city that was struck by a huge political and military rift in 2011, that was made worse by the unsettling social and religious division in 2011 and 2012, such coffee shops provide a form of social and political communication that is dwindling in Yemen today. Not only the youth, but also prominent politicians, elites, diplomats and foreigners frequent luxurious coffee shops in Sanaa from time to time, to enjoy an atmosphere conducive to communication that overcomes gender and political barriers.

In the heart of Ibb, old city hoards history but struggles with preservation
Yemen Times — 3 September 2013
Although lacking the fame and international standing of the capital, Sana’a’s old city, know as Bab Al-Yemen (the Gate of Yemen), which was added to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s World Heritage List in 1986, Al-Nowa believes Ibb’s walled-in ancient houses and winding, car-less streets to be no less spectacular.

Thursday blues
The Economist — 31 August 2013
The original governmental decree was issued in January 2012 but lingered, unimplemented. Some disliked the idea of sharing Saturday with the Jewish sabbath; others were simply loth to break from tradition. But Saudi Arabia’s adoption of the Friday-Saturday weekend in June finally pushed Yemen to follow suit, says Saad Al-Deen bin Talib, the minister of trade and industry. It set a precedent of religious acceptability that has largely quieted the critics. Overall, Mr Talib sees the change as “a step forward to the rest of the world,” but says it is too soon to gauge the economic benefit. The move will, however, make little difference to the many Yemenis who already work six days a week. “I sit here twenty four hours a day,” says Mohammed al-Rukan, a shopkeeper in the capital Sana’a. The poor, he adds, rarely take time off.

Encouraging signs for tourism in Yemen
Al-Shorfa — 16 August 2013
Tourism revenues in Yemen rose 9% in 2012 compared to the previous year, while the number of foreign tourists increased by 5.5%, recently-released government reports showed. In its mid-July session, the Yemeni cabinet lauded the achievements of the Ministry of Tourism in 2012. Though the tourism sector is still suffering in comparison to 2010, travel and tourism agencies from around the world, which organise tourism specials to Yemen, have insisted on maintaining operations, he said.

Youth begin initiative to ‘Save Hodeida’ from overflowing sewage
Yemen Times — 27 August 2013
A youth initiative was launched in Hodeida on Saturday following the city’s declaration of a health disaster because of overflowing sewage.  Four separate groups with a combined membership of more than 50 people launched the initiative called, “Together to Save Hodeida from Drowning.”

Yemen to Raise LNG Prices by 2014
Wall Street Journal — 22 August 2013
Yemen plans to raise prices on its exports of liquefied natural gas by the end of the year to boost revenues as the U.S. market dries up. The American shale gas boom has made natural gas relatively cheap and abundant in the U.S., forcing oil companies to divert cargo to Asia and Europe where they can fetch higher prices.  Yemen’s oil ministry published a statement on its website saying the cabinet has approved a mechanism for modifying LNG prices and an agreement with all buyers on an average price will be reached before the end of the year.

Yemen Raises October Masila Crude Premium: Persian Gulf Oil
Bloomberg — 26 August 2013
Yemen raised the premium it will charge for October shipments of its Masila blend crude to the highest since June, reversing three straight declines in the formula used to set the country’s official oil selling price. Iran’s Mohsen Qamsari will take over the role of international affairs director at National Iranian Oil Co., replacing Mohammad Ali Khatibi, who is retiring, Tehran Times newspaper reported.

Yemen Oil Revenue Falls Below Cost of Importing Fuels
Bloomberg — 26 August 2013
Yemen’s government for the first time spent more to import fuel for domestic use than it received for crude oil export sales, the state news agency reported.  Oil export revenue fell 26 percent during the first half of the year as output dropped, Saba reported, citing a Central Bank of Yemen report. Export sales were $1.328 billion while the government spent $1.368 billion on imports for the first half of the year.

Aide says Yemen’s prime minister unharmed after gunmen open fire on his convoy
AP via Washington Post — 3 September 2013
Gunmen opened fire on the motorcade of Yemen’s prime minister on Saturday but he escaped unharmed, an aide said. The attack on Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Bassindwa’s convoy in the Yemeni capital comes after a senior intelligence officer was fatally shot in the country’s south by unknown assailants, according to security officials.

Yemen’s Hadi dismisses attack on PM as ‘isolated act’
AFP via Daily Star — 3 September 2013
President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi insisted that a shooting that targeted the prime minister’s convoy was an “isolated act”, Yemen’s official Saba news agency reported Sunday. Prime Minister Mohamed Basindawa escaped unharmed as gunmen opened fire at his convoy in the capital Sanaa on Saturday in an attack that left no casualties, a security source said.

Yemen al Qaida group appears to think globally, act locally
McClatchy via Miami Herald — 3 September 2013
In the words of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, it was a plot that aimed to change history. Intercepted communications between Ayman al Zawahiri, Osama bin Ladin’s successor as the head of al Qaida, and Nasir al Wuhayshi, the head of al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemen-based franchise of the terrorist group, appeared to indicate an impending operation of mammoth proportions.

5 Saudi nationals go to trial over suspected links to al-Qaida
AP via Fox News — 4 September 2013
Yemen’s official TV says a state security court has begun the trial of five Saudi nationals charged with involvement in armed attacks and having links to al-Qaida. The network says the trial opened Wednesday for the five Saudis, three of whom are from the same family. They stand accused of “planning criminal and terrorist acts” earlier this year that targeted military and security officials. The trial has been postponed until Sept. 11, the network said.

Yemen ‘Qaeda’ clash with govt supporters kills 3: official
AFP via Daily Star — 3 September 2013
A gun battle in the southern Yemeni province of Abyan left two suspected Al-Qaeda militants and a pro-government militiaman dead on Tuesday, an official from the militia said. Fighting between Al-Qaeda militants and the Popular Resistance Committees, which back the government, took place in Batis, northwest of the city of Jaar, the official said.

Yemen’s main pipeline attacked, one tribesman injured
Reuters — 6 September 2013
Armed tribesmen bombed Yemen’s main oil pipeline on Thursday, a government official said, adding that one of the assailants was wounded by the explosion. The attack is the third on the country’s main pipeline in Maarib province in less than a week. The pipe stopped carrying crude after the first attack on Sunday.

Intelligence officer killed in south Yemen
Ahram — 30 August 2013
Suspected Al-Qaeda militants killed an intelligence officer in southern Yemen, after a jihadist leader died in a US drone strike, a local official announced on Saturday. Colonel Hassan Ali Mansouri died on Friday evening in Labous, in the province of Lahj, when gunmen opened fire on him, “killing him on the spot,” the source said.

Yemen fights al-Qaeda on multiple fronts
Al-Shorfa — 30 August 2013
In addition to security measures, it is important to counter al-Qaeda’s extremist ideology in prisons through a munasaha dialogue programme, al-Jamhi said.  “Sharia and jurisprudence scholars, who possess sharia arguments and evidence, [should work to] convince detainees who hold hostile terrorist ideologies and bring them over to moderate and centrist religious ideologies,” he said. “Implementing such a programme, which has had some success in Yemen [in the past], is a necessity because al-Qaeda is an ideological movement, and security solutions alone cannot fight ideology,” he said. Security solutions should “complement ideological, cultural and economic approaches to solving the problems that lead youth to get involved with these terrorist groups”, he added.

10 killed by landmine
Yemen Times — 5 September 2013
Salafis and security forces continue to battle Houthis who’ve positioned themselves in Al-Asha district’s mountains, attempting to remove them from the site. The Houthis, who reside in the neighboring areas, have been positioned in the mountains for 21 days. A detonated landmine left ten Houthis dead on Monday, Al-Asha security manager Mohammed Al-Raei told the Yemen Times.

Sana’a post office to reopen after YR1 million robbery
CNN — 5 September 2013
The Abtal Al-Sabeen Post Office in Sana’a is set to re-open on Saturday after being damaged in an armed robbery on Monday. Post office officials say they are busy replacing windows and furnishings that were destroyed in the incident. Police are searching for the unidentified men who made off with over YR1 million, nearly $5000 after a group of men stormed the building with their guns and fired shots. The post office security guard was injured in the robbery after being shot in the leg.

Peace deal could be tentative
Yemen Times — 5 September 2013
A mediation committee that was assigned by President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi to negotiate a peace deal between warring Houthi and Salafi affiliates in  the Damaj area of Sa’ada left on Wednesday after tentatively securing a cease-fire in the area. A member of the committee, Alwi Basha, said they, working along with local tribal sheikhs, were able to talk fighters down from their positions in the mountains where the two groups were firing shots at each other. The committee arrived on Saturday.

Sources: Drone strikes in Yemen kill 6, including senior AQAP leaders
CNN — 30 August 2013
U.S. drone strikes in Yemen on Friday killed six militants, including two senior leaders of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, four local security sources said. Qaed al-Thahab, the top AQAP leader in the country’s Baitha province and described as a “high-profile target,” was among those killed, the sources said. They said eight missiles were launched by two unmanned drone planes targeting vehicles.

Drone kills al-Qaeda leader in Yemen
AFP via Al-Arabiya — 30 August 2013
A drone strike Friday killed an al-Qaeda leader in Yemen, sources said, the latest in a string of attacks targeting what the U.S. considers the extremist group’s most dangerous branch. A tribal source told AFP the early morning strike on a vehicle travelling in Manasseh village in the southern province of Bayda killed Qaeed al-Dhahab and two other men.

Two arrested for Yemen officer assassination
Al-Shorfa — 3 September 2013
Security agencies in the province “arrested two terrorist elements involved in the assassination of Col. Hassan Abdul Rahman of the political security agency in Yafa on August 30th”, a statement said.  Security forces exchanged fire with the detainees, aged 25 and 26, before arresting them, the statement said. One of the men is from the area while the other is from al-Bayda province.

Ongoing water dispute leads to more deaths
Al-Shorfa — 3 September 2013
Three residents, including two children, were killed on Sunday in a gun fight between unidentified men from the Qorada and Al-Marzoh villages in Taiz governorate. The incident happened one day after a security committee was assigned to resolve a long-time dispute over access to a water well in the area.

Why we shouldn’t be afraid of Al Qaeda in Yemen
Boston Globe — 16 August 2013
Clearly, Al Qaeda proved itself capable of attacking the United States across multiple borders long before 2001. But AQAP has not demonstrated this capability, and “increased chatter” among its leaders, no matter how heavy, is simply not enough evidence to be overly-concerned, unless the government has not revealed other critical details. Even if Zawahiri were directing the attack—which US intelligence officials confirmed he was not—the main Al Qaeda group (now based in Pakistan) has not carried out a successful major attack on Western soil since the London bombings in 2005. Ayman Al-Zawahiri giving his blessing to AQAP leaders only proves how weak the main Al Qaeda group really is.

Committee mediates ceasefire between Islah and Houthis in Sa’ada
Yemen Times — 27 August 2013
The mediation committee tasked with resolving the Salafi-Houthi dispute in Damaj district has mediated a ceasefire between the two sides, allowing officials to remove bodies from under the rubble and to transport the injured to hospitals. The committee was formed by President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi one week ago.  Three Damaj residents were killed last week and two houses were damaged during the ongoing dispute between the two sides.

13 dead, dozens injured in Houthi-Islah clashes in Amran
Yemen Times — 22 August 2013
Armed clashes between Houthi members and Islah tribesmen left 13 people dead and dozens injured in Amran governorate on Monday. Seven of the killed were Houthis and six were Islah tribesmen. Clashes continued through Tuesday afternoon. Amran Security Manager Colonel Mohammed Turaik told the Yemen Times that land disputes were at the root of the conflict. Both sides claim ownership over land on Al-Janah Mountain.

Political instability means more violations against judiciary, human rights report says
Yemen Times — 20 August 2013
A human rights report issued by a local organization at the beginning of August revealed that 59 violations have taken place so far this year against judiciary staff, including judges, prosecutors, lawyers and administrators in relation to their work.  The report, issued by the Esnaad Center for Empowering an Independent Judiciary and Rule of Law, states that judges, lawyers and administrators have faced nine murder attempts, two kidnappings, five physical injuries and 19 other threats of varying degrees of seriousness this year.

Security officer assassinated in Aden
Yemen Times — 22 August 2013
Several armed men shot dead Colonel Ali Hadi, the manager of the Political Security Operations Department in Aden, and his nephew who was traveling with him on Wednesday in Aden. According to eyewitness accounts as relayed to security personnel, the unidentified number of armed men drove by Hadi’s car where his nephew was sitting beside him, and opened fire. Dozens of bullets were fired, security officials said. The perpetrators were able to quickly flee the scene in their car.

Deadly bomb blast hits air force bus
BBC News — 25 August 2013
A bomb blast has struck a bus transporting air force personnel to their base in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, killing at least one person, officials say. More than 20 are reported to have been wounded.

Yemen makes progress in landmine cleanup
Yemen Times — 27 August 2013
The National Committee for Landmines, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) announced on Monday at a conference that the city of Sana’a as well as Aden, Dhamar, Al-Mahweet, Raima and Al-Mahra governorates  are landmine free. Since 1999, the country has destroyed about 300,000 landmines and 1,838 square km. in governorates nationwide have been cleared of landmines, said Ali Al-Qaderi, the director of the Demining Center, which is a part of the National Committee for Landmines.

Al Qaeda plan to ‘change face of history’ led to U.S. scare: Yemen
Reuters — 23 August 2013
A vow made in a phone call by the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to carry out an attack that would “change the face of history” lay behind this month’s closures of many Western embassies, Yemen’s president said.

The Case Against Drone Strikes on People Who Only ‘Act’ Like Terrorists
Atlantic — 19 August 2013
In a place like Yemen, although the American drone program is universally hated, many Yemenis will admit they would support targeted assassinations if there is clear intelligence that an individual is a senior operative within AQAP and plotting a specific and imminent act of terror against Americans. The problem with signature strikes is that they do not meet this threshold–not even remotely– and they open the door for the U.S. to make grievous targeting mistakes and be seen as taking sides in a domestic insurgency. Signature strikes target low-level militants who might be nasty characters, but they are not necessarily planning an imminent act of terror or hold a leadership position.

Drone strike campaign in Yemen shows U.S. standards are elastic
Los Angeles Times — 17 August 2013
“The tendency had been ‘less is more’ in terms of these strikes, and I think we’ll go back to that,” said a former U.S. diplomat who served in Yemen, but who asked for anonymity because the drone strikes are classified. “But at the moment, when you have guys on the move and a plot in the works, there is a bias toward taking as many whacks at them as you can and seeing if you can’t knock them on their heels.” A Yemeni official who asked not to be quoted speaking about sensitive matters, said the U.S. strategy amounted to “keep them busy, keep them hiding, put them under pressure.”

Yemen president asks US for drone technology to use against al-Qaida; car bomb kill 2 soldiers
AP via Washington Post — 26 August 2013
A suicide car bomb killed two soldiers Friday at a checkpoint in Yemen’s south, officials say, as the country’s leader makes public his request to the U.S. for drone technology to boost local efforts against militants. The security official said six soldiers were also wounded in the attack, with the bomber blowing up his explosives-rigged car after he was stopped at a checkpoint at the entrance to the city of Shibam, in Hadramawt province. The official spoke on condition of anonymity following official guidelines.

U.S. Embassy in Yemen has reopened
Washington Post — 20 August 2013
The State Department said Tuesday that the U.S. Embassy in Yemen has reopened, two weeks after being evacuated in response to what the Obama administration said was a serious terrorist threat. The department said the embassy reopened Sunday and would provide “limited public services.”

U.S. clarifies embassy status in Yemen
UPI — 26 August 2013
The U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, said it remains closed to regular consular services, nearly three weeks after a regional terrorism alert. The U.S. State Department announced Aug. 2 it was closing more than a dozen embassies in the region as a security precaution. The warning said it was concerned al-Qaida may be targeting strategic interests in the region.

Iran to probe abduction of diplomat in Yemen
UPI — 23 August 2013
The Iranian government announced plans to send its representatives to Yemen next week to investigate the kidnapping of one of its diplomats. The official Yemen news agency Saba said an Iranian diplomat was abducted from the Iranian Embassy in Sanaa in late July.

Suicide bomb kills two soldiers in Yemen
AFP via Yahoo! News — 23 August 2013
A suicide bombing killed two soldiers and wounded six others in eastern Yemen on Friday, a military official said, blaming Al-Qaeda militants for the attack. An explosives-laden car “driven by a suicide attacker from Al-Qaeda” exploded at a checkpoint at the entrance to the town of Shibam, in Hadramawt province, the official told AFP.

The not-so targeted recent Yemen drone strikes
Salon — 16 August 2013
An NBC report on Friday, for example, highlights that the White House could not tell whether a Yemeni killed in a recent strike was or was not al-Qaida’s master bombmaker Ibrahim al-Asiri: A Yemeni government spokesman denied media reports that the most recent strike, which killed four al-Qaida militants over the weekend, had severely wounded al-Qaida’s master bombmaker. Mohammed al-Basha, press attaché at the Yemeni embassy in Washington, said via Twitter Wednesday morning that “Reports that #AQAP’s Chief Bombmaker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, was killed or wounded are incorrect.”

Yemen’s branch of al-Qaida says US claims of intercepting attack plans were ‘propaganda’
AP via Washington Post — 28 August 2013
Yemen’s al-Qaida offshoot says U.S. claims that it intercepted a message between the local branch of the terror network and its chief, Ayman al-Zawahri, were “propaganda.” In a statement posted late Tuesday on a militant website, the group said the claims were attempts “to justify the killing of Muslims in Yemen.”

National Dialogue:
Yemen’s National Dialogue in Jeopardy
Al-Hayat via Al-Monitor — 30 August 2013
This new development has transpired in light of growing secessionist feelings in the south, which has yet to choose the leaders of its political factions. The situation was further complicated by the departure of the prominent leader Mohammed Ali Ahmed from the country, who had abandoned the southern issue in the NDC until the conditions of the movement were met. Two weeks ago, the movement made several requests: that the dialogue be relocated outside the country; that both the north and the south have an equal number of representatives; and that the conference be held under international auspices.

Yemen’s daunting array of challenges
Al-Jazeera — 4 September 2013
The country’s main factions are embroiled in a bitter power struggle. Emboldened by President Mohamed Morsi’s overthrow in Egypt, the most populous Arab country, allies of Yemen’s former leader Ali Abdallah Saleh have sensed an opportunity to stage a comeback. Saleh’s nephew Yahya, who once led the country’s US-trained counterterrorism unit, told me his uncle will return to power in 2014. Saleh has not been able to swallow his pride since his family officially lost power early last year. But there is one thing that nobody can deny here in Yemen: Saleh still retains huge power. The vast patronage system he built over three decades has tentacles everywhere.  Many tribal leaders, bureaucrats, army officers and businessmen are still loyal to Saleh. If he is reinstated, they stand to profit a lot.

Shirts shed in street protests
BBC News — 3 September 2013
Groups of young men marked the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan by parading shirtless through the streets of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. The 30-odd members of Al-Arateet – which means “Almost Naked” – want action on unemployment and lack of political accountability in the country, which has been going through a transition from decades of one-man rule. Al-Arateet are trying to revive the mass protests that ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011, and some marchers draped their bodies in revolutionary slogans as they chanted “I am jobless! I am almost naked!”

NDC representatives say female quota is non-negotiable
Yemen Times — 5 September 2013
Women participating in the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) said they will refuse to accept any outcome of the conference unless women are granted a 30 percent representation quota when the new government is formed, a measure the NDC will vote on.   Bilqis Al-Lahabi, a NDC representative and a human rights activist, said there is support for writing a clause in the country’s new constitution that roughly a third of all government authorities must be comprised of women.

Special Adviser praises work of UN-backed dialogue, urges final agreement
UN News Centre — 3 September 2013
With preparations under way for a new constitution and a general election in Yemen, a senior United Nations adviser is in the capital Sana’a working with all sides of a national dialogue conference to finalize how the Government should be structured and how to address the specific challenges linked to the South. Special Adviser Jamal Benomar today congratulated Yemenis for conducting “the most genuine transparent and inclusive National Dialogue the Arab region has ever witnessed.”

Memorial and cemetery for those killed during Yemen’s revolution stalled
Yemen Times — 3 September 2013
Prior to an alleged assassination attempt on his life on Saturday, Prime Minister Mohammed Salim Basindwa announced last week that YR60 million (about $280,000) of the required YR110 million ($510,000) has been raised to build a memorial and expand a cemetery dedicated to those killed during the country’s 2011 uprising.

Southerners celebrate anniversary of Southern military’s founding
Yemen Times — 3 September 2013
Thousands of soldiers dressed in the original uniform of the Southern army marched in the streets of Aden on Sunday to commemorate the 42nd anniversary of the armed forces’ inception.  This is the first public celebration of the South’s army since 1990 when Yemen’s North and South unified as one nation. Thousands are reported to have gathered at Military Parade Square in Aden to watch as men performed routines with their guns and marched in uniform.

Sana’a’s National Youth Conference participants tackle pressing issues
Yemen Times — 3 September 2013
The two-day National Youth Conference kicked off in Sana’a on Wednesday with 570 participants nationwide attending but was off to a rough start.  Yemen’s Prime Minister, Mohammed Salem Basindwa, was forced to cut his speech about the country’s goals for unity short after being interrupted by conference attendees from the nation’s South who began chanting, “Revolution in the South.”

Is proportional representation coming to Yemen?
Yemen Times — 27 August 2013
The 55-member State Building Working Group announced on 23 July that 44 of the present 45 members voted on that day for a proportional list system. Khalid Tawfeeq, the rapporteur of the State Building Working Group, said the proportional system requires dividing the country into large constituencies. “Parties gain seats in the parliament based on the number of votes they get,” said Tawfeeq.

Change Square diehards
Yemen Times — 18 August 2013
In April of this year, the Organizing Committee of the Youth Popular Revolution (OCYPR), who were officially responsible for coordinating and organizing marches and protests during Yemen’s popular uprising, said they were formally withdrawing from the square. They said a majority of their goals had been accomplished and it was no longer necessary for them to stay in the square. They said they would be monitoring the transitional government in a different way. When they left, they took the majority of trash, tents and protestors with them. However, a small group of protestors identifying as “independent youth” and an even larger group of Houthis, Zaidi Shiites who are predominantly concentrated in the country’s north, remain stead fast in Change Square saying their revolution never came to fuition.

Yemeni government apologises for wars waged by former president
Reuters — 21 August 2013
The Yemeni government on Wednesday issued a public apology to southern separatists and northern Shi’ite Muslim rebels for wars waged against them during former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule. The apology, made in a cabinet statement read out on state television, comes amid national reconciliation talks launched in March to address grievances by large segments of the population. Delegates aim to chart major constitutional and administrative reforms ahead of national elections next year.

Hidden Goals of the Yemen Gulf Initiative
Al-Tagheer via Al-Monitor — 18 August 2013
The catastrophe is that Saudi Arabia stands behind the horrors and calamities that have afflicted Yemen, and the whole Arab World, throughout the last century and to this day. And nothing is more indicative of that than the events currently taking place in the countries of the Arab Spring.

Negotiations continue with NDC Southern representatives, but little headway
Yemen Times — 27 August 2013
Despite media reports to the contrary, Southern Movement leaders say they still have not reached an agreement to secure their return to the National Dialogue Conference’s reconciliatory talks.  “No solutions were reached in the meeting,” said Naji Rashid, a Southern Movement leader, referring to intense discussions that took place between  President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, Rashid, Mohammed Ali Ahmed, the chairperson of the Southern Issue working group, and several other Southern representatives.

New NDC Southern Council established
Yemen Times — 27 August 2013
Ten Southern components of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) declared the formation of a Supreme Coordinating Council on Sunday in order to present a united Southern stance at the conference. The newly formed council has announced two aims, said  Mohammed Marim, the head of the State Building Working Group. The first is to ensure a united Southern position on unity and the second is to include all Southern NDC participants in the Supreme Coordinating Council, Marim said.

Yemen flash floods damage IDP camps
IRIN — 28 August 2013
Flash floods have destroyed half of the tents and caused widespread damage at three camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) near Haradh, northwestern Yemen. More than 8,000 camp residents are affected, while overall the torrential rains and flash floods, which started in mid-August, have killed 39 people and destroyed homes, schools and infrastructure.

Yemeni Photographers Break With Tradition
Al-Monitor — 4 September 2013
Amr Attamimi, 22, lives a double life. He studies information technology and spends most of his waking hours working in his father’s store in Sanaa. But early mornings are his, a sacred time when he develops his real passion, photography. While the advantage of working at dusk is the great light, the disadvantage is the lack of models, so most of his photos are self-portraits. Just the same, Yemenis are not crazy about public photography.

Yemen seeks to improve school standards
Al-Shorfa — 3 September 2013
The Ministry of Education has formed committees to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the examination process, said Education Minister Abdul Razzaq al-Ashwal during an August 25th press conference where the results of the secondary school exams were announced.  The ministry also has selected 1,000 schools where 11 standards for improving and refining the education process will be put in place, al-Ashwal said, and has allocated an operating budget of between 300,000 to 400,000 riyals ($1,400 to $1,860) to each school.

Students return to overcrowded classrooms and book shortages
Yemen Times — 3 September 2013
Summer’s over for Yemen’s estimated 6 million primary and secondary school students nationwide that went back to classes on Sunday for the 2013-14 school year. There are several changes that have welcomed them back the classroom. In accordance with Yemen’s new nationwide weekend, children will now have both Friday and Saturday off.  Before students attended half days on Thursdays and had Fridays off. To compensate for the loss of half a day, classes will now begin at 7:30 a.m. and students will have seven classes every day as opposed to the six they used to have.

Judicial Forum changes name, welcomes new leadership
Yemen Times — 3 September 2013
A newly elected head of the Judicial Forum marks an end to a 16-year period of stagnation for the leadership of the independent organization. The group also officially changed their name on Thursday to the Yemeni Judges Club, in a move that the leaders call symbolic of the organization becoming more inclusive. On Tuesday, Judge Aljarah Baleed became the newest leader of the syndicate, which defends members of the judicial branch nationwide.

Qatar Encroaches on Saudi Influence In Yemen
Al-Monitor — 20 August 2013
Qatar did not content itself with switching allegiances from the Houthis to the Muslim Brotherhood inside Yemen. It even proved through its mediation efforts to free a Swiss female kidnapped by al-Qaeda in February 2012 — without even informing or coordinating with Yemeni authorities — that its influence in Yemen had become astronomical. This leads to the information revealed by Saleh to Al Arabiya about the former Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Col. Moammar Gadhafi, asking him to stop combating al-Qaeda while expressing willingness to mediate between them. This was an indication that he was not the intended target, implying that Riyadh was.


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