Weekly News Update 19 September 2013

Yemeni Interior Ministry's Security Media Centre via Al-Shorfa/ http://al-shorfa.com/en_GB/articles/meii/features/2013/09/17/feature-02

Yemeni Interior Ministry’s Security Media Centre via Al-Shorfa/ http://al-shorfa.com/en_GB/articles/meii/features/2013/09/17/feature-02

Highlights:
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 Under Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon Johnson, economic aid to Egypt was rescinded in part because of the occupation of Yemen and the use of chemical weapons.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.

Hadi Op-Ed:
Distancing the past for a brighter and democratic future
Yemen Times — 17 September 2013
The best way to see past the negative headlines and understand the democratic momentum taking place in the country would be to travel to Yemen today. Right now, the National Dialogue Conference is in its final stages and is deciding on its official recommendations for our new constitution and new electoral system. The Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum is already at work finalizing their outreach plan on how to encourage more Yemenis to register to vote in the next election. Some Yemenis are already preparing to run for political office.

Security:
Yemen to overhaul security agencies
UPI — 18 September 2013
A working group in Yemen said its draft report on the rule of law calls for an overhaul of national security and intelligence institutions. Members of a good governance working group said they approved a draft final report on eight constitutional provisions and nearly two dozen other legislative items.

Qaid Al-Dahab Dead: Al Qaeda In Yemen Confirms Commander’s Death
AP via Huffington Post — 15 September 2013
Yemen’s al-Qaida branch has confirmed that a U.S. strike killed one of its leaders at the end of last month. It said in a statement posted on a militant website Saturday that Qaid al-Dahab was killed by a “perfidious American air raid” in the el-Manaseh region of Bayda province, along with one other person. Yemeni officials reported his death last month, saying the strike was likely by a U.S. drone. They said two were killed with al-Dahab.

Yemen Receives First U.S. Reconnaissance Aircraft
AP via TIME — 16 September 2013
Yemen’s defense minister says his country has received two U.S. reconnaissance airplanes, its first delivery of the aircraft as part of an aid package to help fight terrorism.

Yemen jails Qaeda militants for plot to kill president
AFP via Daily Star — 16 September 2013
A Yemeni court Sunday jailed three Al-Qaeda militants to between one and seven years after convicting them of plotting to assassinate President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi and the American ambassador. The same Sanaa court specialising in terrorism cases freed a fourth defendant held on similar charges based on time already served in prison, an AFP correspondent reported.

Body of Popular Committee leader found
Yemen Times — 17 September 2013
The body of Ali Hussein Al-Azani, the kidnapped leader of the Al-Sawma district Popular Committee in Al-Beidha, was found in Alor Mountain in Lahj governorate on Sunday. Al-Azani was kidnapped two months ago. The Interior Ministry media center claims Al-Azani was kidnapped on July 23 by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula  (AQAP) members and now the terror organization is also being blamed for his death.

Yemen strengthens its crime fighting capacity
Al-Shorfa — 17 September 2013
The Yemeni Interior Ministry holds specialised courses throughout the year to raise the level of preparedness and enhance the capabilities of its security personnel and other employees. These courses are part of the ministry’s annual training and qualification plan, which is being rolled out at colleges, schools and provincial security training centres across the country.

Truce reached in Amran
Al-Shorfa — 17 September 2013
A year-long ceasefire agreement was reached in Amran between tribesmen loyal to the Houthis and tribesmen loyal to the Al-Ahmar family on Saturday. The mediation committee created by President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi negotiated the unconditional one-year long ceasefire that stipulates the formation of a sub-committee to further discuss and resolve the root of the dispute between the two tribes.

Press:
Attacks on journalists threaten Yemeni freedom: Human Rights Watch
Reuters — 19 September 2013
A spate of attacks on journalists in Yemen, including an unsolved murder, threaten to undermine the growth of media freedoms as the U.S.-backed government enacts pro-democracy reforms, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday. Threats, harassment, physical assault, disappearances and attempted murder are among the attacks cited by journalists and local activists, which President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi had failed to condemn, the U.S.-based rights group said.

Women:
Protect Women’s Rights in Constitution
Human Rights Watch — 17 September 2013
Yemen should protect women’s rights by ensuring that its new constitution has adequate protections for women, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the head of the Rights and Freedoms Working Group of its National Dialogue process that was made public today.

National Dialogue:
Yemen extends reconcialiation talks
AFP via Google News — 15 September 2013
Yemen’s national reconciliation talks aimed at drawing up a new constitution that were due to end Wednesday are being extended by a day, the commission in charge of the dialogue announced. The commission, which is chaired by President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, called on the nine working groups in the dialogue to submit their recommendations “by September 19 at the latest.” The delegates are then to hold a plenary session which is scheduled to last for up to a month to draw up a final document.

Thousands gather in remembrance of Sep. 18
Yemen Times — 19 September 2013
Thousands of revolutionary youth and relatives of victims of the 2011 took to the street on Wednesday afternoon to commemorate the second anniversary of the “Kentucky massacre.” “Gathering in the same place [that the massacre happened] is a signal to all officials that we are still calling for justice for all revolutionary youth,” said Waleed Al-Ammari, a member of the 2011 Revolution Organizing Committee.

Former ruling party delays Southern Issue’s proposed solution
Yemen Times — 17 September 2013
The General People’s Congress (GPC), former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s political party, asked for more time before submitting their final approval of the solutions proposed by National Dialogue Conference’s Southern Issue subcommittee, which was formed  last week after boycotting Southerners returned to the conference. According to the committee’s spokesman Mohammed Qahtan, the GPC should have signed the final document for the proposed solutions, which include a proposal for the shape of the Yemen’s state on Monday morning. Even though the GPC has two representatives on this 16-member subcommittee, the party requested more time to further deliberate this issue within the party itself.

Protesters demand an accelerated release of compensation fund
Yemen Times — 17 September 2013
The Rizq family’s lives have not been the same since they lost their oldest son Mahir in Yemen’s 2011 popular uprising when he was shot in a protest. Mahir was the only breadwinner for his family of 17.  “He left misery for us all, no one cares about us,”  said Talal, Mahir’s 15-year-old brother. On Sunday, thousands staged a protest in front of the general prosecutor’s office in Sana’a to call for the release of a compensation fund, decreed by the government, to help the injured and families of those killed in Yemen’s revolution.

Justice:
Yemen urged not to amputate robber’s hand and foot
AFP via Google News — 17 September 2013
Amnesty International has urged Yemen to commute a sentence of hand and foot amputation meted out to a man convicted of robbery, slamming the Islamic law-compliant verdict as “cruel”. A Sanaa court on Sunday ordered the amputation of the right hand and the left foot of a man found guilty of attacking another man and robbing him of cash he was transporting in a vehicle belonging to a money exchange firm.

Ibrahim Mothana:
A Young Politician’s Death in Yemen
New Yorker — 13 September 2013
Ibrahim, a Yemeni political activist and writer, surprised endlessly—with his brilliance, encyclopedic knowledge, eloquent arguments, generous spirit, tirelessness, and elaborate pranks. But the biggest surprise came on September 5th, when, at the age of twenty-four, he died, from what his family said were natural causes, at his home in Sana’a. He was realistic about the challenges ahead. Sleep, he said, was a waste of time; he spent nights reading, writing, thinking. The result was an extraordinary electronic footprint (much of it captured in a memorial blog), which includes hundreds of essay-type e-mails he sent to many of his friends around the world. In my own inbox, his e-mails about Yemen’s policy priorities, economy, and constitution were peppered with Photoshop gags. One of my favorites is Yemenopoly—a board game he created that captures both Yemeni politics and Ibrahim’s humor. The rolling of dice sends players from prison to the mosque, ordering them to “create an armed militia,” “attack an oil pipeline,” or “assassinate rivals,” until eventually they all end up in Change Square.

Economy/Governance:
Economic observers say Yemen still lacks financial expertise
Yemen Times — 19 September 2013
About 15 years ago, with the consultation of the Arab Monetary Fund, and as part of desperately needed economic reforms, the Yemeni government put forth a plan to launch the Sana’a Stock Market. Yemen’s failure to fulfill its pledge to establish a stock market is often linked to the nature of business in the country. To launch a sustainable stock market, experts say the country would require a period of preparation. It would need to compile records of company accounts and corporate governance and create a transparent business environment, where profits are publicly declared.  Rasheed Al-Haddad is another business analyst who says the Sana’a Stock Market—given the country’s current situation—is “pure fantasy,” and it reflects haphazard developments planned by the government. Businessmen who advocate for a stock market remain pessimistic. Fareed Al-Awlaqi, a Yemeni entrepreneur, said because of a lack of trust between the government and private businesses, he doubts Yemen will establish a stock market even by the end of the decade.

As Yemenis leave, officials worry about ‘brain drain’
Yemen Times — 17 September 2013
There are 30,000 highly qualified Yemeni professionals residing abroad, according to a report issued by the Ministry of Expatriates. A majority of those have moved to other Gulf countries for work. The report estimates a YR5 billion ($24 million) loss resulting from “brain drain.”

Tribesmen blow up Yemen’s main oil export pipeline – government official
Reuters — 14 September 2013
Tribesmen bombed Yemen’s main oil pipeline in the central Maarib province on Saturday, a government official said, the fourth attack on the pipeline in a month. The attack, which stopped oil flows from the Maarib fields to the Ras Isa oil terminal on the Red Sea, caused a fire and damage to the pipeline about 40 km (25 miles) from where it starts in Maarib, the official said. No casualties were reported.

Yemeni government aims to promote digital literacy
Yemen Times — 17 September 2013
The government’s plans for training Yemeni civil servants on basic computer skills in order to keep them abreast to best practices in information technology (IT), as well as modernize their institutions, began in the 1980s, when other parts of the world were also going electronic.

City endorses multi-million dollar rainwater drainage plan
Yemen Times — 19 September 2013
The city may be getting serious about its flooding problem. The Capital Secretariat on Monday announced a YR3 billion, almost $14 million, rainwater drainage project for the capital city to begin construction in January 2014.

City curbs black market textbook trade
Yemen Times — 19 September 2013
Over 1,400 school textbooks have been confiscated since the launch of a three-day campaign by the Sana’a Public Works Office on Tuesday to pursue vendors who sell stolen school books and the school officials who supply them, said Abdulraqeeb Ata, the director of the Public Works Office in Sana’a. Authorities have identified school principals and officials they suspect of selling school textbooks  to vendors and are currently gathering evidence, Ata said.

Street Cleaners’ Syndicate calls off strike
Yemen Times — 19 September 2013
An internal dispute within the Street Cleaners Syndicate has resulted in the suspension of a strike that kicked off nationwide on Thursday, the syndicate said. The strike was initiated to protest the lack of job security for workers, government contracts and low wages.

Child Marriage:
Yemen investigates reported child-bride death
Al-Jazeera — 13 September 2013
Yemeni authorities say they are investigating the reported death of an eight-year-old girl from internal bleeding on the first night of her marriage, in a case that has rekindled international outrage over child brides. Yemeni rights campaigner Arwa Othman said earlier this week that the girl, identified as Rawan, died after she was married to a man five times her age who then had intercourse with her, rupturing her uterus. Othman said no action has been taken against the man.

Yemen child marriage: minister calls for ban after death of eight-year-old girl
The Guardian — 18 September 2013
Yemen‘s human rights minister has vowed to ban child marriage after the reported death of an eight-year-old girl on her wedding night. Huriya Mashhoor said she would press parliament for the minimum age of marriage to be set at 18 after the child, identified only as Rawan, reportedly died from internal bleeding after marrying a 40-year-old man. “We are asking to fix the legal age for marriage at 18, as Yemen is a signatory to the international conventions on children‘s rights,” she told AFP.

Humanitarian Issues:
Desert Locust Swarms in Yemen Seen Potentially Dangerous by FAO
Bloomberg — 18 September 2013
Desert locusts are forming swarms in Yemen, with the situation potentially dangerous after rain boosted summer breeding, the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization said. The insects are reported in remote and isolated areas of north and central Yemen, with breeding still in progress and hatching and swarm formation expected to continue this month, the Rome-based FAO wrote on its Locust Watch website yesterday.

Hard living conditions and a difficult security environment
International Committee of the Red Cross — 18 September 2013
Between April and July, over 55,000 people in Abyan, Khanfar district, were given seed and fertilizer to restart farming activities so that they could feed their families. Nearly 4,000 others in Abyan governorate took part in a cash-for-work scheme for over two months. “Projects like cash-for-work, which were supposed to be extended to other parts of the country, have been put on hold, because we cannot properly monitor those we already have,” said Jado Batila, who coordinates the ICRC’s economic security work in Yemen. “Sadly, thousands of Yemenis who need help are paying the price.” In Amran, the livestock of almost 19,000 farmers were vaccinated against goat plague by the ICRC working in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture. Many thousands of families in the governorate depend on cattle to earn a living. In Sa’ada, cash grants enabled 219 families to start income-generating activities.

US:
Yemen bids farewell to U.S. envoy Gerald Feierstein
UPI — 16 September 2013
Yemen wants to “push forward” its ties with the United States, the Yemeni foreign minister told departing U.S. envoy Gerald Feierstein Monday. Abu Bakr al-Qirbi met with Feierstein, U.S. ambassador to Yemen, who is ending his tenure after two years in the country. Qirbi “underlined the importance of the American and international support for the transitional phase and Yemen’s desire to push forward the relations with the United States,” the official Saba News Agency reported.

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