Weekly News Update 27 September 2013

Highlights:
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.

Friends of Yemen:
Yemen needs friends
Foreign Policy — 25 September 2013
International donors like to focus on output-oriented processes, such as constitution-drafting and elections preparation; these are important endeavors, and ones in which international assistance is often needed and welcomed. Yet, they should be wary of placing all attention and resources on Sanaa-centered initiatives. Despite the incessant political maneuvering, the government should aggressively address the challenges that plague the daily existence of most Yemenis — lack of access to food, water, electricity, fuel, and health services. Without making progress on the economic front a priority, Yemen’s democratic transition process risks derailment and its leadership a complete loss of credibility, which could result in renewed conflict across several fault lines. For too long, making tough economic decisions has been postponed because of political uncertainty, but the status quo can no longer continue if the country is to emerge from its perpetual, near-failed-state status.

‘Friends of Yemen’ Committed to Support Next Stage of Yemen Transition
World Bank — 25 September 2013
There was broad appreciation at the meeting for Yemen’s progress on implementation of the Mutual Accountability Framework, the agreement that lays out the government’s reform agenda and the commitment of donors to support it. The appointment of a new Anti-Corruption Board, approval of a plan for the systematic elimination of ‘ghost workers’ and ‘double dippers’ from the public payroll, and the development of a strategy to strengthen partnerships between the government and civil society were noted as a solid foundation for building up momentum on reforms. Discussions also stressed the need to consolidate macroeconomic stability as a vital underpinning of a continued, smooth political transition.  Finally, the “Friends” confirmed that of the US$7.9 billion pledged in support of Yemen in September 2012, US$6.9 billion has been allocated to specific programs and US$2.2 billion  already disbursed to date. Donors who had not yet allocated their funds were urged to do so quickly.

Yemen hopes donors will fulfil aid pledges
AFP via Fox News — 25 September 2013
Yemen hopes that donor countries that meet this week will honour their pledges of $7.8 billion to the country, of which nearly a quarter has been paid, the international cooperation minister said Tuesday. The country’s delegation to a meeting of the “Friends of Yemen,” scheduled on the margin of the UN General Assembly meeting Wednesday, “will ask for the support of donors for the stage that follows the national dialogue,” Mohammed Saadi told AFP.

Security:
Twin blasts in Yemen capital wound 20
AFP via Fox News — 25 September 2013
Two roadside bombs exploded one after the other on a busy road in the Yemeni capital on Thursday wounding 20 people, the interior ministry said. The twin blasts were on Al-Rabat Street where the explosive devices had been hidden among piles of garbage.

Soldiers in Yemen Are Killed in Attacks on 2 Military Targets
New York Times — 20 September 2013
At least 21 government soldiers were killed on Friday in what appeared to be coordinated attacks by people suspected of being Qaeda militants on two military targets in the south of Yemen, government officials said. Earlier in the day, witnesses and local security officials gave a higher death toll, saying at least 33 soldiers were killed. All of those killed had been assigned to guard the oil and gas fields in southern Shabwa Province, a volatile area and stronghold of Al Qaeda, where there have been frequent skirmishes between security forces and Islamist militants.

Bomb kills Yemen security official in volatile south: agency
Reuters — 25 September 2013
A Yemeni lieutenant colonel was killed on Wednesday by a bomb planted in his car, the state news agency said, the latest in a string of attacks on security officials blamed by government on Islamist insurgents. The Saba news agency said the incident took place in al-Atiq, the capital of the volatile southern province of Shabwa, near the city’s vegetable market. The incident was Yemen’s third assassination in as many days. On Tuesday a Yemeni air force officer was shot dead by gunmen in the capital Sanaa and on Monday, gunmen shot dead another colonel as he approached a busy intersection in Sanaa.

Officials: Militants Free 21 Yemeni Soldiers
AP — 24 September 2013
A Yemeni security official and a tribal leader say suspected al-Qaida-affiliated militants have freed 21 captive troops after the government threatened to conduct airstrikes in the area. The official says the Tuesday release came as a result of mediation by tribal leaders from Mahfad in southern Yemen’s Abyan province. He said the government had threatened to strike militant hideouts near the village, and warplanes were seen flying overhead to reinforce the threat. A tribal leader from the area confirmed the accounts.

Gunmen kill Yemeni air force colonel in Sanaa: official
Reuters — 23 September 2013
A Yemeni air force officer was shot dead on Monday by an unidentified gunman in the capital Sanaa, medics and a security official said, in the latest in a series of assassinations of security and military officers. The security official said one of two men riding a motorbike opened fire at Colonel Abdul Wahab Azzam as he was driving a car. He said without elaborating that the attack, in which the officer was shot as his car slowed at an intersection, bore the hallmarks of al Qaeda.

Following attacks on oil tankers, security forces take back road
Yemen Times — 25 September 2013
Security forces have been stationed on the main road from Marib to Sana’a after armed Nihm tribesmen seized about 90 oil tankers over the past six days. All tankers have been recovered. Each truck holds about 65,000 liters of fuel, said Yihya Humaid, Sana’a’s Security Department director, amounting to roughly $2.5 million in losses had the trucks not been returned. Officials say tribesmen were requesting the release of 1,000 weapons that were seized by security forces last month and hoped to use the tankers as bargaining chips.

Press:
‘Under threats from all sides’
Yemen Times — 24 September 2013
Despite an easing of controls on the press, there has been an alarming increase of attacks against Yemeni journalists under Yemen’s new government, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said at press conference Thursday in Sana’a. As different political groups and factions compete for power in the post-Saleh era, the government is no longer the main culprit behind attacks and threats against the press, said the human rights group in their newly released report, “A Life-Threatening Career.”

National Dialogue:
Yemen Ex-Leader Slams South Over Push for Autonomy
AP via ABC News — 21 September 2013
Yemen’s former president denounced southerners’ demands for greater autonomy from the north as “treason,” though his ruling party returned to negotiations tackling the issue on Saturday after walking out just days before over the proposal. Southern Yemeni representatives in the talks with the north are seeking to turn the country into a two-member federal union that would give them greater powers. South Yemen was an independent state until unification in 1990, and a movement demanding outright independence continues to have influence there, with southerners complaining of discrimination by the north.

NDC member resigns, says small political parties are ‘marginalized’ at talks
Yemen Times — 25 September 2013
A National Dialogue Conference (NDC) member handed in his resignation Tuesday in protest of being denied a chance to speak to the presidium of the State Building Working Group, of which he is a member. Abdulaziz Al-Bukair, the general secretary of the Social Nationalist Party, left the nation’s reconciliatory talks in response to what he calls the marginalization of representatives from small political parties and independent representatives. Al-Bukair is the only representative of the Social Nationalist Party at the NDC.

NDC Working Group reforms judiciary
Yemen Times — 25 September 2013
As part of its mandate to reform the justice system, the State Building Working Group at the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) has announced the new selection process for the Judicial Supreme Council, the country’s highest court. It is based on a survey of “best practices,” gathered from judicial systems around the world, said Mohammed Marem, head of the State Building Working Group. The Yemeni Judges Club has responded to the news with a temporary strike that began on Sunday.

Economy:
Blackout hits large parts of Yemen after attack on power lines
Reuters — 19 September 2013
Large parts of Yemen, including the capital Sanaa, have been left without electricity after Yemeni tribesmen attacked power lines on Thursday, a Yemeni official said. The attack in the Maarib province resulted in a key power station shutting down and came less than 24 hours after tribesmen targeted another part of the grid on Wednesday.

Yemeni women lead
Yemen Observer — 22 September 2013
Members of the Supreme National Authority for Combating Corruption (SNACC) elected last Thursday Afrah Saleh Badwilan as Head of SNACC and Dr. Ibtehag al-Kamal as Vice Head. This came in the first meeting of the members of SNACC, headed by Hassan Shukri, during which the President and Vice of the body of 11 members were elected according to SNACC Act.

Yemen’s Small Business Fair offers participants a chance to be heard
Yemen Times — 24 September 2013
The week-long Small Business and Microfinance Fair, launched Sunday on 70th Street in Sana’a, has brought entrepreneurs from throughout the state to showcase their products and services to the public.  With participation of 14 small enterprise owners, 60 clients benefiting from the microfinance funds were present at the 8th annual fair.

Government ministries evade financial responsibility for branches of state’s slaughterhouses
Yemen Times — 24 September 2013
The 2011 uprising removed a 33-year leader, but also had many unintended consequences. The General Slaughterhouse and Meat Markets Corporation (GSMMC)’s Sana’s branches  went from bringing in an average of about YR45 million monthly, about $200,000, to a low of YR3 million, or $14,000 a month, during the height of the upheaval. Pre-uprising, the government supervised corporation was self-sustaining financially, independent of state funding. Not anymore.

UN:
U.N. rights chief heads to Yemen
UPI — 26 September 2013
The United Nations announced Thursday it was sending a high-ranking human rights official on a five-day tour of Yemen where she’ll open an office for the OHCHR. U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri heads Sunday to Yemen for a tour of the country. Her office said Thursday she will met with President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi and key ministers during her visit.

Yemeni-Americans:
Controversy over US passports confiscation in Yemen
La Voix du Yemen — 22 September 2013
More than 20 known cases have surfaced in the last four months of Yemeni-Americans whose passports have been confiscated in Yemen while trying to renew them. It seems that the usual scenario is that American citizens of Yemeni descent have had their passports taken away when they go to the American Embassy in Sana’a to either renew their passports or get a visa for an immediate relative. Not only is it common for the embassy to decline a passport renewal or deny a visa but, in addition, citizens are also having their passports confiscated. The Embassy of the United States in Sana’a claims they are taking these actions because there was “fraud” involved in the process. However, in a classified document leaked by WikiLeaks, the cable from Sana’a mentions that “all Immigrant Visa (IV) cases are considered fraudulent until proven otherwise.”

Syrian Refugees:
Poor and desperate, Syrian refugees beg on Yemen’s streets
Reuters — 26 September 2013
UNHCR says there are about 900 registered Syrian refugees in Yemen, the bulk of whom have arrived this year, and settled in the capital Sanaa, followed by the southern hub of Aden. Geddo says there may be as many as 1,600 unregistered refugees, according to a rough estimate compiled by an international non-governmental organization. “There is a fear of insecurity. When people are traumatized they may well fear that if the government found out that they went to another country they may be persecuted,” he said.

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