Weekly News Update 4 October 2013

Highlights:
How Yemeni Coffee Reaches American Cups
Al-Monitor — 3 October 2013
Since the 1950s, Yemeni coffee has been facing great challenges. In 2011, coffee export was 20 times less than 150 years ago. Once a world-renowned port, Al-Makha — from which the English adaptation of the word “mocha” comes — is now almost out of business. In fact, according to Peet’s Coffee & Tea, the word mocha “became associated with chocolate because Europeans’ first experiences with cocoa, in the 17th century, reminded them of the bittersweet coffee they imported from Yemen.” Today, farmers often do not get remuneration comparable to the quality of their coffee for a variety of reasons, including the disconnect between the farmers and the market abroad. If a compromise is reached between short-term and long-term investment, between cultural authenticity and productivity and between local and international market needs, Yemeni coffee could regain its worldwide status.

For Yemen’s Few Remaining Jews, Time Has Run Out
TIME — 30 September 2013
“Saleh was a despot. He ran Yemen like a fiefdom, he neglected people and stole natural resources, but as a Jew my family and I were protected by him. Who will do that now that he is gone?” says Habib. During the 1948 war that led to the creation of Israel, anti-Jewish sentiment rose in Yemen and across the Middle East. Rioters killed some 80 Jews in the port city of Aden and plundered most of the Jewish shops in the city. Consequently, 49,000 Yemeni Jews, about two-thirds of the community, were airlifted to Israel between 1948 and 1951 in a secret British and American mission dubbed Operation Magic Carpet. Today, as Yemen tries to navigate a path toward democracy and a more inclusive political system, the last wave of emigration looks to be under way. In August, the Jewish Agency for Israel, a semigovernmental Israeli organization, helped smuggle 17 Yemeni Jews to Israel. Less than 90 remain.

Yemeni politics complicates US counterterrorism efforts
Al-Jazeera — 3 October 2013
The government said the storming of Ghail Bawazir and its popular oasis of recreational swimming pools in the midst of Hadhramaut’s harsh desert landscape was necessary to crush an attempt by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Ansar al-Sharia, its insurgent wing, to take control of the town. Ghail Bawazir lies 45 kilometers east of Mukalla, the provincial capital, on Yemen’s southeastern Arabian Sea coast. While the president heaped praise on the military, the population of Ghail Bawazir was and remains incensed by the government’s actions. Mahroos spent the days after the attack trying to placate local residents. A strong secessionist town, Ghail Bawazir has produced many prominent politicians, such as South Yemeni separatist leader Ali Salim al-Beidh and former Prime Minister Faraj Bin Ghanim, both graduates of the renowned Wusta School, which now sits derelict in the center of town.

Security:
Yemen Raids Al Qaeda Headquarters, At Least 10 People Killed As Army Retakes Building
AFP via Huffington Post — 3 October 2013
At least 10 people including three soldiers were killed in an offensive to retake headquarters seized by Al-Qaeda-linked militants in southeast Yemen, medical and military sources said Thursday. “We received this morning the bodies of 10 people” killed in the attack on the HQ, a medical source at Ibn Sina public hospital in Mukalla told AFP. A military official confirmed that at least three of the soldiers taken hostage by the militants were among the 10 dead.

Yemen court accuses former military officials over suicide blast; Al-Qaida kills 4 soldiers
AP via Fox News — 30 September 2013
Yemeni security officials say a national security court has accused three former top military officials, including a nephew of the former president, over negligence for a suicide attack that struck a military parade and killed more than 90 conscripts. Officials say the court also Wednesday sentenced five militants to up to ten years in prison for their role in the same May 2012 attack in the capital Sanaa. The court said the senior officials, including the nephew of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, were not present during the attack.

Yemen military officers taken hostage in suspected Al Qaeda assault
LA Times — 30 September 2013
In the latest audacious strike by suspected Al Qaeda militants in Yemen, attackers on Monday stormed a military headquarters in the country’s southeast, killing at least five soldiers and army officers and taking dozens more hostage, security officials said. The Yemeni government sent in special forces to seal off the area, and reportedly opened talks with the hostage-holders. About 70 military personnel, including the base’s commander, were believed held captive.

Yemen’s army retakes base seized by Qaeda militants
Reuters — 30 September 2013
Yemeni special forces retook an army base and freed several hostages hours after al Qaeda militants disguised as security personnel seized the site in southeast Yemen, killing at least four soldiers, a military official said on Monday. Dozens of militants had stormed the headquarters of the army’s Second Division in the city of al-Mukalla and captured some military personnel. At least nine soldiers were wounded, the official said.

City to ban weapons carrying for motorcyclists
Yemen Times — 3 October 2013
New procedures to regulate weapons carrying in Yemen are coming soon, the government has promised. The regulations, which are a collaboration between the Supreme Military and Security Affairs Committee and the Interior Ministry, would prohibit the carrying of weapons on motorcycles by civilians and military forces, the Interior Ministry announced on Monday.

AQAP denies responsibility for bombings on Rabat Street
Yemen Times — 1 October 2013
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has denied culpability for the two bombing that exploded on Al-Rabat Street in central Sana’a on Thursday. The explosions left 35 people injured, according to a statement by the Interior Ministry. “We deny responsibility for [that] operation and [we] condemn it,” the group allegedly said in a one-minute audio recording posted online, that was not independently verified for authenticity.  “We believe those [citizens] are Muslims and we [are here to] protect them and end the injustices they face from the Americans and their puppet [Yemeni] government.”

Another military officer assassinated
Yemen Times — 1 October 2013
Armed men on a motorcycle assassinated Lieutenant Colonel Abdulmalik Al-Amri Sunday evening in the Al-Qahira district of Taiz governorate, security sources in the area said. Al-Amri is the fourth reported military officer assassinated in the past week.

National Dialogue:
Yemen’s future cannot be built on impunity, senior UN rights official stresses
UN News Centre — 3 October 2013
Yemen’s future cannot be built on impunity for past abuses, a senior United Nations official stressed today, calling on the country to ensure that human rights are enshrined in its constitution and effectively carried out as it moves forward with its transition. “I end this visit to Yemen with mixed feelings. I had some good meetings, and heard some important commitments, but the road ahead is still a steep one,” Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri said at a news conference in the capital, Sanaa.

SCER postpones voter registration process
Yemen Times — 3 October 2013
The Supreme Committee for Elections and Referendum (SCER) will postpone the voter registration process until the country’s National Dialogue Conference (NDC) is over and all political parties have reached a consensus on issues pertaining to elections. National elections are slated for February 2014.

U.N. envoy dragged into controversy over Southern Issue
Yemen Times — 1 October 2013
A recent decision by the Southern Issue Working Group subcommittee at the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) to suspend talks until Jamal Benomar, the United Nations special envoy to Yemen, is back in the country has sparked a controversy about Benomar’s role in the nation’s politics. Mohammed Qahtan, the subcommittee’s spokesperson, denied that waiting for Benomar’s return is an indicator that the U.N. rep has overstepped his bounds. The subcommittee suspended talks about the Southern Issue last week.

Yemen warns of delay in national dialogue talks
AFP via Fox News — 2 October 2013
Yemen’s reconciliation talks, which have stumbled over the future form of the state, could be delayed for up to three months, the foreign minister said in Al-Hayat newspaper on Wednesday. The national dialogue, which was due to end on September 18, could be delayed by “one, two or three months, but not more,” the pan-Arab daily quoted Abubaker al-Qirbi as saying. The southern question has been a major stumbling-block for the talks launched in March, with hardline factions of the Southern Movement demanding secession and boycotting the talks.

Economy:
Yemen may issue sukuk to fund oil product imports
Reuters — 29 September 2013
Yemen’s government may issue a local-currency Islamic bond this year to finance its imports of petroleum products, its central bank governor Mohammed Awad bin Hamam said on Sunday. “We might issue a sukuk during the coming short period,” Hamam told Reuters on the sidelines of a meeting of Arab central bank governors in Abu Dhabi. He said the sukuk could be worth about 50 billion Yemeni rials ($233 million) and use a salam structure, which resembles a forward contract in conventional finance.

Bank deposits grow in unhealthy national economy
Yemen Times — 3 October 2013
Just like Sabeha, rather than investing or circulating the capital in the market currently in Yemen, the most wealthy are depositing their money in banks, according to official reports. This is reflected in Yemen Central Bank’s latest report, published in July 2013. The Bank reported total deposits jumped 2.1 percent to just over YR2 trillion, a little over $9 billion, as of the end of July, compared to YR1.9 trillion in April 2013. Economic experts consider the growth of deposits to be an indicator of a deteriorating economy in Yemen.

Yemen inflation climbs to 16-mth high in June, reserves down
Reuters — 30 September 2013
Yemen’s annual inflation edged up to a 16-month high of 14.5 percent in June, fuelled mainly by increases in the cost of tobacco and the stimulant qat, while foreign currency reserves dropped to their lowest level for nearly a year in July. Inflation had subsided from a peak of 25 percent in October 2011 to as low as 5.5 percent last November, as the economy began recovering from two years of political unrest. But price growth rebounded again to hit 14.2 percent in May this year.

Yemen oil pipeline pumping again after bomb damage repaired
Reuters — 28 September 2013
Yemen’s main oil export pipeline has started working again after damage caused by a bomb attack earlier this month was repaired, security and oil sources said on Saturday. Tribesmen attacked the pipeline in central Maarib province on Sept. 14 – their fourth assault on it in a month – halting flows to the Ras Isa terminal on the Red Sea. Groups often damage or destroy pipelines to press the government to provide jobs, settle land disputes or free relatives from prison.

Yemen tackles public sector corruption
Al-Shorfa — 2 October 2013
The first phase of a new fingerprint and facial scan system, which seeks to eradicate corruption in Yemen’s military, security and civil sectors, is close to completion, officials told Al-Shorfa. The first phase applies to employees hired before 2010, while the second will apply to those hired after that date, said Saad Huzam, director of the information centre at the Ministry of Civil Service and Insurance. Activating the new system is a key administrative reform and will enhance fairness and transparency in public sector employment, said Prime Minister Mohamed Salem Basindwa.

Police bust alleged ring of car thieves
Yemen Times — 1 October 2013
Security forces arrested members of an armed group allegedly involved in a car theft in the Nehm district of Sana’a on Sunday. Sana’a Security Chief Omar Abdulkareem told the Yemen Times that the members of the group were arrested after a car owner informed security authorities about his stolen vehicle.

Water:
Water scarcity and qat irrigation led to clashes in Ibb and Taiz
Yemen Times — 1 October 2013
A confrontation between qat farmers and government forces broke out Sunday in Wadi Al-Ghail of Al-Qaeda district, in Ibb governorate, after the state-run Public Electricity Corporation started digging a well in the area. The shooting began when qat farmers attacked the corporation employees, in objection to the drilling operation, said Mohammed Al-Shalfi, a local in Al-Qaeda district, which relies solely on one well for its water needs.

Education:
Classes cancelled at Sana’a University as strike continues
Al-Monitor — 3 October 2013
The Sana’a University Council officially cancelled all classes on Monday after students besieged the office of the university president, preventing council members from leaving the building for more than four hours.  Dr. Sinan Al-Marhadhi, Deputy Head of Students Affairs at the university, said all council members decided to cancel classes until government forces can secure control at the university. He claimed several students, taking advantage of a security vacuum, were about to attack university professors.

Iran:
Foreign Minister Criticizes Hezbollah, Iran Roles in Yemen
Al-Monitor — 2 October 2013
Yemen’s Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi criticized Hezbollah’s support for South Yemen’s former President Ali Salim al-Beidh, who is demanding secession from the north. Qirbi portrayed Beidh’s role in the political process as “very negative.” He said that Yemen has raised the issue with Hezbollah, its Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and other leaders via “parties,” and “as they say, a word to the wise is enough.”

US Leak:
Yemen Expert Calls Premise Of NY Times Leak Story ‘Laughable’
Huffington Post — 1 October 2013
On Monday afternoon, James Asher, the Washington bureau chief for McClatchy, described a front-page New York Times report as “odd.” That evening, a Yemen expert described the premise of the Times story — that an August leak regarding an Al Qaeda plot undermined U.S. intelligence-gathering — as “laughable.” The leak in question took place during an early August media frenzy over the closing of 19 embassies. On Aug. 4, McClatchy reported that the decision was prompted by intercepted communications between al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri and Yemen-based AQAP head Nasir al Wuhayshi. McClatchy defended publishing that detail, which other outlets, including the Times, held back at the government’s request. The Times had reported on an intercept involving “senior operatives of Al Qaeda,” but withheld the identities.

Syria:
Yemen Polarized by Syria Conflict
Al-Monitor — 1 October 2013
Amid talk of the role of Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) — two pro-al-Qaeda groups — in Syria, al-Qaeda in Yemen committed a heinous massacre involving three separate attacks against members of the Yemeni security forces in the south of the country. Although some do not see this as indicative of a link between the activity of al-Qaeda in the two countries, when the battle between different factions and President Bashar al-Assad’s regime began in 2011, al-Qaeda in Yemen was trying to tighten its grip on several regions. It even declared two Islamic emirates in Abyan and Shabwa, in the south of the country, before the Yemeni army regained control. This was an attempt to fill a power vacuum in the country and establish an Islamic state.

Child Marriage:
‘After the wedding, fear set in’: a Yemeni child bride’s story
The Guardian — 30 September 2013
Child marriages are scandalously common in Yemen. According to Human Rights Watch figures from 2006, 14% of girls are married by the time they are 15, and more than 50% before the age of 18. The motivation among impoverished families is to get rid of a mouth to feed at an early age, and to replace it with a possible share in a generous dowry. Physical and psychological problems last a lifetime, however, and recently there have been unconfirmed reports of an eight-year-old bride dying from her injuries on her wedding night. That has led to calls for the legal age of marriage to be raised from 15 to 18. But even if the law was changed, there is no minimum age for marriage in Islamic law, and Yemeni clerics regularly argue against legal restrictions.

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