Weekly News Update 10 October 2013

Highlights:
Once stable, a proud Yemeni city struggles to hold on amid violence
Christian Science Monitor — 4 October 2013
Taiz, the third-largest city, is largely Sunni, while Zaydi Shiites dominate in Sanaa and the north. But religious differences are not the driver of the division, nor are tribal ties that have caused rifts elsewhere in the country.  Natives say it’s a matter of culture. Taizis cast their city as uniquely civic-oriented, home to one of Yemen’s largest universities and many of the country’s factories.  They point out that Taiz is disproportionately represented in the ranks of Yemen’s businessmen and intellectuals, and attribute that to the historical strength of its educational institutions. That pride prompts complaints directed at northern tribal elites,  who many Taizis accused of hoarding wealth and power during former President Ali Abdullah Saleh‘s rule and seeking to stifle the city’s culture and potential.

Stuck Behind Bars
Human Rights Watch — 9 October 2013
The Yemeni government should immediately release or bring to trial five men detained unlawfully for more than two years. The men are being held in connection with a June 2011 explosion in the presidential palace mosque during the Yemeni uprising. All five, who say they have been tortured, remain in detention despite a May 2013 presidential order to free three of them immediately.

National Dialogue:
President Hadi’s speech at final plenary session opening
Yemen Times — 10 October 2013
We are only a few days away from reaching a fair solution for the Southern Issue, a solution that depends on addressing past grievances and re-drafting the unity agreement among all Yemeni political components in line with one federal, united state. You know a national broad consensus on the solutions of the Southern Issue has been largely reached. The tentative points will be successful because of the virtue of Yemeni wisdom and by the virtue of their willingness to place national interests first.

Yemen Delays Referendum That Could Have Led to Free Elections
Wall Street Journal — 7 October 2013
Yemen has delayed a November constitutional referendum that would pave the way for the country’s first free elections, as southern secessionists hold fast to demands for their own state and as the capital’s grip on security slips further, after armed men killed a German Embassy employee and a United Nations worker was kidnapped over the weekend. The secessionist movement Hirak also called for a million-man march on Saturday to protest against a constitution that would keep Yemen unified. The movement has popular support in the south and has galvanized large protests in the southern city of Aden in the past, often resulting in clashes with police.

Controversy over local council term expirations
Yemen Times — 10 October 2013
The General People’s Congress (GPC), who has 73.7 percent of the seats, want term extensions until the next elections. Other political parties, including Islah, who has 11.5 percent of seats, want President Hadi to decide the composition of the councils until elections are held. The Socialist Party and the Nasserite Party are also opposed to extensions.

Yemen federalism decision ‘in days’: Hadi
AFP via Gulf News — 8 October 2013
Yemen’s president said on Tuesday the question of turning the country into a federal state, which has so far delayed a conclusion to reconciliation talks, will be resolved within days. Addressing participants at a national dialogue session in Sana’a, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi said: “We are a few days away from reaching a just solution to the southern issue… within a united and federal Yemen.”

Iryani withdraws from the Reconciliation Committee
Yemen Observer — 6 October 2013
Dr. Abdul Karim al-Iryani withdrew Wednesday evening October 2, from the Reconciliation Committee hearing in the comprehensive National Dialogue Conference (NDC). Al-Iryani s withdrawal was followed by the withdrawal of a number of members of the committee that was forced to suspend its work indefinitely. The withdrawal of al-Iryani came after the Committee started discussing the law of political isolation that was presented by some members of the transitional justice team.

National dialogue reaches tentative agreement on political isolation
Yemen Times — 8 October 2013
One day before the inauguration of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) Concluding Plenary, political factions arrived at a tentative agreement on political isolation. An agreement was reached that immunity for Saleh means he should abstain from political activities, as per law No.1/2012.

Security:
Clerics: Military alone won’t stop al-Qaeda in Yemen
USA Today — 8 October 2013
An imam and head of an Islamic institute for Koranic and Sharia studies based in Mukalla, the provincial capital of Hadhramaut, Bawazeer along with scholars and tribal sheikhs have been running programs for Yemeni youth who are susceptible to AQAP’s message justifying violence. Bawazeer and his colleagues said an alternative solution must be found to the primarily military one used by the government. But he said their warnings and labors have not been heeded by the government and the threat has spread.

German embassy guard gunned down outside Yemen supermarket
Reuters via Christian Science Monitor — 6 October 2013
Gunmen shot dead a German security guard employed by the German embassy in Yemen‘s capital Sanaa on Sunday as he was leaving a supermarket, Yemeni security officials said, in an attack they said bore the hallmarks of al Qaeda.

UN tells Yemen staff to stay at home after German killed
Reuters via Daily Star — 7 October 2013
The United Nations told its staff in Yemen to stay home on Monday, a day after gunmen shot dead a German embassy security guard. International humanitarian organisations have also advised staff to limit their movements, an aid worker said.

Yemen destroys more than 3,000 mines
Al-Shorfa — 9 October 2013
The Yemeni National Mine Action Committee on Tuesday (October 8th) said it has destroyed more than 3,000 mines and unexploded ordinance in the first half of this year, Yemen’s al-Thawra daily reported.

Government increases checkpoints, security precautions
Yemen Times — 8 October 2013
The Interior Ministry announced increased troop deployments nationwide on Sunday, in anticipation of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) attacks, the ministry said. The ministry cited recent terror attacks for the increased security precautions, including the seizure of a military camp in Mukalla on Sept. 30, which AQAP has claimed responsibility for.

8 injured in Hajja, 2 injured in Dhale
Yemen Times — 8 October 2013
As the Ministry of Interior prepares to deploy more soldiers and security forces around the country, the break-down in security has resulted in civilian deaths and injuries around the country, including eight people injured in Hajja City and two people injured in Dhale. Eight people were injured in Hajja City on Saturday when clashes broke out at a popular vegetable market near the security administration. Amongst the injured was a four-year-old child.

Weapons depots threaten people’s lives in Sana’a
Yemen Times — 8 October 2013
A weapons depot at Al-Hina Military Camp on Nukm Mountain in the western section of Sana’a exploded once again on Saturday evening, resulting in a large fire. There was a similar explosion at the same depot two years ago, military expert Mohsen Khasrrof said. There have been no reported casualties from the incident.

Al-Qaeda replaces state presence in Ra’ada
Yemen Times — 8 October 2013
Although Ra’ada security manager Hamoud Al-Amari said the district needs  at least 6000 soldiers to maintain security, Ra’ada currently has no more than 1500 soldiers. Al-Amari said that armed militants launch surprise attacks on security checkpoints and flee the scene, usually leaving between eight and 20 casualties.  The latest attack on Monday saw seven men killed during clashes with the 139 Mechanized Brigade soldiers at Dar Al Najd checkpoint, east of Ra’ada city. Two soldiers were injured in the attack and two others were taken hostage.

Rada’a locals turn to Al-Qaeda for conflict mediations
Yemen Times — 10 October 2013
Rada’a district locals say they have turned to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to mediate their disputes because the state—weakened since the  2011 popular uprising that brought down the former president—isn’t capable of it. Rada’a district security manager Hamoud Al-Amari said the security vacuum has pushed locals to the Al-Qaeda affiliate. Authorities lack the capacity to control the situation, he said.

Economy/Governance:
Saudi fund helps Yemen build, equip vocational institutes
Al-Shorfa — 4 October 2013
The institutes — among 40 to be equipped with funds from an $80 million grant the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) gave Yemen in April — aim to prepare youth across Yemen for local and regional labour markets by training them in skills including carpentry, blacksmithing, graphic design, ceramics, goldsmithing and carpet weaving.

Friends of Yemen: Yemen needs independent body to monitor funds, projects
Yemen Times — 8 October 2013
The Friends of Yemen group concluded its sixth ministerial meeting held in New York on September 25 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting. The group’s final statement called on the Yemeni government to carry out the priority actions which were agreed upon during the donors’ meeting in June. The statement made no mention of the amount of funding that would be dispersed to Yemen at this time.

IDPs/Refugees:
Analysis: IDPs return amid continuing insecurity in Yemen’s war-torn Abyan
IRIN — 7 October 2013
A large-scale aid effort focused on rebuilding conflict-hit Abyan Governorate in southern Yemen is yielding positive results, but more than a year after al-Qaeda-linked militants were driven out, the police – and an accompanying sense of security – have yet to return. Most residents have moved back though; markets have sprung to life, rebuilding work has begun and an international aid effort has helped people restart their lives.

Refugees in Yemen: First the Africans, Now the Syrians
Huffington Post — 4 October 2013
Even though Yemen is unable to feed its own population, it currently hosts at least 250,000 refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Iraq according to the conservative figures of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The vast majority of these refugees originated from Somalia with at least 230, 00 being Somali nationals. This fact is in itself is not a revelation, when the Somali civil war first began; Yemen unilaterally opened its borders to the Somalia people and continues to do so till today. However what is revealing about the latest figures is that there is a clear trend of refugees migrating to Yemen, particularly from the Horn of Africa. The majority of these refugees see Yemen as a gateway to employment in the Gulf. For instance, the UNHCR noted that in more 103,000 refugees and migrants arrived from the Horn of Africa in 2011 and another 80,000 needy and desperate people entered Yemen by the middle of 2012.

Qat:
Qat ‘fighters’ await decisive decision about qat
Yemen Times — 10 October 2013
Anti-qat activists have become more optimistic about a future qat-free Yemen. In the last month, the Independence of Special Entities (public institutions) Working Group at the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) submitted its final report to be presented at the final plenary session of the NDC.

Satire:
Satirical news show earns YouTube fame
Yemen Times — 10 October 2013
Rawabit was established by five Yemeni youth in 2010 who knew each other through university. It was the first Yemen channel to appear on YouTube, and those behind the channel each have their own contributions to the program, whether its hosting, lighting, editing or a host of other technical skills. Other than Laish, the channel has five other TV programs. The programs, Al-Jamili said, all tackle social issues, but with a more sarcastic delivery. One of the programs is about children’s issues and the presenter is a child.

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