Monthly Archives: November 2013

Weekly News Update 22 November 2013

Highlights:
TED talks’ unlikely success in Yemen
Al-Jazeera — 21 November 2013
While TED talks run the risk of being abstract, the 17 speakers in Sanaa almost unanimously provided a humbling dose of reality and a look at the unique hardships facing Yemen. Instead of calling for regulating investments, Mohammed Mahdi called for investment in the nation, period. Rather than demanding better literature, Eithah al-Maghafi promoted basic literacy through the I Love My Book campaign. “People are not aware of the importance of reading, especially for kids,” she said. “We don’t have any libraries in Yemen for kids.”

Targeting officials: Assassination toll casts shadow on Yemen
Yemen Times — 19 November 2013
A data-driven investigation conducted by The Yemen Times found that at least 93 security or army officials have been assassinated by unidentified gunmen across the country in the course of seven months, from April 1 through the end of October.  Many have called 2013 the bloodiest year on record in terms of assassinations and attempted assassinations.  According to our data, mainly provided by Yemen’s Interior Ministry, Hadramout governorate currently has the highest record of reported assassinations, out of the nine governorates that have kept records for the same period.

Yemen prepares strategy plan to deal with deported workers returning from Saudi Arabia
Yemen Times — 19 November 2013
Once the influx of Yemeni migrant workers being deported from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia slows down, the General Union of Yemeni Workers Syndicate and the Yemeni Communities Center said they would begin enacting a plan to train and assist laborers kicked out of Saudi because of a recent change in labor restrictions.  The announcement came on Sunday. As a part of the union’s and center’s plan, deportees will also receive a monthly salary of YR30,000 ($140) for six months to help them get back on their feet. Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 15 November 2013

Highlights:
Yemen and the GCC: Benefits of Labor Market Integration
Foreign Policy — 8 November 2013
Once again, Yemen is faced with a new wave of expelled workers as Saudi Arabia deals with an employment crisis at home. Approximately 200,000 Yemeni workers have already been deported since March, and on November 4, planned government raids on businesses and shops brought eerie silence to the streets of Riyadh. As the crackdown continues, the flood of repatriated nationals could plunge Yemen into deeper economic crisis. However, it is not too late to get Yemen back on the road to recovery. The GCC must help by welcoming Yemeni workers into its labor market. Although it may be an unpopular move due to security concerns, labor market integration in the Gulf will bring long-term prosperity and stability to the region. Europe’s recent experience with economic integration demonstrates the positive impact of labor mobility on new member states’ economies and political systems.

Yemen fighting risks deepening sectarian divisions
Reuters — 13 November 2013
A deadly assault by Shi’ite Houthi rebels on a Salafi Islamic school planted in their mountain heartland could ignite wider sectarian conflict in Yemen, where instability has already helped al Qaeda militants to take root. The Houthis, who belong to the Zaydi branch of Shi’ite Islam, have bombarded the sprawling Dar al-Hadith seminary in Dammaj village for two weeks, killing at least 100 people. Late on Tuesday, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular (AQAP) pledged revenge for the assault. Political rivalries may have helped to start the violence, but the struggle over a Salafi outpost deep in Houthi territory is also part of a regional contest between Shi’ite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia that has been sharpened by the war in Syria.

Yemen’s quandary in Dammaj
Foreign Policy — 11 November 2013
While it is not entirely clear who the protagonist was in the recent violent events in the town of Dammaj, Yemeni officials have expediently assigned responsibility for the conflict to the Houthis, prior to launching any investigation. Such conspicuous political bias from the government is escalating the situation, leading to further disastrous reactions in Sadaa. This government-sponsored scenario of the conflict is purposefully constructed to stir national consciousness in favor of one side, the Salafis. The Dammaj students who were caught in the battle are exalted to martyrdom status, pictures of their dead are published in newspapers and websites, while there is almost nothing reported on the Houthis besides their violent role and support from Iran. Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 7 November 2013

Highlights:
Economists: government must collect taxes, better manage oil revenues
Yemen Times — 5 November 2013
The Yemeni government is borrowing considerable amounts of money from international financial institutions to keep the country and the central government afloat, economists say. The move is a risky one, says Mostafa Nasr, the chairman of the Studies and Economic Media Center in Sana’a, but more transparency and efficient management could increase government revenues, reduce the country’s debt and strengthen the national economy.  “When the government faces a shortage of cash, it borrows, seeks foreign aid or prints new notes,” said Nasr. “These responses each pose a threat to the national economy.” Mohammed Jubran, a professor of economics at Sana’a University, who audits numerous government ministries with access to unpublished reports, said dependence on loans forces the country to rack up debt due to interest rates.

“Catastrophic” humanitarian situation in Yemen’s Dammaj
IRIN — 6 November 2013
A fresh outbreak of sectarian fighting in northern Yemen between militants of the Houthi-led Shia movement and (Sunni) Salafists has entered a second week with at least 50 people killed, according to a senior government health official, and aid workers getting little access to the besieged village of Dammaj, a Salafist stronghold. Humanitarians are concerned that thousands of vulnerable civilians, some of them injured and sick, are unable to flee as Houthi forces continue to bombard the village from surrounding hills. In a statement last week the Houthis said a Salafi religious centre in Dammaj, Sa’dah Governorate, was being used to recruit Sunni fighters.

Thousands of now visa-less Yemenis to be deported from Saudi Arabia
Yemen Times — 5 November 2013
Thousands of Yemeni migrants will be deported back to Yemen from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia beginning Monday, on the first day of the Islamic New Year. A four-month grace period granted by the Kingdom for undocumented workers to sort out their residency issues ended on Sunday. Preliminary estimates indicate that 150,000 Yemeni workers are on the verge of deportation to the country this year following an announcement from  Saudi Arabia in April that foreign laborers in the kingdom would only be allowed to work for their original visa sponsors. In July, the Yemeni government unsuccessfully attempted to persuade Saudi authorities to exempt Yemenis from the change in law, according to business reporter Rasheed Al-Haddad. Sixty percent of small businesses in Saudi Arabia are owned by Yemenis, Al-Haddad said. The monitoring and supervision of returning Yemenis is not organized, Al-Haddad said. Three Yemeni ministries involved in the matter, the Ministry of Expatriates, Labor Ministry, and Foreign Affairs Ministry, disagree about where the burden will fall for dealing with the returning workers. Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 1 November 2013

Highlights:
Yemen, Between State and Non-State
Al-Tagheer via Al-Monitor — 27 October 2013
The conflict in Yemen is not a regional, provincial, tribal, partisan or social conflict. It’s rather a conflict between two projects that are totally and fundamentally contradictory in both form and content, as well as in the means of achieving their respective objectives. Whether Yemen will move forward toward a better future or remain hostage to its past — haunted by agony, decay, suffering and bitter wounds — rides on the outcome of the struggle between the state project and the non-state project.

Debating Federalism in Yemen
Atlantic Council — 28 October 2013
The current debate is focused on the first two levels of government: Central (Federal) government, and Regional governments, with little focus on the municipal or city-level government. Without empowering the third level of government with enough authority and responsibility—and explicitly protecting such powers under the new constitution—the NDC delegates will continue to overlook the demands of Yemeni citizens for a government that is more responsive to their local needs. Yemen will move from a centralized system with a single power center in Sana’a to yet another centralized system with two to five power centers that remain out of touch with the ordinary citizen.

Independent Socotra governorate: paving the way for a federal Yemen or a hint at separation?
Yemen Times — 29 October 2013
Socotra’s independent status, both financially and administratively, was one of the principle demands of Socotrans during the 2011 popular uprising. With roughly 55,000 inhabitants, and located around 380 km. off the coast of mainland Yemen, Socotra is the largest part of four islands that form the archipelago in the Indian Ocean. Socotra was part of Aden governoate from unification until 2004, for 14 years. The central government annexed it to the Hadramout governorate because of its proximity, reducing expenses and hassle for residents who needed to access public services not available in Socotra. Although it is not clear how the NDC’s decision will be affected by President Hadi’s Socotra announcement, Saleem said Socotra, as an independent governorate, will be part of the Southern region if Yemen is a federal state. In Yemen’s post-revolution climate, the newly announced Socotra governorate is another issue in which some figures from the old regime are clashing with the new administration.

Press:
Haider Shaye awarded human rights prize
Yemen Times — 29 October 2013
The international human rights organization AlKarama announced on Friday its selection of Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye for its 2013 Human Rights Defenders award. “Shaye was chosen because of his work which exposed civilian deaths caused by U.S. airstrikes in Yemen resulting in his imprisonment and trial,” said the legal coordinator of AlKarama in Yemen, Mohamed Al-Ahmadi.

Security/Crime:
Rebels and Islamists Clash in Yemen, Killing 30
AP via ABC News — 31 October 2013
A spokesman of an Islamic Salafi movement says at least 30 people have been killed in clashes with northern rebels over two days, an escalation of fighting in the country’s restive north. Serour al-Wadie, a spokesman of the Salafi movement, said Thursday that Hawthi rebels have been shelling their district in Damaj, in Saada province. Al-Wadie said the rebels started the attack because they say Salafis are harboring foreign jihadi fighters. He said that his forces responded with gunfire.

Yemen fights terrorism through textbooks and teachers
Al-Shorfa — 28 October 2013
Raising awareness on the dangers of violence and extremism occurs through self-effort at the school level, said Adel Abdul Rahman, principal of Jeel al-Mithaq School in Sanaa province. These local efforts include explanations of the topic by teachers and the activities of specialised student clubs, such as Islamic education, painting and art clubs, which organise events and exhibitions to combat extremism and violence, he said. Head of Sanaa’s education office Mohammed al-Fadhli addressed the need for more such efforts in the face of groups such as al-Qaeda that use violence as their primary means of achieving their goals, which include “turning youth into moving bombs”.

Worries grow over possible Al-Qaeda resurgence in Abyan and Al-Beidha
Yemen Times — 29 October 2013
Abyan and Al-Beidha governorates are facing security challenges due to what security officials say is a spread of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) affiliates in the areas. Currently, nocturnal clashes between armed men—possible AQAP affiliates—and government forces are ongoing, officials in the area say. Militants have long announced that they are attempting to take control of the two governorates in order to create an Islamic Emirate.

Yemen’s Slide Into Chaos Risks Militant Haven on Saudi Border
Bloomberg — 30 October 2013
Security in Sana’a has deteriorated since popular unrest pushed President Ali Abdullah Saleh from office in 2011. Dozens of intelligence and security officials have been assassinated, al-Qaeda continues to attack government targets and Shiite-Muslim Houthi rebels, who are fighting Sunni Islamists in the north, are encamped in the city. Western diplomats who visit do so with greater protection and foreign nationals fear kidnapping more than they did a year ago.

Yemen police halt fireworks causing rumors of U.S. embassy attack
Reuters — 28 October 2013
Yemeni police moved in to halt a firework display at a wedding party near the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa on Monday that triggered rumors of an attack on the mission, a security guard and a Yemeni diplomat in Washington said.

Seven government security workers arrested for allegedly assisting AQAP
Yemen Times — 31 October 2013
Security forces in Al-Beida’a governorate on Tuesday raided the houses and offices of seven government soldiers and officers, arresting the men for alleged connections to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) affiliates in the governorate, according to officials.  “The National Security Bureau had been monitoring the phone calls of the seven members for a long time,” said Colonel Hamoud Al-Ammari, Rada’a’s Security Chief. Rada’a is the capital of Al-Beida’a governorate.

Al-Qaeda denies issuing fatwa targeting GPC-affiliated media figures
Yemen Times — 31 October 2013
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) denied in a statement Tuesday that they had issued a fatwa, or Islamic edict, to assassinate members of the media affiliated with the General People’s Congress (GPC), the party of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, as reported in the local media.

1300 year-old Quran stolen from National Museum
Yemen Times — 29 October 2013
The Yemeni Parliament’s Culture, Media and Tourism Committee has called for an investigation of the General Authority of Tourism, Antiquities and Museums (GATAM)—part of the Ministry of Culture—after the theft of Qurans and antique swords from the National Museum in mid-October. The theft of Yemeni antiquities is a theft of Yemeni identity and history, said GATAM head Abdu Al-Hudaifi. The stolen Quran manuscripts are rare, with one dating back 1,300 years, Al-Hudaifi said. The final revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Mohammed was in 632 A.D.—according to Islamic belief, 1,381 years ago.

Economy:
DNO International has oil discovery in Yemen’s Masila basin
Oil & Gas Journal — 30 October 2013
A group led by DNO International ASA, Oslo, has tested 36° gravity oil at a rate of 5,900 b/d at the Salsala-1`discovery well on Block 32 in the Masila basin of east-central Yemen. The company attained the 5,900 b/d initial rate before choking flow to 3,400 b/d due to limited tank space. The flow came from a 32-m perforated interval in the Jurassic Shuqra formation. Total depth of the directional well is 4,147 m. Cost to drill, complete, and test the well was $10 million.

Yemen gets good review from Norwegian energy company
UPI — 31 October 2013
More than 5,000 barrels of oil per day flowed from an exploration well drilled onshore in Yemen, Norwegian energy company DNO International said. DNO said it reached a test production rate of 5,900 barrels of oil per day flowing from its Salsala-1 exploration well in Yemen. The company said it started drilling the well in July. It cost $10 million to complete and test the well.

Bureaucracy delays release of funds for indebted inmates
Yemen Times — 31 October 2013
The release of 333 indebted individuals from prison remains on hold until the Finance Ministry and Yemen Central Bank deliver agreed-upon payments to the Rehabilitation and Reform Authority (RRA), said Mohammed Ali Al-Zalb, head of the RRA. The Finance Ministry told the Yemen Times that Yemen Central Bank has not transferred federal payments to the RRA in order to clear the debts. The debt relief program dates back to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and was reauthorized by President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi this year. The program is designed to reduce Yemen’s large number of indebted prisoners by using federal funds to pay off their debts.

National Dialogue:
Reconciliation Government Minister Resigns
Yemen Observer — 31 October 2013
The Minster of the Cabinet, a member of the Reconciliation Government (RG,) Hasan Sharaf sent his resignation memo to president Hadi’s government last Tuesday. The failure of the government to meet the demands of the people was the reason behind his resignation. The minister said in his resignation note to President Hadi and on in his Facebook official page that the government’s failure in doing the tasks that belongs to it and achieving the people’s aspirations, and neglecting the Yemeni people lives were the reasons which lead him more than once to ask for resignation.

Yemen’s Nobel Peace laureate donates prize money to charity
Yemen Times — 31 October 2013
Tawakul Karman, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, donated her award money on Thursday to a charity fund to help victims and families of Yemen’s uprising. In a ceremony held at the Cultural Center in Sana’a, Karman signed a symbolic check for $500,000 to transfer her prize money to the 2011 Revolutionary Victims Fund.

NDC members react to young member’s brief kidnapping
Yemen Times — 31 October 2013
Following the brief kidnapping and release of one of their own, questions have been raised about the threat National Dialogue Conference (NDC) members are under. On Sunday morning, Hamza Al-Kamali, a youth representative at the National Dialogue Conference and political activist, was abducted outside his home by a group of unidentified, armed assailants.  On the Monday evening following both physical and mental abuse by his abductors, Al-Kamali was released.

Kidnapped NDC member and political activist tells his story
Yemen Times — 31 October 2013
This experience has made me stronger, not weaker. The message my kidnappers tried to send through me backfired. Not only are my friends and I more determined than ever to create a new Yemen, but now we realize how scared and desperate these people are whose interests are threatened by this change. It means we are on the right track and we are closer to achieving our goals.

Houthis to resume participation in NDC, Hirak still divided, holding back
Yemen Times — 31 October 2013
Ansar Allah, the political wing of the Houthis, announced Tuesday that it had decided to resume its participation in the National Dialogue Conference’s (NDC) concluding sessions that resumed this week, aimed at finalizing the NDC’s outcomes. Ali Al-Bukhaiti, a representative of Ansar Allah, said they resumed participation after the NDC secretary general met their demands.

Rap:
Yemeni rappers find a voice that echoes traditional styles
The National — 31 October 2013
There were only a few of us familiar with the music of Amani Yahya, a rapper from Al Hodaida who is now based in Sana’a. After a minute of silence, we applauded. But the new style of music and its approach was just too bizarre for the rest of the crowd. She describes her raps as being “about the struggles of women in Yemen, the pains of what some of us go through, and it also reflects my personal experiences of being bullied in school”.

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