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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