Weekly News Update 7 November 2013

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Jubran, a professor of economics at Sana’a University, who audits numerous government ministries with access to unpublished reports, said dependence on loans forces the country to rack up debt due to interest rates.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.

U.S. holds talks about Yemen detention center for Guantanamo inmates
Los Angeles Times — 6 November 2013
The Obama administration is in talks with Yemeni officials to set up a detention facility outside their capital to hold dozens of terrorism suspects from Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan, U.S. and Yemeni officials say. The plan affects only Yemeni prisoners but is considered key to a renewed push by President Obama to close the prison camp built at the U.S. naval base in Cuba after the 2001 terrorist attacks, a vow he repeated this week. More than half of the 164 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are from Yemen.

Teenagers Are Droned, And a Family Cries Out
Foreign Policy — 4 November 2013
The strike that killed Arfag’s three brothers was the eighth out of nine total air attacks launched between July 27 and August 10. It was part of a spastic attempt to thwart what U.S. officials claimed was an al Qaeda plot to attack American interests. But the drone campaign may have only created more support for the militants, if Arfag and his grieving family are to be believed.  Government officials told the press that the strike’s targets were all al Qaeda militants. But the victims’ families say just the opposite was true: that the two teenagers and their older brother were innocent bystanders.

Victims of US drone and missile strikes hold press conference
Yemen Times — 7 November 2013
The human rights organization, AlKarama, held a press conference on Monday featuring those injured in U.S. drone and missile strikes and the families of those killed. The conference highlighted the civilian casualties of U.S. strikes in Yemen and the results of AlKarama’s recent report, “License to Kill: Why the American Drone War on Yemen Violates International Law.”

Yemen ceasefire unravels within hours
Al-Jazeera — 5 November 2013
Sectarian fighting has erupted between Shia Houthi rebels and Sunni fighters in northern Yemen, shortly after a UN-brokered ceasefire was announced, both sides said on Tuesday. The agreement to end the fighting in the town of Damaj allowed Red Cross aid workers to evacuate the critically wounded. “The ceasefire collapsed after few hours,” Houthi spokesman Ali al-Bakheeti told the AFP news agency. He accused foreign Salafist fighters, allegedly based in Damaj, of violating the truce announced on Monday by the UN special envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar.

Shi’ite, Sunni ceasefire in north Yemen appears crumbling
Reuters — 4 November 2013
A ceasefire between Yemeni Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims fighters intended to end days of clashes that have killed at least 100 combatants and civilians appeared to be crumbling on Monday after Sunnis reported a resumption of fighting. “The Houthis are shelling Damaj now with mortars causing five injuries,” Salafist spokesman Surour al-Wadi’i said. “The cease fire has not taken hold so far.” A Red Cross delegation had managed to enter the town of Damaj to treat and evacuate those wounded in the fighting, but a translator with the team was shot and killed, he said.

Yemeni president warns of sectarian fighting as clashes between rebels, Islamists continue
Associated Press via Washington Post — 5 November 2013
Yemen’s president is warning of sectarian violence in his country after deadly clashes continued for a second week in the restive north between rebels from a branch of Shiite Islam and ultraconservative Sunnis.In remarks aired Tuesday by state TV, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi denounced “sectarian fighting that does not serve the security or stability of the nation.”

Yemen mediator says Dammaj fighting includes “war crime”
Asharq Al-Awsat — 4 November 2013
Yehia Abuesbaa, head of the committee tasked by Yemeni president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi with solving the Dammaj crisis, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “clashes continue. From time to time, we hear the bombardment of heavy weapons striking Dammaj. The presidential committee, the Red Cross, the governor of the province and the military leadership were turned away by the Houthis and were prevented from entering Dammaj for the third respective day. We made an agreement to attend to the wounded and for the Red Cross to be allowed access, in preparation for the army’s entry. However, the Houthis, for the third time, have turned us away.” “I would not describe what is happening in Saada as genocide, but I will say that preventing aid to the wounded for 21 days is a war crime,” he added. The chairman blamed the Houthis for prolonging the fighting, calling the group “uncompromising.”

Al-Zandani Calls for Seventh War
Yemen Observer — 3 November 2013
A religious group headed by the Islah Party leader Abdul-Majed al-Zandani called the state leadership to wage a seventh war in Sa’adah for fighting the Houthi group. It also legalized for the citizens to carry arms for fighting the Houthis in case the state refused to do so. The (Yemen Clerics Commission) justified its call to the state and the citizens for war as an advocacy to the oppressed, in an indication to the Salafi group in the Dammaj area. “If the state didn’t live up to its commitment, it is the legal responsibility of the Yemeni people to support the oppressed and fight against the unjust aggressor,” a statement issued by the cleric’s commission said yesterday.

Qaeda-style blast wounds Yemen intel officer
AFP via Daily Star — 3 November 2013
A Yemeni intelligence officer was seriously wounded Sunday when a bomb planted in his car exploded in the main southern city of Aden, a security official said.

Battle between state forces and alleged Al-Qaeda affiliates wages on in Abyan
Yemen Times — 5 November 2013
Soldiers in Brigade 111 in the Al-Mahfd district in southern Yemen’s Abyan governorate say they are exchanging almost daily gunfire with armed men in the area they believe to be Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP] affiliates. According to Shakir Al-Ghadeer, a soldier in the brigade, the men are attacking the 111th’s headquarters chanting slogans typically associated with AQAP members.

Shabwa’s flood victims overshadowed by security concerns in the governorate
Yemen Times — 5 November 2013
While insecurity and militant violence in Shabwa governorate has made both local and international headlines, activists, local leaders and NGOs are criticizing a lack of attention being drawn to ongoing humanitarian issues in the area.  Most recently, NGOs have had trouble entering the governorate—largely due to insecurity—to assist the estimated 200 people in the Arqah-Al-Husoon and Al-Muyasr villages in the Rudum district who have been without homes since August when heavy rains and flooding destroyed their houses.

Tawakkol Karman:
Yemeni Nobel laureate Tawakkol Karman gives away $500,000 prize money
CNN — 5 November 2013
Nobel Peace laureate Tawakkol Karman has decided that the best use of her half million dollars in prize money is to give it all away. Karman, the Yemeni activist who in 2011 became the first Arab woman to be awarded the peace prize, says she has donated the $500,000 prize money to a fund for the people wounded and the families of those killed in Yemen’s Arab Spring-inspired uprising. “This is my duty to the youths who sacrificed for change and to build a Yemen founded on freedom, justice, equality and good governance,” Karman, 34, said in a statement late Monday.

Sexual Harassment:
Yemen activists urge steps to curb sexual harassment
Gulf News — 6 November 2013
Yemeni activists are urging tougher implementation of a law against sexual harassment. Failure to implement the law has led to widespread cases of abuse throughout the country, according to activists speaking at a conference on Saturday. The conference, which is the first of its kind, was tackling the pressing issue of sexual harassment in Yemeni society. Participants agreed that one of the reasons behind the growing number of cases is the absence of ‘deterrent’ penalties. “There are many loopholes in the current Penalty Law. It imposes a 1,000 Yemeni riyal (Dh17) fine and six months in prison as maximum penalty for harassment. This punishment is not a deterrent and is not commensurate with the gravity of sexual harassment,” Yahya Al Sakhi, a lawyer, told Gulf News. “There is a new modified penalty law that will be discussed in the parliament soon. I call upon all youth to contact their MPs to drum up support for changing the current law.” he added.

Yemen freelance asks for funds to report on country’s ‘other side’
The Guardian — 6 November 2013
Much of it has been about conflict, given that there is a continuing revolution within Yemen. Drone strikes have been common, as her Times report here illustrates. But Craig believes there is more to tell about Yemen, describing it as “the most misunderstood and under-reported country in the Middle East”. She would like people to know the other side of Yemen, “not just the one they see, hear or read about through the prism of counter terrorism.” Media organisations won’t provide resources for such stories, she writes, so she is appealing for other people to fund her so that she can help the world to understand more about life in the Arabian peninsula.

Economy/International Donors:
Spread of noxious moth destroys tomato crops across Yemen
Yemen Times — 7 November 2013
The price of tomatoes in Yemen has jumped to YR400 ($1.86) per kilogram due to the spread of the noxious moth, tuta absoluta, which is wreaking havoc on farms and destroying crop yields.   A strategy to use pesticides to protect the crop against the moth has largely failed and caused locals to complain about the deteriorating quality of the tomato plants that are making it to consumers’ tables.

Hodeida residents fed up with overflowing sewers
Yemen Times — 7 November 2013
Dozens of Hodeida residents protested in front of the governorate’s compound on Tuesday to demand action for ongoing issues in the area’s sanitation network. Protestors accuse authorities of not addressing the governorate’s issue of constant sewage overflow. Health standards have deteriorated in the last eight months, residents say, compromising their quality of life. Businesses have had a hard time operating and tourists, turned off by the unsightly and unhygienic sewage situation, are vacationing elsewhere.

Thousands of teachers demonstrate in the capital, call for new salaries, bonuses and health insurance
Yemen Times — 7 November 2013
Thousands of teachers protested in front of the Ministerial Cabinet in Sana’a on Wednesday, condemning the Education Ministry. Teachers say the ministry has yet to deliver on its promise to deliver bonuses and healthcare. Four separate teachers’ syndicates issued a statement listing their demands. The Education Ministry, according to the statement, made an agreement with the syndicates last year, agreeing to provide annual bonuses for teachers and to raise their salaries according to their degrees and years teaching.

Random construction chokes Sana’a
Yemen Times — 7 November 2013
Al-Ahmadi said the state does not cooperative with low-income residents and requires an unaffordable amount of money to provide an official license. “The state assists sheikhs and influential figures while ordinary people get nothing,” he added. Al-Ahmadi said the state has not provided a landscape architect or urban planner for their neighborhood and does not offer compensation when a house is demolished—due to poor planning—and a new house is reconstructed according to city standards.  To get an official permit to construct a new building, residents have to have proof of ownership of the land before moving forward to make a  complete plan for the building, according to official guidelines provided by the Public Works Office.

Rewarding young business ingenuity
Yemen Times — 7 November 2013
Five teams of Yemeni students from schools across Sana’a have progressed to the regional round of  an entrepreneurial competition hosted by the Injaz Al-Arab Foundation, an international NGO focused on finance and entrepreneurial skill building.  Injaz Al-Yemen, the organization’s local subsidiary, supervised a local competition held last week to advance students to regionals.

Donors more serious than 2006, WB country director
Yemen Observer — 3 November 2013
The World Bank (WB) Country Director for Yemen said Yemen interim government has achieved a growth rate of 3% during the very recent stage. The Director Wael Zakout revealed in a news conference, held last Thursday in WB headquarters in the capital Sana’a, that the reconciliation government managed to stabilize the national economy, control inflation and currency, adding that economic indicators are not bad. He stated that the government is facing obstacles and needs support of the international community especially in this critical stage. Zakout encouraged as well the government to work out economic reforms so to create jobs and alleviate poverty.


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