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.

Security:
Yemen committed to peace, its president says
UPI — 13 November 2013
Yemeni President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi, in Beijing, said he was resolved to solve his country’s national security issues in the most peaceful way possible. “We solve problems in a peaceful way,” he said in an interview with China’s official Xinhua News Agency. “The key is to safeguard Yemen’s security, stability and unity.”

New security chief appointed in Shabwa amid deteriorating security situation
Yemen Times — 14 November 2013
Communication in Shabwa governorate, in southern Yemen, has been severely compromised since Monday due to sabotage of infrastructure including Internet wires and cell phone towers, according to local officials. Area tribesmen are believed to be behind the attacks.

Several killed in Yemen drone strikes
Al-Jazeera — 9 November 2013
Five people have been killed by two drone strikes in Yemen’s southern province of Abyan, the country’s interior ministry says. A ministry statement released on Friday said that the men were al-Qaeda suspects, and that they were killed on Thursday. The statement did not whether the drones were launched by Yemen or the United States.

Yemen sentences nine to jail for arms smuggling
Reuters — 13 November 2013
A Yemeni court handed down jail sentences of between one and 10 years each to nine Yemenis on Tuesday for their involvement in the smuggling of weapons aboard a ship, judicial sources said. Yemeni forces intercepted the Jihan 1 off Yemen’s coast in January. U.S. and Yemeni officials said it was carrying a large cache of weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, being smuggled from Iran to insurgents in Yemen.

Yemen ceasefire deal violated a day after coming into force: official
Reuters — 11 November 2013
A government-brokered ceasefire intended to halt days of clashes in northern Yemen between Shi’ite and Sunni Muslim fighters has been violated a day after it came into force, an official said on Monday. The fighting has killed at least 100 people since it began on October 30 when Shi’ite Houthis, who control much of Saada province on the border with Saudi Arabia, accused Salafi rivals in the town of Damaj of recruiting thousands of foreign fighters to prepare to attack them. “The Shi’ite Houthi group violated the ceasefire agreement with the Salafists in the northern province of Saada,” said a Yemeni government official on Monday.

Red Cross evacuates 44 wounded from Yemen’s Dammaj
Reuters — 8 November 2013
The Red Cross evacuated 44 people wounded in clashes between Shi’ite and Sunni Muslim fighters in the Yemeni town of Dammaj on Friday, the second such operation in under a week, the humanitarian agency said. It also rescued a woman who was eight months pregnant, her two children and two other children accompanying an injured parent, said Cedric Schweizer, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in the Yemeni capital Sanaa.

Migrants:
Yemen meet agrees on regional cooperation to tackle asylum and irregular migration
UNHCR — 13 November 2013
A regional conference on asylum and migration from the Horn of Africa to Yemen wrapped up today with agreement on urgent international action to better manage mixed migration while boosting support for countries of origin and host nations. UNHCR estimates that, since 2006, more than half-a-million asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants have made unauthorized crossings across the Gulf of Aden or Red Sea from Eastern Africa to Yemen, including some 107,000 in 2012 and 62,000 so far this year. Thousands have died in their attempt to make the crossing, most from drowning.

Economy:
World Bank Prepares to Help Yemen Implement the Outcomes of the Historic National Dialogue
World Bank — 12 November 2013
In her meetings with President Abd Rabbo Mansoor Hadi, Prime Minister Mohamed Salem Basendwa key government Ministers, political leaders, and selected members of the National Dialogue Committee, Inger Andersen of the World Bank highlighted the necessary link between progress on the political front and the alleviation of the country’s acute economic challenges.  “Political progress will only be sustainable if accompanied with economic progress,” said Andersen.  “The young people of Yemen, its  men and women, need to see that a brighter future for their country is within reach, and that this historic transition is bringing them more jobs, better incomes, enhanced access to basic infrastructure and social services and a more transparent and inclusive political environment,” she added.

Omani, Yemeni businessmen seek to remove trade roadblocks
Reuters — 13 November 2013
The main agricultural crops of Yemen are millet , maize , wheat, mango , banana , papaya , watermelon , citrus fruits such as oranges , lemons , pears , apples , peaches , grapes , pomegranates and coffee. The agriculture sector employs about 54.2 per cent of the workforce in the country. Commenting on behalf of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industries (OCCI), Anwar Ali Sultan of WJ Towell group, called upon the Omani authorities to ease visa restrictions and issue multiple visas at least for the trade committee members. “There are many areas in which both the countries can benefit from. Before 2008 there was very good trade volume between Oman and Yemen and we call it ‘top time’ in trade between both the countries. But the Arab Spring derailed the process. We are trying to resolve the roadblocks to benefit from each other’s resources and make far better trade through our ports,” he said.

IMF expects to conclude aid talks with Yemen by year-end
Reuters — 12 November 2013
The International Monetary Fund hopes to reach a loan deal with Yemen by the end of the year as the impoverished Gulf state urgently needs budgetary support, a senior official at the Washington-based lender said on Tuesday. A Yemen central bank official has said the loan could be worth up to $500 million (313 million pounds). The IMF said it would be for 2-3 years but has not put a figure on it, saying it is waiting for the Yemeni authorities to decide how fast they want to proceed with planned economic reforms.

Human Rights Ministry to meet Yemeni deportees at Saudi border
Yemen Times — 12 November 2013
A five-member team from the Human Rights Ministry was stationed at the Saudi-Yemeni border crossing at Hardh in Hajja governorate on Sunday. The team is receiving Yemeni migrant workers who are being deported from the neighboring country, following a change in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s labor law. More than 55,000 Yemenis have been deported back to Yemen so far, according to Col. Abdulla Hadi, a director at Yemen’s passport control authority.

Never-ending lines
Yemen Times — 12 November 2013
Crowds of people have been queuing at gas stations in Sana’a and other cities across the nation since the middle of last week, waiting their turn to fill their tanks with a supply that is not being replenished fast enough. The Ministry of Oil says the gas shortage is a result of random roadblocks by tribesmen across the country. The spokesperson for Yemen’s Oil Ministry, Abulqawi Al-Odaini told the Yemen Times that oil tankers bound for the capital are being  forced off the road as tribesmen—who unofficially control the areas— erect security checkpoints.

Food and oil prices spike in Sa’ada as conflict continues
Yemen Times — 14 November 2013
There has been a hike in food and oil prices  in the North as armed, pro-Salafi tribesmen continue to occupy unofficial checkpoints on the road connecting Sa’ada to Haradh, in Hajja governorate, as part of a growing conflict with Houthis in the area.  The tribesmen have been blocking the transport of supplies on the road since Wednesday.

Justice:
Trial for Presidential Palace bombers remains stalled as political pressure mounts
Yemen Times — 14 November 2013
For over two years five men have been detained in connection with the bombing of Yemen’s Presidential Palace mosque in June 2011, awaiting trial.  With an alleged assassination attempt of former President Ali Abdulla Saleh at the heart of the case, legal proceedings have been subject to heavy scrutiny and proven to be politically divisive. Both the attorney representing the accused men, and the attorney representing those injured and families of those killed in the attack say political pressure has clouded the judicial process, delaying the start of the men’s trial.

Women:
Palpable disparity: ‘Opportunities afforded to women are not many’
Yemen Times — 14 November 2013
The World Economic Forum (WEF), an international NGO headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, issued its eighth annual report on the global gender gap at the end of October, ranking Yemen as the worst country out of 136 for gender equality.  The 2013 statistics focus on four areas—education, health, economics and politics—where reductions in gender inequality have narrowed in countries throughout the world, However, Yemen as well as other low-ranking nations like Pakistan and Chad, failed to move up the list.

National Dialogue:
NDC inches closer to wrapping up as political factions offered compromises
Yemen Times — 12 November 2013
Angered political factions at the National Dialogue Conference (NDC), namely the General Peoples Congress (GPC) and the Southern Movement (Hirak), have showed willingness to continue to progress the conference forward after members from both groups have stalled talks by staging boycotts. “We need to show progress to the world and put more pressure on the political factions to come to an agreement and conclude the conference, which should have finished on Sept. 18,” said Dr. Yasin Saeed Noman, the deputy chairman of the conference, who also led the plenary session on Monday.

Enemies put differences aside in a bid to lay foundations of a new Yemen
The Guardian — 13 November 2013
Behind the closed doors of the conference rooms the atmosphere can be electric. On the first day in March, a young woman felt free to interrupt the new president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, when she found his speech too long. “We were supposed to start working at 8am. Now it’s time for the debates,” she insisted, and sent the president back to his chair. Day after day Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, the conference secretary general, wonders at the sight of former rivals working together to build a new country on egalitarian and civilian lines.

Hadi issues decree to restore ‘stolen lands’ in Aden
Yemen Times — 14 November 2013
President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi issued a decree on Monday to redistribute land in the South to 365 persons, who had theirs seized in the 1994 civil war. The land to be returned will be taken from anyone who possesses more than 1, 000 meters of property that has not been built on and was seized from the approximately 45,000 Southern Yemenis whose land was taken by Northern forces following the civil war, according to a presidential committee assigned to deal with the case.

GPC rejects NDC’s proposed guidelines for candidates in upcoming elections
Yemen Times — 14 November 2013
The General People’s Congress (GPC), headed by former president Ali Abdulla Saleh, has refused the National Dialogue Conference’s (NDC) Good Governance Working Group’s decision issued on Monday, which put forth 15 conditions for those who will be eligible to run for political posts when Yemen holds national elections, still slated for early 2014.  The list effectively bans Saleh, his relatives and many of his allies from running for a number of elected positions.

Marginalized Yemenis threatened by division
Al-Monitor — 13 November 2013
The marginalized and other vulnerable groups hope that the UN-sponsored NDC will mark a turning point that will break them out from their cycle of vulnerability. The Rights and Freedoms Working Group within the NDC — in which Huthaifi is a deputy — endorsed measures to protect the marginalized, including the establishment of a national association working on their integration into society and the inclusion in the new constitution of an article allocating them 10% of all civil service jobs. These marginalized groups are deprived of employment. Most of them are tasked with menial jobs — such as street sweepers and sewage cleaners — while the regions they inhabit lack basic educational and medical services. According to the Union for Marginalized People, 80% of this group’s children do not have identification documents.

Child Marriage:
Yemen police ‘stop child’s wedding’
BBC News — 13 November 2013
An official told the BBC it was the first such intervention to stop a child marriage in Yemen. The child, Hiba, was due to have been married on 8 November in the southern city of Taiz.

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