Weekly News Update 10 January 2014

Highlights:
Tribes attack Yemen pipeline twice in two days
Reuters — 7 January 2014
Tribesmen in the eastern Yemen province of Hadramawt have blown up an oil pipeline for the second time in two days, disrupting an important source of revenue for the impoverished state. The attacks targeted a pipeline with a capacity of 120,000 barrels a day carrying crude from the Masila field, the most important in Yemen, local and tribal officials said. Tuesday’s blast, which caused a fireball that could be seen from several kilometers away, struck in the Wadi Urf area, while Monday’s attack on the same pipeline was in the Sah area. Tensions between tribes in Hadramawt and the government have been running high since early December, when an important chief was killed in a shooting at an army checkpoint, local media have reported.

Yemen: “Historic” document to resolve Southern Issue signed
Asharq Al-Awsat — 9 January 2014
Yemen took a significant step towards a comprehensive settlement on the Southern Issue on Wednesday with the signing of an agreement on political power-sharing between the country’s Northern and Southern regions. During a session attended by Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, representatives of the two regions at the National Dialogue signed a “Just Solution” document, which aims to resolve ongoing issues in the complex and fractious relationship between North and South Yemen. Dr. Mohamed Ali Abu Lahoum, a senior member of the “8+8 Commission” at the National Dialogue’s Southern Issue Working Group, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “It is important to promote trust between all negotiating parties,” confirming that “the ‘Just Solution’ seeks to create trust and confidence between the negotiating parties in Yemen.” While actual details about the document remain scarce, Abu Lahoum said: “There are a number of key points. Over the next five years, the document affirms that there will be a complete 50–50 sharing of power and wealth between the Northerners and Southerners in order to restore trust.”

Former Ruling Party Signs NDC Document
Yemen Times — 9 January 2014
The General People’s Congress (GPC), Yemen’s former ruling party, and the Al-Rashad Union, the Salafi political  party, signed the Southern Issue Solution Document on Wednesday following two weeks of negotiations, according to Yasser Al-Ruainee, the deputy secretary general of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC). The GPC initially refused to sign the document, saying it jeopardized the nation’s unity and placed Yemen under unwanted international influence.

Security:
Gunmen shoot dead Yemeni colonel in Aden
Reuters — 7 January 2014
Gunmen shot dead an army colonel and a car bomb injured a senior intelligence officer in Yemen’s main port city of Aden on Tuesday, a security official said. Yemen’s armed forces are fighting against an Islamist insurgency across southern Yemen after militants took advantage of political chaos during the “Arab Spring” in 2011 to seize control of several towns.

Former presidential adviser calls for GCC intervention
Asharq Al-Awsat — 4 January 2014
As the security situation in Yemen continues to worsen, former Yemeni presidential adviser Salem Saleh has called on Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf to take action to “rescue the country from its bitter reality.” In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Saleh appealed to “President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and our brothers in Saudi Arabia, the Arab Gulf and the international community to take the situation in Yemen into account and intervene in order to rescue Yemen.”

Two suspected Qaeda militants killed in Yemen drone strike: residents
Reuters — 8 January 2014
Two suspected al Qaeda militants were killed in a U.S. drone strike in the southeastern province of Hadramout on Wednesday, residents and local officials said. They said the aircraft fired at least one missile on a car in the al-Qatan region, completely destroying the vehicle and killing two people. The United States has stepped up drone strikes as part of a campaign against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, regarded by Washington as the most active wing of the militant network, posing a serious threat to Western interest.

Panel Recommends Transferring Yemeni From Guantánamo
New York Times — 9 January 2014
In the first results of a long-delayed Obama administration initiative to hold parole-like hearings at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a military panel has recommended transferring a Yemeni detainee who had been ordered held indefinitely without trial, the Pentagon announced on Wednesday. The decision to change the status of the detainee, Mahmoud al Mujahid — who had been considered too dangerous to let go under any conditions — was made by a so-called Periodic Review Board. President Obama issued an executive order establishing the review board system in March 2011, but it had not been used before Mr. Mujahid’s hearing last fall.

Yemen jails nine al Qaeda members for plot to kill president
Reuters — 29 December 2013
A Yemeni court jailed nine al Qaeda members for between two and 10 years on Sunday for plotting to assassinate President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the country’s news agency Saba reported. Yemen is battling one of the most active wings of al Qaeda, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has been foiled in several attempted attacks on Western targets, including airliners.

Soldiers killed by suicide bomber in Yemen
Al-Jazeera — 31 December 2013
A suicide car bombing at the security headquarters in Yemen’s southern city of Aden killed at least three soldiers in what appeared to be an al-Qaeda attack, police have said. The car exploded as it rammed into the front gate of the Aden security offices at dawn on Tuesday, wounding at least seven men, a police official said. Another police source told the AFP news agency that two other attackers in an explosives-laden car attempted to ram through the gate after the first bombing, but were stopped by security forces.

Police Accused of Protecting Sheikh in Killing of Local Welder
Yemen Times — 9 January 2014
Tension is high in Sana’a’s southern neighborhood of Al-Asbahi following the death of a resident, Dawood Al-Sroori, who was allegedly shot by guards of an influential tribal sheikh last week.  The victim’s relatives accuse the police of protecting the sheikh, who is originally from Ibb governorate. A man originally arrested in connection to the killing  was later released by police.

Ceasefire Brokered Between Houthis and Salafis in Haradh
Yemen Times — 9 January 2014
The encampments of two warring parties in the Haradh area in Hajja governorate were being evacuated and surrendered to security forces on Wednesday, a day after the Houthis and pro-Salafi fighters signed a ceasefire agreement brokered by a presidential committee on Tuesday.   Local sources say the pro-Salafi fighters removed blocks on the Haradh-Sa’ada road, which they had been occupying for three months, preventing the transport of goods and services to the area.   The presidential committee, headed by Gen. Mohammed Al-Qasimi, the army’s general inspector, and Hajja’s governor, Ali Al-Qaisi, supervised the signing of the document. However, clashes between the Houthis, a group of Zaidi Shiites who operate outside government control in the North, and their Salafi opponents (a conservative Sunni sect) continue in other areas such as Hashid in Amran governorate, Barat in Al-Jawf governorate and Arhab in Sana’a.

Shiite rebels battling Hashid tribesmen in north Yemen: sources
AFP via Daily Star — 8 January 2014
Shiite rebels and gunmen from the powerful Hashid tribe in north Yemen clashed for a third straight day on Wednesday, with the fighting intensifying, tribal sources told AFP. The fighting first broke out on Monday when Shiite Huthi rebels attempted to take over the towns of Wadi Khaywan and Usaimat, strongholds of the Hashid tribe in Amran province, they said. The Shiites launched the attacks in retaliation for the Hashid tribe’s support for hardline Sunni Salafist groups fighting Huthis in Dammaj, the Shiites’ stronghold in the northern province of Saada, the sources said.

‘Al-Qaeda’ kills Yemen intelligence officer
AFP via Daily Star — 2 January 2014
Suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen killed an intelligence officer in the south Yemen port city of Aden, a security official said. Colonel Marwan al-Maqbali was leaving his house on Thursday in Al-Qalua neighbourhood when he was fired on from a car carrying gunmen “suspected of belonging to Al-Qaeda”, the official said. Two bullets hit Maqbali who died before reaching hospital, and his assailants escaped, the source added.

Anti-Landmine Campaign Launches in Eight Governorates
Yemen Times — 31 December 2013
The government-run Yemen Executive Mine Action Centre (YEMAC) launched a campaign on Thursday  to raise awareness about the dangers of unexploded ordnance and landmines in conflict-stricken areas and how to deal with them.  Landmines and other explosive remnants of war claimed 263 lives in 2012 and 19 in 2011, according to a report released in late November by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. In April, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said that landmines in Yemen displaced over 150,000 people during 2011 and 2012, the majority of whom have been living in camps in Abyan, Sa’ada and Hajja governorates.

Defendants in Presidential Palace Bombing Case to Stand Trial
Yemen Times — 2 January 2014
The 57 named suspects in the case of the 2011 bombing of the Al-Nahdin Mosque inside the Presidential Palace are expected to appear before the Specialized Criminal Court, an entity that deals with cases relating to terrorism and political crimes, on Thursday. The defendants are accused of various connections to the bombing, which allegedly targeted former President Ali Abdulla Saleh. The majority of the suspects have been released from prison but not cleared of charges. Five remaining defendants are still being held at Sana’a’s Central Prison for the alleged role they played in the believed assassination attempt.

Yemen president refuses to extradite ultraconservative leader accused of financing al-Qaida
AP via Fox News — 5 January 2014
Yemen’s president has refused to extradite the head of an ultraconservative political party who the United States has accused of financing al-Qaida. In a statement aired on state television Sunday, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi denounced the charges and said his government had informed the U.S. it will not hand over citizens to any foreign country, including Abd al-Wahhab Muhammad Abd al-Rahman Humayqani, secretary general of the Yemeni Rashad Union, the country’s first ultraconservative Salafi party.

Rights groups: Be careful going to the U.S. embassy in Yemen
Washington Post — 9 January 2014
Official U.S. government travel advisories — warning Americans to be careful, or not to even go to, certain dangerous places like Benghazi or Fallujah — are the province of the State Department, which relies on information from embassies around the world. So it was most curious when the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations recently issued a warning notice about going to the U.S. embassy in Sanaa, Yemen.

Attack in Aden Resembles Ministry of Defense Raid, Officials Say
Yemen Times — 2 January 2014
The Supreme Security Committee’s branch in Aden said there were no soldiers killed in Tuesday’s suicide bombing at the committee’s headquarters in the Khor Maksar district in the port city in southern Yemen. This is in contrast to statements made by several local sources that say three soldiers died in the attack.    “An explosive-laden Hilux model car stopped in front of the [security] building. Minutes later, it exploded in front of the gate at the security administration compound,” said Brig. Sadeq Haid, the security manager in Aden. “Seven soldiers were injured, two of them critically. [The suicide bomber] died.” Large portions of the compound were damaged, Haid said. The explosion happened around 2:30 a.m., when there were fewer staffers at the facility.

Another Nationwide Security Plan Shakeup
Yemen Times — 31 December 2013
The Supreme Security Committee (SSC) took action on Saturday to reduce assassinations and organized attacks and beef up security nationwide. The committee issued national orders to all military checkpoints to verify the identity cards of all military personnel, military vehicles and motorcycles. Since former President Ali Abdulla Saleh was ousted in 2011, Yemen has witnessed an increased security vacuum, with multiple terrorist attacks taking place against government interests.

Economy:
Gulf states are studying $10bn rail link to Yemen
Bloomberg via Gulf Times — 9 January 2014
Gulf countries are studying a $10bn plan to extend the length of a 2,177-km (1,353-mile) rail line between Kuwait and Oman by 60% in order to link it to Yemen in the south of the Arabian peninsula. The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council has begun a feasibility assessment of the additional 1,373-km section, which would feature 12 stations and terminate at the Yemeni border, Nada Abu al-Samh, a financial analyst at the GCC General Secretariat, said at a rail symposium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Half of Yemenis live below poverty line
Al-Hayat via Al-Monitor — 6 January 2014
An estimated 58% of Yemen’s population — or 14.7 million people — was affected by the humanitarian crisis taking place in the country and will need some form of assistance in the coming year. This number stood at about 13.1 million people in 2013. The most pressing requirements remain confined to a lack of food security, malnutrition among children, a lack of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities, a lack of access to health care, rights violations and other forms of abuse, exploitation or displacement, as well as a lack of services and jobs in regions to which the displaced have returned.

Conflict-Affected Farmers in Abyan Receive Cash Compensation
Yemen Times — 31 December 2013
The Abyan Reconstruction Fund on Sunday began to distribute cash compensation to conflict-affected farmers in Abyan. These payments are meant to enable them to resume farming, now that the majority of internally displaced persons (IDPs) have returned to the governorate. The fund handed out YR1 billion (almost $4.7 million) to almost 3,000 farmers who are expected to begin producing fruit, cotton and grains.

Oil Pipeline in Marib Repaired, Government to Confiscate Property of Saboteurs
Yemen Times — 7 January 2014
Engineers finished repairing an oil pipeline in Marib on Sunday as government forces suspended a military campaign that began last Thursday against tribesmen accused of multiple attacks of sabotage on the pipeline, a local source said. Over the past week the infrastructure sustained several attacks, the most recent on Friday, after the military campaign began. According to Sheikh Ali Al-Munifi, a tribal leader in Marib, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Jalal, another prominent tribal leader from Marib, was able to mediate a ceasefire between the tribesmen and the government that allowed engineers to fix the damaged pipeline.  The acts of sabotage completely halt the transfer of oil to Yemen’s west coast to be exported.

Education:
Yemen’s Teachers Aren’t Making the Cut
Yemen Times — 2 January 2014
The Education Ministry said in a consultative meeting held this week that half of Yemen’s teachers lack the qualifications necessary to be leading classrooms. Out of the 200,000 teachers nationwide, the ministry says that 129,000 teachers do not have bachelor’s degrees. Part of the problem is that many educators were recruited more than two decades ago having completed only high school or even just primary school at a time when Yemen was in desperate need of teachers.

‘Nepotism Is Rampant in Our Society’
Yemen Times — 2 January 2014
Two years ago, Mohammed Al-Molaiki, now 23, celebrated with his family after the Ministry of Higher Education granted him a scholarship to study medicine in Egypt. Al-Molaiki had a 92 percent grade point average (GPA)—based on a 100 percent scale—well above the 80 percent required to receive a scholarship from the ministry. He began to prepare for an academic career abroad, but when he went to the ministry a week later to fill out paperwork, his name had inexplicably disappeared from the institution’s master list of award recipients.   While no one could officially tell him what had happened, a ministry employee told Al-Molaiki in confidence that nepotism was a common practice at the ministry and that there was free rein to change the name of scholarship recipients. Despite his exceptional academic achievement, the young student quickly realized he would not be going to Egypt, and that he was powerless to do anything about it. “Because I was not able to pull strings, I lost my scholarship,” said Al-Molaiki, who now studies business at Sana’a University at his own expense. “Nepotism is rampant in our society.”

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