Weekly News Update 17 January 2014

Highlights:
The United States’ bloody messes in Yemen
Washington Post — 14 January 2014
Our president may reassure the United States of his support for drone strikes but the reality is that no leader can legitimately approve the extrajudicial killing of his own citizens. Moreover, he does so in the face of Yemeni consensus. This August, Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference — which President Obama has praised — decided by a 90 percent majority that the use of drones in Yemen should be criminalised. Yemeni legislators are aware that the drone war is deeply unpopular. Since the Dec,. 12 strike, our parliament has unanimously voted to ban drone flights in Yemeni airspace, declaring them a “grave breach” of the country’s sovereignty. For a country so often divided, this unanimity from Yemen’s most representative bodies testifies to the strength of opinion against drones. But their calls have thus far met only with more bombings from the skies. How can the people of Yemen build trust in their fledgling democracy when our collective will is ignored by democracy’s greatest exponent?

Violence in Yemen overshadows National Dialogue
Al-Monitor — 13 January 2014
To many, the proposed solution’s most dangerous element is that it is officially acknowledged that there is one unified southern identity versus a northern one — something that isn’t completely true. Some southern provinces — al-Dhale, for example — are as tribal as provinces in the north. By contrast, the “northern” city of Taiz is far less tribally oriented than most of the south. Furthermore, the proposal divides legislative and executive powers evenly between the south and north — something that many northerners see as inherently undemocratic and contradicting justice, since the north has 75% of Yemen’s population. The president and international community are aiming to bring the Conference of National Dialogue to a belated end through the proposal, but there are many hurdles to arriving at a concrete solution.

Critics say 2014 budget not in line with country’s trajectory
Yemen Times — 16 January 2014
Yemen’s Parliament this week approved a budget of YR2.88 trillion ($13.4 billion) for 2014, about a four percent increase from the 2013’s budget plan, according to the Ministry of Finance. The new budget plan projected an estimated income, from oil revenues and taxes, at around YR2.2 trillion ($10.2 billion), along with a deficit of around YR6.8 billion ($3.16 billion). Other highlights of the budget include the government’s plan to pay YR 2.4 billion ($11.3 million) to the Tribes’ Affairs Authority (monthly salaries for tribal leaders) in 2014. In comparison, the budget projected for Yemen’s Coast Guard Authority is YR 1.6 billion ($7.2 million). Some of are highly critical of the budget seemingly overlooking an institution like the Coast Guard.  Yemen has around 2,000 km. of coastline and often serves as a transit country for smugglers bringing migrants, drugs and weapons into the region.

Security:
Militants attack Yemen army camp, air force retaliates
Reuters — 16 January 2014
Suspected al Qaeda-linked militants attacked an army base in Yemen on Thursday, triggering clashes that killed nine soldiers and retaliatory strikes from the air force, a local government official and witnesses said. Explosions rang out around the camp in the city of Radda, more than 100 km (60 miles) south of the capital Sanaa, witnesses told Reuters.

North Yemen fighting has killed at least 210, Salafis say
Reuters — 13 January 2014
At least 210 people have been killed in two months of fighting between Shi’ite Muslim Houthis and Sunni Salafis in northern Yemen, a Salafi spokesman said on Monday. The violence erupted on Oct. 30 when the Houthi rebels who control much of the northern Saada province accused Salafis in the town of Damaj of recruiting thousands of foreign fighters to prepare to attack them.

Yemen drone strikes kills farmer – witnesses
Reuters — 15 January 2014
A Yemeni farmer was killed in a U.S. drone strike on Wednesday in what witnesses said was an attack apparently intended for suspected Islamist militants in south-eastern Yemen. Witnesses said the farmer was killed by shrapnel from two rockets fired by the drone early in the morning as he walked home in the village of al-Houta, near the city of Shibam.

Yemen tribes kill six soldiers, tell Norway DNO to end oil work
Reuters — 12 January 2014
Yemeni gunmen killed at least six soldiers in stepped up attacks on army installations in the southeastern Hadramout province, a local official and residents said on Sunday, after tribesmen warned Norway’s DNO to stop operations in the area. Growing lawlessness in the poor Arabian Peninsula state is an international concern because of Yemen’s strategic position next to oil exporter Saudi Arabia and shipping lanes.

Al-Dhale residents reject local council’s ‘blood money’
Yemen Times — 16 January 2014
Relatives of the victims who were killed in the military shelling of a funeral tent in Al-Dhale governorate in late December refused to accept an offering of “blood money” made to them on Monday by the governorate’s local council. The concept of blood money is common in Yemen’s tribal culture where instead of crimes being put before the judiciary, victims can accept financial offerings in compensation.

Officer assassinated in Hadramout
Yemen Times — 16 January 2014
Unidentified armed men killed Col. Abdulghani Al-Maqaleh, the manager of the Yemen Economic Corporation, in Sayoun city in Hadramout governorate on Tuesday, security officials said. The assassins fired three shots at Al-Maqaleh from a motorcycle while the colonel was on his way to work near the Special Security Forces Camp in the city.  The colonel was hit in the head and the chest and was taken to Sayoun Hospital but declared dead upon arrival.

Hadramout unable to quell tribal unrest
Yemen Times — 14 January 2014
Armed tribesmen continue to attack government institutions and facilities throughout Hadramout governorate, demanding the immediate evacuation of state-military forces from the area. The Hadramout Tribal Federation, a powerful alliance of tribal leaders, previously said they would replace the military forces with local security personnel.

Shi’ite-Sunni ceasefire takes hold in north Yemen
Reuters — 11 January 2014
Fighting in north Yemen between Shi’ite Muslim Houthis and Sunni Salafis stopped on Saturday as a ceasefire deal took effect, according to a presidential committee trying to help end the conflict. More than 100 people have been killed since fighting erupted on October 30 when the Houthi rebels who control much of Saada province on the Saudi border accused Salafis in the town of Damaj of recruiting thousands of foreign fighters to prepare to attack them.

Salafis forced to flee Dammaj, government forces unable to protect them, they say
Yemen Times — 16 January 2014
Following a three-month-long conflict with the Houthis, hundreds of Salafis have been fleeing the city of Dammaj in Sa’ada governorate, since Monday, headed to more stable parts of the country. The two conflicting sides, the Houthis (Zaidi Shiites) and the Salafis (conservative Sunnis), signed an agreement on Saturday, stipulating the exit of non-local Salafis from Dammaj, out of Houthi-controlled Sa’ada.

Non-local Salafis evicted from Dammaj
Yemen Times — 14 January 2014
Non-local residents of Dammaj in Sa’ada governorate are packing their bags following the signing of an agreement on Saturday between the two parties engulfed in conflict in the area—the Houthis and the Salafis. The Houthis, a group of Zaidi Shiites who control Sa’ada, and the Salafis, conservative Sunnis, have been fighting since late October, leaving dozens dead and hundreds injured, according to various estimates.

Al Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen free South African hostage
Reuters — 10 January 2014
Militants linked to al Qaeda have freed a South African woman kidnapped in the Yemeni city of Taiz in May and mediators are trying to secure the release of her husband, a Yemeni security official and South African negotiators said on Friday. Accounts of the case were confused, after local officials and tribal sources said earlier in the day that both Pierre and Yolande Korkie had been released. Later they said only the woman had been set free.

Yemen comes to depend on its female security forces
Yemen Times — 16 January 2014
All female training school graduates work in public security, but some of them specialize in fields like counterterrorism, corrections, and criminal investigation by taking an intensive two-month long training courses after graduating from  their eight-month basic training program.

Yemen troops deployed in north after ceasefire
Al-Arabiya — 11 January 2014
In efforts to monitor a ceasefire between Shiite rebels and hardline Sunni Salafists, Yemen troops began to deploy in the northern province of Saada on Saturday, a security official told Agence France-Presse. “Forces have begun deploying in the areas surrounding Dammaj,” the Saada-based security official told AFP, adding that some gunmen had not yet vacated their posts.

Publish Findings on Funeral Attack
Human Rights Watch — 16 January 2014
The Yemeni authorities should make public their findings into an attack on December 27, 2013, on the funeral of a southern separatist activist and prosecute any wrongdoing. The Yemeni military claimed that it was targeting armed militants in the attack in al-Dale`a governorate, which killed 15 people including two boys aged 3 and 11, and wounded at least 23 people. Following the incident, in which military armored vehicles fired on a funeral service being held in a public school courtyard, President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi established a committee to investigate. However, it is not apparent that the government is fully or impartially investigating the incident, Human Rights Watch said. Six witnesses told Human Rights Watch that the government committee, which consists of senior security force officials, had not contacted them. The Sah Organization for Human Rights, which has been supporting the victims of the attack and their families, said that the committee only interviewed al-Dale`a’s governor and the commander of the local military force.

4 Yemen coast guard members killed by militants
AP via Washington Post — 12 January 2014
A security official in Yemen says heavily armed al-Qaida militants laid a siege to a coast guard camp in a southern town, shelling its barrack and killing four coast guard members. The official says al-Qaida militants used anti-aircraft guns mounted on pickup trucks Sunday in the coastal town of al-Shahr in the province of Hadramawt overlooking the Gulf of Aden.

National Dialogue:
Conference officials say NDC to finally conclude
Yemen Times — 16 January 2014
The secretary general of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) announced on Tuesday that the conference is slated to conclude on Jan. 25. The conference’s reconciliatory talks, which began in March, were originally meant to conclude in September. Following the wrap-up of the conference, a committee will be established to begin drafting the constitution, some government institutions will be restructured and other NDC outcomes will be implemented, Mubarak said.

NDC general session approves presidential mandate, several object
Yemen Times — 14 January 2014
The National Dialogue Conference’s (NDC) push to move ahead and implement agreements signed off in the Southern Issue Solution Document last week, continues to face backlash from individuals in political parties.  Though the majority of NDC representatives on Saturday voted in favor of a mandate that allows President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi to form a committee that will take over the decision-making process regarding Yemen’s future number of regions in a federal state, several members of the Al-Haq Party, the Houthis and the Yemeni Socialist Party refrained from offering support. However, each of the three political parties had signatories on the Solution Document that stipulated the creation of the committee.

National Dialogue Conference to conclude “within days”
Asharq Al-Awsat — 10 January 2014
Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference will conclude “within days,” according to its vice-president, Sultan Al-Atwani. In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Atwani, who also heads Yemen’s Nasserite Party, affirmed that the national dialogue has overcome all the political obstacles in its path, adding that the dialogue will conclude after an important agreement on Southern Issue has been signed.

Rescue Campaign organizers threaten to escalate protests
Yemen Times — 16 January 2014
Organizers of the Independent Youth movement’s “Rescue Campaign,”—launched on Tuesday to demand a government reshuffle—threatened to escalate protests unless their demands are met, according to Nora Al-Jawri, the secretary general of the campaign. The youth campaign is similar to the one that contributed to the ouster of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in June 2013. The campaign is demanding a replacement of Yemen’s current ministers, including Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa.

Foreign Aid:
British government reviews Yemeni aid
UPI — 16 January 2014
Efforts to bring stability to Yemen may require a different approach because of new political and security realities, a British government review said Thursday. A “Friends of Yemen” committee was formed in early 2010 to help support the country’s development. Efforts were interrupted in 2011 during the political turmoil of the Arab Spring. A seven-page British progress report on the panel said “realities in Yemen have shifted” since the committee was created and its agenda must adapt.

Economy:
Yemen parliament approves 2014 budget, raising spending by 4%
Reuters via Al-Arabiya — 11 January 2014
Yemen’s parliament approved the country’s 2014 budget on Saturday raising spending by around 4 percent to 2.88 trillion rials ($13.4 billion) from the 2013 budget plan, state news agency SABA reported. The impoverished Arabian Peninsula nation came close to economic collapse after a popular uprising in 2011 forced former president Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.

US Ambassador:
Obama Taps Kuwait Ambassador for Yemen Post
AP via ABC News — 17 January 2014
President Barack Obama is looking to his ambassador to Kuwait to fill an open ambassadorship in Yemen. The White House says Obama is nominating Matthew Tueller for the post in Yemen’s capital of Sanaa. A veteran diplomat, Tueller has been the U.S. ambassador to Kuwait since 2011. He’s also held high-ranking positions in U.S. embassies in Egypt, Iraq, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. He worked previously in Yemen in 2000 and 2001.

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