Weekly News Update 4 April 2014

Highlights:
After Dialogue, a Daunting Challenge for Yemen
Asharq Al-Awsat — 3 April 2014
Despite the grim economic outlook, pervasive insecurity and political instability, prominent figures of the NDC remain moderately optimistic about the future. Ahmed Abu Bakr Bazara, the chair of the dialogue’s Comprehensive Development Working Group, told Asharq Al-Awsat that there is little doubt the recommendations made in the group’s final report “will have a positive impact” on the efforts to address Yemen’s economic problems, although he adds, “Of course, this will take time.” Those recommendations, some of which will be part of the new Yemeni constitution, include an emphasis on freedom of economic activity, social justice, the plurality of ownership in the different sectors of the economy (including through the avoidance of monopolies), and public–private sector partnerships. The decisions of the NDC’s Good Governance Working Group are also expected to contribute to a more favorable business environment, as its vice-chair, Dr. Ahmed Al-Asbahi, explained to Asharq Al-Awsat. The group’s “305 decisions and recommendations” focus on “accountability, transparency and responsiveness, justice, efficiency and effectiveness, the supremacy of law, and the fight against corruption,” Asbahi said.

Yemen aid work ever more risky
IRIN — 2 April 2014
The 25 March kidnapping and release of two UN workers has underlined the risks aid workers in Yemen face. Humanitarians can find themselves caught up in outbreaks of violence by Zaydi Shia Houthi militants in the north, southern separatists, al-Qaeda-inspired groups, tribal groups, or common criminals, and the new UN sanctions regime could make matters worse for them.

Internet Cafes Close Down Amid Ongoing Energy Crisis
Yemen Times — 3 April 2014
The main power station and electricity infrastructure in Marib governorate sustained over 400 attacks and acts of sabotage from 2010 until June of last year, according to Al-Absi. He said that the power plant in Marib is a major electricity supplier to the rest of the country, with the capacity to generate 400 megawatts. Majed Al-Bashiri, a supervisor at the Hizaiz substation in Sana’a, which generates 40 megawatts, said there are several substations in Sana’a which together contribute 146 megawatts, but these stations only generate half of the capital city’s electricity requirements. The six major power plants across the country are only operating at 70 percent capacity at best due to technical difficulties and attacks, added Al-Bashiri.

Security:
Yemen suicide attack on Aden army base leaves 11 dead
BBC News — 2 April 2014
Militants have killed at least six soldiers and two civilians in a raid on an army headquarters in southern Yemen, officials say. The army says a suicide bomber in a bomb-laden car tried to storm the main gate of the base in Aden. Militants in a second vehicle attacked the HQ with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons, they said.

Yemen seeks to stiffen penalties for terrorist crimes
Al-Shorfa — 2 April 2014
The Yemeni government held an extraordinary meeting on Monday (March 31st) to discuss solutions to the national security situation. At the meeting, the government affirmed the need to expedite the issuance of a law that criminalises terrorist acts and activities and includes stiffer penalties for those found guilty of committing, planning, financing or aiding and abetting those committing these crimes.

Four al-Qaeda Suspects Arrested in Hodeida
Yemen Times — 3 April 2014
The Ministry of Interior reported on its website on Tuesday that four Al-Qaeda affiliates were arrested at a Jabal Ras security checkpoint in Hodeida governorate late Monday evening. The ministry added that two of the suspects are Yemenis and two are Saudi nationals.

Yemen pro-govt militiamen killed in ‘Qaeda’ ambush
AFP via Yahoo! News — 30 March 2014
Two members of Yemen’s auxiliary Popular Resistance Committees were killed in an overnight ambush by presumed Al-Qaeda members in the south, a member of the pro-government militia said on Sunday. He said the men were gunned down on the road between Loder and Moudia northeast of Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province.

US drone strike hits AQAP training camp in southern Yemen
The Long War Journal — 1 April 2014
The US killed three suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighters in the first drone strike in Yemen in nearly three weeks. Today’s strike targeted an AQAP training center in the Al Mahfad area of Abyan province, Xinhua reported. The remotely piloted Predators or Reapers fired three missiles at “two huts and a site used as a training center,” killing three fighters and wounding four more, some seriously.

The Yemenis at Guantánamo
Salon — 30 March 2014
Some call it “the Yemen problem,” and it’s the main reason the detention center at Guantánamo Bay remains open, despite repeated pledges by President Obama—since the very start of his presidency—to close it. Of the 155 detainees who remain there, more than half are Yemeni. While the Obama administration plans to continue to hold some detainees indefinitely, it has determined that 56 of these Yemenis pose so little threat to U.S. national security that they can be released. These are men apprehended in the early days of the so-called war on terror, swept up in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Whether captured on the battlefield or kidnapped and sold for ransom, many lost touch with their families for months or even years.

Drone Victims Organization Founded in Sana’a
Yemen Times — 3 April 2014
Families of victims of drone and airstrikes gathered in the capital city on Tuesday to inaugurate the National Organization for Drone Victims (NODV). Mohammed Al-Kawili, the head of NODV, said that the idea of establishing the organization arose as drone strikes in the country increased. “This organization will speak on behalf of the voiceless victims who live in the rural areas,” said Al-Kawili. Al-Kawili’s brother, Mohammed, was killed in a drone strike in the Khawlan area, east of Sana’a, in 2013.

Reparation Committee Receives Complaints of al-Dhale Residents
Yemen Times — 1 April 2014
An official reparation committee on Sunday began receiving the complaints of those affected by the fighting between the army and militias in Al-Dhale governorate. Mohammed Al-Aqla, a member of the tribal council in Al-Dhale, said “the victims have started submitting their complaints. We want to make them feel their rights are guaranteed.”

Press:
Investigative Journalism Gets Boost in Yemen
Yemen Times — 1 April 2014
Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) on Saturday held a strategic planning workshop in Sana’a to establish a long­term plan to support investigative reporting in Yemen. The Amman-­based non­profit is dedicated to promoting investigative journalism in Arab newsrooms. Founded in 2005, it funds in­-depth journalism projects and provides media coaching, and professional, technical, and legal support. It helps journalists working in print, radio, TV and on­line media in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Bahrain, Palestine, Yemen and Tunisia.

Iran:
Yemen president urges Iran to stop interference: newspaper
Reuters — 31 March 2014
Yemen’s president called on Iran to stop supporting separatists in the south and religious groups in the north of the Arabian peninsula country, which is trying to stabilize after more than two years of political upheaval. The comments by Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi published in pan-Arab daily Al Hayat newspaper will likely further strain relations with Iran, which has repeatedly denied interfering in Yemen.

Iran denies interference in Yemeni affairs
Reuters — 1 April 2014
Iran on Tuesday denied accusations by the Yemeni president of meddling in his country’s domestic affairs, urging Sanaa to instead take “serious action” to secure the release of an Iranian diplomat kidnapped last year. Quoted in a newspaper on Monday, Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi urged Iran to stop supporting separatists in the south and religious groups in the north of Yemen as the country tries to stabilise following political upheaval that began in 2011.

Yemeni president warns of threat from armed groups
Al-Hayat via Al-Monitor — 2 April 2014
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative saved Yemen from sliding into what could have been “worse than the Syrian suicide.” The new rule took the road of dialogue and recovered the military institution from individual, tribal and regional loyalties. The trek is toilsome and appears long. Al-Qaeda set off from its strongholds and leveled painful blows. The decision to divide the country into six federal regions did not convince advocates of independence in the south, nor did it convince those calling for a “Houthi state.” The Yemeni president says that Iran’s fingerprints are clear in both places. President Hadi does not like interviews with the press, perhaps to avoid pouring oil on the fire. But he agreed to meet with Al-Hayat on the sidelines of the Arab summit in Kuwait.

Education:
Yemen’s children in crisis
Al-Monitor — 3 April 2014
The reasons for this extend beyond the government’s weak or ill-conceived efforts. Nearly 94% of Yemeni schools are without libraries, and a similar number of schools have no laboratories. About 85% have classroom shortages, and electricity is available in only 49% of primary schools and in 23% of secondary schools. Many students in rural areas still study in the open, out in the sun, next to an overcrowded school building or school buildings that used to be residential buildings, some on the verge of collapse.

Economy:
Driving a Saud
The Economist — 3 April 2014
WHEN one Yemeni man—let’s call him “M”—got a work visa to Saudi Arabia a few years ago, the last thing he expected was to be employed by a member of the country’s sprawling ruling family, the Al Sauds. Most of the roughly 1.5m Yemeni guest workers in the oil-rich kingdom to the north do manual labour. But to his surprise, the mild-mannered graduate was offered an irresistible opportunity. A well-connected Yemeni expat told M that the driver for a Saudi prince had just quit. M applied and was soon behind the wheel, driving a young member of the House of Saud (which counts hundreds of princes in its ranks).

Hormones, pesticides distributed to Sa’ada farmer
Yemen Times — 3 April 2014
The Agriculture Office in Sa’ada distributed 1,200 hormonal traps and 220 liters of legal pesticides to fight the tuta absoluta, a pestilent moth that has destroyed much of the governorate’s tomato harvest. The hormones can disrupt a moth’s breeding cycle by making female eggs unattractive to male moths, leaving them unfertilized, according to agricultural specialist, Zakaria Al-Matwakil.

Tribesmen Besiege Oil Companies in Hadramout
Yemen Times — 1 April 2014
Local tribesmen set up checkpoints in Hadramout on Sunday to protest the government’s perceived inaction on demands made by the tribes following the killing of tribal leader Sa’d Bin Habrish at a security checkpoint in December. The tribes have prohibited any food commodities from reaching oil companies operating in the governorate.

Arms Dealers Turn to Social Media Advertising
Yemen Times — 1 April 2014
Sitting among friends inside the arms shop he owns in the well-known Jahana arms market, Ali Awla busily posts photos of newly-arrived arms on his Facebook page. Several types of weapons are carefully hung inside the shop to attract customers.

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