Weekly News Update 18 April 2014

Highlights:
The Repercussions of the GCC Tension in Yemen
Sada — 8 April 2014
Although patron-client relations have always shaped Yemen’s political arena, the post-Arab Spring context of uncertainty has ignited a fierce competition between the country’s plethora of elite factions, not only over control of the state but also over external sources of legitimacy and support. Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been able to buy the loyalty of local actors with ease, aided by Yemen’s endemic state weakness, scarcity of natural resources, and its regional, sectarian, and tribal fragmentation. Saudi Arabia has a long history of intervention and political investment in Yemen, which grants it more leverage over domestic actors, but also greater room for creating enemies. For instance, the Saudi support in granting blanket immunity from prosecution to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh has angered Yemen’s revolutionary forces. Conversely, Qatar’s track record in Yemen has been less problematic. It acted, for example, as a mediator in the Houthi conflict and the southern movement issue and therefore has less baggage in Yemen.

Death From Above: How American Drone Strikes Are Devastating Yemen
Rolling Stone — 14 April 2014
In February, at the Khaled Ibn Al Walid School in Khawlan, a district some 45 kilometers from the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, Principal Jameel Al-Qawly anxiously hovers by the door, scolding any young boys dawdling in the sandy courtyard. Moments earlier, he noticed a sticker on the outside window of one of his classrooms: an image of a black flag with the words of the Muslim shahada, which translates to “There is no god but God and Mohamed is His messenger.” The flag and slogan constitute a symbol often associated with militant Islamist groups, including Al Qaeda. “I have to keep close watch,” Al-Qawly admits, “not to allow just anyone from outside talk to the children.”

Yemen’s ‘Muwaladeen’: The struggle for equal citizenship
Al-Jazeera — 5 April 2014
Despite the long history of Yemeni traders travelling abroad, immigrating, and forming cross-cultural families, the term “Muwalad” is still used today to describe children born to one parent of another nationality. The term itself is defined in an Arabic dictionary as “an Arab who is not purely Arab.” While the term applies to children of Yemeni-Russian, Yemeni-Vietnamese, or Yemeni-Egyptian couples, it is most often used for children of an African parent or a parent with African descent. According to an article by activist Hussein Musleh this term is used for humiliation, as a way to remind the person that he/she is not “pure” Yemeni. Such attitudes are exacerbated by today’s obsession with light or white skin in the Arab region, which is in sharp contrast to the famous poetry and music where artists and poets wrote and sang about tan women.

Politics:
Constitution drafting: should it be behind closed doors?
Yemen Times — 8 April 2014
The drafting of the country’s constitution is part of a road-map for the country’s future that started with the stepping down of former President Ali Abdulla Saleh following the 2011 uprising and will end with elections in February 2015. The constitution will be a benchmark for the progress of the country. But, citizens and rights groups worry that secret drafting sessions violate the population’s right to participate in the codification of the country’s values in what will be Yemen’s supreme law of the land.

How to stabilise Yemen
Al-Jazeera — 10 April 2014
One of the under-appreciated reasons to stop the drone strikes is the impact they have on Yemen’s fragile transition process. The attacks have been technically illegal in Yemen since 2013, but their continued deployment by the CIA, leaning heavily on intelligence from the Yemeni security services, dangerously delegitimises a beleaguered Sanaa government. The Houthi rebels in the north, the secessionist south and numerous tribal interests already deeply mistrust the elites in the capital. To be sure, cronyism and corruption are their principal gripes – but collaborating with foreign powers, particularly on such a tendentious issue, puts President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi in an extremely awkward position.

Cabinet endorses bill granting amnesty for Southern leaders
Yemen Times — 15 April 2014
In a Cabinet meeting on Thursday, the government endorsed a bill granting amnesty to Southern leaders it had issued verdicts against in 1997 as a result of the 1994 civil war. The Criminal Court assigned to resolve the state’s security related issues in 1997 issued the verdicts against 16 Southern leaders accused of a secessionist plot. The verdicts ranged from imprisonment to the death sentence.

Hard to move on
Economist — 7 April 2014
Few reckon Mr Saleh, now 70, will attempt to win back an official position of power. But his family is a different case. Many say he is trying to pave the way for his son, Ahmad Ali Saleh, to be the next president­. Yemenis nostalgic for the comparative stability of the country before 2011 hope this will happen. A former leader of the Republican Guard, an elite part of the army that has since been disbanded, Ahmad Ali is currently ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. Sana’a is full of posters showing him alongside Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who recently discarded his fied-marshal’s baton and is likely to coast to victory in Egypt’s presidential elections in May. Some see that as a sign of things to come in Yemen.

Feb. 11 Movement marches through Sana’a, demands end to transitional government
Yemen Times — 15 April 2014
Around 300 protesters from groups affiliated with the February 11 Movement gathered in Bab al-Yemen on Sunday and marched to the Ministry of Finance on Zubairy Street calling for the overthrow of the government. The group called on government employees to join the movement and for the international community to stop aid to Yemen until a more transparent and accountable government is installed, according to a press statement from the movement.

Judges continue strike, ignore Supreme Judicial Council
Yemen Times — 17 April 2014
The Yemeni Judges Club on Tuesday announced that the judge’s strike will continue in all courts despite Monday’s call by the Supreme Judicial Council to resume work. Redhwan Al-Omaisi, the club’s media officer, said that judges went on strike after a decision by the club, not the council, and they would not call it off at the council’s request. “The council ought to demand the arrest of those who abducted Judge Mohammed Al-Sorori in Hajja governorate but it didn’t even condemn the abduction,” he added. The club called for a nationwide strike on March 25 after the abduction of Mohammed Al-Sorori from the Criminal Court in Hajja. He was released on April 3.

Economy:
The challenge of youth unemployment
Yemen Times — 17 April 2014
About 57 percent of private sector establishments in Yemen closed partially or completely between 2010-2013, according to Ousama Al-Fosayel, an consultant for a World Bank project in Yemen.   “The loss of 57 percent of private sector establishments had a tremendous impact on workers,” he said. Many of those establishments and companies were closed due to the political situation and security concerns after the 2011 uprising. Many lost their jobs and continue to struggle to find employment.

Yemen’s foreign minister says will push donors for promised billions in aid
Reuters — 17 April 2014
The Yemeni foreign minister said on Thursday he would use a meeting in London this month to push donor countries to release billions of dollars in promised aid that Yemen desperately needs to address its ailing economy and volatile security situation. The Friends of Yemen group pledged around $7.9 billion in aid in 2012, but most of the funds have been delayed because of technical issues and lagging approvals by donor heads of state, a Yemeni government minister previously told Reuters.

Saudi stops 15,000 illegal entries from Yemen
AP via Daily Star — 15 April 2014
A Saudi security official says border guards have detained more than 15,000 people crossing illegally through the country’s southern border with Yemen in the past 45 days. In a statement Tuesday, spokesman for the border guards in southwestern Jazan province, Brig. Gen. Abdullah Mahfouth said guards have also seized around 250 weapons and hundreds of pounds (kilos) of narcotics in the past 30 days.

Yemen won’t lift fuel subsidies ‘for time being’
Gulf News — 15 April 2014
The Yemeni government has turned its back to international pressure by announcing that it was not thinking of lifting fuel subsidies “for the time being”. Fearing possible unrest, the government said that it was considering other alternatives to face the ongoing economic crisis. “The government is not intending to increase the prices of fuel for the time being,” said a statement carried by the official news agency.

Government pledge not to lift fuel subsidies met with widespread skepticism
Yemen Times — 8 April 2014
A member of Cabinet denied on Sunday that the government intends to lift fuel subsidies, according to the state-run Saba news agency. “The government is currently reconsidering alternatives to cope with the current tough financial situation, and it will not adopt any procedure that may negatively impact the daily livelihood of citizens given these hard circumstances,” the source told Saba.

Yemen tourism revenues rise in 2013
Al-Shorfa — 14 April 2014
Yemen’s tourism revenues rose 11% over the previous year in 2013 to $940 million, according to the Ministry of Tourism’s annual report, with officials expressing cautious optimism about 2014. Higher tourism revenues are partly because visitors are choosing to stay longer in Yemen, he said, noting that the more secure areas were their main destination, particularly the Socotra archipelago.

Electricity pilot project yields unpromising results
Yemen Times — 10 April 2014
The Public Electricity Corporation is giving prepaid electricity meters another go nearly four years after first starting the project. In June 2010, the corporation installed more than 1,000 prepaid electricity meters in the Bait Baws area of Sana’a as a pilot project for a potential nationwide system. The prepaid system was implemented as an alternative to the old meter system whereby customers would be billed after use.

Press:
Fatwas against journalists on the rise
Yemen Times — 8 April 2014
Fatwas, rulings on articles of Islamic law given by recognized authorities, have always been a reality in modern Yemen, but since the 2011 uprising, there has been an increase of fatwas issued against writers and journalists. In late 2011, 69 religious scholars in Yemen issued a fatwa against four journalists, accusing them of blasphemy.

Security:
Did the United States miss top al Qaeda meeting in Yemen?
CNN — 17 April 2014
“I can’t imagine that they knew about this meeting. After all, there have been seven drone attacks in Yemen this year. There was one on April 1, so it’s not like the drone program is being suspended,” Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst, told “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.” “It seems to me we don’t know for a fact if they did or did not know about this meeting, but common sense would suggest that they missed it,” he said. U.S. officials aren’t commenting on that, but every frame of the video is now being analyzed as a potential piece of intelligence. Analysts are looking at a flashy white truck that appears, leading a convoy. They are even analyzing the fruit juice being served as a possible clue.

Al Qaeda mocks U.S. in ‘extraordinary’ Yemen gathering; experts fear CIA caught flat-footed
Washington Times — 15 April 2014
Al Qaeda has released a video of the largest known gathering of the terrorist organization’s members in years, and it appears as though the intelligence community didn’t know about it or couldn’t get a drone there in time to take out its members, CNN reported. Al Qaeda’s “crown prince,” Nasir al-Wuhayshi, is shown right out in the open, essentially mocking the U.S. with the move. Experts believe the video is recent.

Al-Wazeer escapes assisnation attempt near Sana’a University Two guards killed, one seriously injured
Yemen Times — 10 April 2014
The head of the Shura Council of Al-Haq Party, Ismail Ibrahim Al-Wazeer, evaded an assassination attempt on Tuesday. Two of Al-Wazeer’s guards were killed in the attack, however, and another was seriously wounded. The assassination attempt took place on Al-Adel Street in the capital, Sana’a. It is believed that Al-Wazeer was on his way to Sana’a University where he taught jurisprudence at the Department of Law.

Families displaced in Shabwa violence
Yemen Times — 15 April 2014
Fifty families have been displaced from Al-Ain district of Shabwa over the past week in clashes between two local tribes. Violent clashes broke out between the Al-Ahwal and Al-Aslm tribes last Tuesday, leaving six people dead including two women. Four others were injured.

Yemen’s al Qaeda leader vows to attack America in new video
Reuters — 16 April 2014
Abdulrazzaq al-Jamal, a journalist who has interviewed members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), said it was the largest known gathering of al Qaeda in Yemen. “It included about 400 people, and these are not all the members of the group. This gathering is a confirmation that al Qaeda is gaining strength and influence,” he told Reuters.

American jailed in Yemen, Sharif Mobley, has disappeared and is in danger, his lawyers say
Washington Post — 11 April 2014
Attorneys for an American jailed for more than four years in Yemen allege that their client has disappeared within Yemen’s maze of security facilities and is in danger. Sharif Mobley, now 30, was snatched off the street by Yemeni security agents in 2010, after his contact with an American-born radical preacher had attracted the attention of U.S. counterterrorism authorities. Mobley has not been seen by his attorneys or their representatives since late February. An April 2 court hearing that his attorneys expected would include an account of U.S. interest in Mobley leading up to his arrest was canceled because of a judicial strike, according to the British-based human rights group Reprieve.

Victims of US drones in Yemen demand justice
Gulf News — 12 April 2014
Relatives of victims of US drone strikes in Yemen have come together and formed the National Organisation for Drones Victims aimed at crusading against the controversial US programme and bringing justice to victims. The organisation is the first of its kind that brings together Yemenis who have been impacted by years of aggressive drone strikes in the troubled country.

Suspected militants kill deputy governor in central Yemen: officials
Washington Post — 15 April 2014
Suspected al Qaeda militants shot dead the deputy governor of Yemen’s central al-Bayda province on Tuesday, a security official said. Adel al-Asbahi, the provincial security head of al-Bayda, said on the Defence Ministry website that armed men opened fire on Hussein Dayyan as he was leaving his home. Provincial officials said they fled on motorbikes.

Judge dismisses lawsuit over drone strikes in Yemen that killed American Anwar al-Awlaki
Washington Post — 4 April 2014
A federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit against Obama administration officials for the 2011 drone-strike killings in Yemen of three U.S. citizens, including an al-Qaeda cleric. U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer said the case raises serious constitutional issues and is not easy to answer, but that “on these facts and under this circuit’s precedent,” the court will grant the Obama administration’s request.

Foreign doctor kidnapped in northern Yemen: local official
Reuters via Daily Star — 14 April 2014
An armed group kidnapped a foreign doctor in northern Yemen, the Interior Ministry and a local official said on Monday, the latest in a spate of abductions against Westerners in the country. The local official said the armed group kidnapped the doctor from the hospital he worked at in Marib province, east of the capital Sanaa, late on Sunday. The official and a diplomatic source said the doctor was from Uzbekistan, but the Interior Ministry gave his nationality as Russian and added that he was an anaesthetist.

Yemeni soldiers killed in raid on checkpoint
Al-Jazeera — 8 April 2014
Gunmen have killed five soldiers guarding a checkpoint in southeastern Yemen, local officials said. A security source said the assailants arrived in two vehicles and stormed the Buroum checkpoint on the border between Shabwa and Hadramout provinces with automatic fire and grenades on Tuesday, Reuters news agency reported. The attack was the third in two weeks in Hadramout.

New Zealander, Australian killed in Yemen drone strike
AFP via Yahoo! News — 16 April 2014
A New Zealander with terrorism links was killed in a US drone strike in Yemen last year, Prime Minister John Key said Wednesday, with Canberra confirming that an Australian was also killed in the attack. “I was advised it was highly likely he was killed in the latter part of 2013 but it took some time to confirm that through DNA,” he told reporters.

Gunmen kill two Saudi guards near Yemen’s border: agency
Reuters — 10 April 2014
Unidentified gunmen have killed two Saudi border guards who were patrolling Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen, the Saudi state news agency said on Thursday. The gunmen opened fire on a border patrol early on Wednesday in Dhahran al-Janoub in the southwestern province of Asir, SPA reported, but did not say who was behind the attack.

Interior Ministry introduces new gun regulations
Yemen Times — 15 April 2014
The Ministry of Interior last week suspended the issuing and renewal of guns licenses in preparation for the implementation of a new regulatory mechanism, according to the ministry. “The interior minister has given orders to suspend renewing or issuing gun licenses because of the proliferation of arms in the main cities,” said Ahmed Harba, the press secretary for the Ministry of Interior. Harba said that the easy access to licenses permitting gun owners to carry weapons in public has made it very difficult for the ministry to tighten up firearm regulations in the major cities.

Hadramout security forces face constant attacks
Yemen Times — 8 April 2014
Five soldiers were killed in a Friday attack on a security checkpoint in the Henin area of Hadramout.   Mohammed Hizam, deputy head of the Public Relations Department at the Interior Ministry, said that authorities have determined the identity of the attackers, adding that security forces are pursuing the perpetrators in coordination with the Interior Ministry and the Criminal Investigation Department in the governorate.

Popular Committees threaten to stop cooperating with army in Abyan
Yemen Times — 10 April 2014
The Popular Committees in Abyan governorate demanded that the government take charge of the security locations and checkpoints that the former has been in control of since 2011. The move comes amid criticism by committee members at the government’s perceived inaction in Abyan.

Houthis and Salafis in Dhamar reach agreement after 5 dead, 5 injured
Yemen Times — 8 April 2014
Following a week of fighting that left five dead and five injured, residents of Samh and Wazze villages in the Dhoran district of Dhamar governorate agreed to a truce on Saturday. The Samh village is associated with the Salafis—conservative Sunni Muslims, and the Wazze are Houthis—Zaidi Shiites.

13 individuals caught, accused of abducting foreigners and Yemeni businessmen
Yemen Times — 10 April 2014
Thirteen suspects accused of being involved in the kidnapping of foreigners and Yemenis have been arrested in the last month, according to a statement on the website of the Interior Ministry. The majority of the individuals are from Marib governorate, according the ministry.

Health:
Yemen reports first case of deadly MERS-coronavirus
Reuters — 13 April 2014
Yemen reported its first case of the deadly MERS coronavirus on Sunday in a further spread of the deadly strain in the Middle East two years after its outbreak in neighboring Saudi Arabia. “Medical personnel have recorded one case of the coronavirus in Sanaa and the victim is a Yemeni man who works as an aeronautics engineer,” the semi-official al-Thawra newspaper quoted Public Health Minister Ahmed al-Ansi as saying.

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