Weekly News Update 25 April 2014

Of Transitology and Counter-Terror Targeting in Yemen
Muftah — 22 April 2014
Notably, however, professional transitologists avoid portraying the GCC Initiative as a blueprint for democratization, much less revolution, in the Peninsula. To the contrary, the Gulf monarchies and their Western allies, especially the United States, are applauded for their vigilance in bringing ‘stability’ to southwest Arabia. According to the technocratic think-tank blueprint for Yemen, an ill-defined stable transition trumps liberalization or popular democracy. ‘Stability’ is assumed to be the most, and perhaps the best, we can expect. Poor President Hadi is given another year or two to get Yemen on track. Gulf and Western donors will be generous, as long as benchmarks for progress are met. There are, however, two problems with this framing. First, it fundamentally contradicts the vision held by Yemen’s peaceful youth who demonstrated for almost all of 2011, and pays scant attention to the social justice aspirations of the most populous nation on the Peninsula. The GCC monarchies, most notably the dominant power Saudi Arabia, are inimically and intractably fearful of popular democracy. The Saudi kingdom outlaws and represses almost all forms of political expression. The second and more profound problem with these external narratives is their tendency to portray Yemen’s problems as purely endogenous self-inflicted wounds.

Hadhramaut: Rebellion, Federalism or Independence in Yemen?
Muftah — 23 April 2014
The private fortunes being made by Yemeni generals from oil companies may be a key reason why violence in Hadhramaut has ramped up tremendously since 2012. It is no coincidence that, in implementing government restructuring of the military, President Hadi has replaced a number of army and security leaders in Hadhramaut’s oil regions. It would be unrealistic to think that these military leaders, who were suddenly deprived of millions of dollars in monthly payments, would not react or resist in some way. Indeed, many Hadhrami commentators have asserted that many of the shadowy acts of violence and relentless series of assassinations of military leaders in Hadhramaut are in reality intra-military conflicts and leadership struggles among army leaders competing for lucrative oil company security contracts.

Yemen latest front line in Saudi-Qatari feud
Al-Monitor — 23 April 2014
Saudi Arabia informally supports tribal and religious forces in Yemen, either through its embassy in Sanaa or directly through Riyadh. But changes in the regional power balance have moved Islah from Saudi’s circle of allies and beneficiaries to the circle of enemies. The relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood and Yemeni tribes on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia on the other, is fateful. This relationship has deep and complex interests and Riyadh used to be able to tip the power balance in its favor. But Doha is meddling in Saudi Arabia’s hypersensitive files in Yemen, including the issue of Yemeni labor. Riyadh deported tens of thousands of Yemeni expatriates after adopting a new labor law that was passed in November 2013. More are being deported: as many as 12,500 expatriates through the airport in Sanaa alone in January-March. Qatar, however, has announced that it will open its doors to Yemeni labor and ordered that Yemenis residing on Qatari soil be treated like Qatari citizens in terms of access to education and health. Whatever the justifications, Riyadh’s actions have earned it widespread popular anger in Yemen because the actions happened at a time when Yemen is in a critical state.

Rebels Without Shoes: A Visit to South Yemen’s Revolution Squares
Muftah — 22 April 2014
Long-neglected by the central government and inspired by the revolution, a variety of small-scale initiatives in southern Yemen have engaged, among other things, in providing public services disregarded by the state. These include such things as cleaning the streets, stopping lawless building, and preserving historical sites. The hub of the southern revolution is in the city of Aden. For supporters of independence, Aden is the “capital of South Arabia,” the name of the hoped for southern state. Aden is also home to countless “revolutionary squares”, locally called saha. The squares vary in organization, level of activism, and loyalty to hirak leaders. Some have weekly programs; others are streets or squares temporarily reclaimed for activism.

Taiz’s Freedom Street remains closed
Yemen Times — 22 April 2014
Despite an agreement on Saturday between youth representatives of the 2011 uprising and the Interior Ministry, Freedom Street in Taiz remains closed—continuing to impact traffic and business in the area.

Yemen says strikes on al-Qaida base kill 55
AP via Washington Post — 21 April 2014
Yemeni forces, reportedly backed by U.S. drone strikes, hit al-Qaida militants for a second straight day Monday in what Yemen officials said was an assault on a major base of the terror group hidden in the remote southern mountains. The government said 55 militants were killed so far.

Attacks on suspected al-Qaeda sites in Yemen spark reprisal fears
Financial Times — 23 April 2014
The killing of dozens of people in co-ordinated attacks apparently aimed at denting the capabilities of Yemen’s al-Qaeda franchise, has been greeted as a counter-terrorism success by the country’s government. But they have failed to convince ordinary Yemenis that the increasingly deadly conflict with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) can be won.

Drone strikes alone won’t stamp out al Qaeda in Yemen –analysts
Reuters — 22 April 2014
The drones’ main success has been to severely limit AQAP’s movements and ability to hold territory as it did back in 2011. “When they move from A to B, they have to think 100 times. They’ve lost their freedom,” said Mustafa Alani, a security analyst with close ties to the Saudi Interior Ministry. “It (drones) is very effective, but this is not going to deal with the problem. These people are replaceable. You can kill 10 of them and there’s 10 more in the pipeline. (So) it’s a success that won’t end the war against AQAP,” he said.

Droning on
The Economist — 26 April 2014
The raids have been hailed by the Americans as an unprecedented success. Some of the dead were apparently Saudis, who may have recently returned from the civil war in Syria. A leading AQAP bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, is said to have been killed: a notable achievement, if true. Mr Asiri is deemed responsible for some of AQAP’s most dangerous assaults on the West, including that of the “underpants bomber” who tried to blow up an aircraft landing in Detroit on Christmas Day, 2009.

Civilians die in reported Yemen drone strike as weekend of attacks kills at least 35
Bureau of Investigative Journalism — 21 April 2014
Multiple sources including military officials and eyewitnesses described how a US drone attacked a truck that was carrying alleged members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and also hit a vehicle carrying civilians. At least 10 – and possibly as many as 21 – were reportedly killed in the attack, including at least three civilians. They were described as ‘construction workers‘ or ‘labourers’ by some reports. This is the highest death toll of any confirmed drone strike in Yemen so far this year. The Bureau regards drone strikes as ‘confirmed’ if they are described as such by three independent sources, such as eyewitnesses, military officials and security sources. Attacks continued on Sunday when air strikes – described by many reports as US drone strikes – targeted three suspected militant camps in the same province. Early reports suggested five people had been killed, but the reported death toll later rose. A tribal source told Reuters 25 bodies had been removed from the site, while other media reported a death toll in excess of 30.

‘Massive and unprecedented’ US drone strikes in Yemen in pursuit of al-Qa’ida lead to retaliatory assassinations of four Yemeni security officers
The Independent — 22 April 2014
In an apparent retaliation to the strikes, gunmen shot dead four senior security officers today. Officials said that assassins riding motorbikes in the capital, Sanaa, killed two colonels in military intelligence and one in the military police, while a deputy director of intelligence was shot in Harib in central Yemen.

Al Qaida seize hospitals in Yemen to treat wounded
Gulf News — 24 April 2014
Al Qaida militants have seized hospitals in southern Yemen to treat wounded comrades following blistering air strikes that killed scores of gunmen in two days, medics said on Thursday. An intensive aerial campaign by US drones and Yemeni jet fighters on Al Qaida bases in the rugged mountains of nearby Abyan province killed some 70 militants over the weekend.

Yemen to Pay Families of Civilians Killed in Airstrikes
ABC — 23 April 2014
The Yemeni government plans to make a cash payment to the families of the three civilians killed in a string of airstrikes over the weekend, a spokesperson for the Yemeni Embassy in Washington, D.C. said today. Dozens of alleged militants with the al Qaeda affiliate al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) were killed in multiple airstrikes – suspected to have been launched from American drones — and in an on-the-ground raid over the weekend and into Monday, according to the Yemeni government.

Did Yemen, U.S. kill al Qaeda’s chief bomb maker?
CNN — 23 April 2014
While U.S. officials said the operation didn’t directly target him, al-Asiri is among those suspected to have been killed in the Sunday firefight, a high-level Yemeni government official told CNN. According to two Saudi government officials, authorities have taken at least one body to Saudi Arabia for DNA testing. It is that of a Saudi-born militant from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, officials said, declining to say whether they believe it’s al-Asiri. DNA test results are not due for several days.

Foreigner in Yemen kills would-be kidnappers
AFP via Yahoo! News — 24 April 2014
“Two armed men tried to kidnap a foreign citizen as he was leaving a barber in Hadda Street in Sanaa,” the ministry’s 26sep.net site said of the unprecedented incident. “But he was able to resist and shot them with a revolver he had in his possession,” the website said, citing security sources. It added that accomplices of the gunmen in a car with no number plates managed to get away.

Attempt to smuggle Saudi women and children into Yemen thwarted
Gulf News — 23 April 2014
Security forces in Saudi Arabia have thwarted an attempt to sneak two women and six children into Yemen, where they were supposed to join Al Qaeda. The two women, in their 30s, and the children, the oldest of whom was 14, were all Saudi nationals. They were accompanied by three Yemeni men, who were walking with them through desolate areas and dangerous mountains east of Jazan to cross the borders illegally.

Kidnapped Uzbek doctor freed in northern Yemen: local official
Reuters — 19 April 2014
An Uzbek doctor kidnapped in northern Yemen last week has been freed, a provincial official said on Saturday. The official told Reuters tribal mediators had succeeded in convincing armed tribesmen to release the doctor, who had been abducted last Sunday from the hospital he worked at in Marib province, east of the capital Sanaa.

Alleged terror suspects on way to Sana’a, security sources cannot confirm Al-Qaeda affiliation
Yemen Times — 24 April 2014
Ten men, who were arrested in Shabwa governorate on April 19 for allegedly having connections to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), are being moved to Sana’a at the request of the Interior Ministry. In Sana’a, it is expected the men will be housed at the Political Security Prison, where they will await trial.

Dozens Jailed for Debts
Human Rights Watch — 22 April 2014
At least 142 people are being held in the Sanaa Central Prison in Yemen because of a debt or fine they are unable to pay. The prison director says he is holding 142 people for those reasons, though prisoners say there are many more. Yemeni authorities should release people imprisoned solely because they are unable to pay debts or fines. The prisoners include people who cannot pay a private debt, those who owe diya, or “blood money,” to another family for committing a crime, and convicted criminals who remain imprisoned past the end of their term for inability to pay a fine. Many of these prisoners have been incarcerated for years without any possibility of release.

Bookstalls thrive in Tahrir Square
Yemen Times — 24 April 2014
Hundreds of farmers in Hodeida demonstrated outside the local council office in Al-Dhahi district, Hodeida on Sunday to protest diesel shortages. The protest came one day after a sit-in in front of the Yemen Petroleum Company office in Hodeida. Residents say the fuel shortage has forced many to shutdown farms and that the shortage has devastated crops.

Hodeida farmers protest diesel shortage
Yemen Times — 22 April 2014
Hundreds of farmers in Hodeida demonstrated outside the local council office in Al-Dhahi district, Hodeida on Sunday to protest diesel shortages. The protest came one day after a sit-in in front of the Yemen Petroleum Company office in Hodeida. Residents say the fuel shortage has forced many to shutdown farms and that the shortage has devastated crops.

115 African migrants arrested while attempting to cross into Yemen
Yemen Times — 22 April 2014
Coastguard and military units on Saturday arrested 115 migrants and refugees traveling in two boats. The detained are from Somalia and Ethiopia. Shuja Mahdi, the operations director of the Coastguard, said the first boat was encountered near Mayyun island with 75 on board, 15 of them Somalis and four of them women.


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