Weekly News Update 22 August 2014

Highlights:
Yemeni victims of U.S. military drone strike get more than $1 million in compensation
Washington Post — 18 August 2014
The Yemeni government paid the families of those killed or injured in a U.S. drone strike last year more than $1 million, according to documents that provide new details on secret condolence payments seen as evidence that civilians with no ties to al-Qaeda were among the casualties. The documents, which are signed by Yemeni court officials and victims’ relatives, record payouts designed to quell anger over a U.S. strike that hit vehicles in a wedding party and prompted a suspension of the U.S. military’s authority to carry out drone attacks on a dangerous al-Qaeda affiliate.

Trouble is brewing
Economist — 18 August 2014
IS A showdown brewing in Yemen? On August 17th the Houthis, a Shia rebel group based in northern Yemen, issued an ultimatum to the government in Sana’a. Yemen’s president, they said, had five days to cut fuel prices and dissolve the government—or face a rerun of the 2011 revolution that unseated his predecessor. The Houthis have long been unhappy about being ruled by central authorities in Sana’a and accuse the current government of being ineffective. But their demands for change have grown louder since they helped Yemen’s security forces to rout tribal and Islamist militias, as well as a rogue unit of the army, from Amran province in July.

Education for Yemeni women still rare luxury
Al-Monitor — 17 August 2014
According to other Yemeni girls who spoke to Al-Hayat, summer vacation and other holidays are a threat to their studies. Fatima, 25, noted that the number of weddings during summer vacation and religious holidays triggered her mother’s heartbreak over her single daughter, wherein she pressured her daughter into marriage. The Sanaa University student said, “During the past holiday, three girls from our neighborhood got married. My mother kept nagging and telling me ‘your friends are getting married and all you do is go back and forth to university.’” A recent field study showed a persistence in the traditional view of women only getting married and staying at home. Student Najib Abu Srour conducted a study of 300 families in the center of Taiz province and its countryside. In both the center and the countryside, residents still believe that women are supposed to stay at home to serve their husbands and families because “education delayed their marriage.”

Politics:
JMP declines GPC’s reconciliation offer
Yemen Times — 21 August 2014
The Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) refused the reconciliation document on tuesday presented by the General People’s Congress on Monday. “We refuse any reconciliation document other than the one presented in the National Dialogue Conference (NDC),” said Al-Qubati, the spokesperson of the JMP.

Yemen on high alert as rebels push to overthrow government
Deutsche Welle — 21 August 2014
Led by heavily armed Shiite rebels, thousands of demonstrators are demanding the government step down by the end of the week. Rebel commander Abdulmalik al-Huthi said the authorities must meet protesters’ grievances by the end of the week, or additional forms of “legitimate action” would take place. According to reports, rebel militias were deploying on rooftops in parts of the capital and armed rebel convoys were entering the capital and setting up checkpoints. Military officials said forces were on standby in case of an attack.

Houthis push into Yemeni capital amid rallies
Al-Jazeera — 20 August 2014
Thousands of Shia Houthi rebels have further strengthened their positions in the Yemeni capital, as their supporters gathered on the outskirts of Sanaa to demand an end to fuel price rises and for the government to step down. Chanting slogans against the government, men waved guns as they struck their fists in the air, as trucks loaded with Houthi supporters converged on the city on Wednesday.

Yemeni Houthis call for government resignation as deadline approaches
Asharq Al-Awsat — 21 August 2014
Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi called on Houthi leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi to join a national unity government on Wednesday, as thousands of Houthis gathered on the outskirts of the capital Sana’a calling for the government to resign. The Houthi leader launched a wave of protests last Sunday, calling for the government to reverse a recent decision to slash fuel subsidies or resign. He gave the government until Friday to meet the demands and threatened to take “serious” steps, leading to fears of violence erupting in Sana’a. Informed sources in Yemen told Asharq Al-Awsat that President Hadi had held meetings with senior Yemeni political and military figures to discuss the crisis. Hadi also sent a delegation to the ruler of Yemen’s neighbor to the east, the Sultan of Oman Qaboos Bin Sa’id, to ask him to mediate with the Houthis. The sources added that Hadi sent another delegation to the Houthi leader to present what he called the “last chance” initiative, which included the establishment of a new national unity government, with the participation of the Houthis. As well as offering the movement’s leaders a role in government, Hadi’s initiative stipulates that Houthi rebels leave Sana’a.

Saudi Arabia seeks Yemen reconciliation to subdue Houthis
Al-Monitor — 21 August 2014
Saudi Arabia is trying to arrange the political situation in Yemen again under the banner of national reconciliation, in the form of a reconciliation the kingdom aspires to. It pursued some contradictory policies, namely the weakening of the Brotherhood after recognizing the Houthis as a local force, but not as a force that causes concern to the Saudi border and presence in Yemen. The result so far is a weakened Brotherhood and difficulty in containing the Houthis, who have become stronger. The scene shows a lot about the effectiveness of the declining Saudi role in Yemen; however, they retain an important role despite the presence of new and secondary players such as Qatar and Iran.

Security:
Drone kills suspected fighters in Yemen
Al-Jazeera — 18 August 2014
A drone attack has killed three suspected al-Qaeda-linked fighters in Yemen’s eastern Hadramout province, a local official said. “The three armed men were travelling in a vehicle along a desert stretch between Yemen and Saudi Arabia’s border when the drone shot two rockets at them. All three are dead,” a local official told Reuters news agency. No details were given on whether it was a US or Yemeni drone, the agency said.

Tribal leader assassinated in Sana’a
Yemen Times — 21 August 2014
Unknown armed men assassinated Abdulkareem Al-Dhahab in Sana’a on Tuesday, leaving two of his bodyguards inured. The independent Al-Masdar newspaper quoted eye witnesses who said to have seen unknown armed men in a car, firing at Al-Dhahab’s vehicle in Baghdad street in Sana’a.

Children being used to settle disputes
Yemen Times — 19 August 2014
According to a report by the Seyaj Organization for Childhood Protection, released at the end of 2013, 124 children—105 male and 19 female—were kidnapped during the year 2013 in Yemen. The settling of financial disputes constituted a key motive for the kidnapping of children, accounting for 80 percent of kidnapped boys and 40 percent of kidnapped girls.

Death of imprisoned AQAP suspect raises questions
Yemen Times — 17 August 2014
There are conflicting news reports about the death of Sabri Birsam Bin Talib, the only suspect arrested for the abduction and killing of 14 soldiers by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) on Friday in Hadramout. Local media outlets reported that Bin Talib was found dead late Monday inside his cell in the Military Intelligence Department in the 1st Military Command in Seyoun city, Hadramout.

Clashes in Hadramout; Banks shut down
Yemen Times — 21 August 2014
Military units associated with the 2nd Military Command in Hadramout governorate stormed a villa on Al-Siteen Street in the capital city of Mukalla late Monday. The villa was used by militants to plot terrorist attacks, according to the state-run Saba News Agency. The news agency quoted an anonymous source from the command who confirmed they besieged the villa and fought with the militants, adding that some of the militants were injured before they fled the scene.

AQAP announces support for ISIL
Yemen Times — 19 August 2014
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) published a statement on its Al-Manbar website on August 14 announcing support for the operations of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which now calls itself the Islamic State, in Iraq. “We announce solidarity with our Muslim brothers in Iraq against the crusade. Their blood and injuries are ours and we will surely support them,” the statement read. “We assert to the Islamic Nation [all Muslims worldwide] that we stand by the side of our Muslim brothers in Iraq against the American and Iranian conspiracy and their agents of the apostate Gulf rulers.”

Press:
Increase in threats against journalists
Yemen Times — 19 August 2014
Journalists in Yemen have reported an increased number of threats made against them in the past weeks following their coverage of current events. Independent journalists, as well as those affiliated with the Houthis, the General People’s Congress (GPC) and those with insight into Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have voiced concerns about threats being made against them.

Migration:
Dreams of Eritrean refugees turn to ashes in Yemen
Yemen Times — 19 August 2014
A group of around 200 Eritrean refugees have been living on the streets of Sana’a for months, as they themselves explain. They were arrested and sent to jail upon their crossing of the red sea and the Yemeni coastal border. According to Omar Abu Bakr, who acts as the group’s representative, he and the other refugees have spent between three and twenty months in the central prison of Hodeida governorate. Not every Eritrean who arrives in Yemen gets imprisoned, explains Abdullah Ali Al-Zurka, the director of the Deportation Department in Sana’a. It is only those who do not obtain official refugee status and count as “illegal immigrants” who face jail time. “As soon as they are officially acknowledged as refugees they are freed from prison.”

Economy:
Diesel shortage affects pomegranates season in Sa’ada
Yemen Times — 19 August 2014
Pomegranate farmers in Sa’ada governorate are frustrated about the earnings of this year’s season, as the price of a 20kg basket went down from YR5,000 ($23) last year to YR2,500 ($11.5) this year. Two main reasons for this sudden decrease in prices is the oversupply and low quality of pomegranates this year, according to Azeez Gharisa, a farmer in Majaz district, 18km north of the capital city of Sa’ada.

Education:
Education gap: Public schools vs. private institutes
Yemen Times — 20 August 2014
“Our role as educational inspectors is to compile facts about education in public schools and to write reports about teachers’ performance in those schools and to evaluate the teachers when they teach students,” said Muhammad Al-Hosami, the Taiz department manager of the Ministry of Education’s quality-control department in Taiz. He adds, “The biggest problem teachers suffer from is low salaries, which is what drives them to teach at private institutes in the first place. This, in turn, badly effects their performance at public schools.”

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