Weekly News Update 5 September 2014

Highlights:
When Yemeni lords were ‘comrades’
Al-Monitor — 3 September 2014
As a result of Saudi Arabia offering financial backing to clan elders, followers of Sayyed Hussein al-Houthi sought Iranian financial backing. And, to confront the militias formed by clan elders, they managed to gain the loyalty of some competing elders. As a result, during the early years of this century, the Houthi movement was transformed into an Islamic political movement to confront Islamic Sunni political movements. It gradually mutated in subsequent years into an armed militia that could face the army in six wars between 2004 and 2010. While most of those who took part in the wars of the Houthi militias were clansmen, a significant part hailed from Hashemite lord families. This indicates that a new [social] class was formed by the latter — a class endowed with social and cultural characteristics that differed from the traditional stereotype of their ancestors, who historically were viewed by other clans as non-aligned and refrained from participating in any fighting.

With its Economy in Freefall, Yemen Secures IMF Lifeline
Wall Street Journal — 3 September 2014
Spurred by a rapidly deteriorating economy, the International Monetary Fund has approved a three-year extended credit facility worth $552 million with Yemen, the impoverished Arab nation that has become a breeding ground for the terrorist group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The lifeline will provide some relief for Yemeni authorities who face a myriad of political and security challenges that continue to drag on the economy. An amount equivalent to about $73.8 million is available for immediate disbursement to Yemen, while the remaining amount will be phased in semi-annual disbursements, subject to six reviews, according to the IMF.

Yemen fuel subsidy cuts hit poor hardest
IRIN — 25 August 2014
In an internal document seen by IRIN, Yemen’s Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation (MoPIC) estimates that the decision to cut fuel subsidies could lead to an additional 500,000 Yemenis falling under the breadline. More than half Yemen’s population – in excess of 12.5 million people – currently lives in poverty. To prevent such a disastrous situation the government had promised to redirect any savings made from cutting subsidies – which historically benefited the country’s wealthiest people – towards welfare payments for the poorest. Sana’a announced in early August that it would add 250,000 people to the list of those receiving unconditional cash transfers from the Social Welfare Fund (SWF) – the state-run body that organizes the payments – bringing the total number of people covered by the fund to 1.75 million. Individuals would receive quarterly handouts up to YR12,000 ($60). But SWF, which is supported by a number of foreign governments and international institutions including the World Bank, has not made regular payments to its beneficiaries since the beginning of the year, SWF officials confirmed to IRIN. In early August the fund finally made its first payment in 2014, providing people with money that was due in January.

Politics:
The Houthis: From a local group to a national power
Yemen Times — 4 September 2014
The Houthis have many ways to get their weapons, some of which are provided by gun traders who are spread all over Marib, Al-Jawf, and Sa’ada governorates, and by tribal allies. During the six rounds of fighting in Sa’ada, soldiers from the Yemeni army used to sell guns to the Houthis as well. Saleh’s followers used to sell their weapons just to spite Ali Mohsen. Saleh himself wanted to give the presidency to his son and increase his son’s control over the country’s military. He therefore gave weapons to the Houthis for them to decrease Mohsen’s power. President Hadi accused Saleh last week, on August 26, of having supported the Houthis with weapons during the six rounds of fighting from 2004 until 2010.

Yemen concessions fail to end Houthi protests
Al-Jazeera — 4 September 2014
Yemen’s Houthi Shia activists are continuing to protest in the capital Sanaa, a day after the country’s president reached out to them by dismissing the government and rolling back a disputed fuel price hike. Houthi supporters on Wednesday brandished arms and batons while using tyres and cement blocks to divert traffic from main roads, including a boulevard that leads to government buildings and state institutions. Government tanks were positioned in front of the parliament and TV buildings.

Yemen president dismisses government to end stand-off
BBC — 2 September 2014
Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi would name a new prime minister to form a national unity administration, state media reported. However, the initiative was rejected by the rebels, who are known as Houthis. Thousands of their supporters have been holding protests across the country for weeks, calling on the government to be dissolved and the subsidies restored.

Shiite Rebels Make New Demands to Yemen
AP via New York Times — 25 August 2014
Members of a Shiite rebel group on Monday presented Yemen’s government with new demands in order to stop their protests, hardening their positions and prolonging a standoff in the capital. The demonstrations by tens of thousands of members of the heavily armed Houthi group have put security authorities on alert. Tanks and armored vehicles have been deployed to Sana, the capital, to protect government buildings and embassies.

Whose old Sana’a?
Yemen Times — 2 September 2014
The politicization of Sana’a’s urban space has become a prominent feature in Houthi activism. While protest camps inside Yemen’s capital have recently begun to make headlines, Sana’a’s old city center has long been witnessing an increased display of Houthis’ political symbols. “Five months ago the walls of Sana’a’s old city were covered entirely with political symbols, disfiguring the cultural heritage of old Sana’a,” complained Mohammad Al-Qalisi, a resident in the old city center.

Yemen capital gripped by huge rival protests
Al-Jazeera — 29 August 2014
Tens of thousands of supporters of Yemen’s Shia rebels have rallied in the capital Sanaa to press for the government to step down, as a large number of its backers held a counter-demonstration. Supporters of Shia rebel leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi have been threatening a “painful” escalation against the government which they accuse of corruption. The UN Security Council called on the rebels to end their armed uprising and warned of sanctions.

Southern Movement watchful of Sana’a’s developments
Yemen Times — 26 August 2014
The Southern Movement (Hirak) is closely watching recent developments in the capital Sana’a after members of the Houthis set up protest camps nearby three ministries in the city and growing numbers of their militants are gathering at camps at the city’s main entrances. The Southern Movement is a popular movement in south Yemen that appeared in 2007 and calls for the independence of the former South Yemen from the north.

GCC assigns special envoy to Yemen
Yemen Times — 2 September 2014
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Saturday assigned Dr. Saleh Bin Abdulaziz Al-Qunaieer as special envoy to Yemen. Al-Qunaieer is tasked with supervising the implementation of the Gulf Initiative in Yemen. During the Gulf countries’ 132nd Ministerial Meeting in Jeddah on Saturday, Al-Qunaieer was announced special envoy and representative of GCC Secretary General Abdulatif Al-Zayani in Yemen.

Call for Houthi civil disobedience in Yemen
BBC — 31 August 2014
Defying calls by the UN Security Council to end hostilities against the Yemeni government, a Houthi tribal leader has urged supporters to wage a campaign of civil disobedience until their demands are met. The Houthis, who have been fighting for years for more power for their Zaydi Shia Muslim sect in north Yemen, have massed tens of thousands of supporters on the outskirts of the capital, Sanaa. Some have set up encampments in the city near the Interior Ministry. The standoff has raised fears for the stability of Yemen, a US ally and neighbour of major oil exporter Saudi Arabia.

Demonstrators clash in Aden, one protester dead
Yemen Times — 2 September 2014
Following last Thursday, when clashes between two opposing demonstrations in Mualla city, Aden governorate, left one person dead and five injured, the situation has calmed in Aden. According to Colonel Mohamed Musaed, spokesperson of the Security Administration in Aden, the situation has calmed down after the fighting on Thursday and the funeral on Friday of Hussein Al-Yafee, the protester killed. Investigations into the violence on Thursday are still underway, he said.

Security:
Several Yemeni soldiers killed in al Qaeda attacks in south Yemen
Reuters — 31 August 2014
Suspected al Qaeda militants carried out two separate suicide car bombings against military locations in the south Yemen province of Shabwa on Sunday, killing several Yemeni soldiers, local officials and medical sources said. Ansar al-Sharia, al Qaeda’s local affiliate in Yemen, said on its Twitter account it had launched a “widespread campaign in Shabwa province on Sunday at noon that targeted a number of military and security locations for the Sanaa regime”.

Attack in Hadramout leaves six dead
Yemen Times — 2 September 2014
An attack on the Special Security Forces camp in Al-Qatan district, Hadramout governorate, killed one soldier and left five armed men dead, on Saturday. The five men were suspected of being members of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The state-run Saba News Agency quoted a military source from the 1st Military Command, as saying that soldiers exploded two car bombs before they reached the Special Security Forces camp in Al-Qatan district.

Al-Qaeda Suicide Bomb Attacks Kill Six Soldiers In Yemen
International Business Times — 31 August 2014
An Al-Qaeda affiliate killed six soldiers in Yemen Sunday, announcing on Twitter the deaths marked the start of a “widespread campaign.” The attacks by Ansar Al-Shariah were among the deadliest and most coordinated in southern Yemen since the army launched a campaign earlier this year to rid Abyan and Shabwa provinces of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula militants. Ansar al-Sharia announced on Twitter it had launched a “widespread campaign in Shabwa province on Sunday at noon that targeted a number of military and security locations for the Sanaa regime.” The attacks were in the form of suicide bombings — one in the Gol al-Rayda district, the other near a checkpoint in Azzan, both in Shabwa province.

AQAP kills 13 soldiers, wounds 40 in Shabwa
Yemen Times — 2 September 2014
Thirteen soldiers were killed and 40 others wounded in attacks by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) on Sunday in Azan district of Shabwa governorate, according to a source in the Shabwa Security Operations Department.

Houthi-Islah clashes spill into Dhamar
Yemen Times — 2 September 2014
Four people were killed and six others injured on Sunday in clashes between Houthis and members of the Islah Party in Mabar area of Jahran district, Dhamar governorate, almost 70km south of the capital Sana’a. On Saturday, Houthis started to put up checkpoints along the road between Mabar to Dhamar city. In response, Islah members gathered from the villages around Mabar, putting up other checkpoints on the same road, according to Abdulakarim Al-Nahari, a local journalist based in Dhamar.

The popular committees of Abyan
Yemen Times — 26 August 2014
In the wake of increasing attacks on military forces and government headquarters by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in 2011, popular committees mobilized in governorates like Shabwa and Abyan to end AQAP’s predominance there. In fact, it was with the help of popular committees that the military could expel AQAP from the governorates in 2012. While the emergence and continued existence of popular committees is widely known, little has been said about their build up and working mechanisms.

Economy:
Finance Ministry postpones annual bonuses to public employees
Yemen Times — 4 September 2014
The Finance Ministry on Monday reneged on its plans to pay annual bonuses to civil servants, and military and security personnel. The bonuses, due for the past two years, were announced on August 26 to become effective on August 29. The Finance Ministry announced the delay in payment is due to existing financial difficulties. A new date for payments has not been announced.

Cabinet approves annual bonuses for public employees
Yemen Times — 28 August 2014
The cabinet approved the annual bonuses for civil servants, military and security personnel due since 2012, on Tuesday. The payments are set to become effective on Thursday. The cabinet’s decision was made in an attempt to ease the economic burden on public employees that resulted from recently slashed fuel subsidies. It is part of broader financial reforms that include adding 250,000 beneficiaries to the Social Welfare Fund’s lists.

Labor raids reduce remittances to Yemen
Arab News — 4 September 2014
Recent labor inspections have significantly affected expat remittances to Yemen since many of these foreign workers have stopped working pending the legalization of their status. Many Yemenis complain of not being able to send money home despite difficult living circumstances in the country. Several Yemenis take on menial jobs in the Kingdom, while most chose not to transfer their sponsorships onto their employers during the grace period.

Sana’a Tourism Summer Festival kicks off
Yemen Times — 26 August 2014
The seventh Sana’a Tourism Summer Festival was inaugurated on Sunday in Al-Sabaeen Park under the slogan “towards a stable Yemen and prosperous tourism.” Over 2,500 individuals and organizations of different Yemeni governorates and Arabic countries are participating in this year’s week-long festival, through activities and exhibitions reflecting their respective cultural backgrounds.

Illegal neighborhoods in Sana’a lack public services
Yemen Times — 28 August 2014
Given the high rent and costly land in Sana’a, many residents build illegal houses on the outskirts of the capital. Five years ago, Daroos Saeed went to Bani Al-Harith district on the borders of the capital to build a house there illegally. He hoped that the construction office would register his building, “but that never happened,” says Saeed.

Calvalley Petroleum employees on strike
Yemen Times — 2 September 2014
Calvalley Petroleum Inc. employees halted production at their base in block 9, Hadramout, on Sunday, following a series of full-day strikes that commenced last week. According to Ammar Bahajaj, secretary general of the Calvalley Labor Union, the workers insisted on an increase of their monthly salaries, demanding to be “treated like workers from other foreign oil companies.” Since August 27, 155 workers from the Canadian-based oil company have been on strike, discontinuing exploration at first, and ultimately stopping production yesterday.

Education:
ALESCO: Illiteracy exceeds 8 million mark in Yemen
Yemen Times — 28 August 2014
There are 8.5 million male and female illiterates in Yemen, which accounts for almost a third of the country’s population of 26 million, according to Dr. Yahya Al-Saidi, manager of the Education Administration at the Arab League Educational, Cultural, and Scientific Organization (ALECSO). Al-Saidi said of the 40 million illiterate Arabs, more than 8 million are from Yemen.

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