Weekly News Update 19 September 2014

Highlights:
Al Qaeda Militants Flow Into Yemen’s Capital
Wall Street Journal — 14 September 2014
Scores of al Qaeda militants have moved into Yemen’s capital San’a in an attempt to exploit swelling political unrest and destabilize the government, officials said. While President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government is bogged down with protests in the capital by the Houthis—a Shiite Muslim political and militant group—at least 60 al Qaeda militants have slipped in over the past few weeks and joined sleeper cells, according to Yemeni officials.

Houthis’ contradictory path in Sanaa
Al-Monitor — 15 September 2014
The group’s rule represents the worse and most oppressive model of governance, as it runs Saada as a radical religious armed group that bans music, for instance. Pictures taken at Houthi sit-ins show that women are absent. Al-Monitor attended a sit-in on Aug. 30 next to the Interior Ministry, and asked the media officer of the Houthis why no women were present; the answer was that women should stay home. However, at the NDC, the Houthis supported the demands of the women’s movement, including the quota (Houthis supported the demands of women to have a fixed share of political participation). NDC member Thurayya Damaj told Al-Monitor, “The Houthis’ position vis-a-vis women in the capital Sanaa is completely different than their position as a ruling authority in Saada. They supported the quota in Sanaa, but tightened women’s freedoms in Saada governorate by imposing restrictions on their movement and clothing.”

Building a Shared Vision for Economic Reform in Yemen
CIPE — 16 September 2014
The unprecedented level of consultation and input with the private sector, civil society, and political parties ensured a high level of legitimacy and buy-in for reforms. The involvement of the private sector in the National Dialogue is an important achievement because it strengthens the role of business in national policymaking and enables the Yemeni government to tackle mounting economic concerns with a better understanding of the microeconomic conditions in the country. As Yemen enters the next phase of its transition, the private sector will continue to implement reforms through legislative advocacy strengthen the economic platforms of political parties, and directly address concerns identified in the Private Sector Vision.

Economy
Yemeni businessmen meet president
Yemen Times — 9 September 2014
The Federation of Yemen Chambers of Commerce and Industry met with the Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, leaders of political parties, and Houthi representatives in Sana’a on Sunday. The meeting was held to put an end to the volatile security situation and the political deadlock associated with the government’s fuel subsidy cuts which came into effect late July.

Trade grows between Yemen, Arab states
Al-Shorfa — 17 September 2014
Trade between Yemen and Arab states rose to about 1.5 trillion riyals ($6.9 billion) last year, an increase of almost 583 billion riyals ($2.7 billion) from 2012, according to Yemen’s Central Bureau of Statistics.

Yemen still awaits external aid
Yemen Times — 16 September 2014
Only 38.8 percent of Yemen’s external financial aid has been disbursed since donors pledged the money in Sept 2012, the Executive Bureau for the Acceleration of Aid Absorption and Support for Policy Reforms, commonly shortened to the EB, announced on Saturday. The EB is a governmental office which was launched in December 2013. It is tasked with accelerating the absorption of donor aid pledges and supporting the preparation and implementation of donor-funded projects.

When aid becomes a business
Yemen Times — 18 September 2014
Dealing in aid commodities appears to be fairly profitable and has become Al-Qadhi’s sole source of income. Al-Qadhi buys one aid ratio for YR4,000 ($18.61). According to one of the IDPs from Amran, Mohammad Aqabat, the actual worth of the aid package, comprising 50 kilos of flour, two and a half liters of oil, and 4 kilos of beans, is worth much more than that. “The price is too low, the YR4,000 ($18.61) for which we sell our share is not enough to buy a 50 kilo sack of flower, which costs YR6,200 ($28.85),” he complains. Aqabat said the total cost of the IRO’s food items is YR9,200 ($42,81) when bought in the shops near his house. According to Aqabat, Al-Qadhi pays only half of the aid commodities’ actual price. Al-Qadhi defends himself, saying that some flour sacks that he buys from the IDPs are damaged, which is why he buys all items at lower prices, which is a calculated risk. According to Al-Qadhi, the sacks of flour are stored for a long time during which some of the flour becomes moist and cloddy, or maggot-ridden.

CBY announces decline in oil revenues
Yemen Times — 16 September 2014
The oil revenues made by the Yemeni government between January and July 2014 is $481 less than it made during the same period in 2013, according to a report released this week by the Central Bank of Yemen (CBY). The bank explained that the continuing decline in oil revenues comes due to the repeated sabotage of oil pipelines by different armed groups in Marib, Shabwa, Hadramout, and Sana’a governorates, and decreasing oil exports. The repeated sabotage of pipelines has had devastating consequences on oil revenues, which fell from $1.560 billion between January and July in 2013 by nearly 30 percent to $1.079 billion for the same period in the first half of this year.

Diesel subsidies continue for power stations
Yemen Times — 9 September 2014
The government announced on Friday it will maintain the subsidy on diesel used for power stations despite calls for the subsidy to be removed, according to the state-run Saba News Agency. The government’s statement followed local news on Thursday reporting that the state-run Yemen Petroleum Company (YPC) released a statement demanding fuel subsidy cuts to be extended to Yemen’s electricity sector.

Yemen patches crude pipeline sabotaged by tribesmen, pumping resumes
Reuters — 10 September 2014
Yemen resumed pumping crude through its main export pipeline after repair works were completed, the interior ministry said on Wednesday, after saboteurs blew it up on Monday, halting flows and disrupting an important source of revenue. Yemen’s oil and gas pipelines have repeatedly been sabotaged by tribesmen feuding with the state since anti-government protests led to a power vacuum in 2011, causing fuel shortages and slashing export earnings.

Foreigners line up to buy land in Socotra
Yemen Times — 16 September 2014
The spiralling foreign demand has prompted many Socotrans to sell land at higher prices to foreigners than they do to locals. This, in turn, caused many foreigners, mostly from Gulf countries, to buy plots of land through local proxies, according to Salem Dahaq, the director of Hadibu district, the capital of Socotra governorate Mohammed Khalifa, a resident from Socotra, confirmed that so-called “mediators” spread throughout the governorate in recent years, buy land from locals and sell it to foreigners at comparatively cheaper prices. The buying of land through local proxies is an indication that the building of hotels and the buying of land has gotten out of hand in Socotra, criticizes Al-Socatri.

Security:
Yemen: Houthi rebels and militia clash in Sanaa
BBC News — 19 September 2014
Armed rebels, known as Houthis, shelled buildings of the state TV and the main Sunni Islamist party, Islah, in Sanaa. Hundreds of residents have fled their homes and international flights to the city have been suspended. About 40 people have been killed since Tuesday, reports say. The rebels have staged protests for weeks, demanding political and economic reforms.

Armed Shi’ite rebels push into Yemen’s capital
Reuters — 18 September 2014
Armed Shi’ite rebels pushed into Yemen’s capital Sanaa after clashing with the army in the city’s northwest outskirts on Thursday, security sources and residents said, in an escalation of weeks of fighting and protests. Residents of northwest al-Shamlan district told Reuters the Shi’ite Houthi gunmen were now advancing along Thalatheen Street, a major route into the western edge of the city.

Yemen clashes between Shi’ite rebels and tribesmen kill 22: sources
Reuters — 16 September 2014
Twenty-two people were killed in fighting between Shi’ite Muslim rebels and government-allied tribesmen in northern Yemen on Monday and Tuesday, tribal and local sources told Reuters. The fighting in al-Jawf province, northeast of the capital Sanaa, is further destabilizing a country struggling to overcome a range of threats including a secessionist movement in its south and the spread of an al Qaeda insurgency.

Clashes in Yemen capital suburb kill at least 20: sources
Reuters — 17 September 2014
At least 20 people were killed when Shi’ite Muslim rebels clashed with army soldiers and allied tribesmen in an outer suburb of the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, tribal and medical sources said on Wednesday. Tribal sources told Reuters the rebels had gained control of Wadi Dhahr suburb in the fighting, the latest in an escalating conflict between the Sunni-dominated government and Houthi Shi’ites fighting for more territory and control in the north.

111th Brigade soldiers on strike in Abyan
Yemen Times — 18 September 2014
The 111th Infantry Mountain Brigade in Ahwar district of Abyan governorate has witnessed a division in the past two weeks, as two units in the brigade refuse to obey their commander’s orders to fight off Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Shaker Al-Ghadeir, an officer in the 111th Infantry Mountain Brigade, confirmed that the two regiments who are fighting armed men in the area, alleged to be AQAP members, are still refusing to obey their commander’s orders.

Military official killed in Hodeida
Yemen Times — 16 September 2014
Colonel Abdulmalik Saeed Farea, the commander of Al-Ghaida Airport’s security personnel in Al-Mahra governorate, was found dead in Hodeida governorate early Saturday. Colonel Thabit Qasim Abdulla, Commander of the Al-Mahra Military Air Base, which is linked with Al-Ghaida Airport, confirmed the killing, saying “Farea was stabbed with a jambiya on Al-Khamseen Street in Hodeida city. Then he managed to move 15 meters before a motorcyclist saw him and informed the security there.”

Military and AQAP clash in Hadramout
Yemen Times — 11 September 2014
Soldiers from the 135th Infantry Brigade and AQAP members clashed on Tuesday morning at a military checkpoint at the entrance of Ser Valley in Al-Qatan district, Hadramout governorate. The fighting broke out after a car exploded near the checkpoint. The Defense Ministry’s website confirmed the car explosion and the clashes, saying that military personnel destroyed the car before it could reach the checkpoint.

New Special Security Forces commander appointed
Yemen Times — 16 September 2014
General Fadhl Al-Qawsi on Tuesday welcomed President Hadi’s decree to appoint a new Special Security Forces commander in his place. “I welcome President Hadi’s decree and assert that I support all decisions he takes,” the Defense Ministry’s website quoted Al-Qawsi as saying. President Hadi on Monday dismissed Al-Qawsi from his position as commander of the Special Security Forces and appointed General Mohammed Mansour Al-Ghadra in his place. Mohammed Hizam, deputy head of the Public Relations Department at the Interior Ministry, confirmed Al-Qawsi’s dismissal to the Yemen Times but gave no definitive information as to why he was fired. “He was probably dismissed after the Special Security Forces failed to disperse a Houthi protest camp on Airport Road,” Hizam said.

Obama’s critics dismiss Yemen, Somalia airstrikes as model to fight ISIS
CNN — 11 September 2014
Over the past few years, the amount of territory that extremists control in Yemen and Somalia has indeed been rolled back. And several terrorist leaders in both countries have been killed by American strikes, including Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Godane, and AQAP’s No. 2, Said Ali al-Shihri, and top propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki.

US man imprisoned in Yemen makes emotional plea: ‘They’re gonna kill me in here’
Guardian — 15 September 2014
An American citizen, who has been missing inside the prison system of Yemen for seven months, has made contact with his wife in a furtive phone call during which he alleged that his US-allied captors are torturing him and may kill him. Sharif Mobley, 30, whose lawyers consider him to be disappeared, managed to call his wife in Philadelphia on Thursday, the first time they had spoken since February and a rare independent proof he is alive since a brief phone call with his mother in July.

Politics:
Violent crushing of protest signals alarming escalation in standoff with Huthis
Amnesty International — 9 September 2014
The killing by government security forces of at least six protesters in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, must be promptly and impartially investigated, said Amnesty International. “The gunning down of peaceful protesters in the streets of the capital has heightened fears that the current confrontation there will escalate into a full blown violent conflict,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

Yemen: Lethal Force Against Houthi Protesters
Human Rights Watch — 9 September 2014
Yemeni authorities should immediately investigate the use of unnecessary lethal force against demonstrators in Sanaa on September 7 and 9, 2014. It should hold military personnel and other security forces found responsible to account. Altogether eight protesters and an ambulance driver were killed and at least 67 were wounded.

Prisoners held without trial in Mukalla continue sit-in
Yemen Times — 11 September 2014
Hundreds of inmates at the central prison in Mukalla City of Hadramout governorate continue their peaceful sit-in, which began Monday, demanding they should be tried in court. According to Hasan Ba Alawi, the manager of the prison, the prison holds 450 inmates, 280 of which are imprisoned without trial—for “six to seven months” at minimum. “All prisoners staged peaceful sit-ins, refusing to enter their prison wards, cooperating with their fellow prisoners who haven’t yet been prosecuted,” said Ba Alawi.

Judge kidnapped in Al-Baida
Yemen Times — 11 September 2014
Ahmed Al-Radaie, a judge at the appeals court in Al-Baida city was kidnapped by an unknown tribal group from his apartment at 8 PM after returning from a mosque on Monday. Mohammed Asker, a security official working with Al-Baida city’s security forces, said that a group of armed men knocked on Al-Radaie’s door, forcibly capturing him once he opened the door.

Campaign to implement NDC outcomes
Yemen Times — 16 September 2014
The General Secretariat of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) on Monday in Sana’a launched a nationwide campaign named “My demand is to implement the NDC outcomes.” According to Afrah Al-Zuba, the deputy general secretary of the NDC, Monday’s launch was timed to coincide with the International Day of Democracy. The campaign encourages Yemenis to openly and freely ask the stakeholders, who participated in the NDC, to accelerate the implementation of the NDC outcomes.

Yemen Today employees threaten protest escalation
Yemen Times — 18 September 2014
Employees of Yemen Today, a satellite TV channel owned by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, threatened on Wednesday to continue their protests unless their demands are met. The employees on Monday staged a protest in front of the headquarters of the General People’s Congress (GPC) in Sana’a to demand their salaries and the resumption of the channel’s broadcast. Yemen Today was shut down by presidential guards on orders from President Hadi on June 11 for “inciting violence.” The shut-down followed the channel’s coverage of protests that same day, which demanded the ousting of the government.

UN envoy presses Yemen rebel leader for new talks with govt
AFP via Yahoo News — 18 September 2014
The UN envoy to Yemen held talks Wednesday with Shiite rebel leader Abdulmalik al-Huthi in a fresh effort to end the country’s political crisis, as deadly fighting intensified north of Sanaa. Jamal Benomar flew to the rebel stronghold of Saada in an unexpected visit after failure to hammer out a deal between President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi and rebels seeking greater political clout.

UN Sanctions Committee prepared to punish political spoilers
Yemen Times — 18 September 2014
The UN Security Council Sanctions Committee issued a statement on Tuesday saying it is ready to consider determining individuals and entities to be sanctioned for obstructing Yemen’s political transition. The Sanctions Committee was established by Security Council Resolution 2140 (2014) on February 26.

2011 uprising victims still await compensation
Yemen Times — 18 September 2014
Victims of the 2011 uprising and Southern Movement clashes have still not been compensated despite President Hadi ordering the monthly payments to begin at the end of July. The 2011 Revolutionary Victims Fund is tasked to disperse monthly stipends to those left severely disabled and to the families of those killed in both the 2011 uprising and Southern Movement clashes.

Iran, Oman pressure Houthis to accept government deal
Asharq Al-Awsat — 18 September 2014
Yemen’s Houthis and the central government appeared to move closer to an agreement to end the bloodshed that has recently gripped the country, following Omani–Iranian pressure on the Shi’ite Houthi movement. Yemeni sources have told Asharq Al-Awsat that renewed international and regional efforts are currently being exerted to secure an agreement between Yemen’s Shi’ite Houthis and the central government to end the ongoing conflict, currently taking place in several regions across the country, between rebel fighters on one side and government forces and allied tribes on the other. A high-level Yemeni source, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media, cited Omani–Iranian mediation that is seeking to pressure the Houthis to sign a UN-brokered agreement.

Graffiti gets political in Yemen
Al-Monitor — 12 September 2014
A few weeks ago, young painter Dhi Yazan al-Alawi launched a drawing campaign in the streets of Sanaa. The “Street Caricatures” campaign is characterized by candor, simplicity and a focus on highlighting local imagery using common clothing and facial features. In addition to their cynical and sarcastic commentary, the drawings that make up this initiative express the concerns of the public. The first week focused on prices and the lifting of subsidies on petroleum products, while the second week was dedicated to the killing of soldiers and al-Qaeda attacks, which have escalated in the past two years. The third week revolved around art and life. The faces of 22 prominent male and female Yemeni artists were drawn on the streets.

Women:
Yemeni women fight for greater representation
Yemen Times — 8 September 2014
In the aftermath of the country’s 2011 uprising, and over the course of the nation’s ten-month National Dialogue Conference (NDC), Basha and other pro-quota NDC delegates were able to secure the endorsement of an article for the nation’s new constitution—planned to be ratified later this year—recommending that at least 30 percent of those serving in government should be women. This quota, proponents have argued, could rectify Yemen’s poor track record of female representation in politics and potentially chip away at negative stigmas of women holding positions of power. Currently, there is only one woman in a 301-member parliament and three out of 35 ministers are female. The country continues to rank extremely low on many international measures of gender equality.

Yemeni women making a difference
Yemen Times — 18 September 2014
It is a noble undertaking by Yemeni women to empower Yemen’s minorities and to stand up for their rights. Their peaceful struggle in many ways reflects the broader political goals and visions put forth during the National Dialogue Conference.

Migration:
Can legal changes stop trafficking in Yemen?
IRIN — 9 September 2014
A Yemeni draft law envisaging strict penalties for those involved in trafficking migrants, including kidnapping them and demanding ransom, may finally bring an end to decades of exploitation. To give the process a push, the International Labour Organization (ILO) co-hosted a three-day workshop from 6-8 September with Yemen’s Ministry of Human Rights in Lebanon’s capital Beirut, bringing together government entities, international agencies, and non-governmental groups to develop Yemen’s anti-trafficking roadmap.

Qat:
Ignoring the ban
Yemen Times — 9 September 2014
In late April 2007, former Minister of Interior Rashad Al-Alimi issued a ministerial directive forbidding the widespread habit of army personnel wearing their uniforms in qat markets and chewing qat while on duty. In the weeks following Al-Alimi’s instruction, military police were regularly seen monitoring Sana’a’s bigger qat markets such as in the Al-Hasaba and Shumaila neighborhoods, according to researcher and author Peer Gatter.

Media:
Local NGO to monitor media performance
Yemen Times — 11 September 2014
The Freedom Foundation for Rights and Freedoms and Media Development, a local NGO based in Sana’a, launched a two-year program on Monday to observe the performance of 41 Arabic media outlets in Yemen. “The media outlets in Yemen changed into means of incitement and hatred amidst lacking government action against poor publishing practices,” said Khaled Al-Hamadi, the head of the foundation.

US:
Newly appointed US ambassador holds first press conference
Yemen Times — 18 September 2014
Matthew H. Tueller, newly appointed US ambassador to Yemen, held his first press conference on Wednesday morning following his arrival to Sana’a at the end of May. He was nominated as the US ambassador to Yemen by President Barack Obama in January this year. His nomination was confirmed by the US Senate and he was sworn in by Secretary of State John Kerry on May 8.

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