News Update 28 November 2014

Highlights:
Army splits that let Yemen’s capital fall augur new risks
Reuters — 27 November 2014
While many details of the surrender of Yemen’s capital by 100,000 Republican Guards to some 5,000 Houthi fighters on Sept. 21 remain murky, the nature of the capitulation bodes ill for President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s fragile grip on power. Home to an al Qaeda branch held responsible by Washington for three attempted bombings of aircraft in the United States, Yemen is close to becoming a failed state, thanks in part to covert maneuvering from its own ousted ruler and Iran. Corruption, internal splits and competing loyalties in the army began before former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was ousted by protests in 2011 and are now reaching a critical stage.

Yemen crisis a boon for people smugglers
IRIN — 20 November 2014
Yemen’s security crisis is leading to a rapid expansion in the people smuggling trade, with thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa desperate to use the country as a gateway to Saudi Arabia. In September – the most recent month for which statistics have been released – the Nairobi-based Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat (RMMS) reported 12,768 arrivals – predominantly from Ethiopia. It was more than double the figure for September 2013 and represented the single largest monthly influx on record.

Yemen: Civilian Toll of Fighting in Capital
Human Rights Watch — 19 November 2014
The Houthi armed group and the Yemeni armed forces’ Sixth Regional Command appear to have committed violations of the laws of war during fighting in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, from September 17-21, 2014. The government should investigate alleged violations by both sides and appropriately punish those responsible. Human Rights Watch documented six incidents that resulted in the death of one civilian and injuries to 15 others. In two of the incidents, fighters appeared to have unlawfully targeted civilians. In other incidents, two hospitals came under attack.

Climate Change:
Future Impact of Climate Change Visible Now in Yemen
World Bank — 24 November 2014
Yemen today is a glimpse of what’s in store for other parts of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as climate change and rapid population growth combine to put more and more pressure on the resources essential to human life, like water. Already, Yemenis have as little as 86 cubic meters of renewable water sources left per person per year—not the lowest figure in the region, but as one of the region’s poorest countries, Yemen is among the least able to adapt. In Sana’a and Taiz, people have piped water once a week at most. Otherwise, they have to buy it, and for the ordinary worker, it’s pricey. For others, fetching water is a daily challenge. “In our area, which is not served by piped water, we spend up to five hours a day fetching water, “said Hajjah Zuhra from the Haraz tribe, west of Sana’a. “Our crops dry up, while we desperately wait for rain.” Some towns in the Yemeni highlands have as little as 30 liters of municipal water available per person a day.

Economy:
Development plan needed for peace in Yemen
Al-Monitor — 14 November 2014
If Yemenis and others around the world truly want to save whatever and whomever remains in Yemen, they must adopt a new political and economic equation — a kind of Yemeni Noah’s Ark — leading to an intelligent, technical and economic Marshall Plan extending to 2025, during which time a state could be built. The plan should be similar to the one adopted for Germany after World War II in being an intelligent, nontraditional mechanism that intersects but remains unrelated to the plans of state institutions. In other words, it should employ permanent components, not piecemeal, expedient measures and committees.

Construction workers: Facing contractors, greed, and a lack of rights
Yemen Times — 27 November 2014
Unregistered workers like Ahmad are often poorly trained and are not provided with standard safety equipment by their employers. This last point constitutes a violation of article 113 in the Yemeni labor law, which stipulates that, “An employer who commissions any new enterprise shall ensure that it meets occupational safety and health requirements. The responsible ministry shall ensure compliance with appropriate occupational safety and health requirements and conditions.” What works to Ahmad’s disadvantage is that the article’s conditions can only be enforced if a proper work contract was signed. His legal case is further complicated by article 4 of Yemen’s Social Security Law, which stipulates that “temporary and seasonal” workers are to be excluded from social security regulations.

What’s A Gas Company From Yemen Doing At A Parks Congress In Australia?
Forbes — 14 November 2014
Yemen LNG is attending the World Parks Congress to present what it is doing to conserve marine biodiversity at its industrial site on the Gulf of Aden where it processes gas into LNG for export worldwide. Yesterday the first of two scheduled sessions on Yemen LNG’s marine biodiversity programme took place.

Tribesmen blow up Yemen’s main oil pipeline
Al-Jazeera — 26 November 2014
Armed tribesmen have blown up Yemen’s main oil pipeline, halting the flow to the export terminal on the Red Sea coast, tribal sources and an industry official have said. The 435km pipeline, which links the Safir oil fields in Marib province, east of the capital, to the Ras Isa terminal, near the port of Hodeida, has been a repeated target of sabotage. Wednesday’s attack hit a section of pipeline in the Sarwah district of Marib, tribal sources told the AFP news agency. Attacks on infrastructure cost the impoverished country $4.75bn over the two years from March 2011 to March 2013, according to government figures.

Southern Movement:
Southern Labor Union strikes
Yemen Times — 27 November 2014
The Southern Labor Union held a partial strike on Wednesday in Aden, in preparation for a full strike set to take place on Thursday. The union described the strikes as part of a series of escalations in the lead up to the country’s Nov. 30 deadline. Nov. 30 was set by the pro-independence Southern Movement for all civil and military government personnel from the north to leave the south.

Southern Movement prepares to secede
Yemen Times — 18 November 2014
The Southern Movement is poised to launch a new television station on Tuesday, called Sawt Al-Janoub Al-Hurr (The Voice of the Free South), according to public statements made by Rafdan Al-Dabis, official spokesman for the Al-Arood sit-in in Aden city. The creation of the TV station is part of the latest round of escalations launched by the Southern Movement in preparation for the Nov. 30 deadline, according to Majid Al-Shoaibi, deputy head of the Media Committee for the Al-Arood Square sit-ins. On Nov. 30, “the Southern Movement will set up checkpoints along the previous borders with the north, after which a new southern government will be formed.”

Southern Movement rages on despite formation of new government
Yemen Times — 25 November 2014
Abdullah Rashid, a Southern Movement leader and one of the founders of the group, told the Yemen Times the group does not care about the formation of the new government as the southern people have nothing to do with it. While the Southern Movement did not make an official statement objecting the new cabinet, as did the General People’s Congress (GPC) and the Houthis, Rashid points to the continued mass of protestors in the square as solid evidence of their dissatisfaction. “The southern movement is not only looking for positions. It strives to regain the independence of the southern state,” said Rashid. He went on explaining that “even though many ministers are from the south, they have no relation to the Southern Movement’s struggle for separation.”

Health:
Enrolment for antiretroviral treatment increasing in health facilities
Medecins San Frontieres — 19 November 2014
Stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV and AIDS (PLHIV) is still a reality in Yemen, but it has reduced significantly in some public health facilities including Al Jumhuri, Al Sabeen, Al Zuabairi, Al Zahrawi and Al Olofy where training sessions have been held in the last years by the Yemeni health authorities in collaboration with national and international NGOs, says the international medical humanitarian organization Mèdecins Sans Frontières (MSF). “The lack of knowledge about the disease and cultural aspects related to HIV has provoked discrimination towards these patients,” explains Himedan Mohammed Himedan, head of mission for MSF in Yemen. “HIV and AIDS topics are not fully included in the curriculum of medical schools in Yemen so most of the healthcare providers do not have adequate knowledge about the disease hence are afraid to deal with the PLHIV. But we have seen improvement that we need to acknowledge.”

Media:
State-run media under a Houthi-run state
Yemen Times — 18 November 2014
As the wielders of power in the country change, so does the language used by state-owned media to describe those in charge. Previously referred to as “rebels” and “outlaws,” the Houthis—an armed rebel group that took over the capital on Sept. 21, are now described in more pleasant terms. Mansur Al-Jaradi, a journalist and chairman of the state-run Saba News Agency’s Union Managing Committee, acknowledged the changes. “If we ever did mention them,” he said, “it was always as ‘rebels,’ ‘armed militants,’ or ‘outlaws.’ Now we do the opposite,” he said. “We always refer to Houthis as either ‘revolutionaries’ or ‘popular committee members.’”

Hunger:
Half Yemen’s children malnourished as hunger worsens strife
Reuters — 20 November 2014
Nearly half the children in Yemen are suffering from malnutrition, the agriculture minister has said, as insurgencies, water scarcity and climate change exacerbate sectarian strife in the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest state. “More than half the population of Yemen suffers from food insecurity… 48 percent of the children suffer from malnutrition,” Agriculture Minister Farid Mujawar told a U.N. conference in Rome on Wednesday.

Water:
Water project launched amid dire shortages
Yemen Times — 20 November 2014
The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Yemen, collaborating with the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, the Ministry of Water and Environment, and the Dutch embassy in Sana’a, held a workshop on Nov. 10 to launch the Sana’a Basin Project. According to a press release distributed at the event, “the Sana’a Basin Project is a three-year program aiming to raise awareness on water scarcity at the local community level in order to motivate farmers to decrease groundwater extractions.”

Politics:
Is Houthi rhetoric to be believed? Alcohol confiscations might be symptom of something larger
Yemen Times — 18 November 2014
Some of the harshest criticism of the Houthis comes from those who approve of the groups’ professed goals but question their sincerity to follow through with them. “They claim they only want to accomplish the goals of the revolution. If that were true, they would have all of our support, but we’re waiting to see if that’s all just talk,” said 37-year-old Anis Abdullah, a shop owner in Sana’a’s Old City. Several point to recent examples in Sana’a as evidence that the movement’s public embrace of liberal rhetoric is just talk—a candy coating to make it more palatable to the public, while the movement actually intends to impose its agenda from the top down. One such example has been the confiscation of alcohol by Houthis at Sana’a International Airport.

In Yemen’s turmoil, is the Muslim Brotherhood the main loser?
Al-Arabiya — 18 November 2014
Now a primary target of the Houthis, the Brotherhood has become a victim of its own success in the way it managed to spread its influence in the Yemeni state. It is also suffering the consequences of side-lining its revolutionary partners within the JMP. Most important in the Houthis perspective are the ties between the Brotherhood’s leadership and Yemen’s Salafists, who together will al-Qaeda have been in open confrontation with the revivalist Zaidy group.

Rifts deepen within Yemen’s ruling General People’s Congress party
Asharq Al-Awsat — 14 November 2014
Discord intensified within Yemen’s ruling General People’s Congress (GPC) after senior members announced their rejection of the recent decision to sack President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi from his post as the GPC’s secretary-general, Asharq Al-Awsat has learned. In a meeting held in the southern city of Aden on Thursday, more than 200 GPC officials said the decision was “completely void” and contradicted the party’s internal system. According to observers, the crisis threatens to lead to defections within the party. On November 9, the GPC, led by the country’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, sacked Hadi and his aide Abdul Karim Al-Iryani from the party’s leadership. The decision is thought to have been taken after the UN Security Council approved sanctions against Saleh and Houthi commanders.

Yemen’s Houthis proxy, not ally for Iran
Al-Monitor — 19 November 2014
Armed Houthis took over the reins of power in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, in late September in a way that was reminiscent of Hezbollah’s takeover of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, in May 2008. There appears to be an increasingly similar pattern between the actions of Hezbollah and the Houthis. However, despite all the similarities that emerge at first glance, the comparison between the two is still only in form and focuses on ideological rhetoric and some mechanisms used to achieve political goals. In fact, there are deep structural, political and social differences between Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis, or Ansar Allah, in Yemen.

Hadi shifts rhetoric, refers to Houthis as “partners”
Yemen Times — 20 November 2014
President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi urged the military to regard the Houthis as “political partners,” in a speech delivered to military leaders on Monday. The speech represented a shift in rhetoric for the president, who until Monday had referred to the Houthis as “obstacles” to the political process and “outlaws.” Hadi delivered the speech in the presence of Yemen’s minister of defense, joint chiefs of staff, and other military leaders, encouraging them to normalize relations with the Houthis.

Security:
Rescuers in Yemen Sought American, Officials Say
New York Times — 26 November 2014
An American journalist held hostage in a remote part of eastern Yemen by Al Qaeda’s affiliate there was one of the main targets of a predawn raid carried out this week by United States Special Operations commandos and Yemeni troops, according to American and Yemeni officials. But when the commandos swooped in on the mountain cave where they believed the American was being held, they found eight other hostages, including six Yemenis, but not the American. At the request of the Obama administration, The New York Times withheld this information in an article published online Tuesday and in print Wednesday out of concern that the publicity could jeopardize the American’s safety and future rescue attempts.

Counter-terrorism forces rescue eight
Yemen Times— 27 November 2014
The Yemen Times contacted multiple sources within the Ministry of Defense to find out the names of those who had been kidnapped, however was only provided with one, Khalid Al-Mekhlafi, a Yemeni national and professor at Al-Baida University. Al-Mekhlafi was kidnapped on June 13 in Rada’a district of Al-Baida governorate, along with two other professors from the same university. The statement initially announcing the freeing of the captives did not specify the governorates or districts in which the operation took place, sparking rumors to circulate on various outlets and social media. Claims have been made that one of those who was released was an American national and US soldier, and that the operation had been carried out in Lahj governorate.

Yemen frees US soldier in daring raid against kidnappers
AFP via Yahoo News— 25 November 2014
A US soldier was freed Tuesday by Yemeni forces just hours after being captured in an Al-Qaeda attack on an air base in the violence-wracked country, military officials said. The American was seized along with seven Yemeni soldiers in the militant assault on Al-Anad air base, in Lahij province, an official said. Yemeni forces launched a dawn raid to free the hostages, killing seven kidnappers.

Yemen’s Houthis using apartments as makeshift prisons: source
Asharq Al-Awsat — 21 November 2014
The Houthi movement is using residential apartments as secret prisons in several cities in Yemen, including the capital, Sana’a, and the northwestern town of Amran, a source told Asharq Al-Awsat, as fighting continued in the north between the Shi’ite group and radical Sunni militants. Dozens of the rebel group’s opponents are currently being held in makeshift prisons setup by the Houthis who control large parts of central and north Yemen, a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Asharq Al-Awsat. On September 21 supporters of the Houthi rebel leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi stormed key government buildings in Sana’a after a month-long protest against what they believed was discrimination by the Sunni-led government.

Yemen Shi’ites capture key district from al Qaeda, 35 people dead
Reuters — 14 November 2014
Yemeni Shi’ite Muslim Houthi fighters backed by government forces drove the local wing of al Qaeda from one of its last strongholds in central Yemen on Friday in intense fighting that killed at least 35 people, tribal sources said. The Houthis’ Ansarullah movement has become the main political force in Western-allied Yemen since capturing Sanaa in September and then pushing south and west into the Sunni Muslim heartland of al-Bayda province, where Ansar al-Sharia has allied itself with local tribes.

Since year’s start, AQAP has killed 154 Special Security Forces
Yemen Times — 20 November 2014
One hundred and fifty-four soldiers and officers from the Yemeni Special Security Forces have been killed by assassination or in clashes with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) since the beginning of 2014 and 485 others have been injured, according to the Ministry of Interior’s website. The Ministry of Interior only provided casualty figures for four governorates. The Yemen Times could not independently verify these numbers, and the government has notoriously underreported the number of soldiers killed in previous conflicts.

This American reporter survived a botched kidnapping in Yemen
NPR — 17 November 2014
Gregory Johnsen, a journalist and scholar focused on Yemen, has been travelling to the country for over a decade. But it was only on his latest trip earlier this year that he faced the threat now hangs over correspondents across the Middle East: kidnapping.

Military thwarts attempt to seize power turbines
Yemen Times — 18 November 2014
Units from Yemen’s Protection Forces thwarted attempts by anonymous gunmen on Sunday to forcefully seize power turbines transported by the Ministry of Electricity and Energy officials in the Safer area of Sarwah district in Yemen’s Marib governorate. The power turbines were intended for a gas operated power plant currently being constructed in Safer area. The station is being built to support an already existing power station located in the same area that provides electricity to six governorates in Yemen, including Sana’a.

Suspects arrested over assassination of Islah Party member
Yemen Times — 19 November 2014
Arrests were made late Tuesday in Taiz city over the assassination of a prominent Islah Party member earlier that day, Colonel Abdullah Morai, deputy security chief of Taiz, told the Yemen Times on Wednesday. Sadeq Mansur Al-Haidari, the assistant secretary general of the Islah Party in Taiz, was assassinated Tuesday morning after a bomb strapped under his car was detonated.

Rebels in Yemen Strike at Rivals
New York Times — 26 November 2014
The rebel group known as the Houthis seized control of a compound belonging to one of Yemen’s most powerful tribal clans on Wednesday, in the latest sign that the rebels, who stormed the capital in September, were seeking to consolidate their newly won power. Gun battles lasted for hours early Wednesday morning as the Houthis clashed with fighters from the Al-Ahmar tribe in at least two neighborhoods in the capital. By Wednesday afternoon, the Houthi fighters had set fire to a house of one of the clan’s scions before capturing it, and were occupying the main Ahmar compound. At least six people were killed, a security officials said.

AQAP releases video of attack on military barracks in Hadramout, Yemen
Long War Journal — 26 November 2014
On Nov. 25, the media wing of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al Malahem Media Foundation, released the latest installment of its video series documenting attacks, “From the Battlefield.” This most recent episode, “Invasion of ‘And Let Them Find Harshness in You,'” includes footage of an AQAP assault on the Ghabr military barracks and checkpoint in Hadramout, Yemen. Although the video does not provide a date for the attack, AQAP fighters reportedly stormed the Ghabr checkpoint on October 9. The video begins with a message from one of the AQAP fighters who participated in the raid, identified as “martyrdom seeker” Muwahhid al Qifi. Al Qifi implores his loved ones and family to be patient and explains that “we have only mobilized to raise the word of ‘there is no God but Allah.'” He dictates his “will to the Islamic ummah [nation]” in which he reminds them that Allah “will question you about this religion and why you did not support this religion…one by one.”

Al-Qaeda in Yemen claims ‘Houthi killings’
Al-Jazeera — 22 November 2014
Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen says it has killed 12 Houthi fighters in the central city of Radaa, a claim denied by the Shia group, which continues to move southwards after its takeover of the capital Sanaa in September. Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) said on Twitter that it targeted a vehicle carrying Houthis in an attack that killed a dozen fighters on Saturday. Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Sanaa, said the Houthis denied they had lost fighters in any attack. “They did state that they have control over most of the Radaa province and that they are expanding into the north of the country in order to fight al-Qaeda until the latter is defeated,” he said.

Yemen’s Al Qaeda branch denounces Islamic State militants
AP via Fox News — 21 November 2014
Yemen’s Al Qaeda branch on Friday denounced the Islamic State group for declaring a caliphate on territory it seized in Syria and Iraq and for aggressively seeking to expand its area of influence. The Al Qaeda Yemeni offshoot’s purported spiritual guide, Sheikh Harith al-Nadhari, said such expansionist intentions are “driving a wedge” among jihadi groups. He was referring to Islamic State’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s recent call for followers to “explode volcanos of jihad everywhere.”

Houthis respond to UAE’s “terrorist” designation
Yemen Times — 18 November 2014
On Sunday,Houthis called the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) decision to label them a “terrorist organization” unjust and unwise, and say the designation will have no effect on the group. On Saturday, the UAE’s cabinet declared the Houthis a terrorist organization along with over 80 other groups from countries around the world. The list is new and was mandated by the implementation of Federal Law No. 7. The law focuses on combating of terrorism, according to the state-run Emirates News Agency.

US:
U.S. Embassy worker in Yemen issued fake visas: court papers
New York Daily News — 24 November 2014
The feds have uncovered a breach of security inside the U.S. Embassy in Yemen that led to bogus visas being issued, the Daily News has learned. A corrupt Yemeni national working in the embassy may have provided more than 50 sham visas to persons who falsely claimed they needed to travel to the U.S. to attend an oil industry conference in Texas, papers unsealed in Brooklyn Federal Court state. Yemen is a hotbed of Islamic extremism. Department of Homeland Security officials got a tip in August and zeroed in on an employee who submitted paperwork for Yemeni citizens who purported to work for Yemeni oil companies. The State Department’s diplomatic security service determined that the oil companies named as their employers were fictitious, and that none of the applicants went to the conference.

Defense minister calls for Houthi integration into security forces
Yemen Times — 25 November 2014
Defense Minister Mahmoud Al-Subaihi stated on Sunday at Yemen’s military police headquarters in Sana’a that Houthi popular committees would be integrated into the country’s military and security forces. Al-Subaihi did not specify which Houthi popular committees would be integrated and which branches of Yemen’s security forces they would join. According to the minister, the Houthis’ inclusion in the army comes as part of the Peace and National Partnership Agreement, signed on Sept. 21. “We call on our partners to understand the circumstances we are facing and accurately implement the partnership agreement and its security annex,” he said. “The military and security institution will remain in charge of all military and security forces,” he added.

Hadi announces new security sector appointments
Yemen Times — 25 November 2014
President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi issued a declaration on Sunday appointing former GPC governor of Taiz, Hamoud Khalid Al-Soufi, as head of the country’s Political Security Bureau, one of Yemen’s domestic intelligence agencies. Al-Soufi is widely regarded as one of the most influential GPC figures in Yemen. Ali Abdullah Sa’ad, a member of the GPC’s media committee, described the appointment as a, “Major boost for the GPC. The Political Security Bureau is one of the most powerful domestic intelligence agencies in Yemen.”

Saudi Arabia/Iran:
Iran, Saudi Arabia find common ground in Yemen
Al-Monitor — 26 November 2014
For these practical reasons, it was perhaps unsurprising that both the Saudis and the Iranians welcomed the unity government that was created in Sanaa in September. The deal was agreed on as the Iranian and Saudi foreign ministers were meeting at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. One thing is for sure: Despite the intense regional rivalry and Yemen increasingly becoming a battleground, both Tehran and Riyadh have good reasons to avoid being dragged further into the Yemeni quandary.

Arab States Voice Alarm Over Rebel Gains in Yemen
Wall Street Journal — 19 November 2014
The capturing of Yemen’s capital by a Shiite militia in September is stoking alarm in Arab capitals that Iran is using the conflict to widen its power in the Middle East, according to senior Arab and U.S. officials. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and other Persian Gulf states have been privately calling for the Obama administration to more aggressively work to weaken the rebel army’s hold over San’a and other territories of Yemen, according to these officials. These Arab governments are concerned Washington is too preoccupied with the rise of Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq and its ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran to respond forcefully.

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