Monthly Archives: December 2014

News Digest 26 December 2014

Highlights:
Yemen: What next?
IRIN — 22 December 2014
Unsurprisingly, the deteriorating security situation and the withdrawal of Saudi support means there is little optimism about 2015 either economically or politically. The UN envoy to the country has warned that the state may be unable to pay its civil servants within months. ECFR’s Adam Baron summarized the scale of the crisis. “It is difficult to overstate the economic challenges facing Yemen: roughly half of all Yemenis are below the poverty line, and the government is on the brink of financial collapse. The economy is in tatters, the government’s control over much of the country borders on nonexistent, and planned parliamentary and presidential elections appear to be postponed indefinitely,” he said.

To build an entrepreneurship ecosystem in Yemen
Yemen Times — 18 December 2014
The challenges faced by entrepreneurs in Yemen, as Jamal Al-Mutareb pointed out in his interview, mainly result from an underdeveloped entrepreneurship ecosystem. There is a lack of well-rounded entrepreneurs in Yemen who understand the market and are able to identify and include local demands in formulating business initiatives. Entrepreneurs who can accurately assess the potential of their startups and understand investors’ interests and expectations are equally rare. There is a lack of supportive governmental policies and regulations that recognize the fragility of startups and their need for special care to grow into fully productive companies. The legal system is not transparent and fails to ensure the rights and duties of all contracting parties, including the protection of copy rights. Importantly, moreover, there is a lack of capital and willing investors in Yemen, which effectively blocks the creation of startups.

Malnutrition Hits Millions of Children in Yemen
New York Times — 18 December 2014
Yemen is the most impoverished country in the Middle East, and among its grim distinctions is having one of the highest rates of child malnutrition in the world. Political turmoil since the 2011 uprising against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh has left an already feeble government even less able to care for its indigent citizens. Chronic challenges have become emergencies as the state’s presence in much of Yemen has started to dissolve. One million children younger than 5, roughly a third of the age group in Yemen, are suffering from life-threatening malnourishment, according to Daniela D’urso, the head of the European Commission’s humanitarian aid office in Yemen. About two million children are chronically malnourished. Nearly 60 percent of Yemeni children suffer from stunted growth, according to public health workers, who in the past few months have noticed other worrying trends, including cases of malnutrition giving rise to other maladies like tuberculosis. The crisis is “unprecedented,” Ms. D’urso said. Continue reading

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News Update 12 December 2014

Highlights:
A Poor People’s Revolution
MERIP — Winter 2014
Though the entirety of southern society supports the cause, it is the poor who confront the troops sent by Sanaa. The revolutionaries who brave the bullets are primarily young boys with no shoes. In many squares, meanwhile, it is poor women of all ages who play the most vocal part with their demands for a normal, decent life. It is the poor who organize the demonstrations and attend the lectures in the squares. These places of street-level organizing can be found in almost every district of Aden. The uneducated learn about the city’s history, and the young learn about life before unification, when there were no water and power cuts and every graduate got a job. Occasionally, a preacher is invited, and numerous men of religion have joined the movement, but overall the movement is clear that southerners will not be subordinated with appeals to faith. One of the key demands of the hirak is an apology for the fatwas that reactionary northern clerics have issued against “unbelievers” in the south.

The Breakdown of the GCC Initiative
MERIP — Winter 2014
The Houthi militia’s advance from their base near the Saudi Arabian frontier through Zaydi strongholds in ‘Amran (seat of the Hashid confederation) into Sanaa — and onward into Shafi‘i-majority provinces like Hudayda (on the Red Sea coast) and Ibb (in the mountainous midlands) — must be read as positioning, an intent to renegotiate Yemen’s political regime. As such, a regime is understood by political scientists as a system of rules and norms by which power is distributed across and through state institutions. Yemen’s political regime is in the process of being rewritten. By engaging in armed conflict and political maneuvering around the composition of the new government and revolutionary populist appeals, the Houthis have hoped to influence Yemen’s future regime on several fronts. On another level, Yemen’s convulsions can never be comprehended as separate from the power structures of the Arabian Peninsula, dominated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the other filthy rich petro-kingdoms of the GCC, which in turn are protected by the US military.

Saudi suspends aid to Yemen after Houthi takeover – sources
Reuters — 4 December 2014
Saudi Arabia has suspended most of its financial aid to Yemen, Yemeni and Western sources said, in a clear indication of its dissatisfaction with the growing political power of Shi’ite Houthi fighters friendly with Riyadh’s regional rival, Iran. Yemen, which is battling an al Qaeda insurgency, a southern secessionist movement, endemic corruption and poor governance, has often relied on its richer northern neighbor to help finance everything from government salaries to welfare payments. The Saudis also fear the movement’s strong emphasis on Zaydi Shi’ite rights will aggravate sectarian tensions that al Qaeda could exploit to carve out more space in Sunni areas and launch attacks against the kingdom. “The Saudis have conditioned any aid on the implementation of the (deal). The Houthis have to leave before they pay,” a senior Yemeni government official told Reuters. Continue reading

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