News Update 03 April 2015

Highlights:
Yemen at War
International Crisis Group — 27 March 2015
Yemen has yet to descend into the mass communal violence and sectarianism seen in Syria or Iraq. Given the parties’ longstanding, if sceptical, participation in talks, there is reason to believe they could return to the table if the right formula is found. But the situation is rapidly worsening, with more fighting in more places, and external intervention is aggravating the potential for protracted violence. Unless this deterioration is halted, the result is likely to be a war similar to those decimating other Arab countries.

Houthi Who?
Foreign Affairs — 25 March 2015
Both the United States and Israel are certainly justified in fearing the Houthi slogan of “Death to America, Death to Israel,” particularly since it recalls for many the Iranian Revolution’s slogans from 1979. Rhetoric alone, however, cannot harm either country: the Houthis are not an international organization, nor are they capable of reaching far beyond South Arabia. The Houthi movement is a local tribal alliance seeking to overturn a secular republic that had marginalized the northern regions for decades, reestablishing instead a central government dominated by tribal authorities that existed before 1962. Their appeals for anticorruption, equality, and security are some of the main reasons they have garnered extensive public support and have emerged as a legitimate force of change for the country.

What We Get Wrong About Yemen
Politico — 25 March 2015
It is a testament to the faults of Yemen’s transitional government that even many Yemenis with deep aversion to the Houthis initially welcomed their takeover of Sanaa in September 21st of last year. Initially, it did appear that thing could be heading in a positive direction: Houthi representatives quickly inked an agreement with Hadi and other political factions; this agreement lead to the formation of a new cabinet lead by a new prime minister, Khaled Bahah, a widely respected technocrat. But tensions between the Houthis and other factions continued to grow, exploding in a crisis over Yemen’s draft constitution that saw the besieging of the homes of the president, prime minister and other key officials and the kidnapping of key presidential aide Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak. This culminated in the resignation of the president, prime minister and cabinet on January 21st, to the general shock and consternation of the Houthis, who had until then preferred to exert influence from behind the scenes rather than overtly within the seat of power.

War:
Saudis airdrop arms to Aden defenders, Houthis pull back
Reuters — 3 April 2015
Houthi forces pulled back from a central Aden district on Friday and warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition dropped weapons and medical aid to fighters defending the southern Yemeni city, a last symbolic foothold of the country’s absent president. The Shi’ite Houthi fighters and their allies withdrew from Crater neighborhood as well as one of Aden’s presidential residences which they seized a day earlier, residents and a local official said.

Saudi airstrikes against Yemen a historic first
Al-Monitor — 2 April 2015
Yemeni political parties are remarkably silent. The external intervention in Yemen is a sensitive subject. Only the General People’s Congress and Ansar Allah have opposed the operation. The military wings of these two groups, not their political wings, are officially targets of the airstrikes. Other forces at odds with the Houthis — unfriendly parties like the Muslim Brotherhood, and those who stormed their headquarters and arrested their members — have not publicly opposed or welcomed the airstrikes.

Saudi border guard killed in gunfight near Yemen
CNN — 2 April 2015
A border guard was killed in a cross-boundary fire exchange with militants in Yemen this week, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported Thursday — marking Saudi Arabia’s first publicly known military death since it launched airstrikes against rebels inside its southern neighbor. The clash occurred Wednesday night at the border in southwestern Saudi Arabia’s Asir region, when militants in a mountainous area on the Yemeni side fired on Saudi border troops, prompting them to return fire, SPA reported.

Saudi Leaders Have High Hopes for Yemen Airstrikes, but Houthi Attacks Continue
New York Times — 2 April 2015
The stakes may be highest for the Saudi king’s son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom the king named both defense minister and chief of the royal court. The Saudi government has not disclosed Prince Mohammed’s precise age, but he is believed to be around 30. He was one of the only men in his generation of the royal family to be educated entirely in Saudi Arabia, with no schooling abroad. The Saudi news media has played up Prince Mohammed’s role as the architect and overseer of the Yemen campaign, turning it into a pivotal test.

Al Qaeda Storms Coastal Yemen City, Frees Prisoners
Wall Street Journal — 2 April 2015
Al Qaeda militants in Yemen stormed the coastal city of al Mukalla early Thursday, seized government buildings and freed at least 270 inmates from a prison, including many of its own operatives, Yemeni officials said. The 2 a.m. attack on the eastern city, an important seaport, was a new setback for Saudi-backed government forces already fighting an uprising by Iranian-linked Houthi rebels. Al Qaeda’s incursion into al Mukalla was the latest sign that the extremist group is exploiting Yemen’s sectarian strife.

Yemen’s Houthis seize central Aden district, presidential site
Reuters — 2 April 2015
Yemeni Houthi fighters and their allies seized a central Aden district on Thursday, striking a heavy blow against the Saudi-led coalition which has waged a week of air strikes to try to stem advances by the Iran-allied Shi’ite group. Hours after the Houthis took over Aden’s central Crater neighborhood, they marked another symbolic victory by fighting their way into a presidential residence overlooking the neighborhood, residents said.

Yemen combatants not ready for talks, says neighbor Oman
Reuters — 2 April 2015
Oman is ready to help the United Nations mediate in Yemen’s war, the foreign minister of the neighboring sultanate said on Thursday, but the combatants show no signs they are ready to hold talks on ending the week-old war. Yusuf bin Alawi said Oman had previously passed messages between Yemen’s Houthis and their Saudi foes, but neither had sought out such contact since Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations began air strikes against the Houthis on March 26.

Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen kill 35: Houthi-controled health ministry
Reuters — 29 March 2015
Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen killed 35 people and wounded 88 overnight, an official in the Houthi-controled health ministry told the official military news service 26september.

Rebels Seize Key Parts of Yemen’s Third-Largest City, Taiz
New York Times — 22 March 2015
Houthi rebel fighters have taken control of crucial installations in Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city, including the international airport, security officials said on Sunday, in a provocative expansion of the seven-month rebel offensive that has moved the country closer to war. The Houthis’ advance into the city, over the last several days, also put them more firmly on a path toward military confrontation with opposing troops loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, based in Aden, about 120 miles southeast of Taiz. A senior security official in Taiz said the Houthis were flying troops and military equipment into the city’s airport, bolstering claims they were preparing a broader offensive.

Saudi Bombs Begin Falling In Yemen With No Clear Endgame
Buzzfeed — 26 March 2015
Dozens of Saudi jets conducted a late-night raid into Yemen on Thursday, launching an operation that has no clear end. The strikes started around 1:30 in the morning local time, hitting targets in Sa’dah, in the country’s northwest, and the capital city of Sanaa. Thirty minutes later and nearly 7,000 miles away, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, announced the beginning of Operation Decisive Storm.

Yemeni implosion pushes southern Sunnis into arms of al-Qaida and Isis
Guardian — 22 March 2015
In a hollow in the sands of eastern Yemen, a line of pickup trucks carrying tribal fighters idled. A squat man with a shock of black hair, dressed in an overflowing dusty dishdasha, walked around slowly, inspecting the men and the vehicles, loaded with heavy machine guns and light artillery. “The Houthis are behind that hill,” he shouted, pointing at a rocky outcrop sheltering the imaginary foe – northern Yemenis who overthrew the government last autumn, and seized the country’s third largest city on Sunday, according to security and military officials. “We will start by shelling their positions, and then you will storm the hill by cars and finally climb the hill on foot.”

Bombers strike rebel-linked mosques during Friday prayers in Yemen
Washington Post — 22 March 2015
Suicide bombers attacked two mosques linked to Yemen’s powerful Shiite rebels Friday, killing scores of worshipers and wounding hundreds more in a further sign that the country is collapsing into sectarian chaos. The attacks come a day after intense clashes in the southern city of Aden and an attempted assault on an oil-rich province by the rebels, known as Houthis.

Yemen’s Conflict is Getting So Bad that Some Yemenis Are Fleeing to Somalia
VICE — 2 April 2015
Carlotta Wolf, a spokeswoman for UNHCR Somalia, told VICE News that the Yemeni arrivals included elderly people and children. The groups traveled on commercial boats, and told humanitarian workers they had not brokered the trips through smugglers. Each trip reportedly lasted between 12 hours to two days, Wolf said. “Some of them, especially the Somalis, said that they lacked water on the trip,” Wolf added. “And the weather conditions are not very good.” Other refugees have also arrived in neighboring Djibouti, where the agency is currently looking to find areas to shelter them, she said.

Is Yemen Becoming the Next Syria?
Foreign Policy — 6 March 2015
The Houthis know what is coming and seem to be ready for it. In a Feb. 26 speech, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, the group’s leader, launched a blistering attack on Hadi, Saudi Arabia and the U.S., accusing them of collaborating to turn Yemen into a puppet regime. It’s ironic that the Houthis, long accused of being backed by Iran, denounce their rivals as foreign puppets; especially because, if war does break out, their only hope of defeating a Saudi-backed coalition will be to lean even more heavily on Iranian support. On March 2, the government of Iran announced a deal with the Houthis to begin twice-daily flights to Sanaa, providing a vital lifeline for the group, and undoubtedly riling the Saudis even further.

Yemen: Huthi-loyal armed forces kill peaceful protesters as country descends into chaos
Amnesty International — 24 March 2015
The death this morning of at least eight peaceful protesters, shot by members of the Huthi-loyal Yemeni Central Security Forces in Ta’iz illustrates a shocking disregard for human life as the country descends into chaos, said Amnesty International. Doctors working at two hospitals in the city of Ta’iz told Amnesty International that at least another 119 individuals were admitted with injuries inflicted by security forces since anti-Huthi protests began on Sunday. Most were treated for injuries related to tear gas inhalation and at least 38 had gunshot wounds.

Why Arab armies won’t save Yemen
Quartz — 23 March 2015
As his country is enveloped in political chaos and sectarian war, Yemen’s foreign minister has called on the Gulf Arab states for military help. Their armies and air forces, he says, are needed to halt the march of the Iran-backed Shia militias known as the Houthis. The plea coincides with reports that Tehran has supplied the Houthis with fresh arms. Having already taken the capital, Sanaa, and forced the elected government to flee to the southern port of Aden, the Houthis have now stormed into the city of Taiz, in the center of the country. Yemen’s own military seems no more able to halt the militias than it has been able to defeat Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, as the local franchise of the global terror group is known.

Politics:
The Islah Party in Yemen: Game Over?
Muftah — 27 February 2015
The Houthis rise to political prominence in Yemen since 2014 and their apparent alliance with former president Ali Abdullah Salih have largely occurred at the expense of the Islah party, which is considered a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Once viewed by many as the main “hijacker” of Yemen’s youth revolution and primary beneficiary of the transitional process, Islah has since been sidelined. Within a few months after the Houthi’s September 2014 takeover of the capital, Sanaa, Islah lost its grip over most government institutions, the army, and the media; its leaders were either silenced or fled abroad.

Yemen’s Saleh proves to be a survivor
Al-Monitor — 1 April 2015
Saleh is Saudi Arabia’s bete noire. The royal family has wanted him gone for 2½ decades. His home village and stronghold was been bombed this week by the Royal Saudi Air Force. Saleh famously said that ruling fractious Yemen is like dancing on the heads of snakes. He is the consummate snake dancer. Saleh is still dancing. On the night of March 28, in a televised address on Houthi-controlled media, he appealed for an end to the “barbaric” air attacks and for there to be a cease-fire and elections. He promised that neither he nor his son would be a candidate for president but also ruled out Hadi’s return. By coming out publicly, Saleh seems to be trying to play the role of senior statesman. There are rumors that Ahmed Ali Saleh has been in Riyadh trying to broker a deal. Saleh bears huge responsibility for the disaster his country and its neighbors now confront, a failing state turning into a quagmire. But the survivor still wants to play.

Houthis: Ahmed Saleh offers to fight us proves there is no alliance
Yemen Times — 30 March 2015
The Houthis, also known as Ansar Allah, have used leaks by Saudi officials to refute claims that there is any alliance between the Houthis and former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. A Saudi official told Al-Arabiya on Saturday that Saleh’s son, Ahmed, offered to fight the Houthis. Saudi Defense Minister Prince Mohammed Bin Salman told the Saudi owned Al-Arabiya that Ahmed Ali offered to fight the Houthis in exchange for a number of concessions two days prior to the launch of airstrikes in the country.

Four Weddings and a Funeral in Yemen
MERIP — 20 March 2015
The hirak’s alliance with Hadi notwithstanding, southerners have not given up their own activism. Street-level protests in favor of southern independence continue, and groups called the Popular Committees are engaged in securing territories and public estates for the south. In doing so, they enter into daily confrontations with troops loyal to the Houthis and, many believe, to former president Salih. The Popular Committees were set up along the model developed in Abyan to fight al-Qaeda and its ally Ansar al-Shari‘a in 2011. Since then, the Committees have been on the government payroll, and formally led by president Hadi’s brother Nasir, whose loyalties seem to shift regularly. The Committees are comprised of local men who sign up to provide security in areas now basically devoid of national army protection. In some towns the Committees have also helped to occupy sites of strategic importance, such as the Aden municipality building, the Aden TV building and the Hiswa power station outside the city. The Committees engaged in heavy fighting with al-Saqqaf’s Special Security Forces units at the Aden airport on March 19. Lastly, the Committees, together with local tribes, have effectively closed the former national border between north and south.

Hadi and the South: Brothers in arms or a marriage of convenience?
Yemen Times — 30 March 2015
When Hadi arrived in Aden with military-backed Houthi militias in pursuit, however, historical grievances were hastily put aside. The political climate in Yemen today makes such an unlikely alliance necessary, and it is by no means unprecedented—something Saleh’s union with the Houthis, a group he waged war with for six years, demonstrates. But Hadi is also a southerner, just as Saleh is a Zaydi-Shia, and such alliances may also reflect strong regional ties in Yemen that are never fully severed. Indeed many in the south are keen to identify Hadi as a southerner first and foremost, making it easier to forgive his political affiliations and past actions.

What a Houthi-controlled Yemen means for women
Al-Monitor — 18 March 2015
Houthis published a circular in January 2015, pertaining to women in the city of Amran, banning them from going out following the Maghrib prayer, prohibiting them from bringing male bands or singers to their gatherings or parties, banning the use of cameras at women’s gatherings and parties, including mobile phones with cameras. These new rules are being implemented in Amran, and the people there have been adhering to these rules to avoid punishment.

Geopolitics:
A bold new Arab vision…for 2009
Washington Post — 31 March 2015
Many of the same Yemenis, academics and policy analysts who had for years been warning loudly about the deep problems with the Saudi management of the transition from and grant of immunity to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh are now equally skeptical about the Saudi-led military intervention. The military campaign itself will almost certainly quickly bog down, leaving inevitable choices between embarrassing climbdown or unsustainable escalation. The air strikes, being waged over heavily populated urban areas, will inevitably cause the sorts of civilian casualties such as those inflicted on March 30 on a well-known refugee camp. The campaign’s avowed goal of the eradication or disarmament of the Houthis is unrealistic one, as is attested to by Saudi failures to defeat the Houthis militarily over the last decade. Even if it were not so impractical, doing so would only be an easy first step compared to the difficulty of any forcible reimposition of state authority in Yemen. But since the real goals of the campaign are likely elsewhere, Yemenis seem to be the latest victims of yet another regional proxy war without end.

Who’s fighting for whom in Yemen’s proxy war?
Reuters — 27 March 2015
Because Yemen is viewed as the Arab world’s poor brother — inconsequential and with little influence over the region as a whole — it serves as an avenue for the Arab world to push back against Iran. There is little other incentive for Arab governments to become involved with Yemen’s internal quagmire, other than not having a hostile government in a nation bordering the Bab al-Mandeb strait, a highly trafficked shipping line leading to the Suez Canal. Though Yemen’s domestic power struggle since the end of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s reign three years ago was based largely on local grievances, these two historical foes, Shi’ite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia, worked to use who they could in Yemen for political advantage.

The Yemen Crisis Isn’t About Yemen. It’s About Saudi Arabia and Its Desire for Regional Power
Muftah — 30 March 2015
However, as the Saudi military continues its assault on Yemen, it is becoming increasingly evident that the greatest threat to the region is not coming from Iran, but from Saudi Arabia, which has also been involved in various proxy wars. While these have mostly been aimed at curbing Iranian influence, Saudi Arabia’s approach to the region is single-mindedly driven by a desire to increase its regional hegemony.

Can Riyadh, Tehran find common ground in Yemen?
Al-Monitor — 1 April 2015
During the last couple of days the Houthis were able to capture new areas, including the Dabab port in Taiz that overlooks the strategic Bab al-Mandab strait on the Red Sea, while they continue efforts to impose full control over the southern Yemeni city of Aden, which used to be Hadi’s base. While the second objective could be regarded as a huge blow to the Saudi coalition, the first is expected to raise concerns in Egypt that defends its decision to participate in the war by citing its strategic interests to keep the Suez Canal open.

Houthi and the Blowback
Foreign Affairs — 29 March 2015
With the intervention in Yemen, Saudi Arabia’s military is trying to kill several birds with one stone. In the near term, it is safeguarding the country from what Riyadh perceives as an immediate military threat posed by advancing pro-Iranian Houthi rebels. In the medium-term, it is asserting its leadership of the Arab world and consolidating its control over what has recently been a tension-ridden Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). In the long term, it is redressing what it sees as a geopolitical imbalance in the Middle East between itself and Iran. In recent years, power has tilted heavily toward Iran, in no small part due to U.S. retrenchment. The Kingdom is in a good position to kill the first two birds. And if it plays its cards right, it could make progress against the third and, as a result, shore up its status in the region at a time when other traditional powers such as Egypt, Iraq, and Syria are bleeding influence thanks to domestic conflict, political turmoil, and economic implosion. There is no shortage of risk in Saudi Arabia’s strategy, and a lot could go wrong. But the new Saudi leadership has decided that the alternative—inaction— carries intolerable costs.

The battle for the Middle East’s future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
The Independent — 30 March 2015
Unprecedented in modern Arab history, a Sunni Muslim coalition of 10 nations – including non-Arab Pakistan – has attacked another Arab nation. The Sunnis and the Shia of the Middle East are now at war with each other in Iraq, in Syria and Yemen. Pakistan is a nuclear power. The armies of Bahrain and the Gulf states include Pakistani soldiers. Pakistanis were among the dead in the first great battle against Iraqi troops in the 1991 Gulf War. But already, the battle for Yemen is dividing other Arab countries. In Lebanon, the former Sunni Muslim Prime Minister Saad Hariri has praised the “brave and wise” decision of King Salman to attack. Mr Hariri is not only a Sunni – he is also a Saudi citizen. But the Shia Hezbollah, who oppose Saudi intervention, called the Saudi assault an “uncalculated adventure”. These words were chosen with care. They are exactly the words the Saudis used against Hezbollah after it captured three Israeli soldiers in 2006, a stupid political act which started the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon that year.

Turkey’s misguided Yemen move
Al-Monitor — 31 March 2015
As soon as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lent support to the Saudi-led military operation against the Houthis in Yemen, some in Turkey were quick to jump on a puzzling argument that Yemen still belonged to the Ottomans. This, however, was hardly a surprise, for we are already familiar with the “New Ottoman” mindset, which imagines that people are looking to Turkey in each and every corner of the Muslim world.

Media:
Dissident Journalist in Yemen Is Shot and Killed
New York Times — 18 March 2015
One of Yemen’s best-known dissident journalists, who survived beatings and imprisonment under the former authoritarian government, was shot and killed on Wednesday by unidentified gunmen outside his home in the capital, Sana, according to witnesses and officials. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the shooting, which a witness said was carried out by two men on a motorcycle. The victim, Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani, was hit by at least seven bullets, according to a Yemeni security official.

Al Qaeda Gets Media Makeover in Yemen
New York Times — 13 March 2015
Leading the fledgling publicity operation is AQAP’s first easily accessible media liaison. He explained that the goal is to dispel misconceptions about the group that the U.S. views as the terrorist organization’s most dangerous affiliate. “We believe we are misunderstood as a result of the continuing American propaganda. That’s why we want to counter the U.S. government’s narrative,” the liaison said, asking to remain nameless so that only the group’s top leaders serve as the public face for al Qaeda.

United States:
Make No Mistake — the United States Is at War in Yemen
Foreign Policy — 30 March 2015
Like all military interventions, there have been many — at times contradictory — justifications offered by U.S. officials. The NSC claimed the purpose was to “defend Saudi Arabia’s border and to protect Yemen’s legitimate government.” The State Department suggested that the intent was “to promote a peaceful political transition and share their concerns about the aggressive actions of the Houthis,” stating on March 27 that the United States backed the GCC because “they are responding to a request from President [Abed Rabbo Mansour] Hadi, who is the legitimate president of Yemen.” (Presumably, the Obama administration would not support an intervention in Egypt to restore its democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi.)

Iran-backed rebels loot Yemen files about U.S. spy operations
Los Angeles Times — 25 March 2015
Secret files held by Yemeni security forces that contain details of American intelligence operations in the country have been looted by Iran-backed militia leaders, exposing names of confidential informants and plans for U.S.-backed counter-terrorism strikes, U.S. officials say. U.S. intelligence officials believe additional files were handed directly to Iranian advisors by Yemeni officials who have sided with the Houthi militias that seized control of Sana, the capital, in September, which led the U.S.-backed president to flee to Aden. Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview that the Houthis may have captured a “significant portion” of the $500 million in military equipment that the U.S. has given Hadi’s government.

Yemen Chaos Derails U.S. Counterterror Strategy
Wall Street Journal — 23 March 2015
The Obama administration’s calculated gamble during the past three years in Yemen has crumbled in recent days, leaving the country on the brink of a civil war with U.S. troops involved in counterterror operations withdrawing amid intense fighting. What happened in Yemen, according to descriptions by current and former officials and experts, was a miscalculation about the changes unleashed by the Arab Spring revolutions. It involved an overreliance by Washington on a promising new leader who ultimately was unable to hold off rival forces and tensions, they said.

Economy:
Yemen’s crippled economy
Al-Monitor — 6 March 2015
When discussing agriculture in Yemen, talking about the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, and cotton — all viable options on Yemeni soil — is necessary. Breeding cattle is also possible in Yemen, and there is fish wealth in the territorial waters of the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea. Thus, Yemen can enhance its ability to develop and export food products. The country also has potential in the oil and gas sector, for oil production reached 133,000 barrels per day in 2014. Gas production amounted to 270 billion cubic feet in 2014, too. However, production is facing security problems, impeding the improvement of exports that could give the country good revenues. Gulf and global companies are trying to invest funds in this vital sector, but political factors and the lack of trust in the ruling administration have caused their enthusiasm to wane.

Another casualty in Yemen: Internet stability
Washington Post — 2 April 2015
The factions are now battling over the southern coastal city of Aden, which the country’s president was forced to abandon last week. And the country’s Internet connectivity is one of the victims of the fighting. Aden is the access point for one of only two submarine cables that connects Yemen to the global Internet — and researchers noted two major disruptions where that cable, which connects Yemen to Djibouti, appears to have gone dark in the last two days. But Yemen isn’t alone. When conflict strikes, Internet access is often an early casualty — cutting off communications for civilians when they need it the most.

Amid Yemen chaos, China keeps oil shipments flowing
Reuters — 30 March 2015
China has managed to export a large shipment of crude oil from Yemen over the weekend, ship-tracking data showed on Monday, despite mounting chaos in the country after the launch of Saudi-led air strikes last week. The 2 million barrel Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC), Tai Hung San, left the Yemeni port of Ash Shihr on Sunday. Trading sources said the vessel was chartered by China’s state-backed oil trader Unipec. Tanker data listed it as being run by Glasford, the shipping-arm of PetroChina.

Yemen basic foodstock enough for six months: Saba agency
Reuters — 30 March 2015
Yemen has enough basic foodstock for the coming six months in all provinces and wheat stocks stood at 930,100 tonnes on March 26, the first day of Saudi-led air strikes against rebels, state news agency Saba said on Monday. Deputy minister of trade and industry Abdullah Nouman was cited by Saba as saying that 660,275 tonnes of wheat had come into the country from January up until March 25.

IMF says postpones Yemen loan program for now
Reuters — 26 March 2015
The International Monetary Fund on Thursday said it was postponing its next review of its $553 million loan program to Yemen given the uncertain situation in the country. “Obviously we’re watching the rapidly evolving situation carefully and closely at the moment,” IMF spokesman William Murray told reporters. “Given a host of uncertainties surrounding Yemen at the moment, the first review of the Fund-supported program is postponed until the situation clarifies.”

Yemen’s largest power plant in need of urgent repairs: ‘could stop at any point’
Yemen Times — 18 March 2015
Yemen’s largest power plant will, at most, run for 1.8 years before completely ending operations if urgent maintenance on deteriorating parts is not carried out. The plant provides power for 40 percent of the country. The General Corporation for Electricity warned on Tuesday that the 1.8-year figure, about 16,000 hours, is the maximum amount of time the country has, and that the gas-operated plant, based in Marib, could stop operating at any point. The plant began operating in 2009 and has been repeatedly attacked. Those attacks increased in the aftermath of Yemen’s 2011 uprising.

Majority of Yemeni minors lack birth certificates
Yemen Times — 23 March 2015
For many people around the world, a birth certificate is a person’s first legal recognition by the state that they exist. In Yemen, 83 percent of minors remain without one, leaving them vulnerable to a number of abuses. For parents, the first time most are asked to produce a birth certificate for their children is when they register them for school. Registration for first grade begins in Yemen at age six.

Literature:
Political crisis and Yemen’s literary resurgence
Yemen Times — 23 March 2015
Despite ongoing political and economic turmoil, national literature saw an unexpected surge in 2014. Twenty novels were published by Yemeni authors last year, and while that figure may seem insignificant in a regional or global context, it is considerably more than the eight books produced the previous year. Indeed, it is about ten percent of all the books ever published by Yemeni writers, and considering the hardships facing the country today it is an extraordinary achievement.

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