Category Archives: News Update

Weekly News Update 23 August 2012

Hani Mohammed/AP via NBC Blog/

Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen
Council on Foreign Relations — 21 August 2012
A recent paper from researchers at the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI) also draws the connection between rising food prices and conflict in Yemen. The paper argues that violence in Yemen before 2008 could be “…attributed to inter-group conflict between ethnically and religiously distinct groups,” but that “starting in 2008, increasing global food prices triggered a new wave of violence that spread to the endemically poor southern region with demands for government change and economic conditions.” To reduce the opportunity for terrorism, NECSI researchers argue, Yemen must address its high food prices.

Official: Yemeni militants infiltrated Egypt before Rafah attack
CNN — 17 August 2012
Ten Yemeni militants infiltrated Egyptian soil two months ago and trained local Jihadi cells in the Sinai peninsula, a security official said Friday. “Several foreign men were spotted shopping in the market by residents and we received intelligence that they were in communication with Jihadist cells in Al Mukataa, a remote area south of Sheikh Zuweid in Northern Sinai,” said a senior security official associated with Egypt’s North Sinai’s border guards, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We hope to capture them in our ongoing raids. They could be hiding in Jabal-Al Halal — a rugged mountain terrain in central Sinai.” The Yemeni militants were smuggled into Sinai from Sudan among groups of African migrants who have been sold to Bedouin who traffic refugees into Israel for cash, said Ibrahim Al Menei, a Bedouin leader from the Swarkeh tribe who has spearheaded a committee of hundreds of men to curb the illegal trafficking of Africans through the Sinai.

Reversing the Anti-American sway in Yemen
Foreign Policy — 16 August 2012
Looking ahead to the coming month, the United States should use the opportunity of the upcoming donors meeting in Riyadh on September 4 and 5 and the Friends of Yemen meeting at the U.N. General Assembly in New York on September 27 to rally international financial and diplomatic support for Yemen’s precarious transition. The United States, its European allies, and other interested parties should provide assistance for an inclusive national dialogue process, constitutional development, the creation of a new voter registry, and elections support. Perhaps most importantly, the administration should pressure Gulf states and other allies to follow its lead and contribute significant economic and food resources to address Yemen’s critical humanitarian conditions. President Hadi has taken important steps to move the GCC process forward; now the United States, the European Union, and the GCC countries need to carry their end of the bargain to ensure that Yemen has the tools and resources to capitalize on this narrow opening. Continue reading


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Weekly News Update 26 July 2012

Yes, Sometimes Drones Are Actually Effective
The Atlantic — 24 July 2012
In Yemen, we’ve seen that allowing the government to retake areas from AQAP can be effective at addressing the terrorist threat; the U.S. should make effective Yemeni governance its next priority. The recently announced influx of aid to Yemen is being directed almost exclusively to Yemen’s security services, which have already proved capable of removing AQAP from its territory. What’s missing is everything else that isn’t security: immediately countering the growing malnutrition there, strengthening and expanding the good governance programs groups like NED run, and establishing a long term commitment to fortifying Yemen’s shaky economy. As a part of a comprehensive strategy to both physically and politically secure the country, there is a definite role for drones to play: one that is moral, effective, and constrained. Assuming drones are the counterterrorism strategy — an impression one can get reading some of the coverageof the drones program — would be a mistake.

A Voice of Authority Emerges From the Opposition in Yemen
New York Times — 21 July 2012
The state in Yemen was always weak, and even before the conflict last year, local chieftains had a lot of autonomy and power. But Mr. Mikhlafi’s new role is emblematic of how opposition voices that were marginalized under the 33-year authoritarian rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh have gained increasing influence as the government in Yemen has grown even weaker since his ouster.

Why is Yemen’s food crisis off the world’s humanitarian radar?
The Guardian — 24 July 2012
When the revolutionary tide of the Arab spring swept Ali Abdullah Saleh from power in Yemen last year, optimism abounded. The conclusion of Saleh’s 33-year presidency – a reign more notable for the suppression of dissent and a descent into economic turmoil than any inroads on poverty, inequality and corruption – was meant to herald a fresh start for the Arab world’s poorest country. But, despite the appointment of a transitional government led by the former vice-president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, the promised end has failed to materialise. Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 28 June 2012

Artwork by Yemeni artist Mohamed Al-Ansi. Read about him at

YEMEN POLICY INITIATIVE’s letter to President Obama
25 June 2012
The US should fundamentally shift its approach beyond the narrow focus on counterterrorism and should clearly articulate that it seeks to advance Yemen’s social, economic, and political development. The US should recalibrate its economic and governance assistance so that it represents a greater proportion of overall assistance compared with military and security assistance. The US needs to ensure that its focus is on achieving long-term goals, not only short-term objectives.
See also: Middle East experts urge changes to Obama’s Yemen policies (Foreign Policy — 27 June 2012)

Debating the Failed States Index
Foreign Policy — 22 June 2012
Much has changed for the better in Yemen. The security situation is slowly stabilizing, the government is restructuring its forces, and the country is no longer teetering on the edge of a civil war. Yemen has also intensified the fight against al Qaeda, pushing out militants from territories they controlled. Most important of all, the fabric of Yemen’s resilient society remains intact.

Yemen’s Economic Struggles-More of the Same in the Post-Saleh Era
Yemen Post — 22 June 2012
The true stem of all problems is Yemen’s inability to economically develop. This is unfortunately a continuing problem that was not addressed under Saleh and has perpetuated itself into Hadi’s tenure as president. Yemeni oil-production makes up 25% of its GDP and almost 70% of the country’s revenue. However, Yemen has tried to harness some reserves of natural gas out of fear that oil production in the country will peak within the next 15 to 20 years and ultimately run out, thus removing a chunk of its export economy. Oil is not the only resource running dry as water in the country is also set to run out within about the same time frame if not sooner. The rest of Yemen’s economy is largely made up of jobs related to the Agriculture Sector, labor, and industrial positions. To make sustaining resource development more difficult, Yemen’s current population growth rate is at about 2.5% and its unemployment rate near 35%. In the long-term, Yemen will ultimately begin to feel its economic strength collapsing. Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 21 June 2012

A man in Zinjibar looks at the remains of a post office destroyed during recent clashes [Reuters/Khaled Abdullah,

Yemen’s transition: a model to be followed?
Open Democracy — 19 June 2012
Although the GCC supported transitional regime has not turned Yemen into a revolutionary state, by comparison with what is happening elsewhere, the situation at the moment shows more positive signs than could have been expected: the forces of the uprisings are working to participate in the national dialogue, the transitional regime is working to weaken and remove most of the remnants of the previous era and is preparing for a new and hopefully more democratic future.

Al-Qaeda Only Partly to Blame for Yemen Oil Crisis via CNBC — 18 June 2012
While it is convenient both for the Yemeni transitional government and the US military forces backing its campaign against al-Qaeda to blame the current oil situation on AQAP, it is a serious simplification. Much of the violence directed at the country’s oil infrastructure is emanating from disgruntled tribesmen who cannot necessarily be associated with AQAP or Ansar al-Sharia. They want employment and regional development and more of their numbers will join Ansar al-Sharia’s ranks if this is not forthcoming. We are talking about socio-economics more than terrorism, and the former informs the latter. Beyond that, to say that Yemen’s oil industry is corrupt to the core would be an understatement. For decades, oil has been used almost solely to fund the patronage system that kept former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in power. Yemen’s new Oil and Minerals Minister Hisham Sharaf Abdullah has arguably the most challenging job in the country’s fledgling, transitional government-in-crisis.

What an Al-Qaeda Assassination Has Exposed
TIME — 20 June 2012
The source, who asked to go by the initials S.A., believes that targeting Qatan, the highest-ranking officer in Yemen to be assassinated by al-Qaeda, was a reaction to the pinch they’ve felt since last week’s joint military and local militia takeover of the militants’ territory. Yet, he places responsibility for the devastating assassination in the hands of Yemen’s security apparatuses, which he claims didn’t do enough to protect Brigadier Qatan. Indeed, the Yemeni security services have had little luck recently defending Yemeni officials from assassination attempts. A spate of attacks on military and security personnel by al-Qaeda have put a somber tone on what seemed to be progress in the fight against terrorism, with the security and intelligence units seemingly powerless to stop the assaults. The day before Qatan’s assassination, a remote-controlled explosive device killed a police chief in the eastern city of Mukalla. Just days before that, the political security chief of Yemen’s Marib governorate barely escaped from a roadside explosion targeting his car. Continue reading

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Weekly News Update 14 June 2012

National Dialogue:
Yemen’s New Democracy Juggles With Tribal Traditions
New York Times — 13 June 2012
While some doubt Yemen’s chances of shedding the influence of the tribes, others hope that the revolution has broken their monopoly on power for good.  “Now that we have a new political order, the tribes will become almost insignificant in national politics,” said Abdul-Ghani al-Iryani, a political analyst and co-founder of the Democratic Awakening Movement.  A strong state with a well-organized army and a good educational and judicial system could significantly reduce the role of the tribes and foster an economy more independent of the sheiks, observers say.

For Yemen’s New President, a Battle for Control and a Tug of War With the Past
New York Times — 13 June 2012
At the crux of the standoff is the personal conflict that erupted into warfare last year during Yemen’s political uprising between Ahmed Ali Saleh and Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsin al-Ahmar, a powerful commander.  Military leaders from either camp “refuse to send their troops to the south, and the troops who are in the south are badly trained and poorly motivated,” said a foreign diplomat in Sana.  Meanwhile, “Hadi is scared, and at this point he is just trying to stay in his position,” the diplomat said. As a result, the new Yemeni president has become closer to figures from the anti-Saleh camp, like General Ahmar. In addition, a number of Mr. Hadi’s military and political appointees are from his family or home region. Continue reading

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