YemenSource | Constitution Drafting Committee Established

On Sunday, President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi established the long-awaited committee mandated to draft the country’s new constitution. The seventeen member panel is comprised of former diplomats and judges, which is intended to operate independent of the executive branch, as well as political parties. However, only four out of the seventeen members of the committee are women, failing to meet the National Dialogue Conference’s quota of thirty percent women. [Al-ArabiyaSaba; 3/9/2014]


The popular committees of Abyan: A necessary evil or an opportunity for security reform? by Nadwa al-Dawsari
Al-Dawsari profiles Yemen’s Popular Committees–groups spontaneously organized to confront the growing al-Qaeda threat–while emphasizing the need to incorporate them in the country’s security reform efforts so they can be held accountable. [Middle East Journal, 3/5/2014]

Yemen opens the glass ceiling in quest for new future
The Media Line interviews Nadia al-Sakkaf, notable activist and editor-in-chief of The Yemen Times discussing Yemen’s transition and the place of women in the country’s future. [The Media Line, 3/5/2014]

Yemen’s decade of Division by Farea al-Muslimi
Al-Muslimi explores the many sectarian and political divisions that have begun to poison Yemen’s transition, warning that various factions “are creating an environment that is ready to explode.” [Al-Monitor, 3/102014]

Sanctioning you-know-who by Abubakr al-Shamahi
Shamahi explores the impact of the recent UN Security Council resolution that aims to put sanctions on those seeking to spoil Yemen’s transition; he notes that the image of Yemen being propped up by foreign or western powers may backfire on Hadi’s government and that sanctions on Southern leader Ali Salem al-Beidh may actually increase his popularity. [Al-Majalla, 3/5/2014]


New intelligence chief and ministers of oil and interior appointed
Yemen appointed new oil and interior ministers on Friday after a series of lethal attacks on security targets and oil facilities, as well as the intelligence chief. Hadi had decided on the changes amid public anger over the mounting unrest in the country, political sources said. Yemen’s new oil minister has also already made waves over a claim he made in 2013 that Yemen has a third of the world’s oil supply sitting beneath it. [Al-Arabiya, Gulf News, 3/10/2014]

Central government reaches arbitration agreement with Hadramawt tribal alliance
After two months of tension following the killing of a tribal leader and two of his body guards in the southern province of Hadramawt, the central government has made a substantial offer to the tribal alliance in order to end the conflict. A member of the mediation committee told al-Masdar Online that the government has offered a billion Yemeni riyals (US$4.6 million), twenty cars, and over two-hundred rifles for arbitration. The Hadramawt tribal alliance has agreed to close its roadblocks and cease the sieges and attacks on oil facilities. The government and tribes have also exchanged detainees. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), Yemen Saeed (Arabic); 3/6/2014]

Presidential committee’s now defunct northern peace initiative made public
President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi formed a committee of ministers, political party delegates, and other leaders from across Yemen to confront issues in Sa’ada province and negotiate with Houthis there to pursue political participation rather than armed conflict. One key issue is the government’s desire to see the Houthis disarmed of heavy weaponry, which until now Houthis have refused to consider, charging that their tribal rivals—affiliated with Islah—are armed with tanks and armored vehicles left over from the 1994 civil war. However, a Kuwaiti newspaper reports that for the first time, the Houthis announced their willingness to hand over their heavy weapons. The arrangements proposed by the committee were made public before falling through due to the latest clashes. TKhabara Agency (Arabic), 3/4/2014]


As al-Beidh goes to Europe, Hadi and Benomar call on Lebanon to sever ties
Sources close to the former Vice-President Ali Salem al-Beidh confirmed to the media that the South’s exiled leader has begun a trip to visit European capitals. Meanwhile, President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi has requested UN special adviser Jamal Benomar to call upon the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to pressure Lebanon to stop hosting al-Beidh and pull the plug on Aden Live, a southern separatist television station based in Lebanon. Al-Beidh is said to be a likely candidate for a travel ban and asset freeze from the UNSC’s recently established sanctions committee for his leadership in the Southern separatist Herak movement. [Moragboon Press (Arabic), 3/5/2014]

Protests continue in the South against federal divisions
Thousands of people demonstrated across cities in Hadramawt rejecting the plan to divide Yemen’s south into two separate districts. Protesters called for “liberation” decrying the central government as “occupiers,” and condemning the government’s decision to refuse access to UN observers hoping to assess the situation in al-Dali’. However, UN officials were able to meet with exiled activists associated with the Southern movement in Beirut. [Aden al-Ghad (Arabic), 3/7/2014]

OHCHR delegation denied access to al-Dali’
The mission dispatched by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to Yemen to report on the ongoing clashes in al-Dali’ between the military and Southern Herak separatists has failed to visit the city as the ministries of defense and interior refused their request to visit the town. The OHCHR mission was waiting for permission in Aden, but after two days, they are returning to Sana’a unable to complete their visit to al-Dali’. Residents in the city are complaining that telecommunications, internet, and electricity are being interrupted deliberately by the military, alleging that they are attempting to keep locals from reporting events occurring there. [New York Times, Aden al-Ghad (Arabic), 3/5/204]

Forty-two refugees killed as boat capsizes of the coast of Shabwa
About forty-two African refugees drowned on Sunday evening off the Yemeni coast after their boat capsized in the Gulf of Aden, while about thirty people on the boat were rescued, the Yemeni defense ministry said in a statement.The ministry did not mention the nationality of the refugees, but local authorities said they were Somalis and Ethiopians. According to local media, hundreds of Africans drown every year trying to reach Yemen in crowded boats. They tried to travel to Yemen through the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, hoping to reach Gulf countries or Europe. Over 62,000 asylum seekers, refugees and migrants arrived in Yemen from the Horn of Africa in 2013, according to UNHCR. [Xinhua, Al-Masdar (Arabic); 3/10/2014]


Islah Leader Killed in Clashes Between Tribes and Houthis
Fighting in the northern al-Jawf province between Houthi and Bani Nawaf tribal fighters have resulted in the death of an Islah leader and two of his bodyguards. Clashes are ongoing and these are the only casualties confirmed thus far, but reports suggest that many members of the Bani Nawaf tribe have arrived in the area, signaling a potential escalation in conflict. The tentative agreement between Houthi fighters and Islah-linked tribes in Amran province remains in doubt as the conflict has spread south, closer to the capital. After three days of fighting in the north, at least forty people were killed in al-Jawf. Clashes were seen in villages roughly twelve miles from the capital in Sana’a as Houthi militants blew up the house of a tribal leader and a public school overnight. Local sources say that fifteen children are missing. The Houthi spokesman has called for “national reconciliation” and has dismissed Saudi Arabia’s branding of the Houthis as terrorists. [New York Times, Al-Jazeera, 3/9/2014]

Arms trade goes to Facebook
Nearly 17.5 thousand users are following “The Price of Arms in Yemen” Facebook page, which hosts information about how much certain arms and explosives are and where they can be bought. In a country where various marketplaces throughout the country have such weaponry available, news of the trade moving onto the internet has begun raising concerns. Small arms like pistols and automatic rifles are discussed on the page, as well as heavier weapons like light machine guns and bombs. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), Huna Aden (Arabic), 3/7/2014]

Al-Qaeda executes alleged US informer
Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen executed one of their own Thursday after accusing him of spying for the United States, a security official said. The man was executed by firing squad and his body was displayed at a football stadium near Shehr in the southeastern Hadramawt province, an al-Qaeda stronghold, the source said. A statement was also found in which AQAP threatened to execute “any intruder who infiltrates among Muslims, places chips in their vehicles and their wedding convoys and gets them killed in return for a few dirhams,” according to the source. [The Daily Star, 3/6/2014]

Three drone strikes in three days
Three men were killed in Marib province after their vehicle was allegedly attacked by a US drone. Local residents report that one of the men was suspected of being linked to al-Qaeda. The two others’ affiliations are not known. Another strike in Shabwa that evening killed two militants in a car seen fleeing an attack on a security post earlier in the day. The vehicle was allegedly seen hurling a bomb at a security post killing six and wounding three others. The third strike occurred on Wednesday, targeting a moving car in the southernmost part of al-Jawf province, near the border with Marib. Three suspected militants were killed in the later strike, one of which was identified by Yemeni officials as a leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. [3/5/2014]


Saudi Arabia brands Houthis, Muslim Brotherhood as terrorists
On Friday, a royal decree in Saudi Arabia blacklisted the Syria-based Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) and The Nusra Front as a terrorist group along with the Muslim Brotherhood, the kingdom’s branch of the Shia Hezbollah movement, and Yemen’s Houthi movement. Hundreds of Saudi fighters are believed to have joined ISIS and al-Nusra in Syria. Saudis fighting abroad face up to twenty years in jail. The decree also criminalized having membership in, supporting, and sympathizing with any of these four groups as well as issuing unauthorized fatwas, or religious edicts. [Al Arabiya, Nashwan News (Arabic), 3/7/2014]

New credit fund will support Yemeni agriculture
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced last week that it is planning to set up a credit fund to support and develop Yemen’s agricultural sector.Supporting the agricultural sector in Yemen will go a long way toward solving the country’s food insecurity and will create job opportunities, according to the FAO office in Yemen. About 75 percent of the rural population depends on agriculture for its livelihood, and supporting this sector will mitigate the food insecurity of 10.5 million Yemenis, the organization said. According to the FAO, a leading reason behind Yemen’s food insecurity is because it imports 90 percent of its food. [Yemen Times, 3/10/2014]


World Bank $8 million grant supports civil society
The World Bank has approved an eight million dollar grant to help Yemeni civil society organizations and non government organizations (NGOs) implement development projects, it announced on Tuesday. There are about 13,000 civil society organizations and NGOs in the country, according to the Bank’s Yemen country manager. A Supreme Council of Partnership was created between the government NGOs and civil society organizations during the conference. The council consists of sixty NGO and civil society organization members and forty members from the government. [Yemen Times, 3/5/2014]

Minister denies cancellation of Friends of Yemen conference in Riyadh
The planned meeting of the Friends of Yemen donor conference has not been cancelled, says Yemen’s minister of planning and international cooperation following rumors that Saudi Arabia has refused to hold the conference. The donor meeting is critical to Yemen’s transition as more than fourteen billion dollars are at stake in a phased program aimed at developing institutions and economic projects. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), 3/6/2014]

Yemeni ports see traffic decline dramatically
Despite projections in 2008 that the port of Aden would surge in economic activity, the port received about 500,000 containers in 2007, the year before DP World started operating the port. That number gradually decreased until it reached 130,000 containers in 2011, then climbed to 212,000 containers in 2012. Other ports around the country have seen similar decline and stagnation. Given the corruption, piracy and security problems, Yemeni ports are living through their worst days, after they used to be a source of money and a means to travel to distant ports. [Al-Monitor, 3/5/2014]

Minister of Planning says large development projects to announced soon
Dr. Mohammad al-Saadi, the minister of planning and international cooperation, is planning to announce a series of development projects totalling more than four billion dollars. Al-Saadi said that the projects will be aimed at multiple sectors of the economy, including vital areas like roads, electricity, and ports. [Mareb Press (Arabic), 3/5/2014]

New energy development projects planned, says deputy minister
The deputy oil and minerals minister said this week that Yemen has plans to develop its energy sector, expecting these plans will be brought into effect this year. The deputy minister named specifically oil and gas exploration and production activities. The state-owned Safer company has drilled one well in Jawf and the tests showed the well produces 6 million cubic feet of gas a day, he said. The deputy minister also said there is a need to increase Yemen’s crude output which is still low due to many problems including security challenges. [Saba, 3/4/2014]

Image: The Yemeni government seal. (Photo: Yemen NDC website)