The presidential commission dispatched to Amran province has announced a fifteen day ceasefire agreement between Houthi militants and the government. The ceasefire is an extension of an earlier one that seemed to falter as clashes broke out on Friday. Some heavily criticized the commission, and by extension the president, for the arbitration agreement. Amidst the ceasefire, Houthi militants abducted an activist affiliated with their rival Islah party, and–in a rare southern manifestation–members of the Houthi group made a show of parading around Aden chanting their slogan. [Al Masdar, 3/31/2014]



Marib Youth and Political Transition by Nadwa al-Dawsari
Al-Dawsari profiles the youth movements of Marib province as they attempt to push the government to address local demands and needs. Feeling swept aside by presidential commissions and dialogue efforts dominated by old elites, some movements have turned to armed provocations, like blocking gas trucks en route to Sana’a. Al-Dawsari warns that “local grievances remain unaddressed and new ones are surfacing, further increasing the gap between the people and the state.” [MENASource, 3/31/2014]

Yemen’s ‘Steady’ Political Transition? by Casey L. Coombs
Interviewing a wide array of experts on Yemen, Coombs argues that despite political successes, Yemen has yet to make the leap from lofty initiatives to de facto implementation of reforms. While recognizing the fact that Yemen’s transition has been successful in many regards, localized conflicts bubbling under the milestone-focused headlines are contributing to an unaddressed crisis of legitimacy. [International Relations and Security Network, 3/27/2014]


Benomar meets with GPC leaders
UN special envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar met on Tuesday with leaders of the General People’s Congress (GPC), the former ruling party of Yemen, saying he hoped to open a new page with the still-powerful party. Benomar and the GPC had previously been at odds, publically exchanging criticisms. The meeting touched on numerous subjects including the implementation of the National Dialogue outcomes, but the GPC members seemed to focus most on the process and implications of the recent UN Security Council resolution that could target some of their members with sanctions. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), 3/26/2014]

Judges Club announces complete suspension of work after judge kidnapped
The Judges Club of Yemen announced the complete suspension of work for judges as well as prosecutors after a judge was abducted in Hajja province. The Judges Club further called for the dismissal of Hajjah’s director of security, and an investigation into the province’s security officials. Witnesses claim that the judge was abducted when security forces withdrew following a controversial verdict that saw alleged killers of a police officer go free. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), 3/26/2014]

Weapons still rife in Yemen, in spite of crackdown
“At the center of the country, it’s difficult to find a bottle of water to buy while you can effortlessly purchase a firearm,” says a UN aid worker in al-Baida province. Yemen is widely cited as among the most heavily-armed societies in the world with fifty to sixty million weapons in circulation among twenty-three million people. A national survey of small arms ownership found that sixty-one percent of respondents reported owning weapons. Disarmament of certain armed groups and collection of weapons was a key demand of the National Dialogue Conference. [Gulf Times, 3/27/2014]

Draft law on recovering looted money released
The ministry of legal affairs published a draft law aimed at recovering funds looted or sent abroad by former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and his regime. The law proposes the formation of a commission headed by the minister of legal affairs with members from the ministries of justice, foreign affairs, interior, and national security as well as representatives from banks and central control and auditing agencies. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), 3/30/2014]


Hadramawt workers find accord with Total to end latest strike
Though details of the agreement have not been released, the French energy company Total has reached an accord with workers and has resumed production. The workers began the strike on March 24 halting oil and gas production at Block 10 in Hadramawt province on March 24. The head of the union said the workers first presented their demands in 2010, calling for a raise competitive with other petroleum companies in Yemen. This block accounts for nineteen percent of Yemen’s total daily oil output. [Reuters (Arabic), 3/31/2014]

Hadramawt tribes stage siege
The Tribal Alliance of Hadramawt began a blockade of petroleum facilities in the province on Friday. On Thursday, the Alliance issued a warning to oil companies–mentioning Dutch DNO, specifically–deriding their authorization of workers from outside the province to work at the facilities while the company “brought bankruptcy to Hadramawt, making huge profits.” The facilities being blockaded are located in blocks 32, 43, and 47. Local sources say fighters numbering in the hundreds have set up more than twenty roadblocks around the facility. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), Mareb Press (Arabic); 3/28/2014]

Three killed in raid on militants in al-Dali’
Local officials reported that two al-Qaeda militants and a Yemeni soldier were killed on Friday in a raid by security forces on a residential building in the southern city of al-Dali’.  There have been a succession of violent incidents in recent months in al-Dali’, a stronghold for Herak separatists, though calm has prevailed following a recently brokered ceasefire. [Reuters, 3/28/2014]

Herak leader urges Arab League to address Southern issue
A leader of the Southern separatist Herak movement sent a letter to the Arab League Summit, currently being held in Kuwait calling on participants to support the South until its independence is restored. Abdul Rahman al-Jafari, former vice president of South Yemen in 1994, called upon the summit to prioritize the Southern issue on its agenda. [Aden al-Ghad (Arabic), 3/25/2014]


Yemen security forces free Western hostages soon after kidnapping
Yemeni security forces freed two Westerners on Tuesday shortly after they were kidnapped by gunmen in the capital Sana’a. Police said the security forces tracked the two kidnappers to a house where kidnappers were holding the pair of UN workers and managed to free them safely after surrounding the premises. It was later revealed that the kidnappers were turned in by a tribal elder, a father of one of the kidnappers. [Reuters, 3/26/2014]

Marib kidnappers threaten to sell hostage to al-Qaeda
Kidnappers in Marib province are threatening to sell a kidnapped German national to al-Qaeda if their demands are not met. The hostage was abducted in February and the kidnappers have demanded that the central government release their imprisoned relatives, but claim they are being ignored. The hostage takers said that al-Qaeda has offered them $14,000 dollars for the hostage. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), 3/27/2014]

Yemen pro-government militiamen killed in ‘al-Qaeda’ ambush
Two members of Yemen’s auxiliary Popular Resistance Committees were killed in on Saturday in an ambush in Abyan province, presumably by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) members. Members of the Popular Resistance Committees, who are recruited from tribes, backed a government offensive that led to security forces retaking Abyan province in June 2012 after it was under AQAP control for a year. [AFP, 3/30/2014]


To allay drone concerns, US mulls joint manned crop duster strikes
Faced with growing questions about civilian deaths in its secret drone war in Yemen, the Obama administration has plans to equip the small and poorly trained Yemeni military to run its own “targeted killing” program, according to documents and three sources familiar with the effort. Instead of supplying the Yemenis with high-tech drones, though, the Pentagon would arm the Yemeni Air Force with a fleet of ten rugged, two-seater propeller planes of a type usually used as crop dusters. The specially modified versions for the Yemeni program would be armed with laser-guided missiles and high-tech electronic intelligence equipment. [Buzzfeed, 3/25/2014]

Hadi interviewed, talks Iranian influence, necessity of drones
In an interview with the london-based al-Hayat, President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi called on Iran to “lift its hand off Yemen,” claiming that interference from Iran persists “whether through its support for the [Southern] Herak separatists or some religious groups in northern Yemen.” Hadi also praised Gulf Cooperation Council and Saudi efforts at supporting Yemen’s transition. The president also called on Yemenis to understand the utility of drone strikes carried out against al-Qaeda despite the “limited dangers.” However, Yemen cosponsored on Friday, a UN Human Rights Council resolution calling for increased adherence to international law when using such strikes. [Reuters, Al-Hayat (Arabic), 3/31/2014]


Where Yemen is at: Donor pledges vs. government action
In 2012, Yemen requested assistance from the donor community to cover a deficit of $11.7 billion to fund the Transitional Program for Stability and Development (TPSD) for the years 2012-2014. The same year donors pledged $7.9 billion for the years 2012-2015, more than half coming from GCC countries, to help cover this funding gap. By Jan. 30, 2014 more than 90 percent of these pledges have been allocated, which means they have been reserved by the donors to specific projects in the TPSD, but only a portion has been received [Yemen Times, 3/25/2014]

Chamber of Commerce expresses concern over the escalating price of foodstuffs
Yemen’s chamber of commerce noted the price of some of the basic nutritional staples in the country—including rice, sugar, wheat, and milk—have gone up at varying degrees, in some cases as much as 20 percent. With some products, like rice, the meager purchasing power of Yemenis have kept prices from escalating as much as they have globally, however for other goods local prices have increased at a faster rate than witnessed in other countries. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), 3/26/2014]

IFC helps reform Yemen’s credit reporting infrastructure
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, is helping the Central Bank of Yemen (CBY) reform its credit reporting framework. IFC will help CBY establish and operate a new public credit registry–a platform to collate the credit information of borrowers–and will also support CBY in developing a legal and regulatory framework for credit reporting. [IFC, 3/27/2014]

Analysts: Ten people control 80 percent of Yemen’s economic activity
Economic expert Dr. Ahmed al-Reefi says that high prices will reduce consumer buying, leading to a higher rate of poverty in Yemen. He explained that according to some researchers, there are ten groups represented by ten families that control 80 percent of Yemen’s imports, industrial activity, oil distribution, communications, and the banking sector. This leads the Yemeni market to suffer from supply crises and unstable prices. [National Yemen, 3/26/2014]

Tribal attacks and lack of investment plague Yemen’s oil industry
Yemen spent more last year on importing oil than it made from exports for the first time in almost 30 years, raising concern about the fragile, internationally-backed transition process. Sana’a earned $2.66 billion from oil sales at home and abroad in 2013, and spent $2.93 billion on imports, according to the Central Bank of Yemen. [FT, 3/26/2014]