The Yemen Policy Initiative, a joint effort of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council and the Project on Middle East Democracy, issued a statement congratulating the Yemeni people on the formal conclusion of its National Dialogue Conference, and calling upon the United States and the international community to continue providing continued and consistent political and economic engagement. Read full statement here. For Yemeni press coverage of the statement, please click here.    

Political Process | South | Security | International Engagement | Economic and Humanitarian Engagement


National Dialogue concludes with official ceremony; US, UN, EU say NDC conclusion is historic step, but much work remains
Congratulations to Yemen poured out from across the region and the world as the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) officially concluded on Saturday. The US State Department noted that the conclusion is a “milestone… [but] the work of Yemen’s democratic transition is not complete.” UN special envoy Jamal Benomar recalled the “onerous journey that Yemen has gone through” to create what he called a “roadmap to a new Yemen.” The European Union’s High Representative Catherine Ashton had similar praise, but turning toward what comes next she noted: “More than ever, the perseverance and collaborative spirit of all stakeholders and a climate of security and inclusiveness will be essential to the success of this transition.

National Dialogue adopts principles to guide next steps in transition
During its closing assembly, the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) adopted a list of safeguards and guarantees regarding the implementation of the NDC outcomes. The first step is for the constitution to be drafted and adopted by referendum; this will be followed by the drafting of a new electoral law and then elections. A full list of the principles and guarantees is found here. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), 1/22/2014]

Houthis withdraw support for final NDC document
A Houthi spokesman has announced that his party does not stand by the National Dialogue Conference’s (NDC) final document. Though the Houthis allegedly sent a signed letter expressing their support for the Southern solutions document–the letter was never released–the Houthis appear to have withdrawn support. This comes after a Houthi NDC delegate was killed on the way to the concluding session. [Yemen Times, 1/23/2014]

Benomar interviewed about post-NDC challenges of transition
UN special adviser on Yemen Jamal Benomar noted the challenges ahead but criticized the notion that Yemen could be sliding toward civil war, given the positive steps taken in the NDC. He affirmed that sanctions on former regime figures attempting to derail the transition process are still very much on the table, specifically with regard to Ali Salem al-Beidh. With regard to the Southern issue, Benomar called the NDC consensus on the South a victory for Southerners and for all Yemenis. He also called on political leaders to act on their promises, saying that popular demands–particularly from the Southern Herak movement–will become more radical as they lose faith in the political leadership. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), 1/27/2014]

Leaders in Mareb meet with Hadi to discuss details of federal system
Sheiks and community leaders in Mareb province called on President Abdrabbo Hadi Mansour to meet with them and hear their perspectives before they are incorporated into any future federal province. These leaders are demanding greater representation for in the Shura Council as well as the establishment of a development fund for the region drawn from oil and gas revenues. In a meeting with the leaders, President Hadi blamed centralization as the main reason for inadequate government services in the province and assured them that the government would review their demands and seek to incorporate them into the implementation framework. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), 1/22/2014]


Herak demonstrations take place in a number of Southern cities
Supporters of the Southern Herak movement turned out in cities across the south in support of an independent, separate state. The protests also revolved around the release of protesters associated with the movement, and in some areas, support for armed resistance. Many demonstrators carried pictures of Ali Salem al-Beidh, the former vice-president of Yemen (1990-1994) and leader in exile of the Herak movement. [al-Akhbar al-Youm (Arabic), 1/27/2014]

Herak protesters, security forces clash
In Shabwa province, two protesters and two soldiers were injured in clashes as Herak protesters marched through a city, proclaiming their rejection of the NDC outcomes and calling for secession. Police and soldiers attempted to disperse the protests when gunfire broke out. [NOW Lebanon, Al-Masdar (Arabic); 1/27/2014]

Community group initiative on decentralization launched in Aden
Local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have launched a campaign to raise awareness about decentralization, federalism, and the upcoming constitution writing process. The first meeting was in Aden, and local NGOs plan to take the initiative across Yemen to Hadramawt, Shabwah, Taiz and elsewhere; the project is supported by the Middle East Partnership Initiative, a US State Department program. [Aden Online (Arabic), 1/27/2014]


Drone crash in al-Mahra province confirmed
Following more than a week of unverified reports, a Yemeni official has confirmed that an alleged US unmanned drone crashed in al-Mahra province over a week ago. The crash caused a panic among the local population as no drone strike has ever occurred in the eastern-most province. The wreckage and two unexploded missiles were recovered by the military. The United States typically uses drones to track and target members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has undertaken a large campaign of assassinations against Yemen’s intelligence officials all across the country. [Yemen Times, 1/23/2014]

US drone strike kills four
A US drone strike hit a group of people driving in the central province of Marib last night, killing at least four people–including one al-Qaeda suspect–and injuring several others, a Yemeni interior ministry official said. The interior ministry subsequently released a statement claiming that the ministry had prevented an al-Qaeda attempt to seize government institutions in Marib. [Xinhua, 1/24/2014]

Houthis clash with tribesmen near Sana’a
Houthi militants clashed with tribesmen not far from the capital in Sana’a. Houthis claim that they were fighting militants associated associated with Islamist Islah party. Locals claim otherwise, that the Houthi militants attempted seize certain locations in the area and local tribes were defending the area. Though Houthi clashes with tribes tend to be restricted to territory further north in Sa’ada or Amran provinces, the recent fighting’s proximity to Sana’a has raised alarm. A Houthi spokesman denied that the group had any designs on attacking the capital. [al-Masdar (Arabic), 1/27/2014]


Hadi meets with ambassadors of the permanent members of the Security Council
A day after the conclusion of the NDC, President Hadi met with ambassadors representing the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Hadi praised the international community’s assistance to Yemen during its time of transition, and called for their continued support as the country moves forward to the next stage of Yemen’s reform process. [Saba, Al-Masdar (Arabic); 1/22/2014]

UN envoy pressing for sanctions on former president, vice president
Reports suggest that the UN special adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, will push the Security Council to place sanctions on those in the country that “work to block progress in the political process and national dialogue.” The sanctions could result in a travel ban and an asset freeze on former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and former vice president Ali Salem al-Beidh. Benomar will arrive in New York on Monday to discuss the proposed sanctions. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), 1/23/2014]


Hadi announces project to develop Hodeidah port as secessionists dispersed
Just days after security forces dispersed a secessionist rally in Hodeidah province, President Hadi directed approximately $93 million to develop Hodeidah port and make it a competitor to other regional ports. The project is part of the 2014 budget passed last week. Secessionists claim that the central government has marginalized the province and waged a crackdown on dissidents there. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), 1/24/2014]

Akhdam: A look into lives of Yemen’s “untouchables”
Al-Khaleej Times takes an in-depth look at Yemen’s Akhdam people, perhaps the most marginalized group in a country confronted by poverty and humanitarian issues. Though the government denies there is any formal form of discrimination against the Akhdam, observers remark that issues confronting the Akhdam–increased rates of illiteracy, lack of access to clean water, etc–consistently remain low on Yemen’s political totem pole. Some observers fear that the increased isolation of the Akhdam from larger Yemeni society and the exacerbated socio-economic problems may make them more vulnerable to recruitment into criminal gangs or al-Qaeda. [Al-Khaleej Times, 1/22/2014]

HRW hails potential end to child marriage in Yemen; Police act to prevent wedding of third grader
The conclusion of the dialogue process resulted in the approval of recommendations put together by the NDC’s Rights and Freedoms Committee, including a recommendation to raise the age of marriage for boys and girls to eighteen. Human Rights Watch called the NDC’s approval the “first step” toward the end of child marriage in the country. Additionally, police acted Thursday to break up the wedding of a third grade girl set to be married to a thirty year old Jordanian national. Despite recent progress, child marriage remains a pervasive issue in Yemen. A study by Sana’a University estimates that 65 percent of married women in Yemen eloped before the age of fifteen. [Human Rights Watch, 1/23/2014]

Government to investigate former regime officials for corruption in LNG deal
The government is threatening to bring charges against former regime officials associated with selling liquefied natural gas (LNG) to foreign companies such as Total and KOGAS far below market price. At one point Total purchased LNG from Yemen at $1 per million BTUs while market prices at the time should have been around $11 per million. Both KOGAS and Total are currently competing for a renewed LNG contract at rate of $14 per million BTUs. [al-Masdar (Arabic), 1/27/2014]