YemenSource | Houthis, Socialists, Herak, Voice Opposition to Six-region Plan

After last Monday’s decision to build a six-region state, several groups across Yemen have voiced their opposition to the federal model. Appearing on Al-Jazeera, a member of the Houthis said that that the group opposed the plan “because it divides Yemen into poor and wealthy” regions. The representative also went on to imply the Houthis wanted their own region comprised of Sa’ada, Hajja, and al-Jawf. A statement from the Yemeni Socialist Party, said that the plan failed to resolve the issue of the South; they appear to prefer the discarded two-region plan. A representative of the southern Herak separatists stated that the dialogue was “built on falsehood,” and furthermore failed to deal with the Southern issue and grievances dating back to the 1994 civil war. The South, he said, did not want more autonomy, but full independence and the right to self-determination. Political and cultural leaders in the province of Dhamar have also voiced serious objections of the federal layout, decrying a “lack of engagement” with locals. [2/11/2014]




Tough times ahead for Yemen’s federation
“A federal system may provide the necessary structure to end the multiple political, tribal and ethnic differences that are causing instability in the country,” says Dr. Theodore Karasik, but warns that without careful consideration, it may prove to be little more than “a tourniquet for the country’s myriad problems.” [al-Arabiya, 2/16/2014]

Beyond Yemen’s usual suspects
James Spencer argues that despite simplified narratives told in the media, there is more to conflicts raging in the north and south than sectarian strife and al-Qaeda terror. [The Majalla, 2/12/2014]


Constitutional committee to be formed soon
The deputy secretary general of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) affirmed that the constitution drafting committee will be formed soon and will be charged with incorporating the NDC recommendations into the charter. He also responded to mounting criticism regarding the new federal regions, saying that the NDC agreed that a committee formed by President Hadi would make the final determination about the number of regions, and that the decision was legitimate. The deputy also affirmed that while it will be a new system for Yemen, it is the most appropriate model for the country. [Thawra News (Arabic), 2/12/2014]

Three new presidential advisers tapped
Yemen’s state news agency announced the appointment of three new presidential advisers. The new advisors are Mohamed al-Yadumi, the head of Islah; Sultan al-Atwani, the Secretary General of the Nasserist party; and Dr. Rashad al-Alimi, a leader in the former ruling party the General People’s Congress. [Saba (Arabic), 2/16/2014]

Saleh accuses Hadi of involvement in 2011 assassination attempt
A lawyer representing former President Ali Abdullah Saleh has accused current President Abdrabu Mansour Hadi of being involved in the June 2011 explosion at the presidential residence that targeted Saleh and his former aides. Saleh’s lawyer, who also represents other victims of the incident, has demanded that the attorney general investigate the claims. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), 2/12/2014]

Yemenis stage demonstrations on third anniversary of the 2011 uprising
Protests marked the third anniversary of Yemen’s 2011 uprising across the country Tuesday. While some marches and protests were held in commemoration of the uprising, Houthi supporters gathered to demand a new government, calling the transitional government corrupt. Other groups used the anniversary to call for additional reform and change, notably the realization of the revolutionaries’ demands. The dismissal of corrupt ministers and the release of prisoners detained during the 2011 uprising were at the center of these demands. The Revolutionary Youth Council group called for a second revolution, highlighting the issues of rule of law and corruption. [al-Masdar (Arabic), 2/11/2014]


Exiled Southern leaders may be pardoned
According to al-Masdar Online, a pardon for Southern leaders such as Ali Salem al-Beidh and Haider Abu Bakr al-Attas will be issued next week. The decree would throw out all charges against these political leaders stemming from the 1994 civil war and would also grant immunity for any offenses committed during that time period. Moreover, the decree goes further by restoring the leaders’ political and civil rights and calling on them to return to Yemen. Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh previously offered amnesty but refused to grant immunity, leading to fears of subsequent prosecution. President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi cites the “spirit of tolerance and national reconciliation” as the impetus for the decree. Moreover, this step is part of the Eleven Points suggested by the National Dialogue Conference’s Southern Issue working group. [al-Masdar (Arabic), 2/18/2014]

Government reshuffle will include Southern leaders, Houthis
Sources close to ruling parties revealed to UAE’s al-Bayan that there will soon be a reshuffling of Prime Minister Mohammed Salim Basindawa’s cabinet. The new cabinet will reportedly include representatives from the South as well as the Houthis. There is no word yet which ministries will be offered, but there will be five portfolios in total on the table. [Aden Post, 2/14/2014]

Armed clashes in Hadramawt displace hundreds
A media officer for the Hadramawt governorate says that around 800 people have been displaced as a result of ongoing clashes between the military and tribal militants. Tribal leaders have been calling for the removal of military bases from the southern governorate since the killing of a prominent Sheikh at a checkpoint in December. The military has been bombarding possible militant locations with aerial strikes. [Yemen Times, 2/18/2014]


Attack on Sana’a prison leaves eleven dead; twenty-nine prisoners escaped
The central prison in Sana’a was the target of an attack Thursday evening by a “terrorist group,” according to the interior ministry, though no group has claimed responsibility. The attack came in three waves, beginning with a car bomb which was followed by armed gunmen storming the prison and others taking position on nearby rooftops. Authorities suspect that the attackers had assistance from someone inside the prison. Eleven people were killed, including seven guards. Twenty-nine prisoners escaped in the assault, including nineteen affiliated with al-Qaeda, some of them rather notorious. The director of the prison was subsequently arrested and may possibly be charged with negligence. President Hadi said that the attack would have been impossible except for the “below-par performance of security forces.” [Reuters, AP, 2/13/2014]

Military chief plans restructuring
The Chief of General Staff has announced plans to restructure the military to address deteriorating stability and security conditions in Yemen. The restructuring plan will assess new requirements for soldiers and bases as well as invest in specialized training for border protection, peacekeeping, and other duties. [Mareb Press (Arabic), 2/18/2014]

Nine dead, 14 soldiers captured following Herak ambush
During clashes on Tuesday in al-Dali’ province began with a Herak ambush on troops affiliated with the locally infamous Brigade Thirty-Three. Nine people were killed in the attack, including four soldiers and four civilians, and fourteen soldiers were captured by the militants. [Reuters, Mareb Press (Arabic); 2/18/2014]

Humayqani: cease drone strikes and begin reconciliation process
Salafist representative and accused al-Qaeda supporter Abdul-Wahhab Humayqani has called upon the United States to cease drone strikes that “create enemies” and focus on building state institutions. Humayqani was accused in December of funneling money to al-Qaeda and has had his assets frozen by the US Treasury Department, though he denies the allegations. He also said the best way to stop al-Qaeda would be develop a reconciliation plan whereby militants would turn in their weapons. [Washington Post, 2/16/2014]


Draft resolution on sanctions to be put before the UNSC next week
A sanctions resolution against members of the former regime has been drafted by the British and will likely be put before the United Nations Security Council this week. The resolution would not impose sanctions on any one person, but would rather create a committee empowered to impose travel bans, freeze assets, and investigate whether any people impeding Yemen’s transition should be sanctioned, specifically former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and former vice president Ali Salem al-Beidh. During protests held Wednesday to commemorate the anniversary of Yemen’s uprising, many demonstrators called for sanctions to be placed on Saleh. “Saleh is a war criminal and a spoiler [of the transition] and I call upon the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on him,” said 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakul Karman. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), 2/11/2014]

Full text of UNSC draft resolution forming committee for sanctions on spoilers
The draft sanctions resolution prepared by the United Nations Security Council was obtained by various media outlets over the weekend. The document specifically identifies former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and former Vice-President of South Yemen Ali Salem al-Beidh as “attempting to discredit the legitimacy of the transition process, incite violence, and subvert the legitimate aspirations of the Yemeni people.” The committee would be expected have a report ready sixty-days after its establishment. The resolution also calls for increased aid from the international community and looks to Yemen to continue transitional justice and reconciliation efforts. [al-Masdar (Arabic), 2/16/2014]

EU congratulates Yemen, calls upon government to address NDC recommendations
The Council of the European Union has congratulated Yemen on the conclusion of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC). While the EU highlighted the important nature of the constitutional writing phase, it emphasized the need to prioritize humanitarian and economic concerns and implement recommendations pertaining to rights and freedoms. Finally, the EU statement reiterated the EU’s readiness to increase aid and support to Yemen during the transition. [Consilium Europa, 2/10/2014]

Turkey to support human rights programs in Yemen
Turkey will support several human rights programs in Yemen, Turkish ambassador in Sanaa Fazli Corman said Thursday. The programs will be aimed at promoting transitional justice, human rights, and civil society. Corman lauded recent political developments but said the country would face more political and security challenges as it continues the transition to democracy. [Turkish Press, 2/13/2014]


WFP approves two-year relief and recovery operation in Yemen
The governing body of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), the WFP Executive Board, has approved a two-year, $491-million operation, aimed at supporting a gradual shift from relief food assistance to promoting recovery and building resilience and livelihoods among vulnerable and food-insecure people in Yemen. The operation is due to start on 1 July. Between then and the end of 2014, WFP will need to raise $133 million. [SABA, 2/12/2014]]

World Bank: Yemen has the highest rates of unemployment, poverty in the region
Though the Middle East and North Africa is a region marked by economic and humanitarian crises, Yemen situation may be the gravest, says a new World Bank report. With an unemployment rate that continues to soar, the issue particularly affects women (fifty-six percent) and youth (sixty percent). The issue of poverty has only been aggravated since the upheaval of 2011, with the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day at seventeen percent. The report blames the increase in poverty on mismanagement, political turmoil, and large numbers of internally displaced peoples due to armed conflict. The full report can be found here. [al-Mo’tamar (Arabic), 2/12/2014]

Minister of Industry and trade defends joining WTO
Yemen’s Minister of Industry and Trade fielded questions about the economic impacts of World Trade Organization (WTO) accession last week, dismissing claims–made by the Minister of Transportation–that it would harm Yemen’s economy. The Minister stated that accession and economic liberalization will help develop Yemen’s economy, making it more competitive in the global market. Yemen has until June 2014 to ratify the deal. [Mareb Press (Arabic); 2/15/2014]

Gas price pressure mounts on France’s Total
Pressure intensified on the France-based energy company, Total on Sunday when the state news agency reported that the deal was being probed by public prosecutors. Since the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the transitional government has complained that the price of gas has been undervalued, depriving the impoverished state of much needed funds. However, one Yemeni investigative journalists that has been covering the story claims that the investigation is merely blustering, calling it “political maneuvering between the interim president [Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi] and [Saleh].” [Reuters, Yemen Times; 2/16/2014]