YemenSource | UNHCR Chief Says 50% of Yemenis Need Urgent Assistance

Johannes van der Klaauw,  UNHCR Yemen Representative and Humanitarian Coordinator, said that the country is in need of about $592 million as an emergency humanitarian fund to respond to the humanitarian crisis. “About 13 million Yemenis are unable to access clean and safe drinking water and adequate sanitation. Moreover, about 10 million Yemenis are unable to get enough food,” said Van der Klaauw. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees representative in the country warned of Yemen’s deteriorating humanitarian conditions. [Gulf News, 4/29/2014]



Yemen’s Fraught Constitution Drafting Committee by Ashraf al-Falahi
With major constituencies like the Yemeni Socialist Party, Islah, and youth groups, protesting their lack of inclusion into the constitution drafting process, Falahi argues that to for the Constitution Drafting Committee to preserve the fragile unity of the process it will need to ensure the participation of all Yemenis as its work progresses. [Sada Journal, 5/2/2014]

Yemen’s Counterterror Offensive Sidesteps Real Problems by Vivian Salama
Highlighting the roots of terrorism in Yemen as inequality, poverty, and disenfranchisement, Salama contends that the government should favor local, tribal assistance in counterterror operations while addressing the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the country. [MENASource, 5/1/2014]

A Forgotten Crisis in the Arab Word’s Poorest Country by David Miliband
Former UK Foreign Secretary Miliband argues that the humanitarian crisis should top the agenda for international donors saying, “Simply put, stability in Yemen is not possible if more than half of the population do not know where their next meal is coming from.”  [The Independent, 4/28/2014]

Yemen Facing Another Implosion by Shuaib Almosawa
Almosawa profiles the recent escalation in the northern conflict between the Houthi group and Ahmar tribesmen saying that the new balance of power in the north has yet to be addressed by the central government and failure to confront the issue could lead to the conflict spiral out of control. [Inter-Press Service, 5/5/2014]


Details emerge about new oversight board
The committee established by President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi last week is charged with overseeing the implementation of the recommendations of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC). The body, which Hadi will head, will consist of eighty-two members. The board will oversee the constitution drafting process and other implementation efforts. The board’s decisions will be taken by consensus or, if consensus cannot be reached, by a majority vote of three quarters of members present. If this cannot be accomplished, the issue will be decided by the president. The board will be dissolved upon successful completion of the constitutional referendum to be held by next near. [Al-Shorfa, 5/1/2014]

Parliamentarians threaten vote of no-confidence over minister snubs
After weeks of summoning ministers of oil, finance, defense, and interior to testify with little to show for it, members of Yemen’s House of Representatives are threatening to a vote of no-confidence in the ruling unity government. Parliament has summoned the ministers of oil and finance to speak about the ongoing fuel shortage and the ministers of defense and interior to answer questions about drone strikes and counterterrorism operations; none have appeared before the representative body yet. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), 4/30/2014]

Judges Club agrees to partial lifting of strike
The Yemeni Judges Club, which has been on strike for weeks, has agreed to resume operations for two days a week, in order to address important issues. The strike began over the insecurity of judges when one of them was kidnapped in Hodeidah province, but that judge has since been released and the strike continues, not just over the security issue but also over the judiciary’s budget. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), 5/5/2014]

New report on Yemeni opinion of NDC outcomes
New polling data concludes that approximately fifty percent of Yemenis support—either “strongly” or “somewhat”—the outcomes of the NDC. Another twenty-five percent opposes the outcomes and the remainder says they don’t know enough about the outcomes to judge. Over half of the NDC’s supporters cite their primary motivation as being the fact that the NDC process avoided a civil war. A third of those opposing the NDC outcomes say they fear that federalism will lead to national fragmentation. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 4/29/2014]

Union members, February 11 Movement call for end to transitional government
About 1,000 union members gathered in Tahrir Square on Wednesday and marched to the Parliament and Cabinet, calling for the end of the transitional government. The February 11 Movement and the General Federation of Trade Unions called the demonstration to demand an end of the transitional government. All fifteen labor syndicates incorporated into the General Federation participated in the protest. [Yemen Times, Al-Arabiya; 5/1/2014]


Former PM Attas calls for Southern unity within federal framework
Exiled Southern leader and former Prime Minister Haidar Abu Bakr al-Attas gave an extended interview to al-Bayan about Yemen’s transition and the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC). Reiterating previous statements that the NDC is a good starting point for reconciliation, Attas said that Southern unity is imperative. He said that the South could be united in a single region within the planned federal framework, which would recognize the rights of the South within a broader, unified Yemen. [Aden Al-Ghad (Arabic), 5/4/2014]

YSP criticizes the establishment of the NDC supervisory board
The general secretary of the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) criticized the presidential decree establishing the supervisory board overseeing the implementation of the NDC recommendations on the grounds that the board is too weak to fulfill its mandate. He also added that the text of the presidential decree does not empower the supervisory board with the capacity the NDC intended for it. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), 5/2/2014]

The South holds rallies commemorating the 2011 battles
Thousands of demonstrators commemorated battles fought between local tribesmen and the Yemeni military waged during the 2011 uprising. Figures from the Southern separatist movement Herak spoke at some of the rallies, praising the Yemenis who fought and died during clashes with the military, while calling on the youth to continue the peaceful struggle and defense of the South. [Aden Al-Ghad (Arabic), 5/2/2014]


Yemen launches fresh offensive against al-Qaeda
Army troops backed by local militia members had moved in to “purge” towns in Abyan and Shabwa provinces of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a military official said on Tuesday. Military authorities had previously expelled AQAP from towns in the South, but hesitated in pursuing the militant group’s fighters as they retreated into mountainous regions where intense fighting is now ongoing. The assault comes a week after another offensive in the area killed sixty-five suspected militants, though DNA testing concluded that AQAP leaders and presumed targets Nasir al-Wuhayshi and Ibrahim al-Siri were not among the dead. [Al Jazeera, Al Masdar (Arabic, 4/29/2014]

Kidnapped Yemeni troops executed by AQAP as operations continue
Suspected jihadists affiliated with AQAP have executed three Yemeni soldiers whom they captured in an ambush on an army convoy in Shabwa province that was backing an offensive against extremist strongholds. The executed men were among fifteen soldiers captured by militants during Tuesday’s ambush near al-Saeed, one of several towns targeted in the offensive by militia-backed Yemeni troops. So far, a total of twenty-one soldiers and twenty-one suspected militants have been reported killed in the ground offensive since the initial campaign began last week. AQAP released a video denying claims by the government that 70 percent of its fighters were foreign. [The Daily Star, Global Post; 5/1/2014]

Political parties pledge support for anti-AQAP campaign; AQAP leaders killed
Yemen’s disparate political blocs were unanimous in supporting the current military campaign against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in the southern provinces of Abyan, Shabwa, and al-Bayda. The prominent islamist party Islah was accused of lobbying the president to end the operations against AQAP on the website of the General People’s Congress, however they denied the allegation, voicing support for the campaign. The spokesman for the Houthi group also voiced support for the operation, and gave rare praise to the country’s military. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), 5/4/2014]

Increasing attacks on security forces could lead to state collapse
According to a new report released by the Abaad Strategic Studies Center, a think-tank based in Sana’a, increasing attacks by various armed groups against Yemeni troops could lead to the disintegration of the national army, which in turn may lead to the collapse of the state. The report claims a total of 175 military and security personnel were killed from the beginning of this year until mid-April as a result of attacks and assassinations carried out by various armed groups, including AQAP, Houthi rebels, and tribal militias. Many fatalities were a result of attacks in southern governorates by unknown gunmen, some which were likely linked to Herak. [The Yemen Times, 4/29/2014]


Donations hindered by turmoil, insecurity; Donor conference begins in London
Political turmoil is preventing Yemen and donor countries from channeling billions of dollars in foreign aid intended to rebuild the impoverished Arab country, says Amat Alim Al-Soswa’st,he managing director of the Executive Bureau in charge of the foreign assistance. Al-Soswa’s comments come just before the London meeting of the Friends of Yemen, an international group of donors have previously pledged aid, though most has yet to be delivered. [Reuters, 4/29/2014]

Friends of Yemen restructured to mitigate impending crisis
Two years after Yemen’s friends came together with pledges of support, the economic and security situations in the country are worse, not better. To address this, the Friends of Yemen donor conference has restructured itself. Summarizing the criticism of the former structure, Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi said that too much emphasis was put on political matters to the detriment of economic and security concerns. Yemen’s foreign minister announced a new mechanism of donations, involving the formation of subgroups, to facilitate the release of funds. The new structure includes a steering committee to head the donor group as well as three working groups dedicated to politics, security, and the economy. The World Bank has welcomed the restructuring. [Yemen Times, Saba; 4/30/2014]

Yemen calls for help to tackle multiple crises
Yemen’s Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi highlighted the need to address the deteriorating economy, high unemployment, and widespread poverty at the Friends of Yemen forum in London. UK Foreign Minister William Hague said in the conference’s opening statement that assisting Yemen now was critical in order to give al-Qaeda “no place to hide.” The final statement issued by Yemen’s state news agency also stated that the donor group plans to meet again in September. [The Guardian, Saba News, 4/30/2014]

US senators remove requirement for disclosure over drone strike victims
US senators have removed a provision from a major intelligence bill that would require the president to publicly disclose information about drone strikes and their victims. The bill authorizing intelligence operations in fiscal 2014 passed out of the Senate intelligence committee in November, and it originally required the president to issue an annual public report clarifying the total number of “combatants” and “non-combatant civilians” killed or injured by drone strikes in the previous year. At the behest of James Clapper, director of national intelligence, the provision was dropped based on promises that the Obama administration was looking for its own ways to disclose more about its highly controversial drone strikes. [The Guardian, 4/30/2014]


Despite new era, anti-corruption agenda struggles in Yemen
Though addressing the issue of corruption was at the heart of the 2011 uprising, activists and observers note little positive movement toward reform. One activist notes that with the fall of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime, bribes have become less regulated in some senses and in some areas the public officials and security forces are more corrupt today than they were before the uprising. However, the issue has not dissipated in the minds of activists. The General Federation of Trade Unions withdrew support for the reconciliation government on Wednesday, calling for a “workers uprising” against corruption on Thursday. [IRIN, 4/30/2014]

Activists decry planned Oman border fence
While adjacent Yemen struggles to rein in violence across multiple provinces–including attacks on the military in the east and south as well as clashes with rebels in the north–Oman largely operates without the burden of either the domestic unrest or armed groups that plagues its neighbour. With the lingering fear that turmoil or fighting could spill into its peaceful terrain, however, Oman has discreetly begun preliminary surveys on a proposed security fence spanning the length of its border with Yemen. Eco-activists fear this could endanger local wildlife. [Al-Jazeera, 5/5/2014]