On Friday, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of most governorates across Yemen, making clear their discontent and frustration. The demonstrators advanced different messages, with some calling for the restoration of lost money stolen by members of the former regime, some calling for secession and independence, and others still calling for the resignation of the government; however, the theme of the protests that pervaded the country was “our revolution continues and no returning to the past.” Tawakkol Karman, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist, called on armed groups to put down their weapons to “build a modern Yemen where justice and equality prevail.” Speaking from Taiz, she called on the government to quickly implement its duty to disarm armed militias of heavy weapons. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), Al-Mashhad al-Yemeni (Arabic); 2/21/2014]



Is Yemen’s Revolution Defeated? by Atiaf Alwazir
Youth activist Atiaf Alwazir notes that “a complete break from the past is yet to be seen,” says Alwazir, commenting on Yemen’s thus far incomplete revolution. She warns that “with no real reform of government institutions, no rule of law, a deteriorating economy and a catastrophic humanitarian situation, conflicts throughout Yemen have dramatically increased.” [Al-Jazeera, 2/22/2014]

To Confront Security Dilemmas, Start With Security Forces by Adam Simpson
Building trust between the people of Yemen and the security services–pervasively viewed as corrupt and incompetent–is an immediate concern for the viability of Yemen’s transition, argues Simpson. [MENASource, 2/20/2014]

Women’s Challenges, and Opportunities, in Yemen by Isobel Coleman
Despite challenges facing Yemen in terms of security, economics, and secessionist threats, one of the key accomplishments of the National Dialogue Conference was the consistent inclusion of women, says Coleman, though much work remains. [Council on Foreign Relations, 2/19/2014]

Yemen’s Federal Plan Bold Idea, but Hurdles Remain by Yara Bayoumy
Bayoumy profiles the wide array of political opposition that has presented itself to Yemen’s proposed six-state federal plan. From Houthis demanding northern autonomy to Herak, demanding outright independence and secession, Yemen is faced with “a reality that bodes ill for a country already battling endemic poverty, poor governance, regional insurgencies and Al-Qaeda militancy.” [Reuters/The Daily Star, 2/24/2014]


Military officer details Houthi-tribesmen ceasefire, state of Yemen’s transition
The commander of the Yemeni reserve forces spoke in an interview about the ceasefire between the Houthi militants and the tribesmen of Irhab. While he praised both of the parties for the successful mediation, he warned that the state would take firm action against any party that violates the agreement or impedes its implementation. The two sides have exchanged detainees and removed barricades built to hinder travel and the flow of goods. Commenting on the restructuring of the military, he cautioned that though the modernization of the military is an important necessity, it will incur a high cost that may be more than the state can afford, particularly within the next decade as more personnel retire and need their pensions. [al-Masdar (Arabic), 2/20/2014]

Hadi allegedly gives Houthis an ultimatum
Sources claim that President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi gave a strict message to northern Houthi militants on Monday, saying that they have only two options before them: disarm and focus on political participation, or face confrontations with authorities and the people of Yemen. The statement was made in Amran during a meeting with tribal elders of the al-Ahmar tribe, a leading family of the Hashid Tribal Confederation, that has had repeated confrontations with Houthis. Though the statement reported on the government news agency’s website did not use such terms, the mayor of Sana’a, who played a key role in ceasefire negotiations between Houthis and Hashid tribesmen in Arhab confirmed the government’s intention to disarm the Houthis. [Shbab Press (Arabic), Al-Masdar (Arabic); 2/24/2014]


Former Southern leaders release statement
After years of rivalry, exiled leaders representing Southern secessionists have released a statement to the media, warning the central government in Sana’a about its actions in the South. Following their meeting in Beirut, former president Ali Nasser Muhammad al-Husayni, former vice president Ali Salem al-Beidh, and a leader of Herak, Hassan Baoum, have called for Friday protests. They also decried “ongoing repression,” citing clashes in al-Dali’ and the military blockade on Ghail Bawazir, calling upon the international community and regional actors to respond. Some observers commented that the meeting between the Southern leaders marks “a clear launching of war against [President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi] in the south.” [Voice Yemen (Arabic), Hadramawt Press (Arabic), Aden Live TV (Arabic); 2/20/2014]

Southern protesters clash with police in Aden
Following calls by the Southern separatist Herak movement for a million man march, protesters demanding Southern independence and voicing their opposition to National Dialogue Conference (NDC) outcomes began gathering in Aden last night. Aden’s security committee announced that central gathering places in the city would be closed off, citing concerns of a terrorist threat. The committee announced that no unauthorized gatherings would be permitted. Since last night, peaceful demonstrators have been met with tear gas and further clashes with police have left at least two dead due to live fire. [al-Mashhad al-Yemeni (Arabic), al-Masdar (Arabic), The Daily Star; 2/21/2014]

Central government halts printing of opposition newspaper
A newspaper associated with the Southern opposition has been barred from accessing government-owned printing presses, its editors said on Sunday. The paper in question reflects the views the Southern Herak separatists. An unidentified source in the central government claims that the newspaper was going through issues with its permit, but the paper denied this, calling the motivation political. [Reuters, 2/23/2014]


US drone strike may have violated international law
The US drone strike in December that made headlines after a convoy suspected of carrying a mid-level leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was found to be a wedding procession is the subject of a new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report. HRW found no evidence to suggest that any of the victims had ties to al-Qaeda. A HRW researched told Al Jazeera, “The likelihood of civilian casualties in this attack raises serious questions about whether US forces are complying with President Obama’s policy that the US only strikes when it has ‘near-certainty’ that no civilians will be harmed.” [Al Jazeera, al-Masdar (Arabic); 2/20/2014]

Ultra-conservative Islamist assassinated, al-Qaeda suspected
Salafi Shaikh Ali Bawazir was gunned down by alleged al-Qaeda militants in front of a Quranic school in Hadramawt on Wednesday. Bawazir had previously called on AQAP fighters to leave his town, saying their presence was endangering civilians there, naming specifically the threat of drone strikes. He had previously served as a mediator between the government and AQAP forces. [al-Masdar (Arabic), Gulf News; 2/20/2014]

Latest shoe bomb threat linked to Yemen-based AQAP
The latest warning to airlines about shoe-bomb threats is a product of heightened US concern about the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), whose leaders include a technically-savvy bombmaker, US security sources said on Thursday. Homeland Security authorities on Wednesday issued a new warning about shoe bombs to airlines that fly from overseas to the United States out of concern that Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, a Saudi believed to have been planning airliner-related attacks on the United States in 2009 and 2010, may have come up with new bomb design innovations to evade airport security measures. [Reuters, 2/21/2014]


UNSC promulgates draft resolution to establish sanctions committee
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has released the draft resolution that would create a sanctions committee capable of imposing asset freezes and travel bans on political actors threatening Yemen’s transition. The UNSC has previously expressed concern with specific reference to Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president deposed as a result of the 2011 uprising, and Ali Salem al-Beidh, former Vice-President and formative leader in the country’s Southern separatist movement. [Reuters, 2/21/2014]

Benomar meets with Gulf representatives
UN Special Adviser on Yemen Jamal Benomar met with the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) permanent representatives in New York yesterday to discuss the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference and the remaining tasks in the Gulf Initiative that set Yemen on the path to transition. In a statement following the meetings, Benomar emphasized the important role Gulf countries play in supporting the political transition. [al-Masdar (Arabic), 2/18/2014]

International press freedom conference scheduled for mid-year
Yemen’s state news agency announced on Monday that the country will host the 2014 International Conference on Press Freedom in the middle of the year, in collaboration with the regional journalists’ syndicates and the International Federation of Journalists. This news comes soon after Reporters Without Borders released its annual World Press Freedom Index, placing Yemen in 167th place out of 180. Speaking on Yemen, the report stated that though press freedoms have improved since the transition process began, a range of armed groups—Houthis, separatists, al-Qaeda, and others—continue to threaten journalists. [Saba, 2/18/2014]


World Bank fears that expelled expats will compound economic woes
In a new report on the Middle East economic outlook, the World Bank states concerns that the 700,000 migrant workers being repatriated from Saudi Arabia will compound Yemen’s already considerable economic challenges. Yemen has the highest rate of poverty in the Middle  East as well as the highest rate of unemployment. However, some good news from the report suggests that Yemen’s growth rate could increase to six percent as non-oil sectors continue to develop. [al-Masdar (Arabic), 2/19/2014]

Qatar opens its labor market to Yemen
Though Yemen is beset by numerous economic issues, unemployment remains a primary obstacle to recovery. However, following a recent agreement with Qatar, Yemenis have begun travelling to the country to offer their labor to help Qatar prepare for the 2022 World Cup. Part of the agreement includes investment in vocational and specialized training at colleges and institutes in Sana’a and Aden. [Al-ShorfaYemen Post, 2/24/2014]

Natural gas to be developed in al-Jawf
The Safer Exploration & Production Operations Company completed the drilling of the first of five wells early this week in a project stretching from Marib to al-Jawf. The general manager of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Authority said that the area “is very rich in gas. Though the block might contain some oil, gas [is the more important discovery].” Yemen has an estimated 18.2 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, much of it unexploited. Local analysts believe that the discovery could lead to renewed investment in the country. [Yemen Times, 2/20/2014]

Protesters renew march against Total LNG arrangements
Student and youth activists gathered in Sana’a yesterday protesting the arrangements of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) deal with the French-based energy company Total. In addition, they called for an end of the monopoly on Yemen’s energy sector and for more transparency on the economy’s energy reserves, demanding that the government disclose the amount of oil, gas, and minerals remaining. [al-Masdar (Arabic), 2/21/2014]

Yemen’s billionaires and social responsibility
Though Yemen is more often associated with chronic poverty problems, the country does have a modest collection of billionaires. In a country where fourteen million people (out of twenty-four million) make less than two dollars a day, social inequalities that have deepened since 2011 have begun to stir conversations about social responsibility. The Yemen Post profiles some of the country’s richest citizens, looking at how they use their fortune in such a context. [Yemen Post, 2/18/2014]