Monday, March 12, 2012

Yemenis go to Riyadh to seek funds

Tom Arnold
Mar 13, 2012
The new regime hopes the cash will flow after Ali Abdullah Saleh abided by a GCC-inspired transition plan to step down as president. This followed a year of violence and protests against his rule that brought the economy close to collapse.
"For the GCC this is an opportunity to show they're committed to ensuring political stability and helping Yemen return to growth," said Jarmo Kotilaine, the chief economist of NCB in Saudi Arabia.
"It's a country that needs help and I think finally that's been recognised by the GCC with the long-standing plan to bring Yemen into the fold and pursue a EU-style cohesive plan to accelerate its economic development."
Yemen has only a fraction of the wealth of its richer GCC cousins as its oil reserves dwindle. This month, the government unveiled a draft budget for the year that included a US$2.6bn (Dh9.5bn) budget deficit.
The officials going to Riyadh are seeking $3bn of $5.5bn that was previously pledged to Yemen by the GCC in 2006. That cash had been withheld because of the outbreak last year of violence and instability.
According to the UN, Yemen ranks 151st out of 177 countries on its Human Development Index, which gauges life expectancy, education and standard of living

Yemen tightens security to foil al-Qaeda suicide attacks

Mohammed al-Kibsi
Mar 12, 2012
The Yemeni ministry of interior announced on Monday of tightening security measures after uncovering plans for al-Qaeda to launch suicide attacks targeting vital facilities in Sana’a and other provinces.
A statement issued by the ministry of interior said that al-Qaeda plans to use car bombs for attacking Yemeni and foreign facilities in different parts of the country, particularly in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen.
Al-Qaeda had sat up a 10 days ultimatum for the Yemeni army to withdraw its forces from Abyan province otherwise al-Qaeda would implement the Flooding River Operation.
Sources affirmed that al-Qaeda had deployed over 400 fighters and suicide bombers to Sana’a.
The Yemeni authorities had announced that over 300 Somali Shabab had entered the country to support al-Qaeda.
They also announced of capturing 4 of the Somali Shabab in Taiz province. 
Over 36 al-Qaeda militants were killed in air strikes launched by Yemeni air force and US drones on Friday night, said local and official sources from al-Baidha province.
The governor of al-Baidha affirmed that over 36 al-Qaeda militants were killed in the air strikes however he did not mention whther the strikes were launched by Yemeni airforce or by US drones.
Local sources from al-Baidha and Abyan provinces said that US drones were heard minutes before the raid. 
Air strikes on suspected positions of al Qaeda-linked fighters in southern Yemen killed several militants, a Yemeni military official said on Saturday.
Other local sources said that fighter planes late on Friday raided western outskirts of al-Baidha town, where the Ansar al-Sharia militants have been converging and making new hide outs.
A military official source said that the attack targeted a gathering of al Qaeda elements and a number of them were killed.
Al Arabiya television said Friday's raid was believed to have been carried out by U.S. drones, but there has been no immediate confirmation of this.
The United States has repeatedly used drones in different parts of Yemen to attack militants of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
The air raids came several days after al-Qaeda attacked Yemeni military positions in Dawfas valley in Abyan province, killing over 120 soldiers and arresting dozens of them.

Deadly clashes between Yemen separatists, police

 (AFP) March 12, 2012
ADEN — Yemen police and southern separatists clashed on Monday in the country's mostly lawless southeast province of Hadramawt, with one person killed in the fighting, a medical official told AFP.
At least six other southern activists were injured in the clashes, three of them with gunshot wounds, said the medic, adding that all of the injured were being treated at a local hospital in the provincial capital of Mukalla.
According to a southern activist, who also spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity, the violence began after police used tear gas and live bullets to stop youths who were attacking shops for refusing to close down for the funeral of a fellow separatist.
Late last month, two Yemeni soldiers were killed in a gun battle that erupted when troops moved in to dismantle a tent camp of southern militants in the southern port city of Aden.
Soldiers met stiff resistance from the southerners, who have been camped in the square for months, and the fighting lasted for several hours before the troops managed to break up the camp.
Aden is a stronghold of southern militants demanding either autonomy or outright independence for the south, which was a separate country until 1990.
Southern activists seriously disrupted the single-candidate presidential poll in February which ended Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year rule over Yemen and made his deputy, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi the first new president in Sanaa since 1978.

Yemen national dialogue on shaky ground

Chiara Onassis | 12 March 2012
SANA’A: Just as Yemen is gearing up for a military confrontation with al-Qaeda in its southern provinces with daily security reports emphasizing the growing danger the terror is representing, the Joint Meeting Parties, an umbrella of political factions which united to oppose former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule, announced that they would not engage in any dialogue with the regime until President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi resumed the armed forces restructuring.
According to the GCC brokered power transfer agreement signed in November last year in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, all parties present, the regime and the opposition, agreed that upon the election of a new President of the Republic, the latter would oversee through a military committee the appointment of new military leaders as to re-balance the country’s power plates.
Although President Hadi did indeed appoint a new commander to the South and operate a few changes here and there, members of the opposition are waiting for him to tackle the main issue, that of President Saleh’s relatives.
However, the task is proven harder than first anticipated since, Ahmed Ali Saleh, Saleh’s eldest son and Head of the powerful Republican guards and Special Forces, and Yehia Mohamed Saleh, Saleh’s nephew and Head of the Central Security Forces are both holding within their hold the nation most potent and well-trained troops, which Yemen in its current fight against al-Qaeda cannot afford to jeopardize.
The US which said was keen to keep on the two men since they were long standing allies of the American anti-terrorism policy in the region and therefore important assets has thrown its weight into the argument, urging Hadi to postpone the restructuring until after the terror threat is lifted.
The JMP though is arguing against, saying that the ruling party is breaching the power-transfer terms, threatening to reconsider President Saleh’s immunity blanket if nothing is done soon to oust the 2 military chiefs.
 “We cannot engage in an inclusive national dialogue until the way is paved for it. The main thing that would lay the ground for the national dialogue is restructuring the army,” said Abdu Galal al-Adini, the opposition official spokesman.
He further added: “Combating terrorism is a corporate responsibility of the political leadership and the armed forces and that it’s not stipulated to a certain person or a military commander.”
Interestingly, revolutionaries are divided on the matter with many recognizing the necessity to maintain a sense of continuity within the armed forces as Yemen is literally at war with al-Qaeda in several southern provinces.
 “I don’t think we need to change our military leaders at present, we are at war. Politics and the military should not mix right now, not when we are facing the biggest threat against our nation in decades. The JMP should really refrain from urging soldiers to rebel against their commanders; it is anti-patriotic and could be considered an act of treason even. We need to stand behind our army and show soldiers the nation is supporting them. Before being members of a political party we are Yemenis and today we need to put that before everything,” said Abdel-Aleem Bugheti.

Internal displacement grows in Yemen

12 Mar 2012
Source: Content partner // UNHCR
Yemen is facing a new wave of internal displacement as tens of thousands of civilians flee tribal clashes in the north and renewed fighting between government troops and militant groups in the south.
The situation is particularly difficult in Haradh governorate north of the capital Sana'a where, according to Yemeni authorities, sporadic tribal clashes have displaced some 52,000 people over the past three months. This is in addition to the estimated 314,000 Yemenis already displaced in the north and unable to return to their homes in Sa'ada governorate.
Despite the peace agreement signed between the Yemeni government and Al-Houtis in June 2010, the situation in northern Yemen remains volatile. Insecurity hinders large-scale return and severely limits humanitarian access. We continue to run two camps for displaced Yemenis in the north and have been providing assistance to internally displaced people (IDPs) in the camps and in host communities.
Meanwhile, in the south, at least 1,800 people have been displaced in the last two weeks by the latest escalation in fighting between government troops and militants in Abyan governorate. The displaced from the town of Ja'ar now join more than 150,000 IDPs in the south. This includes virtually the entire populations of the towns of Zinjibar, Khanfar and Al-Kud, displaced since the beginning of the conflict last May. We estimate another 120,000 people are at risk of forced displacement.
Many residents of Ja'ar fled the approaching conflict. There were not enough places on local buses and consequently the price of renting vehicles has tripled. The journey to Aden, which normally a trip of just 30 minutes, has been taking more than five hours on difficult alternate roads in overloaded minibuses. More people are arriving daily.
Since last May most of the IDPs in the south have found shelter in Aden and in other towns and parts of Abyan where they have strong family and tribal links. Others took shelter in schools. Today 74 public schools in Aden shelter more than 20,000 IDPs.
Our operation in Yemen has assisted more than 80,000 IDPs in five southern governorates. We have also rehabilitated several vacant buildings to provide temporary shelter for some 2,000 IDPs, freeing up two schools for more than 3,000 students. Together with our partners we are positioning stocks and coordinating efforts to address the needs of the newly displaced. This biggest challenge remains shelter. Schools hosting IDPs in Aden are already filled to capacity and the host community cannot take more. With the recent arrivals there are now almost 20 people to a room in some schools. Some IDPs have only been able to find space in school grounds or in the halls.
In light of the increasing displacement and growing insecurity limiting movements of our staff both in the south and the north, UNHCR has set up local monitoring networks trained to recognize protection risks and urgent needs of IDPs to alert UNHCR and help ensure continued delivery of protection and assistance. UNHCR plans to double the number of networks this year.
As part of the UN country team, UNHCR is preparing a funding proposal for emergency response, addressing the deepening humanitarian crisis and new displacement in the north and south of Yemen. For 2012, UNHCR is seeking US$60 million to address the humanitarian needs of some 216,000 refugees and almost half a million IDPs in Yemen.