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US Cent Com Propose $1.2 Bn for Yemeni Military U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East and South Asia, proposed $1.2 Bn USD worth of funds for Yemen’s military over five years. Yet senior U.S. diplomats and experts warn of a widening imbalance between fast-growing U.S. military support and the slow pace of civilian development assistance, which is aimed at peeling away popular support for Islamists, the Wall Street Journal reported. Dr. Christopher Boucek , a fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, through exclusive correspondence with the National Yemen, warned that: “While there is an immediate counterterrorism priority in Yemen, it would be a mistake to focus too narrowly on military and security assistance.” “The United States and the international donor community need to focus on the larger systemic challenges to Yemeni stability such as the economy, unemployment, governance, corruption, and resource depletion. In addition to fighting terrorism, we need to also work to build the capacity, capability, and the legitimacy of the Yemeni government to provide
services and be present throughout the entire country,” Dr. Boucek continued. However, there has already been substantial US military action in Yemen. The U.S. military had previously conducted a number of missile strikes against Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), but insists that the funds will go to training and equipment procurement. The missile strikes were all approved by US ambassador to Yemen, Mr. Stephen Seche, who has criticized the proposal, arguing that Yemen simply does not have the capacity to absorb such large sums, the Wall Street Journal reported. Others voiced concerns that the plans would risk overmilitarizing Yemen and would fuel a wider insurgency. Officials added that safeguards would be needed to ensure that the US resources are not diverted by the Yemeni government to fight against domestic rivals, the Wall Street Journal stated. Yemen has long drawn the attention of the U.S. military and intelligence agencies. The CIA named AQAP as the top terror threat to US security, as Al-Qaida in Pakistan has been crippled by predator drone strikes, the Washington Post re-
Yemen LNG Re-routed from U.S. to Korea The Ministry of Oil & Minerals is taking practical steps to carry out the President’s directives to reconsider the price of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) sold to the Korean market, Yemeni Minister Amir Salem Al-Aidaroos said. Negotiations were continuing with Korean Kogas (the procurer of about a third of Yemeni gas and also a shareholder partner in the project) to improve sales prices in light of Asian market needs as well as while the U.S. and European markets have witnessed a sharp decrease in their high prices, he said in an interview with 26 September newspaper which has yet to be published. He pointed out that Kogas has neither agreed nor disagreed to raising the price; however, there are alternatives for re-shipment of certain quantities, which were scheduled to the U.S. market, to the Korean market by the same company. Al-Aidaroos said that the government was able to cancel
ported. “Iraq was yesterday’s war. Afghanistan is today’s war. If we don’t act pre-emptively, Yemen will be tomorrow’s war”, US Senator Joseph Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said earlier this year during his visit to Sana’a, Xinhua News Agency highlighted. There may, however, be some form of blowback with such a large military assistance strategy. In January this year (after the ‘Detroit Bomber’ incident), over 100 religious leaders from around the country gathered in the capital, proclaiming that they would call for Jihad if there was a foreign military invasion, Xinhua reported. Spokesman, Bryan Whitman, tried to temper speculations, announcing: “It’s premature to predict the precise nature or amount of assistance that might come out of this process.” He went on to say that the U.S. government had adopted a “holistic approach” to Yemen, and that security aid was coupled with civilian assistance to help the country with “political, economic and social challenges,” AFP noted.
or reduce some of the fines resulting from delayed gas shipments to the Korean market due to the six-month delay in launching the export. The Minister said that 20 shipments of gas, which had been designated for the U.S. market, were redirected on Aug. 31 to the markets of India, China, Japan, Spain and Kuwait, achieved extra returns to Yemen in a minimum of $322,000 USD and a maximum of $15 million. “We will sell in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean to reduce transportation costs; we will also create new markets,” Mr. Al-Aidaroos stated.
AQAP Leader Captured in Lawdar On Friday the security services in Abyan governorate captured two al-Qaeda elements in Lawdar, Abyan; one of them being an AQAP leader called Salah Ali Abdullah Al-Domani, Yemen’s Ministry of Defense announced. “The security men at the checkpoint of Mafraq Amsha’ah
16 000 Weapons Seized Last Month Security Information Center
The security services captured 16 238 assorted weapons and over 15 thousand rounds of bullets for a variety of weapons this August. They said they seized 769 firearms within cities, and the remaining number of guns had been seized in security belt areas in key gover-
“La Tad Bish Nish / Don’t Disturb Us!” at Heriken Theatre in Crater (Aden) through Eid is a stunning musical, mixing classic and rap songs, that carefully critiques Yemeni society, performed by Re-Action, a student theatrical group.
norates and cities of Yemen. The security services said that the weapons seized last month were kept for legal proceedings, and the release of any weapon only happens under the direct orders of the Interior Minister.
Armed Tribesmen Loot UNICEF Aid Convoy A group of armed tribesmen looted four trucks carrying UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) aid for the internally displaced people (IDP) in the northern province of Sa’ada, which has witnessed long sporadic war between the government and Houthi rebels in the past six years, the Interior Ministry said on Friday, the Xinhua News Agency informed. In a statement posted on its website, the ministry said armed groups belonging to AlOsaimat tribe in ‘Amran province, north of Sana’a and south of Sa’ada, intercepted the aid convoy late Thursday in Houth district of ‘Amran, while the convoy was en route from
Sana’a to IDP’s camps in Sa’ada Security forces were hunting down the groups to arrest them and regain the aid worth 44,000 U.S. dollars for the IDPs in Sa’ada, said the statement. According to a July report by the UN refugee agency UNHCR, the conflict between Houthi rebels and the government caused 342,000 IDPs in north Yemen. The supervisor of the IDP’s camps told that there were still thousands of residents in the troubled northern provinces fleeing to camps to take shelter nowadays.
in Lawdar city last week captured Salah Ali Abdullah AlDomani while escaping after he had thrown bombs on the security headquarters in Lawdar city,” a local source told 26 September Net. “The security men detained another element today, a suspected AQAP member called M. Aid-
hah,” the source continued. The source pointed out that the security forces found parapets at the suspect’s home which terrorists would use for cover during a firefight when resisting the security forces.” He said that investigations are currently underway with Al-Domani and Aidhah.
Yemeni Government: Rebels Violate Peace Deal The Yemeni government on Friday accused the country’s northern rebels of violating a newly-signed peace deal brokered by Qatar, Xinhua reported. The rebels recently escalated its armed presence in the Harf Sufian district of ‘Amran province, south of the troubled province of Sa’ada, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. The rebels also deployed militants on several locations along the main highways linking Harf Sufian to Sa’ada, and Harf Sufian to Barat region, it continued. With such acts and recent attacks on government troops and local tribal residents, the rebels have seriously breached the six-point truce agreement that they signed with the government on Feb. 11th and the recently re-approved peace deal in Qatar on Aug. 26th, according to the statement. It said the rebels have occupied public schools, hospitals and other state facilities in
the Harf Sufian region, and were continuing building strongholds in the areas they still controlled. On Aug. 26, the Yemeni government and northern Shiite rebels signed an agreement in Doha to cement a fragile cease-fire in northern Yemen that ended sporadic battles since 2004. The agreement, mediated by the Qatari government, set a timetable for implementing previous truce deals, including the 2008 Doha peace agreement and the Feb. 11, 2010 cease-fire deal. However, two days later, rebels shot dead a pro-government tribal leader in the flashpoint province of Sa’ada. There have been sporadic battles since 2004 between Yemeni government troops and the Houthi rebels. The government has accused the rebels of seeking to re-establish the clerical rule overthrown by the 1962 Yemeni revolution that created the Yemeni republic.
Sunday, Sep 05, 2010 Issue 14 www.nationalyemen.com
LOCAL Sana’a University Bans Sex Discussions, Student Suspended
Fakhri al-Arashi Publisher & Chief Editor
Only a few days are left for the holy month to end. A month devoted to fasting, obedience, prayers, Zakat, mercy, forgiveness, spiritual ascension and cleansing of earthly vices. If you reflect upon the past days you will realize that the month seems to have flown by, as if it started just yesterday. In this 30 day period, there were several activities that occur characteristically only in Yemen; substantially changed and reduced working hours, slow productivity, and the peacefully (and eerily) deserted streets in the early morning are the most noticeable phenomena. Adding to an already prevalent spirit of procrastination, government projects were postponed, along with private businesses, and multiple threats of al-Qaeda members to some foreign interests. Ramadan witnesses substantially increased car accidents that caused more than 200 fatalities, and injured around 1000 drivers and pedestrians. There was also reported frequent disputes in business, grievous and needless fights in the streets, tantrums (or “humour failures” as the deputy editor jokingly refers to them) and the excessive consumption of different type of foods and beverages at Iftar.
Ramadan was not like this and should not be spent in such a manner. The purpose of Ramadan was to develop man’s nature, his mentality and spirituality, enhancing one’s generosity and social responsibility toward the poor and less fortunate. Also self-educational values and principles are imparted by observing fasting – one not only feels greater empathy and solidarity with those less fortunate, but also learns moral self-restraint. But despite these contradictory emotions (anger and lethargy simultaneously) which dominated the month, there has been some civil progress. Positive activities seem to have been accomplished by the Government which effectively carried out a number of successful military operations against Al-Qaida affiliates. The shaky truce with the Houthis was agreed to, once again, in Qatar. Yemen finally won the confidence of the region for it to hold the Gulf 20 Football tournament. Ministries are streamlining their budgets, cutting away any non-essential expenses. Ramadan, a trying month, ends with Eid; just like a celebration and reward following the success of a completed mission or a target met. But as we conclude this year’s fasting and bid farewell to the holy month, we should all remember the lessons learnt and strive to be steadfast in all the good things we have become accustomed to the month. I join the millions of faithful Muslims in praying to almighty Allah to accept our acts of worship and free us from temptation and have mercy upon our lives to witness many more Ramadans. So long, farewell Ramadan. Welcome Eid!
6th Ramadan Coalition Protest Journalists’ Detention Scores of lawyers, journalists and human rights activists staged a protest march on the afternoon of Thursday 2nd September outside the Presidential Palace in Sana’a to deliver a message to the President of the Republic for the violations of human rights of the National Security bureau and demand the release of journalist Abdul Elah Shay’e and caricaturist Kamal Sharaf. When the activists were prevented from going on to the gate of the House of Presidency, they held a sit-in protest in front of the Al-Sabeen Platform and their letter was submitted to a Presidential representative. The activists have been prevented from holding their protest stand, which was named the “6th Ramadan Coalition.” They were harassed and many of them were taken to Al-Sabeen District Police Station where they were detained until directions came of moving them back to the AlSabeen Platform. Additionally, the photographers of AlJazeera and Al-Hurrah chan-
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nels were prevented from doing their jobs. The 6th Ramadan Coalition confirmed that even if their message did not reach the president, publishing it in the media was a good way to make it available to the president and the public prosecutor. It is also an opportunity to file a complaint to the Public Prosecutor against the soldiers who directed offensive language against the claimers of a peaceful right. People who have claims and demands are allowed to gather at the Al-Saba’een Platform); tribes meet there, as well. However, journalists and lawyers are not allowed to even deliver a letter, and some of them were being threatened to be shot. The 6th Ramadan Coalition stressed that they will hold a consultation meeting next Saturday at the Journalists Syndicate to discuss the results and decide on the subsequent steps to be taken should the detention of Haidar and Sharaf and violation of their natural and legal rights continue.
Fakhri Hassan Al-Arashi Publisher & Chief Editor
Sunday, Sep 05, 2010 Issue 14 www.nationalyemen.com
The faculty of Information at Sana’a University threatens to suspend student Al-Azazi for publication of a press file which deals with sex Sana’a University threatened to suspend the student Abdul-Razaq Hashim Al-Azazi for two consecutive years for discussing sex in Yemen in his graduation dissertation entitled “Youth Talk” which he presented to the Media Department early last June. The Dean of the faculty has more than once accused Al-Azazi of abusing the country and the Yemeni family by introducing a number of studies and books which speak about sex in Yemen and a number of other press materials. The Media Section rejected the dissertation, which caused controversy and outcry at the university, and perhaps led to his assault amid silence of the dean and security of the university. Al-Azazi subsequently submitted a new dis-
sertation entitled “Youth of the Homeland” to the Media Department last July at the request of the dean. The department included it within the eight graduation dissertations at the 5th Media Festival held last July 5th to 7th, but prevented him from discussing it, despite it having been approved on 21st July. Uponthe decision of the dean, the board of the faculty held investigations with AlAzazi. During this month investigations were held with a number of witnesses who testified that Al-Azazi was in contact with his supervisor for notes. So far, no written decisions have been made regarding this issue, only oral / verbal warnings, which started with discouraging Al-Azazi on the subject, then allowing him to enter the final tests of the term and ended with threats of his suspension.
$45 Billion Required for Millennium Development Goals Yemen needs $44.5 billion for 2010-2015 to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), according to a recent report by the Ministry of Planning & International Cooperation Yemen will not be able to achieve most of its Millennium Development Goals by 2015, due to the decline in actual spending on the programs and projects of the MDGs, a recent report on the current status of the millennium development indices showed. The recent report said that the total actual expenditure on the sectors of the Millennium Development came to $3.86 billion during 2006-2009. The foreign funding from grants and loans is currently $1.12 billion, which is 30% of the total actual expenditure on these sectors. However, the report said the total actual expenditure of domestic and foreign sources is just 8% of the total requirements. Thus, the total amount of funds that is outstanding but must be earmarked in order to achieve the MDGs is as much as $44.5 billion for 2010-2015. Despite the developments achieved in the allocation made during and after the donor conference in London 2006, which amounted to $5.76 billion, the amount of resources that still need to be provided to achieve the MDGs is just shy of $39 billion, in case these allocations are completed and made available for spending on projects related to the Millennium Development Goals. However, the original report said that Yemen could achieve the Millennium Goals if it provided$1.77 billion annually. The report noted that the unexpected decline in the over-
Mohammed Al-Asaadi Editorial Consultant
Mansoor Al-Rdaei News Editor
all resources of the state, especially in terms of oil revenues, due to the decline in prices and production quantities of oil, which have weakened the state’s ability to mobilize resources and domestic savings. Security problems and the threat of terrorist, which drain public resources, harm the investment environment and the flow of tourists, and have severely exacerbated the situation. The report went on to say that the MDG requirements primarily centered upon rural development, through improving infrastructure and provision of educational and health services. The requirements also included the support of social projects aimed at developing the capacities of the poor and increasing their productivity, and support of projects which aim at raising the efficiency of the agricultural sector and fisheries by modernizing their methods. Other requirements include the development of educational institutions at different stages and development of curricula and building their capacity. Others include expanding family incentive programs to encourage girls and children of poor families to join education, especially in rural areas, and supporting and facilitating the empowerment of women, both economically and politically, and reducing the gender gap. Supporting programs of population education, boosting the potential of reproductive health, immunization of children and providing basic health services needed in all areas of the Republic, especially in rural areas, also fall within those requirements of the millennium.
Fuad Al-Qadhi Business Editor
Friends of Yemen Group Discuss National Dialogue Ahead of Yemeni Elections A meeting to discuss how to support the National Dialogue process in Yemen ahead of the elections scheduled for next year will be held by the ‘Friends of Yemen’ Group later this month on the 24th September, Yemen, Great Britain and Saudi Arabia announced. The governments of the three states have renewed, in a joint statement, their commitment towards the Friends of Yemen Group (FYG) and prioritized a meeting in New York. Among the priorities is how to ensure continuation of the economic development in Yemen, especially via the InternationalMonetary Fund Program, with which an agreement has been reached recently. After the meeting was announced, the Secretary of State for the British Foreign Affairsfor the Middle East, Alistair Burt, stressed his country’s commitment towards working closely with Yemen and its
Ministry of Interior: Southern Movement Complicit With AQAP “The southern separatist movement and Al-Qaeda are two sides of the same terrorism coin”, an official security source in Yemen said. On its website, the Yemeni Ministry of Interior quoted the source saying, “The investigation into the terrorist crimes that occurred recently, where security and military personnel in the Governorate of Abyan were targeted, revealed that there is coordination between both sides to target the security and stability of that governorate.” This statement is the first of its kind, in which a Yemeni official, with the approval of the authorities, explicitly and publicly accused complicity between the southern separatist movement with Al-Qaeda, although this linking was previously implied. The southern separatist movement had warned and urged the government against connecting it to Al-Qaida and
targeting its leaders and stifling its peaceful political activities under the auspices of combating terrorism and eliminating Al-Qaeda. The government remains adamant. “Coordination and cooperation between terrorist elements of Al Qaeda and elements of the so-called the southern movement became even more pronounced in the events of Lawdar District late last month. Elements of the southern movement from Yafe’, Abyan and other areas rushed to support terrorist elements of Al-Qaeda, which suffered a crushing defeat in Lawdar District. Many Al-Qaeda elements were captured in a combing and cleansing operation,” the source said. “The agendas of both the so-called Southernist movement and Al-Qaeda are united in frantic attempts to the detriment of Yemen and its higher interests,” the source added.
Southern Secessionist Rally
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neighbors, and expressed his approval and praise that the three governments were able to jointly announce the upcoming ministerial meeting for the FYG. He pointed out that this is a new step towards an international support to coordinate the efforts of Yemen in enhancing development and combating terrorism. The minister added, “Yemen is facing many challenges and it is important for the Yemeni people and Britain, and the whole international community as well, to achieve social and economic progress in order to achieve development and reinforce the security it needs and deserves.” The Friends of Yemen Group is formed from representatives of Yemen, member states of the GCC and the G8, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
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Future of Yemeni Labor Depends on Gulf The most important and worrying disparity in the labor market in Yemen is between supply and demand for labor, a recent study revealed. The study, prepared by the Director of Studies at the Ministry of Planning & International Cooperation said that despite the increasing attention given to the education sector, it is still unable to move forward towards identifying the requirements created by the labor market. Graduates of vocational and university education face many difficulties that hinder their recruitment and absorption into the labor market. Some of these difficulties include: weakness of the required skills and jobs do not match specific specializations or industry recognized qualifications, in addition to low employment opportunities in the administrative division of the state. However, the study criticized the role of the private sector in the deterioration in terms of creating new employment opportunities. With regard to the Yemeni
labor in the Gulf, the study said the Gulf was significantly unable to absorb the Yemeni labor in any form: skilled / unskilled, qualified / unqualified. The majority of labor coming into the Gulf, the report notes, is of limited skill and quality. They work in sectors where Yemeni labor can compete, particularly in construction, trade, restaurants, hotels, agriculture, transport as well as personal services. This means that Yemen has potential to meet the needs of Gulf labor markets on the one hand, and on the other, to ease the problems of unemployment and to thaw the job freeze in the Yemeni labor market. The employment opportunities are supposed to increase, especially those of Gulf States which have ambitious development plans for the present and the future to build more than 50 cities and economic and industrial zones in the coming years. These are expected to generate an additional 1.5 million jobs. Therefore, the future of the Yemeni labor in the Gulf will de-
New Sales Tax Terms Five point settlement agreement between The Customs Authority and the private sector to apply to sales tax. Chairman of the Customs Authority: “most traders agree with the sales tax law. The authority continuously receives disclosure statements from taxable persons.” Many traders have submitted their disclosure statements, but some others asked to be given a chance for the processing of their tax disclosure statements as per the sales tax law, said Mr. Ahmed Ghaleb, Chairman of the Customs Authority. Mr. Ahmed Ghaleb said that during a recent visit by Dr. Ali Mujawar, Prime Minister, to the authority, he stressed the need to implement the law with full force and with all its mechanisms, and to take all legal means to apply the tax law on sales. Accordingly, a field visit was made and the responses were positive. The authority now receives disclosure statements and affairs are deemed positive and encouraging. He pointed out that the authority will work in the coming period at a high level to achieve the financial targets approved in the state budget through the collection of tax revenues of all kinds. Mr. Ghaleb said “the authority’s leadership will be very flexible with all those who comply and implement the law. They will be provided all facilitation and all forms of cooperation. The authority is prepared to form a joint committee with the private sector to address any issues that might arise, whether technical or administrative, in relation to implementation of the law. Strict measures will be taken against violators in accordance with the provisions of the law.” The authority and the private sector have recently signed an agreement consisting of five items for the implementation of the tax law on sales, after the law created a lot of controversy and contention that reached the courts. According to some sources, it has been agreed
that, at present tax, disclosure statements may be submitted every three months instead of every 21 days, provided that taxpayers pay 50% of the sum they calculate and remit that to the bank every 45 days, and pay the rest of the amount after 3 months from the presentation of their disclosure statements. According to the agreement, a joint committee from the Customs Authority, the Chamber of Commerce in the Capital Secretariat and the General Union of Chambers of Commerce & Industry to resolve any problems that might arise between the Customs Authority and the taxpayers by means that are satisfactory to both parties. The terms of the agreement are as follows: Formation of a joint committee of representatives from the Customs Authority, the Chamber of Commerce in the Capital Secretariat and the General Union of Chambers of Commerce and Industry to resolve any issues that might arisebetween the Customs Authority and the taxpayers by means that are satisfactory to both parties. Processing and reviewing and facilitating the stock of goods merchants had from 2005 until 31st June 2010. Processing of stagnant stock and returned post-sale goods. Processing of expired goods, commercially expired goods and returned goods for which the merchants has paid taxes. Agreeing on presenting disclosure statements, facilitating procedures and reducing pressure on importers by providing disclosure statements every three months after importing, instead of every 21 days. This is provided that taxpayers pay 50% of the amount they calculate and their remittances to the bank every 45 days and pay the remaining balance within three months from submitting the disclosure statement, without the contention of the tax officer with merchant tax.
pend basically on the political decision of the GCC states and the need of the incoming labor market. It will also depend on what the Government of Yemen will achieve in the qualification and training of Yemeni labor to meet the needs of the local labor mar-
ket in order for them to compete in Gulf labor markets. This comes at a time when the Gulf economy has become much more complicated today than ever before, and new sectors such as banking, real estate, tourism and petrochemical industries (and others) have
emerged. Consequently, the demands necessitate improving the qualities of the Yemeni labor, which can only happen by setting high industry standards in education and training that is commensurate with the requirements of the local and regional labor mar-
kets. National programs and policies must target restructuring the education and training systems and re-orient their programs to improve the competitiveness of Yemeni human resources both locally and regionally.
MOF Outlines Sectors for Investment Ministry of Finance: new budget will channel financial resources to capital investments and increase of the overall resources of the state through revenue channels The Central Bank raises interest rates to 20%, depriving the country of domestic and foreign investments.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Mikhlafi
“Recent amendments in investment and sales laws and income tax come within the framework of mobilizing all possible financial resources to be collected for the state and public bodies of the state so that it can fulfill its obligations towards public spending … and develop public resources to attain revenue channels which the state has not reached yet. Therefore, those resources will be sustained leading to economic development,” Dr. Abdullah AlMikhlafi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Finance for the Financial Affairs Sector said. Dr. Al-Mikhlafi said that the development strategy is generally based on two dimensions: the first is the balanced growth, where the State develops all economic sectors at a time, which requires large financial resources and capacity; the second is the strategy of unbalanced growth, where the State develops a specific sector and channels all resources to this sector until it becomes successful, and then this sector feeds and develops other sectors. “In spite of limited resources in our country, we’re pursuing the strategy of balanced growth. We conduct balanced development in all areas, which draws unusual resources from the state budget and more from the financial capacity of the state. This leads to a deficit in
the budget, which, I think, is a healthy phenomenon in all economies of third world countries. It is not a defect; it rather supports the Yemeni economy.” He added that the new budget functions, in light of the policy of rationalization, in two directions by increasing the state’s public resources and having an access to revenue channels. This requires the concerted efforts of all state institutions and society. It does not mean that the State intends to overload citizens with new financial burdens. It is rather working to reach the revenue channels that have not yet been reached by financial institutions yet and taking resources that should be collected for the state. “The other direction is represented in the indicators of the new budget by reducing spending in areas of luxury such as furniture, equipment and vehicles, etc. This issue is clear to the Ministry of Finance and therefore reflected in the next public budget.” He noted that: “everyone is working under His Excellency the president’s recent directions of cutting back spending by reducing luxury consumption and focusing as much as possible on redirecting the financial resources to capital investments that lead to absorption of part of the poverty and unemployment in the community. The policy of cutting back public spending, produced by the Government, recently has been favorable.” However, the policy of the Central Bank was not successful when it raised interest rates, especially in light of the global financial crisis and economic recession, which requires an expansion fiscal policy to increase investment levels. Among the rationalization policies was the Central Bank’s raising of interest rates to 20%, which has more deprived the country of domestic and foreign
investments. It has caused local investments to invest outside the country and the foreign investors coming to Yemen will be even more reluctant to invest because of the high interest rates. “Meanwhile, some are talking about cutting back spending on defense and security institutions. We believe that it is important to keep spending on such institutions because they have protected the country’s development and achievements since the 1962 revolution until now. So, spending on these institutions is a necessity and not a luxury as viewed by some people.” Al-Mikhlafi said the State has five promising sectors that can be exploited to increase resources and improve the economic conditions and growth rates: 1) The fisheries sector is the most important; it is more promising than oil because it is a renewable wealth, as put by the president in many occasions. 2) Tourism is a promising sector because the cost of investment is low compared to investing in other areas and sectors besides the availability of tourist potential and diversity from one province to another. 3) The agriculture sector. It is known that the Yemeni economy and society depend mainly on the agricultural sector. Moreover, until the end of the 70s, the society was totally dependent on agriculture, particularly in rural areas, until internal and external migration and scarcity of rain made this sector decline. Yet, we still count on this sector in the development process of our country. 4) Gas is the fourth sector as we hold relatively large reserves. 5) Finally, the agro-industrial and mining sectors because our country possesses the ele-
ments of these industries due to the availability of different raw materials of iron, zinc, copper, gold, aluminum and others in larger quantities than in major countries. On the problem of the volatility of the exchange rate of the dollar, Al-Mikhlafi said that the problem behind the rise in the dollar to more than 250 riyals in a short time was not due to economic reasons. It was rather due to speculations in the exchange market. The Central Bank should have focused on this problem from the very beginning and should have realized that the source of the problem was the exchange market. “It is true that the Central Bank intervened strongly by pumping foreign currency in the exchange market to maintain monetary stability, unfortunately, the problem persisted, the dollar continued to rise and the riyal declined sharply in contrast.” In the first half of 2010, the Central Bank pumped more than $500 million into the market, but when it reconsidered its policies and pumped hard currency into commercial banks, which are bound by meeting the requirements of the market and the public of hard currency, whether to open letters of credit or otherwise, it was able to control the exchange rates and speculators lost the chance. “They felt that the Central Bank started using its institutional mechanisms and therefore they [speculators] could not chance speculation, let along His Excellency the President’s firm directions to the government to punish anyone speculating on hard currency. These measures helped citizens to regain trust in the state and consequently the dollar exchange rate, although not exactly like before.”
Sunday, Sep 05, 2010 Issue 14 www.nationalyemen.com
Alwan Al-Shaibani - Chairman of the Universal Group
Fatima Al-Huraibi - Executive Director of the Tourism Board
On Sunday 29th August Turkish Airlines hosted a glittering event in the ballroom of the Movenpick Hotel. It was themed “Delights of Ramadan, Delights of Turkey”, and featured a delightful Iftar supper and dinner for foreign dignitaries and business partners. The in-country area manager of Turkish Airlines, Serkan Özbüyükyörük, delivered a scintillating speech to the guests and delegates after the sumptuous dinner was served. He announced the highlights of the Turkish Airlines performance and growth, globally, and within Yemen.
Turkish airlines, now the ninth biggest airline in the world covers 169 destinations across four continents (69 are in Europe alone). It has the youngest fleet in Europe, and boasts 142 planes but will have grown to 200 aircraft over the next three years. The airline will also shortly open its ‘Comfort Class’ on major routes, which will combine the comforts of business class with the affordability of economy classes. Amongst all the facts and figures, however, Mr. Özbüyükyörük‘s overarching message was clear – Turkish Airlines is connecting Yemen
to the world, and the world to Yemen. The sentiment was echoed by the Turkish Ambassador to Yemen, H. E. Mr. Mehmet Donmez, who outlined that Turkish Airlines’ increasingly frequent and accessible flights to and from Yemen were symbolic of Turkey’s commitment, confidence and investment in Yemen. Turkish Airlines began its Sana’a route in 2006, with two flights a week. Today it operates four weekly services, and plans are already in place to further improve by offering a daily service.
Sunday, Sep 05, 2010 Issue 14 www.nationalyemen.com
Sunday, Sep 05, 2010 Issue 14 www.nationalyemen.com
Sunday, Sep 05, 2010 Issue 14 www.nationalyemen.com
Traditional women’s costumes endure By Najla Al-Shaibani
Despite the passage of time, Yemeni women in most areas continue to wear their traditional costumes, to which only a few modern improvements have been made. While these costumes, which are practical and made to last, constitute an enduring symbol of the past, they are nevertheless animated with a modern spirit and continue to thrive. As resilient as these traditional garments are, they are equally diverse across the country. Garments worn by women in mountainous areas differ completely from those worn by women in coastal areas, which differ from those worn elsewhere.
Costumes from each region have their own distinguishing characteristics. In the mountain areas, women’s costumes are hand woven with great skill. Generally woven from cotton, in primary colors-especially red, green, blue and yellow, with simple overlaps of white, there are usually embellishments in silk yarn, and especially gold and silver thread. These costumes are decorated with coral beads, sequins, coins, and precious and semi-precious stones, including pearls. According to Amat Al-Razzaq Jahaf, a researcher of Yemeni traditional dress, in mountainous areas the women’s costumes are only decorated in the front and at the end of the sleeves. In the central highlands, costumes are characterized by dense embroidered areas that involve most of the dress, with simple decorative elements such as contiguous straight lines that are embroidered with cotton and silk yarn. Wool, cotton, linen and silk textiles as well as modern synthetic fabrics are used. The dress covers the whole body, with buttons for the opening at
the chest and the long sleeves may end with closed cuffs. Sometimes the sleeves are extremely long and reach halfway down the leg in length. This is typical of a wedding dress; though the sleeves of a normal dress generally reach only the wrist. Costumes in coastal areas feature a lot of straight, parallel lines and are characterized by light colors, usually white. The dress is light and soft, owing to the extreme heat along the coast, and is embroidered on the front and back. A second dress, made of mixed cotton and linen is worn over this dress, for occasions when the woman want to leave the house. This second dress is basically a large square piece of cloth, the width of the woman’s “wingspan” with sleeves as wide as the first dress is long. A head covering made of cotton and dyed red and black completes the outfit. Intricate embroidery is a major feature of practically all traditional Yemeni costumes. These days, garments are increasingly embroidered by machine; however, the practice of hand embroidery
with needle and thread continues to this day. Most Yemeni women are keen to use colorful silk threads, either exclusively, or alongside metallic threads in gold and silver hues. The quantity of embroidery depends on the type of the costume and, more importantly, where it comes from. Using cotton yarn in embroidery is the norm in clothes worn in daily life--especially for women with lower income. Embroidered patterns vary widely and are unique by region, due in no small part to the practice of basing geometric patterns on the geographical environment where women live. Women in desert areas are distinguished by a lack of embroidery. Instead, their black dresses are relatively plain, though their headpieces are elaborately decorated with small cowry shells that are affixed in intricate patterns. In the hills, silk, cotton and imported velvet fabrics are frequently worn. Women’s dresses are shorter in the front reaching down to just below the knee, and are longer in the back, reaching to the ground. These dresses are em-
broidered with silvery lines overlapping with simple shiny lines that give the dress a wonderful faint shimmer. The costume is embroidered with shiny metallic strips around the neck, cuffs and chest, with a circular pattern in the center of the chest, from which a variety of lines that resemble intertwined branches emanate in all directions. Sequins and shells are used as decoration, as are colorful cloth strips attached to the dress in different ways, creating a beautiful and unique patchwork effect. The wealth of Yemeni culture and tradition is beautifully reflected in the diversity of traditional costumes found in all regions of the country. It is encouraging that these costumes continue to be worn and are able to withstand the abundance of colorless, featureless garments that flood the market in every part of the world. Valuing this diversity and cultural heritage will help to ensure that Yemen maintains its unique character and flavor.
2010 World Youth Day
The perfect accessory By Najla Al-Shaibani Agate, a semi-precious stone that is found in abundance in Yemen, is currently enjoying a surge in value and popularity. Yemeni women feel particularly proud when they put on their finest agate pieces, especially given that the market has seen an increased demand recently, which has caused a spike in its value. This increase in demand is largely due to the skill of certain artisans and craftsmen who are able to manipulate the stone with great skill. Agate is a microcrystalline variety of quartz (silica), chiefly chalcedony, characterized by its fineness of grain and brightness of color. Although agates may be found in various kinds of rock, they are classically associated with volcanic rocks, according to Wikipedia. The fineness of grain allows for a high degree of polish on the stone’s surface, and the bright colors, often appearing in combination and in fantastic shapes make agate a much sought after semi-precious stone for jewelry. In Yemen, there is currently an increasing number of professionals who are able to engrave the agate with words or names, or who can work the stones into different shapes. These stones are then set into pieces of jewelry of beautiful design that makes the agate it even more attractive and valuable. Both men and women wear agate, usually as the centerpiece of a silver ring. The stone is mined from deep in the volcanic rock off Yemen in a complicated and difficult process that is known only to a few families in the country. These families pass on the secrets of this industry from generation to generation.
‘ The value of agate increases when it is connected somehow with superstition and myth. Many people believe that wearing agate, especially the dark red variety, protects them against witchcraft, brings happiness to their hearts and protects them from other various calamities. Some people wear agate all the time and at night place a stone under their pillows to bring them good luck. The market in Old Sana’a is full of traders selling cut agate stones. Tourists coming from European countries, who have read about Yemeni agate and its qualities that make it among the best in the world, are regular buyers.
The value of agate increases when it is connected somehow with superstition and myth. Many people believe that wearing agate, especially the dark red variety, protects them against witchcraft, brings happiness to their hearts and protects them from other various calamities. Some people wear agate all the time and at night place a stone under their pillows to bring them good luck. The market in Old Sana’a is full of traders selling cut agate stones. Tourists coming from European countries, who have read about Yemeni agate and its qualities that make it among the best in the world, are regular buyers. Housewife Wardah AlAmeri is rightly proud of her antique necklace of agate stones that she inherited from her grandmother. It is as beautiful and radiant today as it was when it was made, she says. Al-
though Wardah does not believe that agate brings happiness, she believes that its beauty has no equal and says that whatever the value of her necklace, she will not sell it; it is an inestimable part of her family’s legacy and history. Arwa Ismail says that the most precious gift her husband gave her on their wedding day was an agate ring that had her name engraved in the stone. Whether or not one attributes supernatural powers to the agate stone, or one simply enjoys it for its beauty and cultural relevance, Yemenis are currently driving up the cost of worked agate and remain big enthusiasts. Whatever the cost, there seems to be no end in sight for demand of this rare commodity.
2010 World Youth Day was celebrated in Yemen aimed to present the creative works of students of the Youth Leadership Developent Foundation (YLDF) programs and to work on networking students of different programs in addition to orientation of the programs set up by the YLDF. The celebration was opened by Dr. Intilaq Muhammad Al-Mutawakil, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of YLDF, represented by the Youth Advisory Council. The speech of the Council referred to the celebrations of World Youth Day that have been held in the past three years and said this is the fourth consecutive year that this occasion has been celebrated by the foundation. The speech said that the United Nations declared 2010 World Youth Day is part of its intensive efforts to encourage young people to devote their potential, enthusiasm and creativity for economic, social and
cultural development. After that the students programs began with a variety of competitions, plays, singing and video presentations. Many programs have participated in this event: the Youth & Technology Program, the Youth Development Leadership Program, the Khadija Training Program, and “The Camera is Voice of the Youth” Program. At the end of the celebration the Youth Development Leadership Program in the International Language Center for Girls and “The Camera is Voice of the Youth” Program were specifically honoured, as well as other students who participated and the members of Youth Advisory Council. During this event, a campaign to collect donations for a visit to the Al-Amal Psychiatric Hospital was initiated. The foundation’s Youth Advisory Council will conduct the visit next Monday.
Ramadan Squash Dome Tournament Held in Hadda
Children and Juniors’ category Marwan Al-Rawdhi VS. Sami Al-Ward ( 2 / 0 ) Fares Al-Jawfi VS. Mahmoud Nasher ( 2 / 0 ) Mani’e Al-Maqaleh VS. Youssef Zabara ( 2 / 0 ) Yusuf Abdu-Ghani VS. Younis Zabara ( 2 / 0 ) Alaa’ Al-Aghbari VS. Ali Hussein Al-Saqqaf ( 2 / 0 ) Youth category
by the GFTS and held between the 1st and 4th Sept 2010 with support of the Dome Company, an oil installations constructions company. On the first day, the struggle for first place was robust. They showcased their tremendous progress and skills in
Abdul-Aziz Naif The Iraqi capital, Baghdad, hosts the first international conference entitled “The Role of Sports In Rehabilitating Youth” during the period from 20th to 25th September, 2010. The conference comes within the desired activities of the
Council of Arab Ministers of Youth & Sports in 2010. The Iraqi Ministry of Youth & Sports concluded all the preparations for the conference hosted by Iraq had been made at its own expense. The ministry has invited, via its embassies abroad, all countries to participate in this conference.
Yemen Fencing Team Competes in Beirut National Yemen newspaper has learned that the Yemeni Fencing Federation approved at its latest meeting, chaired by Sheikh Hussein Al-Sharif, the federation’s chairman, to participate in the Arab tournament which will be hosted in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, next month. In a special statement for the newspaper, Sheikh Hussein
Al-Sharif said that the federation had agreed to participate for the first time in the history of a game new to Yemen. The participation will provide players with the experience of international competitions. Sheikh Al-Sharif has great confidence in the ability of players to achieve honorable results under the leadership of their Algerian coach.
Yemen Judo Team Visit Japan Our national Judo team will leave mid-September to Japan to hold a camp in preparation of the Asia Tournament which will be hosted by Japan
squash. Captain Nabil Mehdi, the Secretary-General of the Federation said that this tournament was designed to help meet the 2010 aims of the federation, which was to develop and spread the game throughout Yemeni society. The results were as follows:
in the beginning of next October. The team had run a domestic camp in Yemen since the beginning of last August.
Children and Juniors Category: Singles 3rd: Youssef Abdel Ghani 2nd: Hussein Adel 1st: Ala’a Al-Aghbari Youth and Semi Pro: Singles 3rd: Osama Almaqaleh 2nd: Mohammed Qaed 1st: Ghassan al-Ansi Seniors Category: Singles
At the ceremony, the Secretary General of the Secretariat Branch spoke of the importance of such events for the sport. Marwan Al Daly, a runner-up holder, praised the efforts of the Secretariat Branch for Tennis & Squash and the effective organization by the tournament 1st: Lutf Al-Durah 3rd: Abdul-Karim Al-Marwani, Head of the Secretariat 2nd: Abdul-Karim Albukhaiti Children & Juniors: Doubles 1st: Ibrahim Sanad & Hussein Adel 2nd: Marwan Mohammed Al Rawdhi & Ala’a AlAghbari
committee. The results were as follows: The Dutch Ambassador, Mr.RH Buikeman won as the best player in the Seniors category Youth & Semi Pro: Doubles 1st: Al-Atiq Marwan Al-Daly & Fahad Shams 2nd: Sultan Al Masmari & Osamah Al Maqaleh Seniors Category: Doubles 1st: Ahmed Al Himyari & Abdel Karim Albukhaiti 2nd: Lutf Al-Durah & Hakim Shah
Young Football Stars Shine in Ramadan Refreshment League
Basem Al-Nihari VS. Nabil Mohammed ( 2 / 0 ) Ghassan al-Ansi VS. AbdulRahman Al-Maqaleh ( 2 / 0 ) Sultan Al-Masmari VS. Abdulwahab Al-Samawi ( 2 / 0 ) Hassan Al-Saqqaf VS. Ahmed Qarhash ( 2 / 1) Mohamed Qaed VS. Akram Al-Ward ( 2 / 1 ) OsamaAl-Maqaleh VS. Marwan Al-Daly ( 2 / 1)
Iraq Hosts International Youth Sports Conference
Annual Ramadan Fuch First Tennis Championship Held in Sana’a The secretariat’s branch of the General Federation of Tennis and Squash (GFTS) organized the Fuch First Tennis Championship, in which around 200 athletes participated for the ten day tournament. Thanks and appreciation went to the sponsor of this tournament Shawlaq United Company Limited for projects (Fuch). This is a splendid tournament because it coincides with the holy month of Ramadan. Most players showed great enthusiasm and high technical skills. The closing ceremony was attended by Abdul-Rahman Al-Iryani, the Minister of Water & Environment, Nabil Mehdi, the Secretary General of the GFTS, and Abdul Karim Al-Marwani, the Chairman of the Secretariat and a large number of spectators.
Last Wednesday, on the courts of the Yemen General Federation for Tennis & Squash (GFTS) in Hadda St., the first Ramadan Dome Tournament was launched, and was held for the categories (Children & Juniors and Youth & Seniors). The tournament was organized
Sunday, Sep 05, 2010 Issue 14 www.nationalyemen.com
The children of the teams of Aden, Sana’a and Al-Mahweet qualified to the Ramadan Refreshment four-team level, which was organized by the AlAhli League in Sana’a and sponsored by Al-Saifi Exchange under the supervision of Captain Yahya Ju’rah and Cap-
Ministry of Youth & Sport Staff Threaten Strike The staff of the Ministry of Youth & Sports (MYS) demanded in a memorandum they submitted to leaderships of the ministry, to improve their working and living conditions after being denied for two years their bonuses, transportation allowances, health insurances and Ramadan bonus. The memorandum also asked the ministry to ensure the employees’ right to getting promotions as per work qualifications and work duration, especially for female employees who suffer from a ‘glass ceiling’. The newspaper has learned that most employees will refuse to receive the amount of YR 5000 as a bonus for the Eid, which is estimated at US$23. These employees have threatened to stage a general strike in case of the ministry did not meet their demands, which will aggravate the situation for our country’s hosting of Gulf 20. There is a lot of indignation and frustration amongst the staff of the MYS due to the fact that their wages are the lowest of all ministry workers. The staff also complain about the appointing new officials and directors from outside of the ministry who have nothing to do with sports, especially sheikhs, contractors and traders.
tain Mohammed Al-Azazi. The Aden team qualified after a 3-0 victory over the Hodeidah. The Sana’a team qualified after a hard 2-1 win against Taiz. Al-Mahweet team won in one of the most interesting matches against Al-Dhale’ team, 4-3.
The tournament showcased many emerging talents that promise the birth of future stars in the beautiful game. Abdullah Al-Dhubhani, Ameer Ju’rah, Ibrahim Draiban, Nael Al-Mosoohi and Samir Kahlan are some of those talented players.
Emirates’ Doubts in Yemen Over Gulf 20 Hooriyah Ibrahim It seems that the sports editor’s quotation of the feelings of the Chief Editor of National Yemen newspaper, Fakhri Al-Arashi, about the impossibility of our country’s organization of Gulf 20 due to individual mistakes committed by the tournament organizers was right. The sports audience has been relieved by conducting the draw of the tournament and the fears of withdrawing the tournament from Yemen to Bahrain, the failure of completion of sports facilities, hotels,
accommodation and the security file, all are over. However, the latest controversial news is what some of the media published about the Emirates questioning the ability of our country to host the Gulf 20 because of fatal errors during the draw for Gulf 20 tournament. Those errors include repetition of numbers, miscalculation of the month of November by the organizing committee as consisting of 31 days, and scheduling the tournament from 22 November to the December 4, while No-
vember has only 30 days and therefore the tournament ends on 5 December. Of course, those errors that even amateurs do not make have aroused doubts and concerns of the UAE, which, together with Qatar and Saudi Arabia, strongly supported our country’s right to organize the tournament. These concerns have aroused anxieties and fears in the Yemeni street again, especially that our country had already lost the confidence of Saudi Arabia and today the UAE’s.
Basketball Asia Cup Draws Announced Abdul Karim Mufadhal Exclusive With the support of the Prime Minister, Mr. Ali Mohammed Mujawar, who gave directions to all authorities to facilitate the success of the Asia Cup Basketball finals for juniors, the draw for the 21st tournament for the finals of the Asian Cup was conducted at the Sheraton Hotel in Sana’a, in which Mr. Abdullah Bahyan, Deputy Minister of Youth & Sports was present. The tournament will be hosted in the International Hall, in Sana’a, and the Bilqis Club Hall, in Al-Sabeen Park from Sept. 22nd till October 1st. Sixteen teams participated and the draw, which was super-
vised by the Assistant Secretary-General of the Asian Basketball Association Hacop Khajiran, resulted in putting the four teams of the former championship at the top of the four categories. Our national team has chosen to play in the fourth category, according to tournament regulation whereby the hosting state is given the right to choose the category in which it wants to play. The fourth category includes teams of India, Japan and Iraq, while the first category includes the first group included the teams of Iran, Taiwan, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. The second category contains the teams of Lebanon, Qatar,
Kazakhstan and South Korea. The third category houses the teams of Saudi Arabia, Syria, China and the Philippines. At the draw ceremony, the parliamentarian Al-Khadher Al-Azzani, Chairman of the Yemen Federation for Basketball, reviewed the history of our country’s participations in the West Asia tournaments, and paid homage to the vital role played by Mr. Hacop Khajiran and Sheikh Saud Bin Ali AlThani, the Chairman of Asian Federation and chief promoter of the game in Yemen. They reciprocated the praise with their support of our country in hosting the finals.
Sunday, Sep 05, 2010 Issue 14 www.nationalyemen.com
The mystery of the 76 percent
Balance optimism and pessimism, Al-Ahmar cautions
Amid the constant demands that the government begin to take serious action towards economic development and overcome its apparent paralysis in addressing the current widespread poverty and rampant, systemic corruption at all levels of society, the Prime Minister, Dr. Ali Mujawar, has presented his official report on the performance of his government. According to Mujawar, the government, which was installed in mid-2006, has achieved 76 percent of its program, to date. However, he does so without giving any specific examples, neither by sector nor reform program, other than what we already know with regard to price increases and taxes. He failed to address many issues--most notably how exactly our government was able to achieve this remarkable figure despite the fact that these accomplishments were ostensibly achieved at the same time as the government was fighting an exhausting and expensive war in the north, not to mention recent financial and budgetary deficits and the effective freezing of development in areas of unrest, in both northern and southern Yemen. The government’s program is rudimentary and does not include any indices or targeted numbers other than broad, vague objectives with no real plan for achieving them. As it stands, it is impossible to measure the achievement of any item in the program. More sur-
prising is Dr. Mujawar’s ability, as the country’s number one economist, to determine so precisely the percentage of achievement reached to far (namely 76 percent). However, no institution has carried out the tasks of monitoring and evaluating the extent to which the reform program has been achieved, and which a large number of ministries, government institutions and financial funds are involved. The tasks of monitoring and evaluating in developing countries are as a rule assigned to independent institutions to ensure credibility and impartiality. More interestingly, Mujawar gave an example of his government’s having completed 5000 development projects during 2009 alone, as if development and implementation of economic and other social policies and procedures were not already under his government’s perview. Is Mujawar aware that the Social Development Fund (one of
41 government funds, as well as 30 ministries and dozens of other independent bodies) has carried out 1500 development projects in 2009, accounting for 30 percent of the government’s achievement, with less than $300 million? This is a big question directed to Mujawar to account for to the parliament. Dozens of issues remain to be addressed by the Prime Minister, especially large programs that he did not mention as having been successfully completed. Among these is the failed program for reforming the civil service. I also hope that he will, at some point, address an issue brought up by the press recently. Specifically, that the Ministry of Fisheries spent from its budget for investment projects only around $43,000. The justification we’ve been given for this is that the former minister had stopped spending from the budget because he was determined to link it directly to the
ministry; consequently, millions of dollars were frozen. However, no one knows why his successor has not used the budget since his predecessor was dismissed two and a half years ago. Furthermore, I would like to advise Dr. Mujawar to read the report of the social survey conducted by the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, which follows his government. The report is related to food security in the country. Let him view his achievements honestly and fairly, and in light of this real index; then let him ask the relevant cabinet members why this critical national issue continues to get worse and not better. Let him gauge his government’s performance in relation to the development of basic services that directly affect the lives of citizens, such as the cost of living, electricity, water, education, and health care, etc.
Meditations on Fasting Hearts are enthralled with the delight of spotting the crescent moon in the month of Ramadan, hanging soberly in the sky. Ramadan holds those highly esteemed religious meanings, which bring peace to the soul that drooped into the vanity of this life. Those meanings fix our minds to the importance of living an ascetic life in search for the Maker’s pleasure and of extending the hand of love and goodness to people. Allah says in the Koran, “The (faithful) servants of the Beneficent are they who walk upon the earth modestly, and when the foolish ones address them answer: peace”. So much so is the holy month associated with reassuring spiritual manifestations and walking the right path. Mohamed Abdel-Salam Mansour
Amongst the good practices of Muslim communities is that the preachers exalt the duty of fasting and show its divine advantages so that believers might maintain clear conscience and become eager to reach a state of serenity and love that extends to society. However, many wellintentioned, and sometimes heedless, people started in recent years to preach about the physical health benefits of fasting. They displace and supplant fasting as an act of worship that purifies the soul and the body; a worship that suppresses desires. Anyway, these people, however well-intentioned, must realize that there is a huge difference between both visions. Meditating upon any obligation in order to extract moral lessons differs from the outlook you assign to yourself to scrutinize the benefits of such an obligation or even its justification. It is easier for us to extract a lot of lessons through feeling while performing religious obligations, or reckoning with our minds afterwards. However, it is difficult to realize the wisdom or legitimate reason from behind prescribing it for people. Away from the meaning of submission and compliance with the orders of God, we know that God Almighty has made Fasting one of the five pillars of Islam, which if recognized by a person, he or she becomes a Muslim, and if he or she believes in and commits to it, according to the conditions laid down by Islam, they then
reach the status of being a faithful (believer) and so deserves reward from God Almighty. The Quran says, “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed for those before you, that ye may ward off evil.” The belief in the oneness of God, and submission to the orders and prohibitions is in itself a reason, wisdom and purpose for which reward is due. So, we do not have to attach, for the sake of performing it, physical health benefits, nor do we have to reason its prescription for us, away from the meaning of submission and compliance and seeking reward. By avoiding so, we will achieve a lot of the meanings of goodness for the benefit of individual and society. Saying that, for example, the merit of fasting is that the rich must feel the hunger of the poor and what they suffer in life so that they (the rich) would rush to pay alms and Zakah in one month for the poor, does not ascend to the real merit of fasting. Fasting to maintain equality between the rich and the poor just does not fit the sublime meaning of fasting, although all the previous benefits are there. We should rather focus on the significant meanings of fasting with all that it signifies of creating a strong relationship between the believer and his Creator. Limiting the religious obligations to such physical or superficial benefits is likely to make those well-intentioned
preachers contradict themselves logically and would simply mislead people. If we assume that the purpose of a religious obligation has lagged behind, in some individual cases or in certain social conditions, for example, if an Islamic society reached the extent of self-sufficiency in life and there was no poverty, which might happen, will the obligations of fasting and Zakah be abolished? Or shall we continue to rack our brains until a moral or purpose emerges? Or shall we just say that it is impossible that a community will maintain self-sufficiency and therefore no need to look into this matter until it happens? The truth of faith whose meaning is achieved by submission and obedience to the commands of God and devotion to Him is the purest truth in different social situations. It is the truth that necessitates our minds to ponder upon. Believing in Allah and His messenger, Mohammed, and performing the religious duties is all that a person has to do at all times and places, whether these morals and benefits are realized or not. To confirm this thought, let me refer to a comic instance that happened in front of me between a doctor, who is sincere in his religion and knowledge, and a preacher, who is wellversed and with strong faith. The first insisted that fasting is hard and is only endured by a healthy person. Those who are sick or weak cannot fast. Fast-
ing can be useful for obese people. The preacher, however, insisted that fasting has physical benefits in all cases. The doctor, not convinced, accuses the preacher of being superficial and ignorant of both religion and medicine. In my opinion, both of them did not have to reach such a futile conclusion. They could have realized the fact that religious obligations are there to be performed to achieve the meaning of obedience to their Creator to attain His satisfaction and reward of heaven that Allah promised them. I do not think that by establishing such a truth we deny the beautiful, spiritual advantages accrued to the believer from fasting. All the previous senses can be included under the “moral” rubric or lesson that a believer ought to remember in the rest of the days of the year. Lessons like having patience, enduring hunger for the sake of obedience to God, striving to keep away from bad habits such as smoking, adopting good habits such as daily reading of the Koran, keeping in touch with relatives, and exchanging gifts of food among neighbors and friends, etc. in this month . Allah says, “In the month of Ramadan was revealed the Quran, guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the Criterion (of right and wrong).”
Naif Hassan Sheikh Hameed Al-Ahmar, leader of the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) and SecretaryGeneral of the Preparatory Committee for National Dialogue warned against any prevailing attitudes by the ruling party from impeding progress and reconciliation in the National Dialogue. “Yemen’s problems will only be resolved by getting things back to normal and by respecting the struggles of the sons of Yemen in the revolutions of September 26 and October 14, and the Unity of May 22,” he said. “Our brothers in power see otherwise, which would hinder any process of dialogue with them.”
‘ It is important to bring people together, clarify facts and mobilize the people of Yemen to make a peaceful move that can ensure their future and protect their country from collapse, AlAhmar said in an interview with AlShare’ Newspaper. The agreement of July 17 for National Dialogue created confusion among the opposition abroad,
He expressed his surprise at the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referen-
dum’s (SCER) single-sided preparation of electoral registers and the schedules for implementing some of the measures contained in the agreement. The SCER should have been formed jointly by both the ruling party and the opposition, according to an agreement reached in February, he said. “Taking singlesided action in the management of the electoral process must not happen. This will make the elections meaningless and they will lose credibility.” Al-Ahmar called on the people to neither despair, nor be overly optimistic about the ability of the two committees of 200 to reach solutions to the problems of the country. He warned that the people in power were divided. “Some have major negative intentions, others have sincere ones,” he said. He stressed his belief that people with good intentions must be assisted so that the distribution of power would be sure to reflect the national consensus. “The problem of power is its desire to continue to rule. At the same time it is a problem for the people of Yemen because the authority is unable to meet the needs of the people,” he said. On the relationship between the JMP and the National Dialogue Committee, he flatly stated that there was to be no role for the JMP in the committee, and said that he was appointed to to chair the committee to be the representative of the JMP, particularly the Islah (Reform) Party, to which he belongs. “To sign with the GPC (General People’s Congress) and its allies does not indicate any circumvention of the national partnership that was formed in the Preparatory Committee. They will continue to make efforts for rapprochement with the [ruling party]. They will also continue their meetings with political leaders abroad and with the Houthis and expand the national partnership in the national arena, whether with the southern movement or other movements,” he said.
Sunday, Sep 05, 2010 Issue 14 www.nationalyemen.com
Sunday, Sep 05 , 2010 Issue 14 www.nationalyemen.com
Issue number 14 of National Yemen newspaper