Political Analysis

Yemen in 2012: Hope Tested

National Yemen

Whether for soldiers, police or politicians, the ever-rising number of assassinations on Yemen’s streets in 2012 had an almost dizzying effect. Photo by Luke Somers

By: Asma Al-Mohattwari and Jihan Anwar

Politically, economically and socially speaking, 2012 was a critically important year for Yemen.

Though February’s Presidential Election featured only one candidate, a large countrywide turn-out reflected a popular desire for direct participation in the “New Yemen.” While incremental increases in available electricity and water allowed people to temporarily imagine bright, new beginnings – or at least the possibility of stability – sabotage attacks were levied not just against oil pipelines, but at the recovering nation itself.

In this year-ending issue, the National Yemen has highlighted some of the principal events which occurred this past year.

Though this year was politically more stable than the last – which witnessed a revolution and a severe state of political crisis – 2012 nonetheless saw an increase in terrorist strikes, sabotage attacks, and political assassinations.

Statistics have shown that more than 44 oil and gas pipeline bombing attacks were carried out in 2012; 11 such bombings occurred in December. Official reports have revealed that 163 attacks were made against electricity lines, with losses approaching 40 billion Yemeni rials.

Moreover, the communications network wasn’t safe from terrorist attacks, with official reports stating that 159 attacks were made against the communications network, causing losses of almost 3 billion rials.

2012 could well be considered the year of bombings and assassinations: about 71 officers, 150 soldiers and 112 civilians were martyred in Al-Qaeda bombings and targeted killings. Seventy thousand weapons were smuggled into the country this year.

The Interior Ministry has revealed that at least 30 people committed suicide in 2012, including eight children and five women. The ages of 16 of the suicides ranged from between 18 and 35, and 8 of their ages ranged from 11 to 17; the last 6 their ages ranged from between 36 and 55.  2,500 people were killed in traffic accidents, and that’s not even counting assassinations at the hands of armed men on motorcycles. In addition, there were around 100 kidnappings in Yemen in 2012.


10 January

Yemeni Cabinet Approves Amnesty Law

The Yemeni cabinet approved a draft of the amnesty law that would give President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his aides immunity from prosecution from civilian, military and security apparatuses.

12 January

Campaign in Yemeni to Discourage Use of Qat

The campaign, launched by a group of Yemini activists, urged nationals not to chew qat on Thursdays and sought a permanent banning of the plant.

13 January

Smugglers Kill Three Ethiopian Arrivals to Yemeni Red Sea Coast

The refugees were on their way from Al-Mukha to Al-Dhabab.

15 January

UNDP Yemen Staff Kidnapped

22 January

SALEH Leaves for Oman, Appoints Hadi

President Ali Abdullah Saleh leaves Yemen for Oman after giving a speech on Yemen TV.

Saleh delegates all authority to Hadi and nominates him head of the Yemeni military.

23-24 January

The Information and Training Center for Human Rights Organizes a National Conference

“Yemen to Where: Towards Building a Modern Yemen” is held in Cairo and focuses on overcoming political, economic, social and security challenges.

26 January

15 Houthis Killed in Hajja Clashes

15 Houthis killed, 8 taken as hostages in clashes between Houthis and Islah Party supporters.

28 January

Yemeni-Turkish Medical Conference Starts in Sana’a

Turkey commits to annually providing 25 free medical grants for the benefit of Yemeni patients in Turkish hospitals.

Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh Arrives in United States for Medical Care

31 January

Yemen’ Minister of Information Escapes Assassination Attempt



2 February

6 NGO Staff Kidnapped

An armed group in Mahweet governorate’s Wadi Al-Ahjur kidnapped 6 staff members of the World Relief Organization and demanded that the government release an imprisoned relative.

8 February

Houth-Salafi Figthing Claims 39 Lives

39 people killed and more injured in clashes between Houthis and Salafis in Hajjah.

11 February

EU Allocates 7 million Euros for Yemen Presidential Elections

13 February

Pirates sentenced to 10 Years in Yemeni Prison

Ten pirates were each sentenced to 10 years in priosn by a Yemeni criminal court in Al-Mukala, Hadramout governorate.The Yemeni Coast Guard (YCG) arrested the pirates on 18 January.

19 February

Al-Qaeda Leader Killed by Half-Brother in Rada’a

Tariq Al-Dhahab, leader of Ansar Al-Sharia’a in Baidha governorate’s Rada’a district, was killed by his half-brother, Hizam Al-Dhahab. The latter was killed by Al-Qaeda militants only hours after he murdered Tariq Al-Dhahab.

21 February

One-Man Presidential Election Held

23 February

Sana’a’s Street Cleaners Officially Hired

Following a 2-week strike, Sana’a’s street cleaners’ demands for full public employment were finally met.

25 February

Abd Rabbu Mansur Hadi Sworn in as President of Yemen at the Presidential Palace

He is the first President since the end of Saleh’s 33- year regime.

Al-Qaeda Attack Leaves 26 Dead in Mukalla



4 March

Militant Cargo Aircraft Explodes at Al-Dailami Air Force Base

A militant cargo aircraft, a Russian-made Antonov-type aircraft No. 617, was exploded with a TNT explosive device at Al-Dailami Airbase.

Dozens of Yemeni Soldiers Reported Dead in Militant Attack by Al-Qaeda near the City of Zinjibar

19 -20 March

Women’s National Conference in Yemen

10 March

First National Talent Competition Held in Yemen

USAID, in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, organized ‘Sea of Talents’, the first talent competition in Yemen for youths aged 16 to 25.

15 March

Color Your Street Wall Campaign Kicks Off

28 March

Fighting Breaks Out in Arhab

Violent clashes erupt in Arhab, 30 km north of Sana’a.

31 March

Yemen Army Clashes with Al-Qaeda Leave at Least 30 Dead

At least 17 Yemeni soldiers and 13 suspected al-Qaeda militants were killed in heavy fighting in the southern province of Lahj when militants attacked Brigade 119.


1 April

Nearly Two Dozen Killed in Militant Attack on Yemen Checkpoint

At least 23 troops were killed and eleven others wounded when Islamic militants raided and seized a strategic checkpoint in Yemen’s southern province of Lahj on Saturday. At least nine militants were killed and two were left injured.

4 April

Yemen Security Units Free 21 Ethiopian Detainees in Haradh

Security units in Haradh district in Hajjah governorate freed 21 Ethiopians, among whom were 14 women. Three individuals were arrested charged with illegally detaining the Ethiopian immigrants and for torturing and beating them with electrical cables and metal chains.

6 April

Hadi Dismisses Senior Military Leaders Loyal to Saleh.

The decrees issued included the dismissal of Mohammad Saleh Al-Ahmar, commander of the Air Forces, and the appointment of Rashid Al-Janad in his place.

7 April

Gunmen Attack Yemen’s Major Airport in Sana’a

Gunmen loyal to Yemen’s ousted president blasted buildings at the country’s main airport with anti-aircraft guns, forcing authorities to shut it down.

8 April

Yemeni Air Force, U.S. Drone Kill 24 Qaida Suspects

Air strikes killed 24 Al-Qaida suspects in their strongholds in the country’s south and east. A Yemeni air raid killed 16 terrorists belonging to the Al-Qaeda network in Kud, near Zinjibar.

16 April

Yemeni Parliament Passes USD 65 Million for 2012 Tribal Leaders’ Budget

The state budget proposed by the National Unity Government was passed by Yemen’s parliament. The parliament recommended an additional YR 14 billion (USD 65 million) for monthly payments to sheikhs and dignitaries.

21 April

Unexploded Ordnance and Landmines Killing More Children in Yemen, UNICEF Reports

In the first three months of 2012 alone, 13 children were reported killed and another 12 maimed by unexploded ordnance or mines in 12 reported incidents. Victims were mainly from the governorates of Abyan, Aden and Lahj (south), Hajja (north) and Sana’a.

16 April

Yemeni Film “Hidden Fences” Awarded Fifth Place at Gulf Film Festival

The fifth Gulf Film Festival (GFF) award ceremony honored the best in filmmaking talent in the Middle East and around the world. “Hidden Fences” directed Sameer Al-Nemri won second place in this year’s GFF.

22 April

18 Al-Qaeda Militants Killed in Clashes with Army

18 Al-Qaeda militants were killed in clashes with army troops and by air strikes in Abyan and Marib governorates. Thirteen militants, including three Somali nationals, were killed in Lawdar city in the southern province of Abyan in clashes with the army and militia who fended off attacks on their city for two weeks.

24 April

Yemen Participates in Seafood Expo in Brussels

Five Yemeni seafood export companies, along with the Yemeni Seafood Exporters Association (YSEA), participated in the European Seafood Exhibition (ESE) Expo 2012, which was held in Brussels, Belgium.

29 April

Al-Qaeda in Yemen Frees Captured Soldiers

Al Qaeda released 73 soldiers captured by its fighters during battles with government forces in the south of the country.

26 April

Islamist Militants Blow Up Gas Pipeline

Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda blew up a gas pipeline in the eastern Yemeni province of Shabwa in response to the killing of an al Qaeda leader in Marib governorate.

30 April

IMF Allocates Over $93.5 million for Yemen

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved the allocation of an Extended Credit Facility (ECF) for Yemen at a cost of US$ 93,750,000.



5 May

Interior Ministry Initiates “Arab Traffic Week” Under the Slogan ‘Until When?’

6 May

Top Al-Qaeda Commander is Killed in Yemen

Ansar al-Sharia leader Fahd al-Quso died in an airstrike in the eastern province of Shabwa.

7 May

World Bank Allocates $863million for Development Projects in Yemen

13 May

Drone Strikes Kill Suspected Al-Qaeda Militants in Yemen

A pair of U.S. drone strikes killed 11 suspected Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen’s Marib governorate. The first drone attack killed seven people after it hit one of three vehicles carrying the suspected militants in the district of Huraib. The other two vehicles fled the area unharmed and continued toward the southern Abyan governorate.

20 May

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Central Yemen

The Regions of Al-Madharabh and Al-Shamalityen in Lahj province experienced a medium earthquake, 4.6 on the Richter scale.

21 May

Suicide Bombing Kills 70 Soldiers in Sana’a

Over 70 soldiers from the 14th company Shock Troops of the Central Security Forces were killed in a suicide explosion. The blast occurred at Al-Sabeen Square when troops were performing military drills in preparation for the National Unification Day military parade. The suicide bomber joined the drill from Al-Sabeen Public Park, and then blew himself up.



10 June

Tamkeen NGO Completes Optical Clinic in Ibb

2,500 people suffering from eye diseases received free medical tests during the campaign’s first days.



1 July

Yemeni Student Wins Top Prize, a Trip to NASA Headquarters

Competing against 60 other Yemeni students Qais Abdullah al-Sanabani won the top prize for the last round of the international scientific competition, which was organized by Iken Scientifica, earning him a fully-paid trip to NASA headquarters.

2 July

USAID Launches Solar Energy Project in Aden

A $14,500 solar energy generation project introduced by AMIDEAST was launched in Aden’s Al-Twahi district with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development. It includes eight solar panels and eight batteries, which generate approximately 3,000 kilowatts of power.

11 July

Suicide Bombing Kills 22 at Sana’a Police Academy

A suicide bomber killed at least 22 people, mostly cadets, and wounded dozens inside a police academy in Sana’a.

22 July

State Department Permits Sale of Lethal Weapons to Yemen

The U.S. State Department revised its defense export policy for Yemen and will now consider applications for licenses to export lethal defense articles to Yemen.

24 July

UNHCR and ECHO Open New Shelters at Kharaz Camp in South Yemen

UNHCR hosted the visit of René de Vries, Head of Office in Sana’a for the European Commission for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) on 24 July 2012 to Kharaz camp in Lahj Governorate to inaugurate the opening of 300 new shelters built using ECHO funds. The shelters were distributed to 1,260 refugees.

29 July

Italian Embassy Guard Kidnapped



1 August

Al-Qaida Attacks Town, 4 Troops Killed

Al-Qaida gunmen armed with automatic rifles shot dead four soldiers in one of the militants’ former south Yemen strongholds at a security building in Jaar.

4 August

Japan Earmarks $684,600 of its Contribution to UNHCR and ICRC for Yemen

In Yemen, more than 470,000 people were displaced in Sa’adah, Aden, Lahj and Abyan governorates.

5 August

Suicide Bomber Kills and Injures 95 in South Yemen

A suicide bomber struck in Jaar, killing at least 55 people. The bomber was in the house of Abdul Latif al-Sayed, the head of the Anti-Al-Qaeda Popular Committee.

10 August

Men Encircle Defense Ministry

Hundreds of Republican Guard forces loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh encircled the Defense Ministry. Four people were killed and nine others injured as a result. The Interior Ministry deployed 240 members of the central security forces to reinforce security at the Defense Ministry.

18 August

Militants Attack Yemeni Intelligence HQ, Kill 20 in the Port City of Aden

Two female reporters were critically wounded. All 20 who were killed were military and security soldiers, except for one civilian.

29 August

Hadi Fires Chairman of Supreme Judicial Council

President Hadi fired Chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council Esam Al-Samawi and appointed Ali Nasser Salem in his stead. In March and April 2012, judges went on strike for one and a half months, with demands that the chairman be fired. They ended their strike after Hadi appointed new council members.



4 September

Yemen Pledged $6.4 Billion By Donors

At the donors conference in Riyadh US$6,400,000,000 was pledged to support Yemen from 2012 to 2014.

7 September

Yemenis March to Demand Prosecution of Ex-Leader

Tens of thousands of Yemenis took to the streets after Friday prayers in Sana’a to demand the prosecution of Ali Abdullah Saleh following his public appearance on Yemen TV.

11 September

Suspected Al-Qaida Bombing Misses Defense Minister

Yemen’s Defense Minister narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when a car bomb ripped through his motorcade as it traveled in the nation’s capital, leaving eight dead. Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser thereby escaped the fifth attempt on this life. The bombing came a day after Yemeni authorities announced the killing of the No. 2 leader of AQAP.

13 September

Angry Protesters Storm U.S. Embassy in Sana’a

Three protesters were killed and 30 others left injured when angry protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a to protest against an offensive film depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

16 September

Yemen NGO Launches Campaign Against U.S. Airstrikes

The Hood organization launched a “Campaign Against Air Strikes,” accusing drones of killing of citizens and breaching territorial sovereignty.

23 September

Hadi Travels West

Hadi paid a visit to United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron.

25 September

U.S. to Release 25 Yemeni Prisoners from Guantanamo Bay

27 September

President Hadi Visits White House



1 October

Qatar Allocates $500 Million in Grants and Loans for Development Projects in Yemen.

6 October

Government allots $500 Million for Aden Port Development

12 October

U.S. Embassy Worker Killed

Qassem Aqlani was killed in a drive-by shooting by a masked militant on a motorcycle near his house.

18 October

Explosions Rock First Armored Division Headquarters

Explosions shook the First Armored Division headquarters in Sana’a, leaving one soldier dead and five others wounded.

20 October

Turkey International School Opens New Campus in Sana’a

Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Visits Sana’a

21 October

Al-Qaeda’s Second-in-Command Denies His Own Death

In an audio recording, Saeed Al-Shihri said the reason why the Yemeni government had announced his death was to cover up the killing of innocent and defenseless Yemeni civilians in U.S. drone strikes. The Defense Ministry had announced on September 10 that it killed Al-Shihri, deputy leader of AQAP.



3 November

Aden Police Stop Arms Shipment With Sana’a Address

An arms shipment containing 2,500 Glock guns from Turkey was intercepted by the Free Zone police at Aden Port.

17 November

ICRC to Raise Budget in Yemen to $35 Million

18 November

80,000 Internally Displaced People Return Home to South Yemen Over Period of 4 Months

19 November

Ban Ki-moon visits Yemen to provide encouragement for National Dialogue Conference

21 November

Yemeni Military Plane Crashes, Killing 10

A Russian-made Antonov aircraft crashed into an empty market in Al-Hasaba District in the heart of the Yemeni capital.

22 November

Interior Ministry Bans Motorcycles with Unregistered Plates in All Yemeni Governorates

24 November

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Visits Sana’a

4 Killed During Shiite Gathering in Sana’a

Four Shiites were killed in the day of Ashoura when assailants fired a rocket-propelled grenade into a gathering of worshippers. The attack took place near Sana’a’s Airport Road.

25 November

Sheba Airways to Begin Operating in Yemen

28 November

Saudi Diplomat Shot Dead in Yemeni Capital

Gunmen killed a Saudi diplomat and his Yemeni bodyguard in the capital. The gunmen stepped out of a vehicle and began firing into the diplomat’s car. Both the diplomat and his bodyguard were shot in the head.



3 December

Tribesmen Kidnap Customs Director

The General Director of the Sana’a Customs Authority was kidnapped by masked gunmen in Sana’a.

4 December

British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt Visits Aden

50th Al-Qaeda Leader Killed in 338th Drone Strike

7 December

Marines Land at Al-Anad Base in South Yemen

Al-Anad military base received a new batch of U.S. marines and military equipment.

Tribesmen Attack Oil Pipeline in Marib

8 December

Assassination Attempt Against General Yahya Saleh

A senior security leader related to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh escaped an assassination attempt when gunmen fired at his convoy in Sana’a. The convoy belonged to General Yahyia Saleh, Central Security Chief of Staff, but he was not in the convoy. Two of his guards were killed.

10 December

Al-Qaeda Ambush Kills 17 Soldiers in Marib

17 soldiers guarding the governorate’s key oil pipeline were killed when ambushed by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants.

12 December

National Cleaning Campaign

Special Olympics Marathon

United States and Yemen Ink Initial Open Skies Agreement

13 December

Technical Committee Submits Final Report to President Hadi

The National Dialogue Conference’s Technical Committee submitted its final report to President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi.

15 December

Court Jails 93 Republican Guard Soldiers

A tribunal sentenced 93 soldiers and officers from the elite Republican Guard to 3-7 years prison for resisting authorities, mutiny, and for attempting to occupy the Ministry of Defense in August.

20 December

President Restructures Armed Forces and Dismisses Former President’s Nephew

The elite Republican Guard and the First Armored Division will be absorbed into the country’s Defense Ministry. The Republican Guard had been led by Ali Abdullah Saleh’s eldest son, Ahmed Ali Saleh, and the First Armored Division had been led by Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar. Yemen’s military will now consist of five branches.

23 December

Fire Breaks Out in Central Prison in Ibb Governorate

The fire killed eight people and left three injured. All eight of the prisoners suffered from mental illnesses and had been convicted of murder.

Yemen Sets 2013 Budget with $3.2 Billion Deficit

Yemen’s cabinet approved a draft budget for 2013 that projected a deficit of 682 billion Yemeni rials ($3.17 billion), with expenditures of 2.77 trillion rials.

24 December

Three Westerners Kidnapped in Yemen

A Finnish couple and an Austrian man were abducted in Sana’a and are being held by tribesmen who demand a ransom in return for their freedom.

25 December

Gunmen on Motorbikes Shoot Dead Two Yemeni Army Officers

11 Killed when Yemeni Army and Tribesmen Clash

Yemen’s army launched an offensive against tribesmen suspected of repeatedly sabotaging an oil pipeline in east Yemen, with 11 people left dead. The army offensive in Habab Valley was backed by air raids.

31 December

First TEDxSanaa Conference

1 Comment

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