August 15, Lesotho is a mountainous kingdom surrounded by South Africa. Lesotho maintained its independence by playing Boers, Zulu and the British off each other for over al century. That, plus the fact that Lesotho is out of the way and poor. Nothing worth fighting over. But the people of Lesotho are quite feisty with each other. Although the royal family is highly respected, several political factions have constantly struggled for power. Corruption is common and controlling a government can make a family rich. In September, 1998, the army of the tiny kingdom of Lesotho mutinied. The cause was allegations of fraud in the recent parliamentary elections. Lesotho has only two million people, so any funny business during an election will not go unnoticed. Many senior army officers fled to South Africa, where they managed to gain the support of the government there.. Troops from South African and Botswana intervened to put down the mutiny. In 1997, several dozen police officers also mutinied. In this case, the police were upset because eight policemen had been accused of murder. Many of the opposition political parties promise honest government, but a lot of people would prefer the corrupt old ways. There has not been a civil war, or extended period of guerilla war. At least not yet. But the conditions are ripe.
Tribal conflicts continue in Yemen. After Gahm tribesmen kidnapped six security troops, soldiers from the Army's 25th Mechanized Brigade surrounded the camp and demanded their release. The tribesmen did so a few days later (in mid-July), apparently under the impression that the Army had agreed on no reprisals if the men were released. Whatever deal had or had not been released, the 25th Brigade shelled the Gahm tribe camp after the release. This triggered a week of clashes between tribal militias and the 25th Mechanized Brigade.--Stephen V Cole