Yemen has, like Pakistan, long had a portion of it's territory under the control of powerful, and well armed, tribes. The tribal peoples find fundamentalist Islam attractive and many tribesmen have al Qaeda as a result. Osama bin Laden is a member of one of the tribes (his father moved to Saudi Arabia in the 1930s). The tribes will take up arms to defend one of their own who has sought refuge in tribal territory. The Yemeni government would like to bring the tribes under control, but has never had the military power to do so.
An unnamed US official told AFP on 1 March that about 100 anti-terrorism experts and military advisers would gradually begin arriving in Yemen to help train the country's military in tracking down suspected al-Qaeda terrorists. A senior Yemeni government official confirmed this to Reuters. The exact arrival dates were not specified. In addition to training Yemeni forces, the US military will advise Yemen's Republican Guard on capturing al-Qaeda elements in the northern tribal areas. The Pentagon also said that it was discussing a package of military aid to Yemen, but refused to elaborate. - Adam Geibel