Yemen: Fire In The North


February 12, 2012: Despite the presidential elections on the 22nd many Yemenis are still protesting. That's because the peace deal that saw president Saleh give up power calls for his vice president to be the only candidate in the upcoming presidential elections. There is still a lot of corruption and ineffective government to protest. The military commanders, and their troops, who deserted and joined rebel groups are still rebellious. Some 300 people have been killed in a year of demonstrations, with many more casualties from tribal and al Qaeda violence. The revolution will not be over by the end of the month. The separatist tribes in the south are simply unhappy with corruption and lack of benefits from the central government. These southern tribes are held in check by the troops who remain loyal to the government.

In the northwest, the rebel Shia tribes are expanding control of their territory by taking advantage of the unrest in the rest of the country. The government cannot spare troops to help the pro-government tribes in the north. A major part of the tribal feuds in the north is religion. The Islamic conservatives in Sunni tribes consider the Shia tribesmen heretics. The Shia want their traditional autonomy back but the central government has been fighting that independence for decades. A key battle now is a siege at an Islamic conservative religious school at Damaj Salafi near Saada (the largest city in the north and near the Shia "capital" of Saada) The Dar al-Hadith school has 7,000 teachers, students, and families trapped, on-and-off for five months, by Shia gunmen. Unless the government can get a lot of troops into the north the Shia will establish their own state in the northwest, along the Saudi border.

February 10, 2012: In the south, an al Qaeda death squad killed a police commander.

February 9, 2012: In the southern city of Daleh, police fired on a separatist demonstration, leaving two demonstrators dead. The separatists feel that their demands are being ignored.

February 7, 2012: Eritrea has seized five more Yemeni fishing boats in an area where both nations claim fishing rights. Eritrea does this regularly and usually keeps the boats while releasing the crews after a few months. This led to a brief war in 1995 and frequent tension since. Eritrea is also accused of helping Iran smuggle weapons to the northern Shia tribes of Yemen. Eritrea is an ally of Iran.

February 6, 2012: In the last two days northern tribes (Shia rebels and pro-government Sunnis) ended their cease fire and fought, leaving over fifty dead and many more wounded.

February 4, 2012: Violence in the Abyan Province capital of Zinjibar left four Islamic terrorists and a soldier dead. For the last eight months troops have been fighting to eject Islamic radical tribesmen from Zinjibar. The Islamic radicals have been chased from several other towns but not Zinjibar.

February 2, 2012: Six foreign aid workers, kidnapped last month, were released after the government released a tribesman who had been arrested for murder. Such kidnappings are common in Yemen.

February 1, 2012: In the southern town of Zinjibar, four Islamic terrorists died when the bomb they were building went off. Three other Islamic terrorists were killed in combat.

January 31, 2012: In central Yemen, al Qaeda gunmen ambushed an army patrol, killing two soldiers.

In the capital, gunmen tried to kill the Information Minister but failed.

January 30, 2012: In a UAV missile attack 120 kilometers southeast of Zinjibar four al Qaeda men were killed (and eight more wounded) while riding in two captured armored vehicles.





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