Yemen: Rounding Up The Usual Suspects

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March 4, 2010: Most of the 250,000 refugees from the northern fighting, are unwilling to leave the temporary camps they are in. There is fear that the ceasefire is just a ploy by the rebels to gain time to reorganize, rearm and get ready for another round of fighting. There are also problems, in the urban areas, of restoring electrical power, and related utilities (like water and sewage). Donor countries have pledged more than $5 billion to revive the economy, but there are serious problems getting projects started, and preventing local officials from stealing most of the money.

There is increasing violence in the south, where many people want to set up a separate state once more. But the southern separatists are not united or well organized. The government has always exercised tight control over media, including Internet access, so it's difficult to organize a separatist rebellion. Police are arresting the usual (separatist) suspects, and anyone who seems likely to get involved. More than a hundred have been arrested in the last week. There have been several demonstrations over the last few days, involving thousands of people. But if news of this doesn't get on the mass media, it does not mobilize a lot of people to join the separatist movement.

The U.S. is providing cash, and technical assistance, to get the nations' ten Mi-17 helicopters working (and keep them working). The U.S. will also provide four UH-1 II choppers, with training. The U.S. is also providing training for security forces, and delivering valuable intelligence data (aerial and satellite photos, as well as telephone and Internet conversations).

March 3, 2010: In the capital, police arrested eleven suspected al Qaeda members, and killed the owner of the house they were in. The dead man, father of one of those arrested,  fired on the police.

March 2, 2010: The government apologized for a December 17th air raid in the south, which killed 42 civilians. It was originally reported as an attack on an al Qaeda meeting, that killed 30 terrorists. That was later amended to two dead terrorists. Now the government admits that the air strike only killed civilians. News of the raid spread the old fashioned way (as gossip), and the government realized it was better off coming clean, and offering the traditional cash compensation.

March 1, 2010:  In the south, police raided a terrorist hideout, and arrested two al Qaeda suspects, and killed two others who fought back. A policeman was also killed in the operation. The raid was on the home of an arms trader, believed to be supplying separatists.

February 27, 2010: The army has given the Shia rebels twelve days to return weapons and equipment looted from police stations and government facilities.

February 26, 2010: Four police and soldiers have been killed by separatists in the south in the last week. There are largely random acts of violence, which are easy to carry out given that just about every family has one or more firearms.

February 25, 2010:  Shia rebels withdrew from their fortified locations in the northern city of Saada. The rebels also withdrew from the city, and the army has sent in engineers to make sure no mines or booby traps were left behind. Then civilian engineers will check out city utilities.

 

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