Thousands of women are demonstrating in front of parliament, for and against a new law that would ban child brides. Girls as young as nine are married off, and often impregnated as soon as they are able to conceive. This is an ancient Arab custom, and enshrined in the Koran. But Yemeni women, and many men, oppose it. The conservative clergy accuse those who back the law of being anti-Moslem. The government has the votes to pass the bill, but does not want to defy conservative clergy. Then again, it's support from conservative clergy that keeps Islamic radicalism going, and abuse of women that keeps the Arab world poor, illiterate and a hospitable place for religious terrorists.
March 23, 2010: The United States issued warnings that al Qaeda was planning suicide boat attacks on ships off the Yemen coast. The prime targets would be warships (like the USS Cole in 2000), but commercial ships are at risk as well (like a French tanker in 2002). Al Qaeda in Yemen is desperate to show that it is still in action, and not just constantly hiding from local and American counter-terror forces. Conservative tribal and religious leaders provide sanctuary to al Qaeda members, often in rural villages. Here, hundreds of local men, and their weapons, provide protection. Government efforts to get these tribes to give up the terrorists have, so far, been unsuccessful. One of those al Qaeda leaders is Anwar al Awlaki (who was involved in the last two terror attacks in the United States; the Christmas bombing attempt and the Fort Hood shootings), who recently circulated an audio recording in which he called for American Moslems to support Islamic terrorism against the United States and non-Moslems in general.
In the north, a landmine explosion killed six (including three children) and wounded three more kids, outside a refugee camp. Police are investigating why a landmine was there.
March 20, 2010: In the south, hundreds of angry villagers demonstrated outside the governors building in Taiz. The crows accused a local prison warden of corruption, which caused the death of two men from their village. Two days earlier, a prisoner had been allowed to leave prison, along with two guards, to go to a clinic. The cab they were in was intercepted by armed men, the two guards killed and the prisoner freed. It's common knowledge that prison officials can be bribed to arrange an escape. But guards are usually not killed, and that's what really made the villagers, and kin of the dead guards, angry.
March 19, 2010: Over the last few days, police arrested 21 more separatist leaders and activists in the south. These arrests have disrupted separatist activities, which so far have consisted of some demonstrations, and a little violence.
March 18, 2010: The government declared the war with the northern Shia rebels over. The remaining government and Shia prisoners are being freed. The Shia rebels are already working to restore their military power, and another round in this seemingly endless fighting is assured.