The government insists that the al Qaeda problem in Yemen is exaggerated. No one has presented a lot of hard evidence about al Qaeda operations in Yemen, and many of the 51 al Qaeda suspects arrested recently in Saudi Arabia, complained of fleeing Yemen because of the pressure from security forces. But there are some al Qaeda in Yemen, and they have declared the place their headquarters for operations in Arabia. As long as this bunch can send email, the mass media will be unable to resist reporting about "al Qaeda in Yemen." The government believes that numerous ground and air raids in the last few months have put the remaining Islamic terrorists on the run, forcing them to constantly move about to avoid security forces or air strikes. The Islamic terrorists in Yemen are desperate to carry out some kind of spectacular, media-attracting, attack. But at the moment, avoiding arrest has a higher priority.
The ceasefire with the Shia rebels in the north continues to hold, which is not surprising, since most of the 350,000 refugees from the fighting have not returned home yet and the economy up there is a mess. As the refugees return, many will find their homes damaged or destroyed, or the surrounding land infested with landmines or unexploded munitions.
March 30, 2010: Two separatist leaders were sentenced to jail terms (five and three years) for their efforts to establish a separate state in the south. Several weeks ago, two other separatist leaders received sentences of ten years and 15 months. The separatists have developed some enthusiasm for their cause in the south, but not enough to be a serious threat to the country or national unity. But many southerners are in a bad mood, what with all the poverty and government corruption. Things could change fast.
March 29, 2010: In the north, Shia rebels killed a local man for providing the army with information about rebel movement.
March 28, 2010: In the south, police arrested two 24 year old "European men" who were caught engaging in target practice in the hills. Elsewhere in the south, nine people were arrested for possessing a large quantity of weapons (including four assault rifles) and ammunition.
March 27, 2010: Another separatist demonstration in the south was broken up by the police. Unlike the one on March 11th (where two died) there were no fatalities. But 20 demonstrators were injured.
March 25, 2010: Saudi Arabia arrested 113 al Qaeda suspects in the last few days, and 51 of them were Yemeni. Many of those arrested boasted of their al Qaeda connection, and insisted that they were taking orders from al Qaeda leaders in Yemen. The Saudi arrests destroyed three terrorist cells, two of which were preparing to carry out bombing attacks on Saudi oil facilities. Nearly 60 percent of those arrested were foreigners. Most of them sneaked into the country via unguarded portions of the Yemen border, or as religious pilgrims (who did not leave when they were supposed to.)