Yemen: Al Qaeda Is A Minor Nuisance


October 13, 2010: Al Qaeda in Yemen has announced that it has established a new "Aden-Abyan Army" to overthrow the government of Yemen. This announcement was mostly for show and to build morale among al Qaeda's battered ranks. But al Qaeda has also been trying to form a tribal coalition in the south, to split the country into north and south Yemen (as it had been twenty years ago.) This effort does not need al Qaeda to lead it, as it's always been there.

The U.S. is pressuring Yemen to crush al Qaeda, and not negotiate another truce. America has given Yemen $300 million in military and economic aid so far this year, so the Yemenis will listen (as long as the aid keeps coming.) But the Yemeni custom is to work out truces or ceasefires, and not really settle things like this (whether or not Yemen will stay united or have a religious dictatorship as a government.)

With thousands of soldiers and police deployed in the south, in areas where armed tribesmen have been unruly, there are daily skirmishes. But the tribes are divided by feuds and the independent-minded personalities of tribal leaders. The government always has had problems with this tribal disunity, and al Qaeda is having the same hassles. All the American cash and goodies coming in allows the government to rent the loyalty of more tribal leaders, which helps limit the tribal unrest. But the fundamental problems are the many ancient feuds between the tribes, a preference for Islamic conservatism and the steady decline of the economy because of population growth and addiction to the water-hungry narcotic Khat plant. For Yemeni leaders, al Qaeda is a minor nuisance compared to the larger issues of too many people, too many feuds and too many Khat addicts.

October 12, 2010:  Police in Aden arrested 19 al Qaeda suspects, and accused them of carrying out the previous days bombing. In Abyan province, two terrorists on a motorcycle shot dead a policeman. The dead man was one of 55 policemen slated for death in a list released a month ago. A few of these men have died since then, but most appear safe and the list was just another bit of al Qaeda PR. Elsewhere in the south, near a natural gas facility, police killed an suspected al Qaeda gunman.

October 11, 2010: Two bombs went off in Aden, killing three and wounding fifteen.

October 10, 2010: Over the last two days, violence between police and tribesmen in Aden left one terrorist dead and several people wounded.

October 8, 2010: Troops clashed with tribesmen in southern Lahj province (just north of the port of Aden). A group of tribesmen had established a roadblock on the main road, and were demanding payments before allowing vehicles to pass. The tribesmen were driven back into the hills, and a few men were wounded.

October 7, 2010: In California, a Yemeni man pled guilty to acting as a purchasing agent, between 1997 and 2006, of the Yemen government without notifying the U.S. government, as required by law. The Yemeni man purchased military and non-military equipment and shipped it to Yemen. In the Yemen capital, police arrested seven suspects in the unsuccessful RPG attack on a British diplomat the day before.

October 6, 2010: An al Qaeda member fired an RPG rocket at a convoy carrying a senior British diplomat in the capital. Four people were wounded. Al Qaeda has been attempting to kill foreigners in Yemen for years, without a lot of success. But these efforts have scared off tourists and led to higher security for foreigners who stay.  


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