Yemen: Guns, Guile And Gumption Kill The Revolution

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October 5, 2011:  Nine months of weekly, and often daily, anti-government demonstrations, have not brought forth the desired reforms. What has happened is that rival tribal factions have come out, with their tribal militias, in an effort to force the current tribal coalition out of power, and replace it with another coalition. In the south, a small (several thousand) al Qaeda force is trying, without much success, to turn the entire country into a religious dictatorship. All this has dismayed the pro-democracy groups that started it all last February. They see their efforts being hijacked by another bunch of tribal leaders. The reformers may have the numbers, but the tribal leaders have the guns, guile, and the gumption to take power. Many of the soldiers defecting from the government seek a new tribal coalition to serve, not a democracy. The reformers are seen as less effective allies, because Yemen is still a place where firepower counts for more than doing the right thing.

Southern Abyan province continues to be the center of al Qaeda and tribal resistance, and the scene of most military activity. There are over a hundred dead and wounded each week because of this violence. The army continues its battle to regain control of cities occupied (at least in part) by al Qaeda gunmen. This is slow going, as the Islamic radicals often fight to the death.

In the southern city of Taiz, there was a new outbreak of violence, and government and rebel forces shelled each other, leaving about ten people wounded.

The nine months of violence drove over 340,000 people from their homes. Over a quarter of those people have returned to their homes, but more than 200,000 remain refugees. In the north, last year's Shia rebellion has left even more people still living in refugee camps.

October 4, 2011: Thousands of people demonstrated against the government in the capital. The army shelled an area near a protester camp, killing two and wounding one.

October 3, 2011: A UN negotiator left, after two weeks of failed efforts to get the Saleh government to make meaningful reforms. Most Yemenis appear to want president Saleh gone, but Saleh refuses to leave.  The Yemeni government is unhappy with continued American calls for Saleh to step down.

October 1, 2011: In the southern provincial capital of Zinjibar, an air force aircraft mistakenly bombed a school building that was held by the army, killing about 25 soldiers. The nearby al Qaeda fighters then rushed in and killed some of the survivors. Despite this friendly fire loss, the army continues to clear Zinjibar of al Qaeda gunmen.

The government announced that, by its count, 1,480 people had been killed since the large anti-government demonstrations began in February.

September 30, 2011: U.S. UAVs fired missiles that killed al Qaeda religious leader Anwar al Awlaqi, and two other key al Qaeda members. Al Qaeda in Arabia quickly announced that the war would continue in Yemen, despite this loss. Al Awlaqi was noted mainly for being American born and an active recruiter of terrorists world-wide, especially in the West. Al Awlaqi was not in the senior leadership that actually ran the al Qaeda in Arabia organization.

September 29, 2011: After a day or so of relative quiet, gunfire was once again heard in the capital. The Republican Guard was attacking a camp used by some troops who had deserted.

September 28, 2011: Tribesmen claimed to have shot down an Su-22 ground attack jet, north of the capital. The government only admitted that the aircraft had crashed.

 

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