Yemen: Al Qaeda Is Defeated Not Destroyed


July 23, 2012: In the south the ugly aftermath of months of fighting al Qaeda has to be cleaned up. All the combat in a few cities left infrastructure wrecked and more civilians unemployed. There's a shortage of food, water, and much else. The southerners are unhappy and government efforts to help are perceived as inadequate.

The southern secessionist movement has emerged once more, now that the war with al Qaeda is over. The southern tribes still want more autonomy, if not a partition of the government into north and south. That won't happen because the oil and gas is in the south.

The big problem is that the country has too many people and is running out of water, food, and much else. Yemenis are fighting over what's left and southerners believe that northerners are taking more than their fair share. Alas, the southern independence movement is split by tribal and political allegiances. One faction backed al Qaeda, and that group is quiet now, having taken heavy losses as they fought alongside al Qaeda gunmen since last February.

With the corrupt president Saleh gone and the al Qaeda army in the south defeated, the U.S. has resumed aid to the Yemeni armed forces. Some $75 million worth was delivered in the last month, which included a lot that had been withheld because of the post-Saleh (who left power late last year) chaos. This month about $35 million is being delivered. The aid involves weapons, equipment, and construction of new facilities.

Despite the defeat of al Qaeda, the country remains divided. There are Shia separatist tribes in the north and separatist Sunni tribes in the south. There are several powerful political factions, including one loyal to former president Saleh. There is not enough unity to provide strong and effective government.

Over a third of the population is hungry and 5-10 percent are showing signs of chronic malnourishment. Food aid is being flown and shipped in, but there are still bandits and unruly militias out there that block the roads and often demand bribes (or a portion of cargoes) before letting trucks pass. So getting food to the hungriest is still a problem, especially in the south.

The main hope for the economy is oil and gas. Yemen has much less of this than the other Arab states to the north. Currently, Yemen produces 270,000 barrels a day of oil and up to 6.7 million tons of liquid natural gas a year. These exports are 90 percent of exports and pay for 70 percent of the government budget. The problem is that too much of the oil and gas income is stolen by government officials, rather than being used to solve pressing economic problems. This is what causes so many tribes to rebel. The new government has promised to clean up the corruption and rule effectively. Not a lot of evidence of that so far.

July 22, 2012: The government put the security forces on high alert because of the recent discovery of several al Qaeda bombs and plans for attacks on checkpoints and military bases. While the al Qaeda "army" in Yemen has been defeated and scattered, the leadership has managed to find hideouts for many surviving terrorists and has ordered them to make terror attacks on soldiers and police, as well as government officials most involved in counter-terror activities. Al Qaeda plans to bring down the government the old fashioned way, through terror. This approach does not work but the al Qaeda are on a Mission From God and reality and history count for little.

In the southeast an air force commander was injured when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. Several other bomb attacks throughout the country were detected and the explosive devices disabled.

July 20, 2012: In northern Somalia (Puntland) police seized a boat that found to be carrying al Qaeda weapons from Yemen. Some al Qaeda are known to have fled from the recent al Qaeda defeat in Yemen. Apparently the Islamic terror group is trying to bring some of its weapons stock with them.

July 19, 2012: In the south an al Qaeda car bomb killed a senior intelligence official who was in charge of finding Islamic terrorists.

In the capital several thousand demonstrators demanded that the government fire all remaining followers of the ousted president Saleh. The compromise deal that eased Saleh out was believed to allow many Saleh cronies to keep their jobs.

July 18, 2012: Yemen has openly called on Iran to stop sending spies and weapons to Yemen. This was in response to the recent arrest of an Iranian officer who was caught trying to enter the country, using false documents, to organize a spy network. Yemenis security forces captured documents and recorded phone conversations and text messages sent by members of the spy organization. Iran has long supported Shia tribes in northern Yemen, who have been fighting for greater autonomy.

In the southern city of Aden, police found and disabled three bombs in a hotel that was to house troops.

July 15, 2012: The 110,000 barrel a day Maarib oil pipeline resumed operation and will soon be moving oil from wells to the coastal export facilities. For most of the year Yemen has survived on donated petroleum fuel (for power and vehicles). Some 600,000 tons has been arriving each month but this is scheduled to end very soon. The gas company had to get more than a dozen tribes and tribal factions to agree before the pipeline could be fixed.

In the capital an al Qaeda bomb maker died and an associate was wounded when a bomb they were building detonated prematurely.

July 13, 2012: A French Red Cross official, kidnapped in April, was finally released via negotiation, after being held captive by tribesmen allied with al Qaeda. The recent defeat of al Qaeda encouraged the kidnappers to release their captive.

July 11, 2012: In the capital an al Qaeda suicide bomber killed 20 police cadets.


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