Yemen: The Iranian Connections Flourish

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October 10, 2012: The government accused Iran of backing Shia tribal rebels in the north as well as some Sunni separatists in the south. It's not known if Iran is aiding al Qaeda in the south as well. Iran has a complex relationship with al Qaeda (a Sunni radical group), which considers Shia Moslems (most Iranians are Shia) as heretics who must be converted or killed. Despite al Qaeda deliberately killing thousands of Shia each year, some factions in the Iranian government have provided aid to al Qaeda (usually in support of attacks on the United States or Arab allies of the West). In general, al Qaeda is not very popular in Iran but the Iranian government has an undeclared war with Saudi Arabia going on and sees benefit in maintaining unrest in Yemen (the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula).

The government has been trying to shut down the gangs that smuggle Africans (mostly from Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia) into the country and then onto Saudi Arabia or Europe. Some 15 smugglers have been arrested in the last few weeks. The smugglers will often torture their customers to get more money out of them. The smugglers also move weapons and people for rebels and terrorists in Yemen.

The new government has major social problems with high unemployment (over 20 percent) and half the population can't get enough food. Foreign aid has difficulty getting in and distributed because of the ongoing tribal and al Qaeda violence.

October 9, 2012: Al Qaeda released a video of three Yemeni men being beheaded in the east (Marib Province) for spying on the terrorists and making it easier for al Qaeda leaders to be killed or captured. The terrorists are particularly angry that Yemenis will provide information for American UAV missile strikes. These informers are hard to find, so when real (or suspected) ones are found, much publicity is given to the execution.

October 8, 2012: In the south (Lahej Province) separatist tribesmen kidnapped nine truck drivers (two Saudis, two Syrians, and five Yemenis) to force the government to release 13 fellow tribesmen who had been arrested in connection with fighting over a land dispute. The tribes don't like outsiders interfering with tribal disputes, even if these disputes lead to roads being shut down or damage and injury to outsiders (people not connected with the tribes involved). This is a problem in many parts of the world where tribalism is still strong.

The government announced the arrest of eight people (Iranians, Syrians, and Yemenis) who were posing as investors but were actually spies and secret agents helping rebel forces in Yemen.

October 7, 2012: Some 400 angry police invaded the Interior Ministry compound complaining of the plan to send them to the south. The veteran cops would be replaced in the capital by recently recruited police the older cops described as Islamic radicals and rebels. The veteran police had served the former president for all their careers and saw themselves as being punished and sent south for that service to Saleh. The government said it would back off on the transfer plan, for the moment.

October 6, 2012: Sheik Sadeq al Ahmar, leader of the largest tribal group in the country (the Hashid tribal confederation) urged other tribal leaders at a national meeting of such leaders to make peace before continued fighting tears the country apart. It's not just tribalism that is causing the violence but also religion (the Shia tribes up north feel threatened) and politics (al Qaeda believes everyone should get behind global Islamic conquest) and pure greed (corruption is still accepted as a normal political tool, as in steal all you can when you can).

In the south (Lahj Province) one separatist tribesman was killed and another wounded when they tried to run a checkpoint. Elsewhere in Lahj police foiled an attempt to kill 15 American military trainers at an air force base. The terrorists had gotten through several security checkpoints but were caught before they could detonate the bomb. The American troops had been there several months, training Yemeni troops in counter-terror methods.

October 4, 2012: In the south (Shabawa Province) an American UAV used missiles to kill five al Qaeda men. Elsewhere in the south two al Qaeda men were arrested at a checkpoint in Abyan Province.

October 2, 2012:  Electricity went out in most of the capital because angry tribesmen blew up some of the power transmission line towers and fired on repair crews. These tribesmen are trying to prevent the government from executing a fellow member of the tribe who had belonged to al Qaeda and had killed police and soldiers.

In the southern city of Aden police raided an al Qaeda hideout, killed three terrorists and interrupted a plot to set off bombs in the city.

September 30, 2012: The Yemeni president admitted that he approved of American UAV missile strikes in Yemen and described some of the precautions to prevent civilian casualties. This was unpopular in Yemen, where politicians like to accuse the U.S. of violating Yemeni sovereignty, even though the attacks kill terrorists who are a very real threat to Yemeni survival.

The Defense Ministry responded to reports that five Yemeni Army officers had been captured by rebels in Syria, by explaining that these officers had been sent to study in Syrian military colleges. The five Yemeni officers were captured as they drove to the airport to get a flight home and were not fighting for the Syrian government. The former Saleh government in Yemen had supported the beleaguered Assad dictatorship in Syria and the two countries had arranged a military cooperation deal.

 

 

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