Al Qaeda is very much on the defensive. American UAVs are seeking out and killing senior al Qaeda officials. Pro-government (or anti al Qaeda) tribal militias control most of the country and can go into those few areas where pro-al Qaeda tribes are still willing to fight. These pro-government tribesmen get rewards for passing on information about al Qaeda. Pro-al Qaeda tribes are laying low because of the threat of retaliation from other tribes who suffered losses during the last year of fighting. When al Qaeda took control of an area the result was harsh treatment of civilians and killing government officials (who often belonged to local tribes) and hostile tribesmen. Blood feuds are common in this part of the world and al Qaeda managed to start a bunch of them in its months of mayhem in southern Yemen. While severe shortages of food, water, and jobs are still a concern, most Yemenis are giving the new government some time to show they can do something about all this. Meanwhile, there’s revenge to attend to.
The government has contracted a Chinese firm to build three natural gas-fueled power plants, along with gas pipelines and electricity transmission lines. The former Saleh government lost a lot of support for failing to do anything about the growing electricity shortages. More food and other consumer goods are being imported and reconstruction aid is fueling a building boom in the fought-over south.
November 10, 2012: Pro-al Qaeda tribal chief Tareq al Fadhli has been put under house arrest in the southern port city of Aden. Al Fadhli (who had fought as an Islamic warrior in 1980s Afghanistan) was moved from his base in Abyan province to Aden in order to avoid a full scale battle that might have gotten him killed.
November 8, 2012: An American UAV attack, 15 kilometers southeast of the capital killed three al Qaeda men, including one wanted for organizing a 2008 attack on the U.S. embassy (that killed ten Yemenis and no Americans).
November 6, 2012: Saudi security forces captured eleven recently (in the last two years) released (from prison) Islamic radicals (one Yemeni and ten Saudis) who had earlier killed two Saudi border guards while trying to cross into Yemen and join al Qaeda. Saudi Arabia has long been the main source of al Qaeda manpower in Yemen. This is because of the intense anti-al Qaeda attitudes in Saudi Arabia and energetic counter-terrorist operations by the police. Thus, if pro-al Qaeda Saudis want to operate freely, they have to get out of Saudi Arabia. Several thousand suspected and actual Islamic terrorists have been captured in Saudi Arabia in the last nine years. Those guilty of murder are usually beheaded, while the rest went through several years of indoctrination and rehabilitation. Most of those released stayed away from Islamic radicalism but 10-20 percent didn’t, and some of those leave the country to continue their Islamic terrorist ways.
November 5, 2012: In the south (Abyan province) pro-government militia surrounded the compound of pro-al Qaeda tribal chief Tareq al Fadhli. This led to some fighting, with two of al Fadhli’s men being killed. Al Fadhli had returned to his home in Abyan after having fled with his al Qaeda allies earlier in the year. Al Fadhli is a powerful tribal leader and expects to work out some kind of peace deal with the government. But many other southern tribes want al Fadhli dead because of all the losses suffered from al Fadhli’s tribal militia and al Qaeda allies during over a year of violence in the south. The government wants to punish al Fadhli but doesn’t want to trigger a major tribal war while doing it.
November 4, 2012: Two explosions cut the main oil export pipeline to a Red Sea terminal. The government has lost over $4 billion from these attacks over the last two years. Local tribesmen responsible for the attacks want more money from the government in return for peace.
Port inspectors found 3,000 pistols, silencers, and other weapons hidden in a shipping container of biscuits boxes from Turkey. An investigation is taking place in Turkey and Yemen to find out who arranged this arms smuggling in both countries.