Southern separatists are becoming more active, with demonstrations and support for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. The continued popularity of dividing the country in two is partly about what little oil Yemen has, as it is in the south and that’s where the separatists are. Al Qaeda is also in the south and willing to help the separatists. Most southerners just want peace and some prosperity. But there are enough devoted separatists in the south to provide sanctuaries and support for Islamic terrorists. The demonstrations are becoming more violent and more demonstrators are getting killed. This provides more popular support for the separatists. But most southerners realize that a new (separatist run) government in the south would be as corrupt as the one they have now (and the ones Yemen has had for thousands of years). As a result of all this, it is more difficult to bring foreign aid into the south, which needs it the most, because al Qaeda believes such aid, even though most is from Moslem countries, is tainted and should be prevented. Al Qaeda also realizes that less foreign aid reaching the south means more foreigners willing to aid the terrorists.
Last year government oil revenue was 57 percent higher than 2011’s two billion dollars. This was largely the result of defeating al Qaeda and rebellious tribal militias early last year. The newly elected government does not seem to be much less corrupt than the previous one and a lot of this increased oil wealth is being stolen.
UN investigators continue pressing Iran about supplying arms dealers in Yemen and especially the Shia rebels in the north. It’s not just Shia tribesmen in Yemen who get this stuff. A lot of it is smuggled weapons across the Gulf of Aden to Somaliland and Puntland and then south to Somalia and al Shabaab (and anyone else who can pay). Bribes get the weapons into and through Somaliland and Puntland. The UN is also asking China about Chinese portable anti-aircraft missiles found in a January shipment. China points out that these weapons were manufactured in 2005 and could have been sold by or stolen from a legitimate buyer years ago. China won’t say who these particular missiles were sold to, but the manufacturer (the state-owned China National Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation) has been sanctioned in the past for selling weapons to anyone willing to pay cash. This included Iran as well as a lot of other bad actors. Yemen has long been home to arms dealers who will sell to anyone and Iran has long used these outfits as middlemen. The Yemeni arms dealers are well connected locally and the government is not eager to go after them.
March 4, 2013: In the south (the city of Lawdar in Abyan province) a terrorist car bomb killed 12 members of a pro-government militia. The Islamic terrorists are particularly mad at southern tribes that sided with the government when al Qaeda sought to take over the south last year.
March 1, 2013: The government freed two separatist leaders in an attempt to reduce the separatist related demonstrations and violence down south.
February 28, 2013: A Swiss women, kidnapped a year ago in south Yemen, was released. There was no mention of ransom, only that officials in Qatar were helpful in getting her released. The Swiss government said that it paid no ransom.
February 23, 2013: An Austrian man, kidnapped two months ago with three other Europeans, appeared in an Internet video pleading with his government to pay a ransom to his captors. European nations used to pay large ransoms quickly to recover kidnapped citizens, but this is less frequently the case as it has become quite clear that most of this money finances terrorist activities and encourages more kidnappings.
February 19, 2013: For the second time in three months, a Yemeni Air Force aircraft crashed. This time it was an elderly Russian made Su-22 light bomber. The 16 ton aircraft was on a training mission when it went down in the capital, killing twelve people.