Yemen: War Without End

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April 9, 2013: Al Qaeda continues to exist in the south, despite over a year of vigorous efforts by the army and pro-government tribesmen to destroy the terrorist organization. Al Qaeda is on the defensive and surviving in rural villages controlled by separatist tribes. Restoring South Yemen as a separate country is still popular in the south, even though the country has been united since the early 1990s. The new government is trying to negotiate a solution to this problem but is not having much success. In the meantime the economic crises (water shortages, unemployment) continue, and it’s the economic crisis that is helping keep separatism popular in the south.

Al Qaeda again denied that its second-in-command (Saeed al Shihri) had been killed. The government has claimed to have killed Shihri several times, but DNA tests eventually reveal that it was someone else.

April 8, 2013: The lights went out in the capital because down in Marib province local tribesmen continued their attacks on the electricity transmission lines and the oil pipeline. It’s all about money, jobs, and favors (like getting a misbehaving tribesman out of jail). The problem is that you pay off one bunch of tribesmen with too attractive a compensation package you can simply encourage a crew from another clan to start blowing holes in the pipeline. It used to be you could buy pipeline security from tribal chiefs, but these leaders have lost control of some of their members and are not willing to deal with the bloodshed (and bad feelings) necessary to restore discipline. The electricity transmission lines are also attacked. Even the repair crews are shot at and now need detachments of troops to escort them while out fixing downed power lines. Over the last two years these pipeline attacks have cost the government $4 billion in lost revenue. The blackouts are an embarrassing reminder that the new government is unable to keep the peace.

Another major industry, the weapons trade, is suffering as well. Government efforts to stop Iran from sending weapons to rebel Shia tribes in the north have led to shipments for Yemeni gun dealers being stopped as well. Yemen is a major source for illegal weapons in the region. This largely illegal trade is sustained by corrupt government officials, who sometimes are partners with weapons dealers. This has made Yemen one of the most heavily armed populations in the region, and this has led to over 4,000 deaths from guns each year.

In the south nine died when pro-government tribesmen and some armed army deserters clashed.

April 6, 2013: In the southern port of Aden a soldier was killed and two wounded during a clash with armed separatists.

March 26, 2013: In the southern port of Aden a Russian woman working for the Red Cross was wounded by gunfire.

March 25, 2013: In the south (Abyan province) the town of Batis was cleared of al Qaeda men. This took several days and left six terrorists and three pro-government tribesmen dead.

March 24, 2013: In the south (Abyan province) an intelligence officer was kidnapped from his apartment. In the north an assassination attempt on a Shia tribal leader failed, but three bodyguards were killed. Pro-government Sunni tribes have been at war with the Shia up there for generations.

March 22, 2013: In the south (Abyan province) two al Qaeda men were killed by soldiers.

March 21, 2013: In the south (Abyan province) five died as al Qaeda men fought pro-government tribesmen.

 

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