Yemen: Al Qaeda Seeks Revenge And Revenue


July 24, 2013: Although al Qaeda is on the run in Yemen, the other Sunni Islamic conservatives are becoming more violent in mosques. While the north has several entirely Shia tribes, Sunnis and Shia have lived together peacefully throughout Yemen for centuries and usually use the same mosques (some led by Shia clergy, most by Sunnis). That tradition is being attacked by Yemeni Sunnis who are using violence or threats of violence to drive Shia from mosques throughout the country. This is a widely unpopular move, but the Sunni Islamic radicals are on a Mission From God, not a popularity contest. The Sunni radicals also accuse Yemeni Shia of being agents for Iran, which is only true in a few instances.

The defeat of al Qaeda and installation of the new government has led to an improved economy. But the improvement is not dramatic enough to deal with the worst problems (water and food shortages and very high unemployment). The wealthy Gulf Arab states have been donating billions of dollars in aid each year, but most of that goes to avoid widespread starvation of disease. The long term problems (corruption, drugs, water shortages) are still beyond viable solutions.

July 21, 2013: In the capital a senior instructor at the military academy had his legs blown off by a car bomb. He survived but so far this year at least 75 other officials have not. Elsewhere in the capital armed men kidnapped an Iranian embassy employee.

July 20, 2013: In the eastern port of Mukalla, a fight between local police and government officials (over food the government supplies to the police) left one policeman and one government security guard dead. The dispute was a misunderstanding that got out of hand.

July 19, 2013: In the south (Abyan province) an al Qaeda death squad killed a pro-government tribesman. Al Qaeda is seeking revenge for the part these pro-government tribal militias played in defeating the Islamic terrorists last year. Al Qaeda is also out to kill homosexuals (real or imagined) and in the last week have killed one man and wounded another as part of this well publicized effort.

July 18, 2013: In the south (Daleh province) two local separatists escaped an assassination attempt by persons unknown.

July 17, 2013: Al Qaeda admitted that Said Ali al Shihri, the deputy (“number 2”) of Yemeni al Qaeda, was indeed, as claimed several times since late last year, been killed by the Americans. Shihri apparently died from wounds several weeks after a late 2012 UAV missile attack. Shihri was a Saudi terrorist captured by the U.S. in late 2001 and, at the request of Saudi Arabia, released from Guantanamo in 2007. He went through the usually successful Saudi rehabilitation program but two years later showed up in Yemen openly working for al Qaeda.

July 16, 2013: A Dutch couple, kidnapped from the capital June 11th, appeared on an Internet video pleading for their government to do something, otherwise the two expected to be killed within two weeks. The kidnappers are unidentified but are apparently seeking a ransom that no one can, or wants, to pay. Governments are discouraged from paying large ransoms since that only encourages more kidnappings. The government is eager to discourage kidnappings as it reduces the number of tourists visiting the country. In the last four years the number of tourists has fallen by about 20 percent and the tourist income by closer to 30 percent. This is largely due to fear of kidnapping and al Qaeda violence.

July 13, 2013: In the north (Marib) two soldiers were killed in a nigh time ambush.

July 11, 2013: In Oman police found and seized 30,393 pistols hidden aboard a tanker that was on its way to Yemen. That’s apparently where the pistols were going because Yemen is the largest illegal marketplace for weapons in the region.



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