Yemen: Al Qaeda Is Willing To Kill For Privacy

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September 25, 2013: Peace talks with the southern separatists have stalled because some northern factions (mostly those loyal to the former Saleh government) are not willing to back more autonomy for the south. This is all about economic power and who controls parts of the economy and the government budget. The Saleh supporters were doing very well during the decades of Saleh rule and suffered major economic losses when Saleh was forced out in 2012. After that, many Yemenis demanded that deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh be forced to give up the money and assets he and his cronies stole and amnesty deals be revoked. While Saleh is no longer president, he is still leader of a powerful political party and has many supporters, including thousands with guns. Saleh and his friends are working hard to hang onto their loot. The new government consists of Yemeni politicians not much different than Saleh and friends. The new crew expects to plunder Saleh's property over the next few years, as that's what those in power do in Yemen. Many Yemenis want a more honest and efficient government, like those that exist in the West. Vested interests in Yemen are opposed to that, knowing that Westerners prosecute corrupt officials and put a lot of them in prison. That is not the Yemeni way and many armed Yemenis are willing to die to preserve Yemen's ancient traditions.

In the north over 60 people have died so far this month because Islamic radical tribesmen have been battling Shia tribesmen. The security forces are staying out of this because the Sunnis are attacking Shia mainly for religious reasons (Sunni conservatives consider Shia heretics and blasphemers). There are also purely tribal (land and water) disputes between the Sunni and Shia tribes and for that the Security forces will often back the Sunni tribes because the Shia have frequently been in rebellion as they seek to regain autonomy they lost in the 1960s. The growth of al Qaeda in the last few decades has only added to the Shia woes in the north.

September 24, 2013: In the south (Shabwa province) negotiations with tribal leaders obtained the release of 21 policemen captured in an attack on a police base on the 20th. No ransom was paid, but the tribal leaders involved are now owed a favor by the government. The tribal leaders are under growing pressure by their followers to reduce the separatist and al Qaeda violence in the south. All that sort of thing does is bring in more troops and more restrictions to movement and commerce. People are going hungry and going without things they depend on (like emergency medical care). Cooperating with the government is dangerous and the separatists and al Qaeda often assassinate tribal leaders considered too helpful to the security forces.

In the capital an al Qaeda gunman killed another air force colonel, the second in two days. Air force leaders are particularly hated by the Islamic terrorists because the Yemeni Air Force and American UAVs are the source of many terrorist casualties. Murdering the air force leaders is an effort to get the air force to back off and ban the Americans from Yemeni air space. Al Qaeda can no longer take control of towns or regions because of the air support the Yemeni soldiers and police have. The Americans are particularly hated because when their UAVs aren’t firing their highly accurate missiles, they are monitoring the rural (largely desert) areas where al Qaeda has taken refuge. The Americans seem to have an uncanny knack for determining which truck or car rattling down a dirt road is actually carrying al Qaeda men and not innocent civilians. If the Americans are not sure, they will alert the nearest soldiers or police who will check more closely. This leads to frequent gun battles at checkpoints or along rural roads.

September 23, 2013: China agreed to provide military aid (hardware and training) to Yemen. In the capital an al Qaeda gunman killed an air force colonel.

September 22, 2013: In the south (Maarib province) al Qaeda clashed with pro-government tribesmen, with each side losing 4 dead.

September 20, 2013: In the south (Shabwa province) al Qaeda launched pre-dawn suicide car bomb and gunfire attacks on 3 security forces bases and killed 56 soldiers and police. The attackers left behind 8 of their own dead and apparently took other dead and wounded with them, along with 21 captured police, as they retreated. The attackers were wearing military uniforms and driving vehicles with military license plates. A fourth attack failed as an explosives laden vehicle blew up before reaching the natural gas terminal on the Gulf of Aden when soldiers fired on the oncoming terrorists.

September 18, 2013: In the south (Aden) police arrested 15 secessionists while breaking up a separatist demonstration of several hundred people. Around the same time a police patrol was ambushed in Aden, leaving 1 policeman dead.

September 15, 2013: In the south (Lahj province) 6 soldiers were wounded as they repulsed a night attack by al Qaeda gunmen on their checkpoint. In the southern port city of Aden a roadside bomb failed to kill the commander of police commandos in the area.

September 14, 2013: For the fourth time this month tribesmen bombed a portion of the oil pipeline that goes to a Red Sea terminal. The pipeline had been bombed regularly in the last few months. Each attack takes anywhere from a day to a week to repair. These bombings interrupt export of 125,000 barrels a day. Exporting this oil supplies 70 percent of the government budget. Tribes living near the pipeline want to be paid more to “protect” (not attack) it.

September 13, 2013: In the east (the Hadhramaut valley) al Qaeda ambushed an army patrol, killing 2 soldiers and wounding 8.

September 11, 2013: The government reinstated 795 government officials who were dismissed in 1994, because they backed the secessionist south. Getting these men their jobs back has long been one of the many demands of separatist southerners.

In the east (Marib province) police arrested 4 al Qaeda members.

September 10, 2013: In the south (Abyan province) 2 pro-government tribesmen were killed in an ambush that was directed at a tribal leader (who escaped uninjured). 

 

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