Yemen: How Al Qaeda Thrives On Chaos


October 11, 2013: Poverty is a growing problem, with over 40 percent of the population going hungry. The situation exists because of corruption and poor leadership at all levels. What’s made it worse recently is the uprising led by al Qaeda over the last few years and a Saudi effort to get rid of illegal migrants. This program has led to 200,000 Yemenis being expelled from Saudi Arabia this year. Many of these people had jobs in Saudi Arabia and sent money back to kin in Yemen on a regular basis. Now that income has ceased and the poverty increases as a result. The al Qaeda violence has disrupted the economy in the south and many people are starving as a result.

Al Qaeda is still a major presence in many parts of the south. People in Al Beidha province are complaining that the lack of security and government presence in their area forces many locals to turn to al Qaeda for security and other government functions. The problem is made worse by the hundreds of thousands of people who fled their homes over the last two years to avoid the fighting and are now coming home to find their property damaged and looted and sometimes occupied by someone else. And then there are al Qaeda gunmen and bandits wandering around doing whatever they want.

October 10, 2013: In the southeastern port of Mukalla, gunmen on motorcycles shot an army colonel dead in the street.

October 9, 2013: The national unity talks in the capital collapsed as leaders from the southern separatist tribes and the northern Shia tribes withdrew, claiming that the national government refused to discuss revenue sharing and the kind of autonomy issues the northern and southern tribes are most interested in. The problem here is that controlling the national government is seen as an opportunity to plunder the oil and foreign aid income for the benefit of the families and tribes with people in senior positions.

October 6, 2013: In the capital a UN aid worker from Sierra Leon was kidnapped. Elsewhere in the capital, a German citizen, who worked at the German embassy, was shot dead while out shopping.

October 5, 2013: Outside the capital a fuel truck accident in an ammo depot led to a large fire and several explosions as the flames reached some of the missiles and rockets stored there.

October 3, 2013: In the south (Aden) a senior officer in the police commandos was shot dead.

October 2, 2013: In the southeastern port of Mukalla, troops recaptured a military headquarters that had been attacked by al Qaeda gunmen 2 days earlier. Most of the 15 attackers left as police reinforcements arrived, but some of the terrorists were trapped on the top floor of the buildings. 5 soldiers died in the fighting along with 7 civilians and terrorists. Elsewhere in the southeast (Hadramawt province) gunmen attacked a checkpoint and killed 4 soldiers.

September 28, 2013: In the southeast (Hadramawt province) gunmen killed an army colonel.

Off the northern coast of Somalia, 3 Yemeni fishing boats and a larger fishing ship were seized by the Puntland Coast Guard. The 4 ships and 25 Yemenis were taken to nearby Puntland to be prosecuted. Puntland has been separate states for over a decade. Efforts to train and arm a coast guard in Puntland (where most of the pirate gangs operate) have run into a lot of resistance from the UN and some member nations. The problem is the corruption. The pirate gangs have long had many Puntland officials on the payroll, and would bribe any anti-piracy force as well. There was also a real fear that a Puntland Coast Guard might turn into pirates. That sort of thing has happened before. Puntland has eagerly accepted millions of dollars in foreign aid, meant to be used to deal with piracy. But the pirates remained in business for years, at least as long as they were getting ransoms and remained well-armed and flush with cash. Given a choice between a bloody fight and some more payoffs, Puntland politicians seem to be going for the cash. Nevertheless, the pirates have been unable to capture any ships for over a year and their ransom income has dropped precipitously. That means a lot less money for bribes and the newly formed Puntland Coast Guard (really just police with armed motor boats) have gone after smugglers and foreign fishing boats. Cargoes and ships are seized and fines collected. It’s unclear where the money is going but it’s become more risky for smugglers and poachers. 

September 26, 2013: In the capital two bombs went off, wounding 20 people.


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