Yemen: After The Peace Deal, Even More War


March 9, 2012:  Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) reinforced by several hundred al Qaeda gunmen fleeing defeats in Somalia, is forming larger (several hundred) strike groups for attacks on towns, cities, and military bases. Most of the action is in the south, where some tribes are fed up with the corrupt and inept way the central government has run things for the last few decades. While some of the tribal leaders are eager to reduce corruption and misgovernment, most are as corrupt as the current bunch of officials and mainly want to partition the country again and gain more autonomy (and personal wealth). AQAP is working with some of the tribes, the idea apparently being that if autonomy is achieved the Islamic terrorists would have a sanctuary. The U.S. particular, the West in general, and other Arab states in the region would not let such a sanctuary survive.

Meanwhile, a year of unrest has crippled the economy and caused even more poverty and unrest. The two major causes of economic problems are the interruption in oil operations and the decline (by half) of foreign investment. The southern rebels have interrupted the flow of oil, reducing it by about a third. Yemen has oil reserves worth over $300 billion and is currently exporting it at the rate of some $6 billion a year. Peace in the south would increase that by $3 billion. But over 80 percent of the oil is in the south and one goal of the southern separatists was to gain complete control of the southern oil via autonomy or independence. That is a big incentive for the rest of the country to stop this partition effort. In addition to oil and foreign investment there is also overpopulation, a deteriorating economy, and a growing water shortage (largely because of the growing of the addictive and intoxicating Khat plant, for export to Saudi Arabia where it is illegal but very popular). Then there's corruption and a general lack of national unity, plus Islamic terrorism and bad relations with the neighbors.

Despite the peace deal, large demonstrations continue demanding the removal of Saleh era government and military officials. The demonstrators are also upset at the lack of progress in attacking the corruption and other economic problems. Al Qaeda had no part of the peace deal, nor did many of the separatist tribes down south. The Shia tribes in the north still want their autonomy back. Worst of all, the corrupt Saleh government is still in power but without Saleh as the official boss. He's now the unofficial boss and everyone knows, and many loathe, it.

March 8, 2012: In the southern port of Yemen the car of a Republican Guard brigade commander was blown up, but there were no casualties.

Troops attacked al Qaeda gunmen in Jaar, in the southern province of Abyan, and killed eight of the terrorists.

In the north a brigade commander and eight other soldiers were killed when they refused to stop at a tribal checkpoint. Two of the Shia tribesmen were also killed.

March 7, 2012: Army units were moved to counter an al Qaeda plan to send 300 gunmen into the southeastern port city of Mukalla and attack the security forces. Intelligence efforts uncovered the plans for al Qaeda and separatist tribes to take control of towns and cities.

Al Qaeda demanded that the government release dozens of al Qaeda prisoners or the terrorists would kill 73 soldiers they recently captured.

March 5, 2012: In the southwest a soldier was killed during an attack on a checkpoint.

March 4, 2012: Outside the southern town of Zinjibar al Qaeda launched a surprise attack on an army base. Conflicting claims were made, but it appears that nearly 200 soldiers were killed or captured and up to 30 of the attackers died as well. There are over a dozen small army bases around the city where, for months, the soldiers have been battling small groups of al Qaeda gunmen in and around the city. Hundreds of al Qaeda gunmen entered the city ten months ago and the army has been unable to get all of them out of the place. Al Qaeda had recently warned the army to get out of Zinjibar or al Qaeda would go on the offensive.

Outside the capital a twin engine Russian made transport aircraft mysteriously blew up. No one took credit.

March 3, 2012: In the south (al Bayda province) two suicide bombers drove a car full of explosives to an army base and detonated the device. One soldier and the bombers were killed. In the southeastern port city of Mukalla two suicide bombers made two separate attacks and killed themselves and a soldier.

March 1, 2012: Al Qaeda gunmen fired on U.S. troops who were in the country to train Yemeni forces. There were no casualties.

In the capital troops from rival army units briefly exchanged fire with each other.

February 28, 2012:  The army announced that al Qaeda has seven days to withdraw from towns it was occupying in the south, or else.

February 27, 2012: Ali Abdullah Saleh officially stepped down as president after 33 years. He says he will go into exile but many expect him to continue using his influence and connections to influence the way things work in Yemen.

February 26, 2012: In the southern town of Zinjibar troops killed 15 al Qaeda gunmen. In fighting 150 kilometers southeast of the capital, fighting killed a soldier and one of several armed men.

February 25, 2012: In the southeastern port city of Mukalla a suicide bomber killed 26. Al Qaeda took credit for this.



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