Yemen: The Bad Old Days Return


July 11, 2012:  The Yemeni government wants the U.S. to halt its UAV attacks on al Qaeda and send more aid money. The U.S. is attaching lots of strings to the aid, in an attempt to prevent most of it from being stolen. The call for a halt to UAV attacks on al Qaeda is seen as a government bargaining ploy to get the aid money delivered unencumbered by anti-theft measures. The UAV operations against al Qaeda are actually quite popular because they kill the people whose terror attacks kill mostly civilians.

The Yemeni military offensive in the south caused Islamic terrorist forces to scatter. The government did this, in part, by persuading many tribal leaders to pull their men out of an alliance with the Islamic terrorists. Saudi Arabia, long a discreet but powerful force in Yemen, supplied bribes and favors to encourage the tribal defections. The Saudi intelligence operation is still feeding the Americans information on the location of Islamic terrorist leaders, and the more of these that can be killed, the weaker the Islamic terror groups (mainly al Qaeda and local outfits like Ansar Al Sharia) in the south become. This is important to Saudi Arabia because many Saudis belong to al Qaeda in Yemen. These Saudi terrorists still want to overthrow the Saudi monarchy and are fleeing to remote mountain villages in Yemen and neighboring Oman. As far as the Saudis are concerned, the best way to deal with this threat is to kill these Saudi radicals and the American UAVs are the best way to achieve that. The Saudis don't trust the Yemen government, given the number of Islamic terrorists who have bribed their way out of jail down there. The Saudis want their enemies in Yemen dead, and Hellfire missiles are excellent for that sort of thing.

The U.S. and other Western donor countries are pressuring the Yemeni government to keep the pressure on Islamic terror groups. Al Qaeda still has hundreds of members in Yemen and still has active operations to carry out attacks in Yemen and around the world. What the West fears is the Yemeni tendency to negotiate ceasefire deals with terrorists. These usually involve promises to make no attacks in Yemen, in return for sanctuary and the ability to plan attacks on Western targets. Since al Qaeda likes to make attacks on senior Yemeni politicians and military officers, these truce deals are popular at the top. The West is playing hardball this time. There will be no foreign aid (which is enthusiastically plundered by Yemeni leaders) unless there is continued action against al Qaeda.

The government revealed that it had arrested 54 al Qaeda members in the last five months and destroyed ten al Qaeda cells (the basic unit of the terrorist organization, usually containing three to ten members). Many more al Qaeda members have been killed, but it’s the live ones who yield the most useful information. The government knows a lot about al Qaeda and the local Ansar Al Sharia, and the West believes Yemeni officials are not passing all this information along as they agreed to do.

In and around the southern city of Zinjibar, which was the focus of months of fighting against al Qaeda, nearly a hundred soldiers and (mostly) civilians have been killed, and many more are wounded, by al Qaeda landmines and the thousands of unexploded shells and bombs inside the city. For the last month, since the terrorists were driven out, the army has been trying to clear all the mines and unexploded shells but first the stuff has to be found. That often happens when civilians stumble across it or kids decide to play with a "dud shell." This mayhem has slowed the return of over 100,000 people who had fled the city to escape the fighting.

July 10, 2012: In the south police arrested two al Qaeda members that were among 23 prisoners who escaped from a jail in the port town of Hodeidah last month. Bribery was believed to have been involved in that incident.

July 8, 2012:  In the south a separatist demonstration turned violent and three separatists were shot dead and 25 arrested. After several hours of negotiations with tribal leaders, the 25 prisoners were released.

July 5, 2012: The government is blaming a group of army officers for making several bomb attacks on oil pipelines last year. The officers were trying to help keep former president Saleh in power. Nine such pipeline attacks have been made, most of them by southern tribal separatists. These cost the government over $4 billion in lost oil revenue. All the pipeline damage is expected to be fixed by next month.

The separatists are less active now that their al Qaeda ally has been defeated, but the government fears that pro-Saleh military officers are still looking to cause trouble and eventually bring Saleh back to power. Meanwhile southern separatists have concentrated in the southern port city of Aden and the army is increasingly hostile to any kinds of pro-separatist demonstrations.

July 4, 2012:  Troops arrested 14 al Qaeda members, including nine foreigners.

In the southern town of Mahfad an air attack killed three Islamic terrorists.

In the capital the police chief escaped an assassination attempt when the bomb in his car detonated several minutes after he had left the vehicle. Al Qaeda was believed responsible. Because so many experienced al Qaeda bomb builders and terrorism attack planners and managers have been killed in the last year, the surviving "B Team" is making more mistakes and bungling lots of operations.

July 3, 2012: Two UAV missile attacks in the southeast (Shabwa Province) killed four suspected Islamic terrorists.

July 2, 2012: In the capital a senior intelligence official was killed by a bomb planted in his car. Elsewhere in the capital, police announced the arrest of several al Qaeda men and disruption of at least ten terror attacks in the city.



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