Yemen: It's The UAVs Stupid


August 9, 2012: The government is faced with a mutiny by soldiers that object to officers loyal to former president Saleh remaining in the army. The government recently announced a reorganization of the army and hundreds of soldiers deserted when it was revealed that a brigade commanded by the son of former president Saleh would remain. Other Saleh kin will also retain their military commands, although all the Saleh men have had their power reduced. For anti-Saleh tribesmen that is not enough. The deal that led to president Saleh stepping down included some of his followers, including his son, retaining their army or government jobs. This compromise was linked to tribal loyalties and reneging on these details could trigger another round of civil war. Four months ago twenty Saleh loyalists were purged from the military but plenty are left.

The U.S. has revealed that it has carried out 29 UAV attacks in Yemen so far this year, compared to ten all of last year. These attacks killed over a hundred key al Qaeda personnel. More importantly the UAVs have spent thousands of hours in the air over Yemen tracking al Qaeda activities. This has been crucial to the victory of the Yemeni security forces over al Qaeda this year. Combined with tips from informants on the ground, the UAVs can track al Qaeda members for days at a time and obtain high resolution photos that enable those on the ground to be identified. Some UAVs also carry electronic monitoring equipment that can eavesdrop on cell phone and walkie-talkie chatter. The UAVs have been a decisive weapon in the battle against the Islamic terror groups in Yemen.

Although thousands of al Qaeda members have been killed, captured, fled the country, or deserted this year in Yemen, those remaining are determined to terrorize their way into power. That will be difficult because their tribal allies (at least the tribal leaders) have deserted them, not wanting to suffer further attack by the security forces and pro-government tribes. While some tribesmen will shelter al Qaeda men, this is increasingly done under duress. Al Qaeda groups are more likely to be located if they are coercing people to shelter them. Several hundred al Qaeda men are from Arabia (mainly Yemen and Saudi Arabia) and determined to turn all of Arabia into a religious dictatorship. They are willing to die for that cause and a growing number of Yemenis are willing to help them die.

August 8, 2012: In the capital, police seized 40 explosive vests and interrupted a plot to make more Islamic terror attacks. In the south seven Islamic terrorist suspects were arrested and accused of being part of the recent attack in Jaar that killed 45 anti-al Qaeda tribesmen.

August 7, 2012: In the southern port city of Aden, the country's largest refinery resumed operations after being shut down for nine months. This will do a lot to reduce fuel shortages in the country.

August 6, 2012: In the south several missiles launched from UAVs killed ten Islamic terrorists, including one of the best bomb makers al Qaeda has in the area.

In the southern town of Jaar troops raided an al Qaeda hideout and killed two terrorists and arrested eight.

August 4, 2012: In the southern city of Jaar an al Qaeda suicide bomber attacked pro-government tribesmen gathered for a funeral. The explosion killed 45 and wounded 40. Jaar was held by al Qaeda for months, with the help of some pro-terrorist tribes. But other tribes in the area opposed al Qaeda and the terrorist group tends to seek revenge against Moslem groups that oppose them.  

In the east (Hadramut province) two missiles from a UAV killed five Islamic terrorists.

August 3, 2012: In the capital a bomb in an Internet Café killed one man. In the south a bomb in a market place killed five. In the southern city of Aden, police disabled a bomb found next to a hotel.

August 2, 2012: Police revealed that a few days ago an al Qaeda suicide bomber (in his twenties), headed for the British embassy, had second thoughts, discarded his explosive vest on a pile of trash and went to the embassy (fearing that al Qaeda was observing him) and surrendered to the Yemeni police there. The bomber then led police to his discarded explosive vest. The bomber then provided police with information about the al Qaeda group that recruited and equipped him with the bomb vest and assigned him a target.

In the east tribesmen released an Italian security officer they had kidnapped on July 29th. The tribesmen were holding him until the government settled a real-estate dispute. This use of kidnapping as a negotiating tactic is a common Yemeni custom. Other tribesmen occupied parts of the Foreign Ministry compound to encourage these negotiations. In the last 14 years over 200 foreigners have been kidnapped in this fashion.

In the capital gunmen fired on the car of the Information Minister (who escaped unhurt).


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