Yemen: Hopeless


July 10, 2013: In addition to its own economic and political problems, Yemen is also stuck with over a million refugees from Africa, many of them brought over by Yemeni smugglers (most get to Yemen via Somali and other African smugglers). About half the refugees are from Somalia. Hosting all these people is an economic burden, even if foreign aid is used to supply most of the refugee needs. But with worsening water shortages and growing unemployment, even the foreign aid does not solve all the problems the refugees cause. Yemen has been unable to get other countries to provide more help, in part because a lot of the aid is stolen by Yemenis.

Yemen has also asked international refugee organizations for help in dealing with over 200,000 Yemenis forced from Saudi Arabia in the last three months as the Saudis crack down on some two million illegal migrant workers in the country. The Saudis want to put more of their own citizens to work, but that is difficult with so many illegal foreign workers willing to do jobs for less. Many of the expelled Yemenis were born in Saudi Arabia as were, in some cases, their parents. There are still 2,000 Yemenis a day moving back from Saudi Arabia. Those who do not leave soon will be jailed and fined and placed on a blacklist that will prevent later legal entry into the kingdom.

Many officials in the new government are stressing that most of Yemen’s problems are basically economic, and most of that stems from the culture of corruption that cripples economic growth. International surveys list Yemen as one of the most corrupt nations on the planet. This starts early in life, as can be seen by the extraordinary measures taken this year to prevent cheating in the exams high school students must take to graduate (and get into college). Bribes are often paid to get the test answers, but in some cases the students come armed, in a group, and make threats to those objecting to their cheating. To guard against this, three armed soldiers are being assigned to each exam center this year. The basic problem is that many, if not most, students believe they have a right to cheat. While there have been more official efforts to eliminate corruption since the Saleh government was overthrown two years ago, many powerful Yemenis resist being held accountable and continue with their corrupt ways of doing business.

Al Qaeda has found refuge in parts of Yemen largely because of the culture of corruption. Although some Yemenis, especially in the south, agree with al Qaeda, what really makes al Qaeda welcome is bribes (or “gifts”) paid to tribes who will host the terrorists. Most Yemenis want al Qaeda gone, if only because their mayhem and attempts to turn the country into a religious dictatorship make matters worse for all Yemenis. So despite the assassinations and bribes, the army and police continue to hunt for remaining al Qaeda members, most of them now hiding out in the south.

July 8, 2013: In the north an army colonel was assassinated by unidentified gunmen. The victim got off a few shots before dying, wounding at least one of his attackers. Al Qaeda uses these murders to intimidate security officials and get them to back off on their attacks on Islamic terrorists, or at least be receptive to taking a cash bribe to do so.

July 7, 2013: In the south several thousand people held a loud demonstration to commemorate the end of the last civil war in 1994. Back then the south tried to reverse the 1990 unification and make the south once more a separate state. It failed then and it is still failing, although many southerners still wish it were otherwise. These secessionist sympathies are one reason al Qaeda finds more support in the south than elsewhere in Yemen.  

July 6, 2013: In the capital a bomb went off at a checkpoint killing three policemen.

July 3, 2013: In the southeast (Hadramout province) an al Qaeda death squad killed an army intelligence officer.

June 30, 2013: Local tribesmen bombed a portion of the oil pipeline (170 kilometers east of the capital) going to the Red Sea terminal. The pipeline had been bombed regularly in the last few months. The latest attack will take a week to repair. A less damaging attack occurred on the 27th and was repaired within a day. These bombings interrupt the export of 125,000 barrels a day. Later in the day a soldier was killed while escorting a repair crew to the site of the pipeline break. Repairs began before the day ended.

June 22, 2013: Outside the southern city of Taiz, police fought with armed men blocking a road to protest police enforcing the ban on carrying weapons openly. One man was killed in this clash and there was another killed two days earlier in a similar incident. This is part of a new law making it illegal to carry weapons unless authorized to do so. In the south some of the tribes are particularly hostile to this.

June 20, 2013: In the south (Abyan province) tribesmen released 11 soldiers they had taken prisoner over the last two days, in an attempt to get an imprisoned tribesman freed. The local army commander agreed to release the prisoner if his soldiers were freed.

June 19, 2013: In the last two months police have seized over 40,000 illegal weapons from smugglers were trying to bring in via the Red Sea port of Mocha. Most of these weapons were seized during four raids in the last few days.

In the north an al Qaeda suicide bomber killed two people during an attack on a market popular with local Shia.





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