The southern separatists have, so far, been unable to get a large number of people to actively (get out and demonstrate) back their cause. But there are thousands of devoted activists who keep hitting the streets. The separatists have real grievances. The government is corrupt and inefficient, and always has been. Trying to change this has been very difficult. In this part of the world, it always is.
Several hundred al Qaeda activists are still in Yemen, but spending more of their time trying to stay out of jail. Some have showed up in Somalia, and others are believed to have gone to Europe and Saudi Arabia. Many of those who have stayed in Yemen have done so because they have family ties in Yemen. This provides considerable protection from the police, but does not always make it possible to carry out terrorist acts. The tribe that shelters these terrorists, do not necessarily agree with al Qaeda goals or methods.
The government is investigating claims of fishermen that Russian and Indian warships and helicopters attacked them and destroyed or damaged their boats while seeking pirate mother ships. The Russians and Indians deny any misbehavior, but some of the fishermen are demanding compensation.
Russian commandoes freed a Russian tanker, seized by pirates yesterday some 600 kilometers from a Yemeni island. The tanker crew (of 23 Russians) had taken refuge in a safe room, disabled the engine and called for help. One of the nearest warships was a Russian frigate with commando detachment on board. The Russian frigate rushed to the scene and landed about a dozen commandoes on the tanker. One pirate was killed in a brief gun battle, before all of the pirates surrendered. The tanker was carrying $50 million worth of oil from Sudan to China.
The UN is unable to get foreign donors to provide food (or cash to buy it) for 3.5 million hungry Yemenis (15 percent of the population). Currently, only half rations (about a thousand calories a day) can be provided to some 400,000 Yemenis who recently fled the Shia rebel violence in the north. Foreign donors are reluctant to give, in part, because of the corruption in Yemen, that results in food aid being stolen by officials or bandits, and never reaching the hungry (except via markets where they can buy it, if they have the money.)
May 4, 2010: The head of the American FBI, visiting Yemen, publicly thanked Yemen for assisting the FBI in dealing with Islamic terrorists. The FBI has had agents in Yemen for years, and the quality of the assistance from local police and intelligence officials has varied.
In the north, Shia rebels shot dead two shepherds. Police are looking for the killers, and trying to find out why the two men were murdered. The government considers this another violation of the truce.
In the south, separatists freed two soldiers they had kidnapped three days earlier. The kidnappers had threatened to kill the soldiers if the government did not free an imprisoned separatist leaders. The government threatened retribution if the soldiers were not freed.
Pirates seized a small coastal freighter, and its crew of nine, off the south Yemen coast (near the port of Aden).
May 3, 2010: The government reported that at least 35 al Qaeda members were killed in a series of raids throughout southern Yemen. Many al Qaeda suspects were also arrested. In the southern town of Dalea, three people were killed during separatist demonstrations.
May 2, 2010: Western foreigners have been warned, often by their own governments, to stay away from certain places and, in general, be careful, in the wake of the suicide bomber attack against the British ambassador last week. The government became much more active in seeking out al Qaeda members after that attack, and it is feared that the terrorists will speed up attacks being planned, before police shut them down.
May 1, 2010: In the south, separatists ambushed three soldiers, killing one and captured two. The separatists demanded the release of one of their leaders, or the two soldiers would be killed.
Police reported that they had seized 10,216 illegal firearms in April. The 21 million Yemenis are believed to possess over 50 million firearms. In the last two years, the effort to round up illegal weapons has seized 600,000 weapons. Violence in the south has, so far this year, left 18 dead and 120 wounded. The government has published a list of fifty separatists wanted for violent acts.
April 30, 2010: Police believe they have arrested those responsible for planning the failed assassination attempt on the British ambassador. The bomber himself, had been arrested earlier for al Qaeda activities, but had been released several months ago.
April 29, 2010: In the north, seven men died when Shia rebels attacked a pro-government village.
April 27, 2010: Police arrested over thirty suspected terrorists, who were believed involved in yesterdays use of suicide bomb attack on the British ambassador. Seven of those arrested had been involved with Islamic terrorists before.
April 26, 2010: In the north, three men were wounded when Shia rebels and pro-government clashed at a tribal roadblock. In the south, a suicide bomber attempted to murder the British ambassador, but only killed himself and wounded three nearby civilians. The bomber was a 22 year old student who was unable to get close enough to the ambassadors armored sedan.
April 25, 2010: A video was found, showing Nigerian Moslem, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, being trained, last year, in an al Qaeda camp in Yemen. Abdulmutallab tried, and failed, to set off a bomb on an airliner flying from Europe to Detroit, in the United States on December 25th last year. It quickly becomes known that Abdulmutallab had spent three months in Yemen, getting training from al Qaeda.
In the north, Shia rebels kidnapped two Saudis and a Yemeni. They quickly released the Saudis, apparently not wanting to attract the attention of the numerous Saudi troops and police along the border. The Yemeni was eventually released as well, after police threatened a vigorous search.