Yemen: Starving For Peace


November 3, 2011: The ruling coalition is apparently ready to give up and allow a new collection of leaders to take over. This sort of deal has been announced several times this year, but the UN and members of the ruling party say that this time it's true. Vice president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi is supposed to replace president Saleh. This is the result of growing foreign pressure, and the inability of government forces to halt increasing internal opposition. As for Saleh giving up power, believe it when you see it.

There is a lot of pressure on Saleh, and not just from political rivals and unhappy tribes. There is growing anger among the population in general. The months of unrest have disrupted the economy (which was fragile to begin with.) There are growing shortages of food, fuel and all manner of goods. Most Yemenis tend to hold Saleh responsible for this. Saleh's troops have become more unpopular as they have come to be more dependent on their artillery and warplanes, both of which tend to kill civilians more than the rebel gunmen they are aiming for.

Troops continue to skirmish with al Qaeda forces in the south. There are not a lot of al Qaeda fighters, but they are good at working the local and international media. This makes them appear more numerous and formidable than they actually are. Most al Qaeda fighters are in or around the southern city of Zinjibar, trying to maintain a presence there despite energetic government efforts to kill all Islamic terrorists in the area. Al Qaeda also has to worry about the increasingly active American UAVs, which track their activities, and occasionally fire missiles. These UAVs are based in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, and are becoming a real problem for al Qaeda.

November 2, 2011: A new truce has been declared, in anticipation of a new peace deal that would allow president Saleh to withdraw from politics.

In the southern city of Taiz, troops fighting tribal rebels resulted in over a dozen government, rebel and civilian casualties. In the last week, fighting in Taiz has left at least eleven dead and over 40 wounded. The government has made a major effort to drive rebels out of the city, and has failed.

October 30, 2011: A rocket or mortar shell hit one of the air force warplanes based near the main airport outside the city. This set off several explosions, apparently destroying or damaging four military aircraft. This temporarily closed the nearby airport, forcing incoming flights to divert to the airport in the southern city of Aden.

October 29, 2011: In the south, police arrested five men suspected of being al Qaeda members involved in the recent assassination of a senior intelligence officer in the port city of Aden.

October 28, 2011: In the southern city of Aden, a car bomb killed a senior intelligence officer.

For the first time since January, the security forces allowed a peaceful protest to march across the capital without being attacked. This was seen as a friendly gesture.  

October 27, 2011:  In the south, the inability of the government to defeat tribal militias and al Qaeda terrorist cells has made even pro-government tribes more favorably inclined towards dividing the country once more (into North Yemen and South Yemen).

October 26, 2011: Damage to a natural gas pipeline has been repaired and shipments have resumed. This is important because gas and oil are the major sources of revenue for the government.


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