Al-Qaeda Eyes Yemen

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President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s recent return to Yemen has been met by continued massive, violent protests calling for his immediate ouster. With separatists and al-Qaeda insurgents continuing to gain ground, the total collapse of Yemen’s government looks to be nearly at hand.

Saleh had spent the past three months in Saudi Arabia recuperating from burns he received in a June rocket attack on his presidential compound, an attack which killed 16 people and wounded more than 100. While waiting for Saleh to return, his sons and relatives were charged with maintaining control over Yemen’s government, its armed forces and the capital city of Sanaa.

However, their heavy handed attempts to maintain order have only served to expedite Yemen’s descent into a state of near anarchy. In the past two weeks alone, savage street fighting has claimed over 150 lives as Republic of Yemen Government (ROYG) forces have rained mortars and anti-aircraft fire onto crowds of anti-government protesters.

In the meantime, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and other Yemeni Islamic militants, such as the Partisans of Sharia, have overtaken several towns in southern Yemen, including the Abyan province capital of Zinjibar. Moreover, senior AQAP leaders have now admitted that fighters from Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked al Shabab had crossed over into Yemen and were now joined in the insurgency.

Then, days before Saleh was to return home, anti-government tribesmen overran an army base north of Sanaa, home to the Republican Guard under the command of Saleh’s oldest son, Ahmed. That attack had been preceded a week earlier when another Republican Guard base in Sanaa had been taken over by a group of protesters and renegade ROYG soldiers.

Finally, serving as a backdrop to all this upheaval has been a Yemen economy, saddled with an unemployment rate of 40 percent, which has all but collapsed. So, it wasn’t too surprising that the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights recently wrote that the ROYG has “appeared to have lost effective control of parts of the country and within the major cities.”

So, it was into this quagmire to which Saleh returned, hoping to stave off further unrest and perhaps spare him a stint in prison or a date in front of a firing squad. To that end, Saleh, who has repeatedly rejected calls by opposition groups to vacate his 30-year presidency, offered in a televised national address to abide by a deal brokered by the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Under that deal, Sahel would allow for parliamentary and presidential elections. In return, Saleh would cede power within a month of signing the accord in exchange for immunity from prosecution by a newly elected Yemen government.

Unfortunately for Saleh, the deal he offered had already been rejected three times by Yemen’s main opposition group, the Joint Meetings Parties. So, if Saleh had entertained thoughts that his televised peace offering would have a pacifying effect, ensuing events quickly disabused him of the notion.

Specifically, tens of thousands of protesters, quickly poured onto the streets of Sanaa demanding his immediate arrest, convinced Saleh was only stalling for time in an attempt to further consolidate his power. Perhaps their suspicions of Saleh being less than candid about voluntarily stepping aside was fueled by RYOG forces only one day after Saleh’s arrival having attacked an opposition camp in Sanaa, killing 17 people in the process.

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  • Fred Dawes

    No and no al Qaeda owns that country and with the help of our so called CIA/NSA WE HAVE A FIFTH COLUMN WHO HAVE THE POWER INSIDE THE fbi/cia/nsa To kill Americans and help our enemies once you see that all is totally understood why this world is like it is.

    We Need 20 million Americans to do the right thing on our enemies here, think tree and rope but before the rats see god in the face 50 lashing on TV Would help any who want to help the enemies of freedom, it will never happen but some day it will happen to free americans by muslims, sad fact but we do live in a fools nation.

  • StephenD

    Just total it up for us will ya? How much blood and treasure will this cost us? You know we're going to open our pockets to whomever is in charge when the dust settles (thinking we can persuade them to like us ~ HA).

  • maturin20

    Sad news.

  • kafir4life

    I'd like to take this opportunity to offer condolences to the members and leadership of cair (aka al-quada in USA) to the passing of your colleague, co-religionist and spiritual leader al-awlaki. May he occupy hell at the right hand of mohamat the pedophilic madman, and inventor of islam.
    allahu snackbar!