Monday, May 4, 2009

Insurgency Gains in South Yemen

Not good news, is it?
 
Insurgency Gains in South Yemen
By ROBERT F. WORTH
Published: May 4, 2009

BEIRUT, Lebanon — A separatist movement in southern Yemen has gained political momentum and grown more violent recently, with a series of demonstrations and armed confrontations that have left at least eight people dead and dozens injured in the past week.
 
The unrest prompted an unusual statement of concern from the United States embassy in the Yemeni capital, Sana, affirming American support for a unified Yemen and urging all parties to "engage in dialogue to identify and address legitimate grievances."
 
The separatist violence is noteworthy because Yemen, a desperately poor country at the southern corner of the Arabian peninsula, is already facing an intermittent insurgency in the north and an increase in attacks by Al Qaeda's regional branch. All this has led some American officials to renew warnings that Yemen — which has long served as a haven for jihadists — could devolve into another Afghanistan.
 
The global financial crisis has also worsened Yemen's situation, increasing unemployment and limiting the power of the state — which has announced it will cut expenditures in half in 2009 — to retain loyalty through pension payments and development projects.
 
The most recent round of violence began on April 28, when government troops established an additional checkpoint in the town of Radfan, in Lahj province. Angry local men attacked the checkpoint, killing two soldiers and injuring others. In the days since, demonstrations and violence have broken out in other towns, with three people killed in gun battles on Sunday.
 
In recent weeks, a number of political figures have begun openly demanding independence for the formerly socialist south, which was autonomous until the two Yemens unified in 1990. A brief civil war in 1994 left many southerners resentful of the north, and in the past three years grievances have steadily grown. These have been fueled mostly by economic disparities and the demands of retired southern soldiers who said they had not been paid their pensions.
 
Last month the separatists were joined by Tareq al Fadhli, a prominent tribal figure and former ally of Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Mr. Fadhli's public repudiation was especially noteworthy because he had helped organize jihadists to fight with the government against the socialist southerners during the 1994 civil war.
 
Mr. Saleh delivered a stark warning during an April 26 meeting in the capital with military and civilian leaders from the south, saying any division of Yemen would result in many states, not just two.
 
"The people will fight from house to house," Mr. Saleh said. "They should take a lesson from Iraq and Somalia."
 
Two days later, Mr. Fadhli called for a separate southern state during a large outdoor rally in the southern province of Abyan.
 
On Sunday, Yemen's foreign minister, Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, met in Sana with a group of ambassadors from Arab states in an apparent effort to secure their help in blocking support to the southern secessionist movement from abroad. A number of southern opposition leaders left Yemen in 1994, and some are said to receive support for their movement in Arab capitals.
 
Reporting contributed by Khaled Hammadi in Sana, Yemen
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2 comments:

sushionastick said...

What nonsense! Comparing us in the South to Afghanis! Comparisons have been made with Somalis, too. Southerners are known to be peaceful folk. Protests turned violent out of desperation, not because it is in our nature!

Talks of Al-Qaeda are equally ridiculous. Terrorism occurs mostly from the North, where tribes exist. This is all the more reason to separate.

southyementimes said...

You used it brother
We don't need al qaeda to fight our wars we are stronger than there 18 million that follow al saleta who used iraqs planes to fight us. We are stronger than they think guns or no guns South Arabia lives in all southern people