Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Yemen is on the brink of civil war

The Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh Yemen plunges into civil war. Announced week of the movements against the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the internal conflict is rising like a wave in the poorest Arab countries. According to the UN, at least 50 people were killed in Taiz, the second largest city in the south, where forces loyal to Saleh fired on a crowd of demonstrators.

The UN office in the city reported that there would be hundreds of wounded. In the capital Sana'a, meanwhile, are being armed clashes between the army units still controlled by Saleh and members of tribes that are rather contrary to the president, who ruled the country for over thirty years.

The armed clashes have resumed after a weekend of fragile truce, when it seemed that the president, after months of protests, was now ready to accept a deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The agreement provided for his resignation in exchange for guarantees that his immunity.

Saleh has prevaricated until the last minute, suggesting he is ready to sign, only to unleash against Republican Guard units of the protesters, led by one of his sons. "The cease-fire is over," reads a statement released by a meager government spokesman. There is still a death toll in recent clashes, but according to pan-Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera, also in Sana'a deaths and injuries could be dozens.

The most violent fighting occurred in the area where the interior ministry, controlled by loyalists of Saleh, and close to the house of Sadiq al-Ahmar, a key tribal leader, who has sided against the President, which according to some analysis could be a possible candidate to lead the transition to a democratic government after 33 years of autocracy.

To complicate an already very difficult to unravel, the Yemeni Air Force bombed the city of Zinjibar Monday, in the south, which was attacked over the weekend by about 300 guerrillas. The Yemeni government says that it is an armed group linked to Al Qaeda, but there is a strong suspicion that the alibi of international jihadi terrorism, which also has a few strongholds in Yemen, is used by the government to justify the use of aviation against rebel groups.

The opposition also accused Saleh, had deliberately left the guerrillas attacked Zinjibar, an important oil port, the international community to show the chaos that could erupt in Yemen when he left power. It is a theme to which I am very sensitive both Washington and Riyadh, especially after the killing of Osama Bin Laden, himself originally from Yemen, threatens to push the jihadist groups in the galaxy toward revenge.

Appeals remain unheard of Navi Pillay, UN High Representative for Human Rights, which called for "all parties to the conflict" to stop the armed conflicts and negotiate a way out of the political crisis that paralyzed the country for four months. According to the International Crisis Group, however, political negotiation is complicated by rivalries that cross both sides: "The personal hatred and political competition between the son of the late Sheikh Abdullah bin Hussein al-Ahmar (Sadiq and his nine siblings) and children and grandchildren of President Saleh has so far been a cumbersome obstacle to any agreement for a peaceful transfer of power - analysts said ICG - Today, the rivalry threatens to drag the country into an all-out civil war.

Although the fighting has been limited so far to these two groups could easily extend to other tribal federations, neighbors, Yemen and the first armored division, commanded by General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar. General al-Ahmar, who does not belong to the tribe of the same name, was one of the first senior members of the scheme to give Saleh and held his division out of the fighting.

Maybe waiting for a showdown with the Republican Guard. In its analysis, the IGC continues: "The conflict has already spread far beyond the clash feudal staff. During a mediation attempt, the security forces of Saleh opened fire on the house of Sadiq al-Ahmar, killing many important tribal leaders as well as one of the most important negotiations and the President, Ghamish Ghalib, chief of Yemeni intelligence.

" There are already hundreds of victims of the clashes of recent days and according to the ICG, the inhabitants of Sana'a are at risk, because the battles take place in densely populated areas and in residential neighborhoods. Thousands of people have already left the capital for fear of an attack by the tribes of the interior, less and less willing to remain neutral in the conflict between al-Ahmar and the clan of Saleh.

Saleh almost succeeded with his political maneuvering to turn the protest into a civil war launched four months ago by a group of young activists and organizations for the protection of human rights on the success of the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia. The entry of these movements, now, is submerged by tribal rivalries and artillery shells that might split in two that was once the Arabia Felix.

Joseph Zarlingo - Letter 22

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