The Church of Ireland Bishops’ Appeal is partnering with Christian Aid and Tearfund to respond to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Already one of the world’s poorest nations, it has been devastated by civil war, leaving 7,000 dead, 35,000 injured and millions without food and shelter.
Category : Yemen
The Pentagon said Friday that it sent a small number of U.S. special operations forces back to Yemen to provide training and assistance to an Arab coalition to fight al Qaeda militants in the fractured country.
Defense officials said about a dozen or so special operations forces are on the ground to assist United Arab Emirates special forces battle militants associated with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, in Yemen. They said the deployment of forces, which began about two weeks ago, had helped Arab forces retake the port city of Mukalla, along the southern coast of Yemen.
Since April 23, the Pentagon has conducted four counterterrorism strikes against AQAP, killing a total of 10 AQAP operatives and injuring one more, said Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.
As the Middle East is consumed by violence, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies are at last putting boots on the ground. They are doing so not in Iraq or Syria, where western attention is focused, but in Yemen, where it is not. Six months and 5,000 deaths into a largely unreported war for control of Yemen, Saudi, Qatari and Egyptian troops are massing in the centre of the country for an offensive intended to dislodge Iranian-backed Houthi rebels from its capital, Sanaa.
If the likely outcome of this campaign were any sort of stability it would be a gamble worth taking. Yet the reverse is true. In the desert east of Sanaa a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is escalating. There is no sign of Iran or the Houthis backing down, and every sign that the only real winners will be Islamist extremists who have shown from Afghanistan to Somalia that they thrive where conventional governance fails.
Britain and the United States have a clear interest in de-escalating this war, and they have leverage on both sides.
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Al Qaeda confirmed Tuesday that it’s No. 2 official ”” a former aide to Osama Bin Laden who rose to lead the terror group’s powerful Yemen affiliate ”” was killed in a U.S. airstrike.
Rumors about Nasir al-Wuhayshi’s death first circulated on social media and in the Yemeni press.
A video released by al Qaeda on Tuesday said Wuhayshi had been killed in a U.S. airstrike along with two other militants and that a successor, Qassim al Rimi, had been appointed.
Many Yemenis believe that the Houthis are acting as agents of Iran, which backs them. To legitimize their rebellion, the Houthis had to come up with popular proposals to address rising energy prices and incompetence in the government. It was the poor performance of Yemen’s transitional government that allowed them to succeed.
President Hadi, and his government ”” including Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa, who just stepped down ”” failed miserably to deliver basic services, spur economic development and, most important, create jobs. Unemployment was one of the main drivers of the revolt against Mr. Saleh.
The international community should have supported Yemen to ensure its successful transition to stability and development. Instead, the international community largely turned its back on Yemen as it sank further into poverty, chaos and extremism. The United States concentrated almost solely on counterterrorism, continuing its drone strikes on Qaeda militants. Saudi Arabia turned its attention to other parts of the region, ignoring the potential chaos on its southern border.
Monday’s bloodbath underlined a shift in tactics by the jihadists who are busy trying to transform themselves from a fringe group of militants into a fully-fledged domestic insurgency. “A year ago they [al-Qaeda] were numbered in the dozens, armed with light weapons and scattered here and there,” Jamal Benomar, the United Nations envoy to Yemen, told TIME in Sana’a last week. “Now they are in their thousands with tanks and heavy weapons. For the first time in history al-Qaeda controls territory.”
After pushing out army units and setting up de facto administrations ”” mini-Islamic fiefdoms ”” in the south, AQAP, a group the Pentagon claims are the most deadly in the Middle East, are turning their attention to more ambitious pursuits. From the Red Sea coastal plains of Hodeidah to the craggy valleys of the Hadhromout, AQAP have started dispatching teams to assassinate officials, blow up oil pipelines and kidnap foreigners as a means of financing their insurgency. A Swiss woman, one of two foreign aid workers seized from her car near Hodeidah last month ”” hundreds of miles from al-Qaeda’s southern lairs ”” is now being held in Shabwa province in the south by AQAP fighters who are demanding $60 million for her release. Last week the Bulgarian ambassador’s SUV was sprayed with bullets by kidnappers he eluded in the capital.
The U.S. drone killing of American-born and raised Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a major figure in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has re-energized a national debate over the legal and moral quandaries of a government deliberately killing a citizen.
The issue has been roiling throughout the U.S. campaign against terrorism, but Friday’s drone missile killing of al-Awlaki and a second American, Samir Khan, provided a stark, concrete case of a U.S. policy that authorizes death for terrorists even when they’re Americans, analysts said.
A government source who was briefed Friday morning by the CIA confirmed the U.S. missile strike, which killed two other persons in a car in Yemen.
The massacre in Taiz received little attention in the West, blending in with the larger chaos and violence enveloping the Arab world. In Syria, tanks were rolling through the streets of several cities, as months of protest evolved into a bloody national insurrection. In Libya, the civil war was festering into a grim status quo, with NATO airstrikes unable to dislodge Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi from his Tripoli stronghold. Even Egypt and Tunisia seemed endangered, with fresh violence breaking out and their economies in tatters.
Yet the events in Taiz took on a tragic dimension that went beyond the numbers of dead and wounded. Taiz is Yemen’s least tribal city, home to the highest number of educated people, professionals and traders. The city was “the heart of the revolution,” in one popular refrain, and its protesters were less politicized and more rigorously nonviolent than elsewhere in Yemen. The attack on May 29, with its deliberate cruelty and excess, confirmed what many Yemenis feared: that Saleh sees the democratic uprising as a greater threat to his power than Al Qaeda. The burning of the Taiz square, after all, coincided with the collapse of all government authority in large areas of south Yemen, where heavily armed jihadist groups have captured two towns and several villages. In the northwestern province of Saada, too, a militia movement now reigns supreme; they recently elected Yemen’s biggest arms dealer as their new governor. All this has implications that go well beyond Yemen’s remote mountains and deserts ”” the chaos in the north, for instance, threatens to set off a proxy conflict between the region’s two great nemeses, Saudi Arabia and Iran ”” and the Yemeni military has done little to oppose any of it.
Even after Saleh was flown to a hospital in Saudi Arabia in early June, wounded in a bomb blast at his palace mosque, his government ”” or what is left of it ”” seemed determined to crush the unarmed protesters while leaving the rest of the country open to some of the world’s most dangerous men….
The CIA is expected to begin operating armed drone aircraft over Yemen, expanding the hunt for al-Qaeda operatives in a country where counter-terrorism efforts have been disrupted by political chaos, U.S. officials said.
The plan to move CIA-operated Predator and other unmanned aircraft into the region reflects a decision by President Obama that the al-Qaeda threat in Yemen has grown so serious that patrols by U.S. military drones are not enough.
Security forces loyal to Yemen’s president Ali Abdullah Saleh were locked in fierce gun battles on Tuesday in the capital Sana’a with guards from the country’s most powerful tribal federation whose leader is backing protesters’ demands for an end to the premier’s 33-year rule.
At least 24 soldiers and 14 tribesmen were killed and 24 injured in the skirmishes, dimming the prospects for a negotiated solution to Yemen’s political impasse.
The shootout, which pitted Saleh’s central security forces against guards of Sadiq al-Ahmar, head of the Hashid tribal federation from which Saleh also hails, took place in sandbagged streets surrounding Ahmar’s fortified compound, near several government ministries and the ruling party’s headquarters.
A fightback by repressive governments is putting at risk a historic struggle for freedom and justice in the Arab world, Amnesty International says.
Publishing its annual report, the rights group highlights the fight for control over communications technology.
It criticises Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen for targeting peaceful protesters to stay in power.
Counterterrorism operations in Yemen have ground to a halt, allowing Al Qaeda’s deadliest branch outside of Pakistan to operate more freely inside the country and to increase plotting for possible attacks against Europe and the United States, American diplomats, intelligence analysts and counterterrorism officials say.
In the political tumult surrounding Yemen’s embattled president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, many Yemeni troops have abandoned their posts or have been summoned to the capital, Sana, to help support the tottering government, the officials said. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group’s affiliate, has stepped in to fill this power vacuum, and Yemeni security forces have come under increased attacks in recent weeks.
A small but steadily growing stream of Qaeda fighters and lower-level commanders from other parts of the world, including Pakistan, are making their way to Yemen to join the fight there, although American intelligence officials are divided on whether the political crisis in Yemen is drawing more insurgents than would be traveling there under normal conditions.
A quick search of YouTube today for “Anwar al-Awlaki” finds hundreds of his videos, most of them scriptural commentary or clerical advice, but dozens that include calls for jihad or attacks on the United States.
The story of You Tube and Mr. Awlaki is a revealing case study in the complexity of limiting controversial speech in the age of do-it-yourself media, as the House prepares for hearings next week on the radicalization of American Muslims.
In eloquent American English or Arabic with English subtitles, Mr. Awlaki can be seen in videos decrying America’s “war on Islam”; warning Muslims why they should “never, ever trust a kuffar,” or non-Muslim; praising the attempt by his “student” to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner; and patiently explaining why American civilians are legitimate targets for killings. Such videos have been posted in multiple copies and viewed hundreds or thousands of times.
Ask counterterrorism experts what country in the Arab world worries them most and they say ”” hands down ”” that it is Yemen.
“I would put Yemen at the top of the list in part because there is so much direct concern about al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP] trying to target and attack the United States,” says Juan Zarate, a former deputy national security adviser for terrorism. “The reality is that AQAP is a viable network and group. Even if the numbers aren’t in the thousands, just a few hundred of those types with the right kind of leadership training and inspiration can do quite a bit of damage.”
The threat from al-Qaeda terrorists in Yemen is growing, but the U.S. military has few quick options to respond to the increasing danger, analysts say.
Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is reluctant to be viewed as being dependent on the United States, fearful that it will strengthen his critics, according to analysts.
“Ali Abdullah Saleh has made it clear on several occasions that he does not want any form of intervention or occupation,” said Bob Sharp, a professor at the Pentagon-funded Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies. “He is managing huge problems in the country.”