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Who in Yemen can stop Al Qaeda from gaining ground?

Interesting Article: Car bomb kills anti-terror chief in south Yemen by Associated Press / Sanaa published Friday, October 28, 2011
The head of the anti-terror force in Yemen's restive southern Abyan province was killed Friday when a bomb planted in his car exploded, a Yemeni security official said. Al-Qaida linked militants have taken over a number of towns in Abyan, along the country's south coast, where they regularly engage in deadly clashes with security forces. Yemeni authorities also accuse them of targeting security officials. Tens of thousands marched in anti-government demonstrations across Yemen Friday. Protesters have been on the streets practically every day since January, despite bloody government crackdowns. With the protests taking place, and al Qaeda looking to get rid of any anti-terror leaders in Yemen, who in Yemen will stand against them in the future?

First, a little bit about the Yemen uprising: a major demonstration of over 16,000 protestors took place in Sana'a, Yemen's capital, on 27 January. On 2 February, Saleh announced he would not run for reelection in 2013 and that he would not pass power to his son. On 3 February, 20,000 people protested against the government in Sana'a, while others protested in Aden, a southern Yemeni seaport city, in a "Day of Rage" called for by Tawakel Karman. In a "Friday of Anger" on 18 February, tens of thousands of Yemenis took part in anti-government demonstrations in Taiz, Sana'a and Aden. On a "Friday of No Return" on 11 March, protestors called for Saleh's ousting in Sana'a. More protests were held in other cities, including Al Mukalla. Starting in late April, Saleh agreed to a Gulf Co-operation Council-brokered deal only to back away hours before the scheduled signing three times. After the third time, on 22 May, the GCC declared it was suspending its efforts to mediate in Yemen. On 23 May, a day after Saleh refused to sign the transition agreement, Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar, the head of the Hashid tribal federation, one of the most powerful tribes in the country, declared support for the opposition and his armed supporters came into conflict with loyalist security forces in the capital Sana'a. Heavy street fighting ensued, which included artillery and mortar shelling. Saleh and several others were injured and at least five people were killed by a 3 June bombing of the presidential compound when an explosion ripped through a mosque used by high-level government officials for prayer services. The next day, Vice President Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi took over as acting president while Saleh flew to Saudi Arabia to be treated. In early July the government rejected the opposition's demands and in response, factions of the opposition announced the formation of their own 17-member transitional council on 16 July, though the Joint Meeting Parties that have functioned as an umbrella for many of the Yemeni opposition groups during the uprising. According to Al Jazeera English in late February, the deeply fractured opposition includes the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP; formed in 2002), Islah (also known as Yemeni Congregation for Reform and the major member of JMP), the al-Ahmar family, and various insurrection groups including the Houthis in the north and the South Yemen Movement in the south. These groups include socialist, Islamist and tribal elements with differing goals. Islah, which currently holds about twenty per cent of the seats in the legislature, includes some members of the Ahmar family, Yemen's Muslim Brotherhood, and Salafi preacher Abdul Majid al-Zindani, labeled a "specially designated global terrorist" by the US. The JMP also includes the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), Al-Haq, the Unionist party, and the Popular Forces Union party. The al-Ahmar sons – Sadek al-Ahmar and Hamid al-Ahmar – whose late father was a former leader of the Hashid tribal confederation want power. The Southern Movement has temporarily dropped its calls for secession with calls for Saleh's ouster. On 6 March, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the shooting of five soldiers. On 31 March 2011, AQAP declared an "Islamic Emirate" in the southern Yemen. So in terms of an anti-terror leader, Sheikh Sadiq bin Abdullah bin Hussein bin Nasser al-Ahmar (Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar), a Yemeni politician and the leader of the Hashid tribal federation and the Al-Islah tribal confederacy, seems to be a candidate to genuinely fight al Qaeda in Yemen, he even had publicly condemned al-Qaeda and had voiced some support for Saleh's war against the terror organization. Therefore, we should look to build bridges with him, if we are to hope that Yemen will not be another Taliban-esque government to al Qaeda. 

Profile: Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar". Al Jazeera English. 26 May 2011.
Staff (27 January 2011). "Yemenis in Anti-President Protest". Reuters (via The Irish Times).
"Thousands Rally Across Yemen – Several Injured as Protesters Clash with Police on Fourth Straight Day of Demonstrations in Capital and Country's South". Al Jazeera English.
Jamjoom, Mohammed (23 March 2011). "Yemen's Leader Says He Will Accept Transition Plan". CNN.
Yemeni tribes form coalition against Saleh". Straits Times. 31 July 2011.
Yemen: CCYR declares continuation of uprising and releases statute, Armies of Liberation, 8 May 2011
Johnston, Cynthia; Ghobari, Mohammed 24 March 2011. "Yemen Forces Clash over Saleh Before Friday Protest". Reuters.


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