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Yemen's Battles!

Interesting Article: Yemen's capital Sanaa sees worst fighting in weeks By HAMZA HENDAWI / Sanaa published Monday, October 17, 2011

A recent article about the situation in Yemen provided some insight into what tribes are currently fighting against the government. Out of this article came the name of one family, al-Ahmar family, which purportedly leads Yemen's most powerful federation of tribes. So who are they?


The al-Ahmar family is lead by Sheikh Sadiq bin Abdullah bin Hussein bin Nasser al-Ahmar, who succeeded his father after his death in 2007. He is best known for his role in the 2011 Yemeni uprising, in which fighters under his command attacked and seized government facilities in the Battle of Sana'a. He studied at the undergraduate level in Egypt until his father's relationship with the Egyptian government deteriorated, forcing Sadiq to move back to Yemen to complete his studies. Sadiq continued his studies in the United States beginning in 1982 after graduating in Yemen. He returned to Yemen shortly after earning his small aircraft pilot's license in 1987. Sadiq became a member of the Assembly of Representatives of Yemen (is the legislature of Yemen. The Assembly has 301 members, elected for a six year term in single-seat constituencies) in 1993, marking his formal entry into the Yemeni political system. Sadiq had publicly condemned al-Qaeda and had voiced some support for Saleh's war against the terror organization, but remained critical and suspicious of the president's motives, declaring that Saleh's primary intent was not to combat terrorism but to extract aid money from the United States. Sadiq had initially tried to mediate between the opposition and Saleh, but after an incident on 18 March, in which government troops opened fire on demonstrators, al-Ahmar formally broke with the regime and joined the opposition, prompting other tribal leaders to do the same. Sadiq is the leader of the Hashid tribal federation and the Al-Islah tribal confederacy. The Hashid tribal federation is the second largest tribal federation in Yemen. Member tribes of the Hashid Confederation are found primarily in the mountains in the North and Northwest of the country. In historical context, Hashid was already a well known tribe, Banu Hamdan is a well known Yemeni clan since the 1st millennium BCE, who later acquired control and finally gave their clan name to a tribal confederation including Hashid. In the year 622, Muhammad (prophet) sent Khalid ibn al-Walid to Yemen to call them to Islam. Khaled managed to convert the Najrani and Tihami Yemenis to Islam but he didn't get a warm response from the Hamdani Yemenis of the highlands. So Mohammed delegated the task to Ali bin Abi Talib, who was much more successful in converting the Hamdani Yemenis. After the death of Mohammed (prophet) the Hamdan tribe remained Muslim and neutral (didn't join in the wars versus other Yemeni tribes which rejected the rule of Abu Bakr). The Hamdan tribe remained on the side of Ali, after the defeat of Ali and later his sons. The tribes remained on alliance to Ali but didn't oppose the Ummayas or ally themselves with the other Shias. Sadiq launched the Hashid insurgency as part of the 2011 Yemeni uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh in May 2011, culminating in the Battle of Sana'a (the battle was between forces loyal to Yemeni leader Saleh and opposition tribal forces led by Sadiq for control of the Yemeni capital Sana'a and, on the part of the opposition, for the purpose of the downfall of president Saleh. The fighting has led to fears of a civil war in the country). Sadiq is also the leader for al-Islah, the main opposition party in Yemen. Al-Islah has been described as consisting of "three components. The first is the political faction, Yemen’s Muslim Brotherhood, led by Mohammed Qahtan. The second is the tribal confederacy which was led by Sadiq and the third is the mainstream Salafists in Yemen, led by the country’s most prominent Sunni religious scholar, Abdul Majeed al-Zindani. Senior member of Al-Islah Tawakel Karman removed her niqāb (face veil) at a human rights conference in 2004 and since then has called for "other women and female activists to take theirs off". The political factions that are currently fighting in Yemen have the capacity to fight al Qaeda and bring about a more moderate version of Islam, whether we will see Sadiq win is still a question, and whether a new government led by him will be moderate is also a question. As the Yemen situation carries on, one can hope that the change that is coming will be a good one, and not beneficial to al Qaeda. Sadiq seems to be gaining momentum, but we will see what the future holds for him and Yemen.

References:
Profile: Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar". Al Jazeera English. 26 May 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
Ahmed al-Haj. "Tribal chief raises stakes in fight for Yemen". The Associated Press.
"Sanaa is now a capital divided between entrenched enemies". Reuters. May 27, 2011
Paul Dresch, A History of Modern Yemen (Cambridge University Press, 2000)
Yemen president wounded as tribesmen strike palace. Deseretnews.com.
"Ruling party defies Al-Ahmar family, threatens unity of Hashid tribe". Elaf political independent weekly. November 17, 2009.
"New protests erupt in Yemen". Al Jazeera. 2011-01-29. Archived from the original on 2011-01-30.


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