Summary: there is no civil war in Yemen or even the immediate prospect of one; the Bakil and Hashid tribes are on the same side against Saleh. Bakil tribesmen took over one of the largest Republican Guard bases, Salah has been shelling their villages for six hours in Nehm, Sanaa. AQAP did not take over Abyan. As it looks at the moment, state jihaddists were given the green light by the National Security to burn the bank in Zanzibar. The danger is of Saleh shelling.
Original: Maybe I’m jaded from all the years of the bloody Saada War, but what’s going on today seems rather controlled. Yemeni tribes in various locations are attacking the Republican Guard, and there’s no civilians in the middle. Only the state forces will deliberately or indiscriminately attack civilians; the tribes will make efforts to avoid them. The danger is not civil war but indiscriminate bombing by the Yemeni Air force. The more Saleh bombs, the less likely civil war becomes. The military capacity of Yemeni tribesmen is substantial. To follow are loose reports from multiple sources; check back for updates.
Sanaa City- Yemen Post reports no clashes overnight. Huge anti-government protests, the 16th Friday of the rev, but no protest by Saleh supporters; attack on mediators caused a significant peel away. 24 hour truce in effect after mediation, security taking potshots but al Ahmar forces not responding.
In speech at protest, Sadiq al Ahmar says mediation is ongoing and he fully backs the peaceful protest movement. Al-Ahmar told protesters in At-Taghir, “We are now in mediation and there has been a ceasefire between the two sides. But if Ali Abdullah Saleh returns (to fighting) then we are ready. We are steadfast and victorious. We wanted it (revolution) to be peaceful but Saleh, his sons and his clique wanted war. We will not leave them the opportunity to turn it into a civil war.”
Some Islahis agitating to take up arms but most protesters remain committed to a peaceful rev, and a (non-partisan) civil coalition moved to an adjacent site.
Info Min: eight ministries are in hands of the Al Ahmar forces.
*Saleh forces lose or give up 5 compounds in Ammeran, Arhab, Nahim and other areas around Sanaa. 10 am EST
Context: Backgrounder on the al Ahmar bros by at BBC by Ginny Hill .
Nehm, Sanaa north of Sanaa- 12 dead (5 tribesmen, 7 RG), dozens injured in fighting a/o 8:30 est. Three military units surrender. Commander of the RG 26 Brigade was killed *in helicopter crash. Retaliatory MIG 29 air strikes ongoing for six hours. RG 26 Brigade regional HQ w/ oversees Sanaa, al Jawf and Marib. *According to tribesmen, the camp contains a large arsenal of military tanks, armored vehicles, missiles, Katyusha rockets, in addition to a huge stockpile of ammunition and military equipment.
Tribe confiscates 3 helicopters. For more details, including helicopter crash, paratrooper fail and death of commander, see Mareb press. *Tribes retaliated after helicopters bombed villagers houses near a military position.
CNN: Defense Min official: 7 Air Force bombers deployed to Nehm, where 2 military compounds were overtaken by tribal fighters.
Locals to Marebpress : Two of the pilots who landed with their planes in Nahm refused to fire & now they are our guests
Context: Nehm tribes attacked RG in revenge for the death of mediator Mohammed Abulhoom at the compound of Sadiq al Ahmar. Nehm are of the Bakil tribal confederation, the largest in Yemen, although the Hasid confederation more politically powerful. The RG is under the command of Ahmed, Saleh’s son. This is one of the largest RG compounds in Yemen.
US delivered four Hueys to Yemen 2/2/11.
Nehm tribe on 5/13 took tanks from 101 Infantry Brigade when they tried to redeploy to Hadramout. Nehm and al Haima were bombed on 5/16 in retaliation. See al Tagheer’s article today for more on the Nehm locking down the RG for several weeks.
Arhab, Sanaa- fighting yesterday between tribesmen and RG, RG defeated or set back. Six people killed in clashes Wednesday, when fighters tried to prevent security officers from leaving two bases in Arhab to reinforce government troops in the capital, about 20 miles away.
Context: tribesmen across Yemen have repeatedly prevented the RG from redeploying to Sanaa and other protest sites from various bases. Arhab is the home of Abdulmagid al Zindani, longtime Saleh loyallist recently an oppositionist, and was the location of one of the US airstrikes targeting al Qaeda in December. I wrote about it years ago as a way station for al Qaeda training, under Saleh’s protection. Also home to Abdulelah Haider Shayer, al Zindani’s brother in law and close associate of Awlaki, who is currently in jail.
Amran- Under al Ahmar control, tribe has 600 pick-ups
Taiz- many citizens came from outlying areas to join today’s protests
Abyan- falling to tribesmen, Yemeni air force retaliates. Alnajda camp fell to armed men, ongoing fighting for control of the military brigade stationed in Abyan city.
Looting: “Scores of deaths in clashes in Zanzibar and Abyan. Military aircraft bombed a mountain about an hour before Khanfar Bdjaar with two missiles. Loose security is unprecedented in the Abyan and looted the central bank and mail in Zanzibar and Ahrachma and fomenting strife there in order to start a civil war.” See photo below.
*Alsahwa net: National Security director coordinates with militants to create chaos in Abyan and AQAP fears in west: “Saleh hands over areas of Abyan to gunmen, saying they are al Qaeda, and this delivery is under the supervision of the director of the National Security.”
al Masdar: militants burn bank, buildings in Zanzibar with no intervention from nearby military units. Residents accuse regime of complicity as Saleh fulfills his promise that Abyan will fall to terrorists.
Context: The state withdrew some military forces weeks ago, the day before the awful explosion at the ammo dump. An online statement from AQAP today regarding Abyan should be taken with a grain of salt. Salah has online stooges in FB, twitter, blogs and for sure in the jihaddis forums. Saleh also has loyalist jihaddists like al Nabi and Sami Dhayan who do his dirty work for money.
al Jawf- heavy clashes reported between al Houthis and tribesmen ongoing for weeks
Lahj- Habalean held a march and protest Thursday. The normally scheduled “prisoners day” protest by the southern independence movement commemorated the fallen, with many speakers and poetry.
Ibb- Huge anti-government protest Vid here
Hadramout- pro-independence protest, “prisoners day,” from the looks of the photos, a significant crowd attended
Marib- state reconnects electrical line, power restored to many part of Yemen.
Al-Baydah- Massive marches
Saada-Hundreds of thousands of Saada province in a massive march confirms the meanings of national cohesion, vids:
International- G8 condemns violence against protesters and says Saleh needs to go immediately. Protest today at UN in NY, joint Syrian, Yemeni pro-democracy.
Comic relief: even UBL thought Awlaki is an idiot. Documents indicate UBL was in direct contact with Attiyatullah al-Libi and dismissed Awlaki as AQ leader in Yemen, ie-AQAP wanted to name him as head and UBL nixed it.
Australian: Bin Laden’s Yemeni wife tipped off the US or was tracked, older wives accuse. “The joke in Pakistan is that Bin Laden called in his location to CIA because he was being driven mad cooped up for five years with so many wives and children.”
Abyan National Bank