The Wall Street Journal reports: The militant group that controls Yemen’s capital moved to extend its power southward with an attack on a major city, deepening chaos that has given terror groups greater room to proliferate and forced the U.S. to suspend military operations inside the country.
American officials now see Yemen teetering on the brink of a civil war involving the besieged president, a former president and a patchwork of militant groups. The leader of the Houthi militant group behind the southern offensive and a United Nations envoy both warned that Yemen is in imminent danger of becoming another Iraq, Syria or Libya — a conflict fueled by sectarian violence and warring terrorist networks.
The U.S. withdrew its remaining 100 military personnel from a base in southern Yemen over the weekend, American officials said on Sunday. Special Operations Forces had to halt, at least temporarily, the training of Yemeni troops and cooperation in operations against one of the world’s most dangerous al Qaeda offshoots. The U.S. had already closed its embassy in the capital San’a last month. [Continue reading…]
Brian Whitaker writes: Yemen has often been portrayed as a country on the brink of catastrophe. Equally often, it has defied expectations and muddled through – if only just. But the suicide attacks on two mosques that left at least 142 people dead in Sana’a last Friday are one sign, among many, that it has finally tipped over the edge.
The UN is warning helplessly about a rapid downward spiral and calling for a resumption of efforts towards a political settlement, but the prospects of that happening are virtually nil and the scene is set for a protracted civil war with multiple protagonists.
Inside Yemen, the lineup of forces is complicated. One key player is Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was ousted from the presidency in 2012 after 34 years in power and has been causing trouble ever since.
Saleh appears to be colluding with the Houthis, whom he previously fought in a series of wars in the far north of the country. His alliance with the Houthis is seen by many as a tactical move aimed at eventually installing his son, Ahmad, as president. [Continue reading…]
The Associated Press reports from Aden: This port city, perched on an extinct volcano protruding into the Arabian Sea on Yemen’s far southern edge, has become perhaps the last refuge of the country’s embattled president, and it feels like now all his enemies are bearing down on it.
Driven out of the capital, Sanaa, by Shiite rebels who have taken over much of the north, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the remains of his government have made Aden their provisional capital. If they lose here, Hadi – the man the U.S. had hoped would stabilize the chaotic nation and fight al-Qaida’s powerful branch – likely will fall, plunging Yemen into a civil war.
In his first speech since fleeing Sanaa, Hadi on Saturday denounced the rebel takeover as “a coup against constitutional legitimacy” and declared Aden the country’s “temporary capital.” [Continue reading…]