Sunday brief: Yemen (corrected)
Gregory Johnsen, a former Fulbright Fellow in Yemen, is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. Johnsen has written for a variety of publications on Yemen including, among others, Foreign Policy, The American Interest, The Independent, The Boston Globe, and The National. He is the co-founder of Waq al-Waq: Islam and Insurgency in Yemen Blog. In 2009, he was a member of the USAID's conflict assessment team for Yemen.
Egypt's revolution took just 18 days to unseat Hosni Mubarak, in Yemen the process has been much, much longer. Earlier this week protesters passed the 3-month mark with no end in sight.* Salih still has control over key parts of the military and, apparently, enough cash on hand to continue down this road for the next little bit. The longer he can prolong this the better off he seems to believe he is.
As I move back into a more regular blogging routine (hopefully) I thought it would be helpful to highlight a few stories that caught my eye this morning.
First, up is this report that Hamud al-Sufi, the governor of Taizz, who earlier tried to resign over crackdowns at the university that included pulling professors off campus and arresting them, has now left Yemen for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.
Mareb Press is also reporting, via its breaking news scrawl, that the Nihm tribe has taken over a Republican Guard position outside of Sanaa. The tribe and the Republican Guard have been involved in clashes this past week, which escalated at one point to air attacks by the Yemeni Air Force.
In the governorate of al-Baidha, six Yemeni soldiers were killed yesterday. The Yemeni government, or what's left of it, is pointing the finger at al-Qaeda. Maybe. But in the current security environment across Yemen it is impossible to tell. Several protesters were killed earlier this week in al-Baidha, and this could be revenge or ---- it could be something else.
This brings me to my larger point, which is in a security environment that is as tense and unpredictable as parts of Yemen are at the moment things can go wrong in a hurry and first glances can often be deceiving.
* As Iona Craig pointed out to me on twitter, my math here is embarrassingly mistaken. Starting from February 11, which is when I date the current protests, Yemen has yet to pass the 100-day mark, as I originally wrote. Instead it has been over 3-months but less than 100 days.
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