>Middle East File: S. Yemenis agitate for revived Marxist state, gunmen attack security forces in 2 S. provinces, police arrest secessionist editor

>Although northern Yemen’s Iran-backed Shia insurgency has attracted more media attention, a concurrent rebellion in the southern part of the country, instigated by the formerly ruling communists, is prompting some Middle East analysts to ponder the possibility that Yemen is fast becoming an incipient failed state like Pakistan or Mexico or, worse still, an outright failed state like Somalia.

Pictured above: Saudi soldiers walk near the border with Yemen, on January 27, 2010.

In early January, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, fearing that Al Qaeda had established a stronghold in the country, warned that “instability in Yemen is a global as well as regional threat.” This observation will no doubt serve as a pretext for Washington and its allies to throw more money at the despotic regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In the north, unrest, which has erupted sporadically since 2004, has spilled over into Saudi Arabia. On January 25 Prince Khalid bin Sultan, the Saudi deputy defense minister, acknowledged that the Shia rebels had been forced out of the border area between the kingdom and Yemen. Prince Sultan admitted that 109 Saudi troops were killed in the three-month operation to recapture the area.

Notwithstanding these claims from officialdom in Riyahd, on Tuesday Reuters reported that fighting continues between Saudi troops and Yemen’s Shia rebels: “Saudi Arabia had said rebel snipers were still entering Saudi territory. The insurgents later denied this and said they were still being attacked by Saudi military. Saudi fighter jets carried out 24 strikes on 10 northern districts on Monday and fired more than 200 rounds of rockets and heavy artillery, the rebels said on their website.”

The southern separatist insurgency began in earnest in the spring of 2009. On January 24 of this year unknown gunmen suspected of belonging to the Southern Movement killed three soldiers in Ataq, capital of Shabwa province. Two other soldiers survived the attack. The Chinese state media commented that “some voices rise in the south, calling for disengagement from the north and the restoration of the southern state.”

Two days later a security officer was shot dead and another policeman injured when Yemeni security forces dispersed dozens of Southern Movement protestors in al- Ghaidha, capital of al-Maharah province. The protesters were urging for the inclusion of their region’s troubles in the agenda of a conference on Yemen’s development, sponsored by the British government in London the following day.

This past Friday, the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), which once ruled southern Yemen, stated that party cadre Saeed Ahmed Abdullah bin Daoud was shot dead in the southern town of Zanjibar in Abyan province. The party website admitted that the province was in “an unprecedented state of disorder.” Zanjibar residents acknowledged that bin Daoud was “involved with separatists seeking independence from the central government.”

Nearly one month ago, on January 6, Yemeni police arrested the owner and editor of the largest southern newspaper, Al-Ayyam, which was banned along with seven other publications last May on charges of inciting separatism. The 66-year-old Hisham Bashraheel was taken into custody two days after police laid siege to the daily’s offices to dislodge 30 supporters and 20 security guards holed up on the premises. A policeman and guard were killed and seven people wounded at the time. Among those who gave themselves up on January 5 was Bashraheel’s son and Ali Munassar, a cadre of the “ex”-communist YSP.

Meanwhile, Yemen’s opposition has chosen a new leader, Abdul-Wahab Mahmmoud, Secretary-General of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party (ASBP), to lead the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) against President Saleh’s ruling General People’s Congress (GPC). The JMP includes the YSP, ASBP, Islamic Islah Party, Nasserite Union Party, al-Haq Party, and Popular Forces. The ASBP is a pan-Arabic party that has ruled Syria since 1963 and which ruled Iraq until 2003, when the US and British militaries ousted the regime of Saddam Hussein. US soldiers captured Hussein after the invasion and Iraqi authorities executed the dictator in 2006. The ASBP maintains a presence in the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is the de jure government of the so-called West Bank (Judea and Samaria), and other Arab states.

The Yemen Arab Republic (YAR) and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY) were unified in 1990 according to a treaty between the GPC and the YSP. However, the deal fell apart four years later, leading to a short civil war, which the “ex”-communists lost. Although the PDRY was openly allied with the Soviet Union, which maintained a naval base in Aden, President Saleh, who was first president of the YAR and since then of the current Republic of Yemen, is any case a reliable ally of Moscow. Saleh lately purchased millions of dollars of weaponry from Russia.

It is believed too that Moscow is hoping to reestablish a naval presence in Yemen. Since the Soviet strategists are always careful to control both sides of any conflict, this is quite possible, whether Saleh or Yemen’s communists prevail.

One response to “>Middle East File: S. Yemenis agitate for revived Marxist state, gunmen attack security forces in 2 S. provinces, police arrest secessionist editor

  1. mah29001 February 4, 2010 at 12:11 am

    >Divide and conquer. It seems the Kremlin is playing both sides in this game, along with also fooling the USA into a quagmire stand off with promoting al-Qaeda and Shiite rebels backed by Iran.

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