The Yemeni state has failed to regain control over key southern cities, creating a security and power vacuum in the south. Al Qaeda-linked militants have taken advantage of the current situation and may seek to expand their control of territory.
The Yemeni military has been unable to regain control of key southern cities, despite claiming progress. Militants, operating under the name Ansar al Sharia (Supporters of Islamic Law), have controlled most of Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan governorate, since late May. The Yemeni military has conducted air raids and has deployed reinforcements around the city. The Yemeni defense ministry reports over twenty militants were killed in overnight airstrikes. Clashes are occurring outside of Aden, the former capital of south Yemen.
Protestors in Sana’a called for the president’s sons to leave. Ahmed Saleh commands Yemen’s elite Republican Guard forces. A second son, Khaled, is an army commander. A senior adviser in Yemen reports that President Ali Abdullah Saleh will return to Yemen Friday.
The Yemeni state is undergoing fragmentation and a resolution to the political crisis in the capital will not result in a unified state. The country also remains at risk of armed conflict. The current situation has increased al Qaeda’s operating space in Yemen.
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