The regime’s use of violence may unify the tribes against the government, accelerating the development of an armed conflict in Yemen.
The tribes are uniting against President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Bakil tribal confederation has announced that it would join the Hashid against Saleh should fighting continue in Sana’a. Tribes within the confederation have already fought government forces in Nihm district, northeast of the capital.
Presidential Guard units shelled an army brigade’s headquarters in the capital. Defected officers suspect the brigade commander, Brigadier General Mohammed Khalil, was preparing to join the opposition. The army brigade is responsible for guarding high-value government institutions. Explosions were also heard in the district where defected General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar’s headquarters are.
Fierce fighting continued in Sana’a. Republican Guard units fought with Hashidi tribesmen in al Hasaba neighborhood, the center of the conflict in the capital. Over forty people were killed in the clashes. The government has cut water and electricity to the neighborhood.
The conflict has expanded in the capital. Fighting has spread to Hadda neighborhood, in the south Sana’a, for the first time. Tribesmen have occupied a building to the southwest of the presidential palace. Overnight skirmishes occurred near Sana’a international airport to the north of the capital.
The potential for Yemen’s powerful northern tribes to join forces against the government increases the likelihood of widespread civil war in Yemen. A broader armed conflict could lead to state fragmentation and would expand al Qaeda safe-havens.
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