The New York Times reports Militant Group Tightens Grip on Coastal Town in Yemen

An Al Qaeda group tightened its grip on a Yemeni coastal town on Sunday while a truce was holding in the capital city of Sana after nearly a week of deadly street fighting.

Opposition leaders claimed that President Ali Abdullah Saleh had allowed the city of Zinjibar, on the Gulf of Aden, to fall to the militants in order to raise alarm in the region that would in turn translate to support for the president.

Armed men believed to be from Al Qaeda appeared to have full control of Zinjibar, in the province of Abyan.

Also on Sunday, a breakaway military group called for other army units to join them in the fight to bring down President Ali Abdullah Saleh, piling pressure on him to end his three-decade rule.

“Security withdrew and left the city of Zinjibar to armed Islamic elements that looted government institutions,” Ali Dahams, a leftist opposition official in Abyan province, said. Opposition groups have said they could do a better job of containing al Qaeda than the president.

In Sana, pedestrians and cars returned to streets where pitched battles during nearly a week of fighting killed at least 115 people.

The latest violence, pitting Mr. Saleh’s forces against members of the powerful Hashed tribe led by Sadeq al-Ahmar, was the bloodiest since pro-democracy unrest erupted in January and was sparked by Mr. Saleh’s refusal to sign a power transfer deal.

Forces loyal to Mr. Ahmar handed back control of a government building to mediators as part of the cease-fire deal, witnesses said. It was the first building seized by the tribesmen that was handed back as part of the truce intended to normalize life in Sana, where fighting with machine-guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars prompted thousands of residents to flee.

For years the US openly supported the corrupt regime in Yemen. What did it get us? Now Yemen is in financial and moral ruin and an alleged Al Qaeda group holds a city on the Gulf of Aden.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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