The Yemeni Vice President confirmed in an interview with CNN on 30 June that his government has lost control over part of the country.
The acting president, Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansoor Hadi admitted, that part of Abyan province in the south of the country is now controlled by the ‘Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’ (AQAP). The provincial capital fell into the hands of the insurgents only recently and AQAP declared an ‘Islamic Emirate’ in the region.
Meanwhile, latest news seem to indicate that the insurgents started to infiltrate the neighbouring city of Aden, Yemen’s most important port city and capital of the formerly independent South Yemen. The regional governor took matters in his own hands and fled from his somewhat volatile position to the safety of Jordan.
Despite the fact that the Yemeni Army is – at least on paper – the second largest on the Arabian Peninsula, it seems to be unable to deal with the threat of the insurgents. In 2008 the Army alone (not counting other branches of the armed forces) reportedly counted 60,000 troops, the paramilitary forces, mostly interior ministry, were another 71,000 strong. Although their equipment consists of slightly outdated – mostly Soviet – weaponry, one would assume that they would still be able to tackle a handful of insurgents on their own turf.
However, the overwhelming worry of the Saleh-government seems to be it’s own survival. Vice President Hadi said, that there is no question that the president will return although he declined to specify if it will be in days, weeks or months.
The US is assisting the Yemeni government by providing reconnaissance with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, ‘drones’) in the al-Qaeda-held parts of the country.