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Yemen Civil War - 2012

On 21 January 2012, Yemen's new parliament approved immunity for former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. On 21 February 2012, Yemen also staged a peaceful election for a new president, with former Vice President Abed Rabo Mansour Hadi being the only candidate on the ballot. Hadi was sworn in on 25 February 2012 and on 27 February 2012 President Saleh officially stood down. Protestors indicated that they intended to continue to press for removal of Saleh's relatives and those loyal to him from the government and military. President Hadi's new government did remove some Saleh family and loyalists in early 2012 from positions of leadership in the military.

The continued violence, which included bombings and other terrorist attacks, threatened the political transition in Yemen. On 16 May 2012, US President Obama issued an executive order sanctioning the assets of any entity threatening the peace, security, or stability of Yemen. This was intended to help promote continued progress in the political transition, but also indicated a concern that progress could stall if the country continued to destabilize.

In January and February 2012, Yemeni military forces, backed by United States support, including drone strikes, continued to fight Al Qaeda linked insurgents in the southern part of the country. The increase in drone strikes and other US support for Yemeni forces continued through the spring and into the summer of 2012, with Yemen becoming a major area for US drone strikes. Drone strikes in Yemen exceeded those in Pakistan by June 2012 according to some sources. On 8 May 2012, the US Department of Defense announced that US military cooperation with the Yemeni military would resume, after a hiatus following the start of the political crisis in the country in 2011. The increase in US attention was linked to the 30 September 2011 strike that killed Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's Anwar al-Awlaki, which in turn had led to a increased response from the organization, taking advantage of instability in the country. Another Al Qaeda linked group, Ansar Al Shariah, had also continued to grow in strength during the upheaval in 2011.

The security situation in Yemen improved in some respects, but remains unstable. Specifically, the new administration led by President Hadi has been more aggressive in countering al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) than the previous administration. Of particular note, in June 2012, a Yemeni military offensive conducted in conjunction with tribal militias in southern Yemen removed AQAP from regions where it had seized control during the civil unrest in 2011.

However, AQAP continued to conduct attacks against the Yemeni government and remains a threat to the United States, and according to a senior Yemeni MOD official, AQAP’s decision to change tactics from seizing and holding territory to conducting targeted assassinations of Yemeni government officials, including in Sana’a, constitutes a major security challenge. Yemen’s transitional period weakened the central state’s security apparatus to a degree that is likely to make the battle for local support, rather than further degradation of state capacity, AQAP’s priority.

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Page last modified: 24-01-2015 19:09:01 ZULU