Yemen’s Opposition Sees Saleh Ploy in Loss of Zinjibar

Six Killed as Anti-Protester Violence Continues

by Jason Ditz, May 29, 2011

Protests continued apace in Yemen, with security forces opening fire in the city of Taiz, killing six people. Such stories are all too common, with what is left of the pro-Saleh security forces desperately trying to maintain control over the portion of Yemen they have left.

The real story, however, is how quickly that is dwindling. Part of the former nation of South Yemen have already virtually seceded, and a number of northern provinces are also operating outside of the regime’s control. Now, the city of Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan Province, has also fallen.

Reports from Yemen’s media say that Zinjibar fell to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Members of the pro-democracy movement, including former Defense Minister Abdullah ali Eleiwa, see the story of Zinjibar as a little more complex.

According to Eleiwa and the opposition JMP, the loss of Zinjibar was seen as deliberate, and the loss to AQAP as carefully orchestrated. The goal was to convince the West that the Yemeni military is a “failed institution” to facilitate further aid which might give him another shot at retaining power.

Whether Saleh would be able to orchestrate all of this is anyone’s guess, but if there’s one thing his regime is good at lately it’s losing control over cities.

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