Yemen’s nascent civil war contined apace today, with control over a key army camp outside of the capital city of Sanaa being contested by fighters from the Arhab Tribe. The latest reports from the site indicate that the tribes have captured the camp.
But though the camp apparently fell, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s forces continued to attack the region. Local media reported nine people were slain when the government launched air strikes against the captured camp.
Following months of massive popular protests against Saleh and demands for free elections, the Yemeni government moved last week after Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar, a key tribal leader in northern Yemen. The moves against him spawned an angry backlash from his tribe, which attacked government buildings in Sanaa.
Though the regime was able to briefly chase the tribesmen out of the capital, Ahmar has now enlisted the help of a number of other tribes. Though Saleh has already lost the support of large portions of city dwellers, it is the increasing discontent among the tribes which likely is the greatest threat to his continued rule. The tribes are all heavily armed and notorious indifferent to the national government. If Saleh’s attacks have moved enough of them into the opposition camp, it will make it virtually impossible for his regime to retain control over major portions of the country.