Tribal Fighters March on Yemeni Capital

Airport in Peril, Country Faces Total Collapse

The diplomats who poured out of Yemen over the past couple of days appear to have had the right idea, as the capital city of Sanaa is now in a state of all out warfare, with thousands of tribal fighters swarming into the city. Even the airport is said to be in peril.

And indications are that more are coming. The tribal fighters are reporting tens of thousands of additional tribesmen are on the way, looking to finish off the Saleh regime after months of pro-democracy protests and increasingly harsh crackdowns.

Indeed while the pro-democracy rallies were the beginning of the end for Saleh, it is the prospect of a full-on civil war with the nation’s powerful tribal fighters that is most likely to push him out. In particular, a clash with tribal leader Sheik Sadiq Ahmar, a member of Saleh’s own tribe and patron of the pro-democracy rallies, appears to have fueled the tribal opposition to him.

For the US, the loss of Saleh’s regime is a big threat, particularly with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula taking over some small towns in the southwest. It seems the array of forces united against Saleh is more than anyone can cope with, however, and the nation seems to be moving toward not just a civil war, but splintering across a number of lines.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.