Yemen: A Year of Assassinations, Explosions and Drones

After a long year of revolution in Yemen, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was “toppled” and replaced by President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi on February 27, 2012, through a one-man-election. Nevertheless, Yemen witnessed a year of instability and violence. The year 2012 was a year of unprecedented numbers of suicide bombs, explosive cars, targeted killings, explosions of gas pipelines and electricity cables, besides the constant and frequent US drone attacks. Below is a month by month account of the major events that shook Yemen.


* Five killed as Yemen police, protesters clash in south. The protesters were calling for secession and rejecting a Gulf-brokered plan granting President Ali Abdullah Saleh immunity from prosecution when he steps down. Three protesters were killed and 18 others were wounded, in addition two policemen were killed and five others were wounded.

* Overnight drone strike in Yemen kills 15, including ‘at least four Al Qaeda leaders’. Up to 15 militants, including four Al Qaeda leaders, were killed in an overnight airstrike in the city of Loder in Abyan province, southern Yemen.


* Yemen army kills two anti-election protest. Yemeni troops killed two people when they opened fire on a rally in the southern province of Dalea calling for boycotting the election to replace outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

* Yemen's One Man Election

Many Yemenis believe that taking part in this election is pointless since the election results are pre-determined, as was the imposed GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] deal and the immunity it granted Saleh. They doubt that it will bring about any real change in Yemen in the foreseeable future with Hadi, another military man replacing Saleh, and thus that there is no prospect of the civil state which the revolution demanded, especially with Saleh's family still controlling the military apparatus and his regime still intact.


* Suicide bomber kills four Yemeni soldiers. At least four Yemeni soldiers were killed when a suicide bomber detonated a vehicle full of explosives near a checkpoint in the southern city of al-Bayda.


* Gunmen attack Yemen’s major airport. Gunmen loyal to Yemen’s ousted president blasted buildings at the country’s main airport with anti-aircraft guns, forcing authorities to shut it down. A day after Yemen’s new President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi fired key security officials appointed by ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, including his half brother, the air force commander Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar, and his nephew, Tariq, who headed the presidential guard.

*Yemen electricity supply hit in power plant attack Tribesmen attacked a main power plant in Marib causing the capital Sanaa and cities Taiz, Hudaida and Ibb to suffer reduced electricity due to the attack.


*Suicide blast on eve of Unification Anniversary, nearly 100 people were killed and at least 200 were injured.

*Anger at expansion of US drone war

The use of drones on Yemeni soil to kill “suspected” al Qaeda leaders, the unjustified killing of a teenager and many other innocent civilians commonly referred to as “collateral damage” and the illegal detention of a journalist, has fostered more animosity towards the US. […] The US clearly needs to re-evaluate its counter-terrorism policy in Yemen by addressing the socio-economic underlying causes that produce terror, rather than focusing its aid solely in the fight against al “Qaeda” and continuing with the drone attacks which kills innocent people, alienates, angers and aggravates the general Yemeni public, giving extremists a motive to join militant groups.

*Yemeni al-Qaeda leader ‘killed in drone strike’. Fahd al-Quso was hit by missiles fired from an unmanned drone. His death and another man's was confirmed by al-Qaeda and Yemen's embassy in the US. At least 20 soldiers had been killed by militants in revenge for the attack.

*Attacks on Southern Yemen jeopardize National Dialogue

While a National Dialogue is under way to discuss many of Yemen's issues, central security forces attacked Mansoura's square, where separatist activists staged sit-in protests for over a year, destroying their tents and using live ammunition to disperse them, killing and injuring some.

*Electricity Woes in Yemen

Electricity, food and water are basic human needs and have been the main demands of the majority of Yemenis long before the revolution started and still continue to be so. Nothing seems to have changed with the overthrow of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and living conditions only seem to get worse under the new National Consensus Government. Most Yemenis are living in dire conditions due to the daily and long hours of electricity cuts that have been affecting most areas of Yemen, from the north to the south.

*Another suicide blast rocks Sanaa. A suicide bomber detonated himself at the southern gate of the Ministry of Interior killing nine and injuring 15.

*Yemen Republican Guard in deadly clashes in Sanaa. Five people were killed and at least nine were wounded, near the defence ministry.


*Yemen minister survives assassination attempt. Maj Gen Muhammad Nasir Ahmad, Yemen's defense minister survived an assassination attempt, which killed seven bodyguards and five civilians in the heart of the capital, Sanaa.

*Anger as 13 civilians killed by US drone strikes A US drone missile missed it's target and according to local reports 13 civilians, including three women, were killed as a result.

*29 Dead in 8 Days as U.S. Puts Yemen Drone War in Overdrive. Not even the killing of 10 civilians over the weekend seems to have slowed the pace in the United States’ secretive, undeclared war.

*Yemenis march demanding prosecution of ex-leader.
Tens of thousands of Yemenis took to the streets of the capital Sanaa demanding the prosecution of Saleh, who stepped down in February after a year-long uprising, demonstrators marched also in other Yemeni cities.


*Deadly blast rocks Yemen military base. Militants drove a vehicle loaded with explosives into the base in Abyan province. At least 15 Yemeni troops were killed and more than a dozen injured.

*Yemen security officer at U.S. Embassy killed in Sanaa The attackers, on a motorcycle, opened fire on Qassem Aqlannear his house in the center of Yemen's capital, Sanaa.

*Yemeni counter-terrorism official shot dead. Ali al-Yamani was shot by two gunmen on a motorcycle in Damar province where he was leading counter-terrorism efforts.

*Yemen to Investigate Explosions at Weapons Store Bombings at the headquarter of the first armored division were a result of a fire inside a weapons store that included missiles and tank rockets, no casualties were reported.

*Yemen LNG gas pipeline blown up again. The 320-km (100-mile) pipeline supplying the $4.5-billion plant has been attacked several times this year.


*US drones hit Yemen a day after Obama won the elections. The strike was less than 40km from the capital Sanaa and in the hometown of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Adnan al Qadhi, a former AQAP member, and two of his bodyguards, Rabiee Lahib and Radwan al Hashidi, were confirmed to have been killed in the strike.

*A Ashoura celebration was attacked in Sanaa Four people were killed and more than a dozen were wounded in an explosion that targeted a Shiite Ashoura Celebration in the capital Sanaa.


*New attacks on electricity lines, Air Force foils pipeline bombing Unknown elements attacked electricity transmission lines again, in Wadi Abeeda district of Mareb Province.

*Intelligence Officer Shot Dead in Eastern Yemen Colonel Ahmed Baramada, deputy intelligence office in Hadramout, was shot dead, by gunmen on a motorbike near his home in Mukalla.

*Airstrikes in Yemen kill 6 Al-Qaida suspects. Yemeni security officials say six al-Qaida suspects have been killed and 12 others wounded in army attacks on militant positions around the country.

Yemen LNG gas pipeline blown up again
. The pipeline was last blown up about 295km north of gas liquefaction plant on Oct. 30. It was repaired in November and loaded a few cargoes of super cooled gas in early December.

*Yemen Says Artillery Rockets Behind Explosion at Gas Pipeline Yet another explosion hit the natural gas pipeline in southeastern Shabwa province. The pipeline was bombed by two artillery rockets as an act of sabotage.

*Assassination campaign continues against intelligence officers
Yemeni intelligence chief escapes assassination Col. Mohammed Hajeb, the military intelligence chief in the areas of al-Wadi and Sahara escaped an assassination attempt.

The assassinations and violent attacks have often been attributed to the usual suspect “Al-Qaeda, although no investigations have proven their involvement, others accuse Saleh and his loyalist for the volatile security condition that Yemen has been experiencing since his handover of power.

*Yemen's Long Awaited Army Restructure A number of long awaited decrees were issued, including restructuring the armed forces into four major units – land forces, navy, air force and border forces, and abolishing the Republican Guard and the First Armored Division and with them the dismissal of Saleh's relatives and Ali Muhsen from the military leadership.
Yet even that didn't seem to grant their final dismissal from the military as news surfaced of their possible appointment in the new restructure.

*Two US Drone Strikes in Yemen for Christmas five suspected militants were killed in both attacks.

*17 killed as Yemen army, tribesmen clash: tribal sources Yemen's army launched an offensive against tribesmen suspected of repeatedly sabotaging an oil pipeline in Marib, 10 tribesmen and seven soldiers were killed in the clashes.

*Three Westerners kidnapped in Yemen's capital, Sanaa In an unprecedented and further deterioration of the security situation in Yemen, masked gunmen seized three foreigners at a shop in Sanaa's city centre.

*Gunmen kill two high-ranking officers in Yemen Colonel Salem Gorbani and Brigadier-General Fidel al-Zahari were killed by gunmen on motorcycles within a 30 minute interval.

So for Christmas in Yemen, 2 US drone strikes killed 5, heavy clashes in Marib killed 17 and a brigadier an officer were assassinated in Sanaa.

*Protesters March for 270km in Yemen's Second Life March Yemen's youth commemorated the martyrs of the 2011 Life March by walking in their footsteps all 270km from Taiz to Sanaa and staged a sit-in at the presidential palace, demanding the dismissal of Saleh's relatives from leading positions in the army and intelligence.

*Gunmen attack Yemen oil pipeline after repairs according to official sources lost production because of attacks on pipelines in the east cost the government more than $1 billion dollars in 2012, while oil exports fell by 4.5 per cent.

*Two suspected al Qaeda-linked insurgents were killed in a drone strike in Yemen Two menriding a motorcycle west of the coastal town of al-Sheher, in the eastern region of Hadramout, were fired at by the pilotless aircraft.
Gunmen in Yemen kill intelligence officer Officer Mutea Baqutian, was heading to work Saturday in Hadramawt province when he was stopped by gunmen stopped his car shot him and then fled.

Meanwhile, Yemen is preparing for a six-month National Dialogue Conference, which has been challenging to organize, resulting in it's postponement several times. The shares of political parties and other groups participating was finally reached and the conference is due to start sometime early next year. Many Yemenis hope that a fair constitution addressing the needs and aspirations of Yemenis will be drafted and voted on in a referendum before the upcoming presidential election in 2014. Yet to the dismay of many, ousted president Saleh plans to head the GPC (General People's Congress Party) delegation at the National Dialogue shaping Yemen's future!

The year 2012 in Yemen has been a year full of assassinations, explosions, kidnappings and US drones. Yemenis hope that the coming year will bring the long and much awaited stability and security the country needs.

Thumbnail image :US Air Force General Atomics MQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Image by Flickr user james_gordon_los_angeles (CC BY-NC 2.0)


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