Suicide bombing kills nearly 100 people in Yemen’s capital

A suicide bomber killed an estimated 96 people and injured over 300 at a rehearsal for a military parade in Yemen’s capital of Sanaa on Monday. It was the worst episode of violence since President Abed Rabbo Masour Hadi took office in February. According to the BBC, al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack. Yemeni Colonel ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

A suicide bomber killed an estimated 96 people and injured over 300 at a rehearsal for a military parade in Yemen's capital of Sanaa on Monday. It was the worst episode of violence since President Abed Rabbo Masour Hadi took office in February. According to the BBC, al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack. Yemeni Colonel Amin al-Alghabati said, "The suicide bomber was dressed in a military uniform. He had a belt of explosives underneath."  The attack occurred shortly before Defense Minister Nasser Ahmen and the army's chief of staff were set to greet the troops. Neither was injured. It is unclear if the bomber was taking part in the rehearsal or if he walked up to the soldiers and detonated the bomb. Most of the casualties were from the Central Security Organization run by Yahya Saleh, nephew of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh.The parade was scheduled for Tuesday, to mark the 1990 unification of North and South Yemen. It is not yet certain if the parade will be held as planned. The attack came ten days after the Yemeni military launched an offensive against militants with ties to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in the southern province of Abyan.

Syria

At a weekend summit in Chicago, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the group would not intervene in the Syrian conflict. Meanwhile violent clashes continued across the country. At least 60 people were killed throughout Syria on Sunday. Nearly 40 were killed in an assault by Syrian troops on the town of Souran in Hama province. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, government forces "shelled the town and then stormed it." In the Damascus suburb of Douma, a rocket-propelled grenade reportedly exploded during clashes near a group of U.N. monitors, including mission head Major General Robert Mood. Also in a northern suburb of the capital, Syrian regime forces ambushed and killed a group of nine army deserters.  

A suicide bomber killed an estimated 96 people and injured over 300 at a rehearsal for a military parade in Yemen’s capital of Sanaa on Monday. It was the worst episode of violence since President Abed Rabbo Masour Hadi took office in February. According to the BBC, al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack. Yemeni Colonel Amin al-Alghabati said, "The suicide bomber was dressed in a military uniform. He had a belt of explosives underneath."  The attack occurred shortly before Defense Minister Nasser Ahmen and the army’s chief of staff were set to greet the troops. Neither was injured. It is unclear if the bomber was taking part in the rehearsal or if he walked up to the soldiers and detonated the bomb. Most of the casualties were from the Central Security Organization run by Yahya Saleh, nephew of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh.The parade was scheduled for Tuesday, to mark the 1990 unification of North and South Yemen. It is not yet certain if the parade will be held as planned. The attack came ten days after the Yemeni military launched an offensive against militants with ties to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in the southern province of Abyan.

Syria

At a weekend summit in Chicago, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the group would not intervene in the Syrian conflict. Meanwhile violent clashes continued across the country. At least 60 people were killed throughout Syria on Sunday. Nearly 40 were killed in an assault by Syrian troops on the town of Souran in Hama province. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, government forces "shelled the town and then stormed it." In the Damascus suburb of Douma, a rocket-propelled grenade reportedly exploded during clashes near a group of U.N. monitors, including mission head Major General Robert Mood. Also in a northern suburb of the capital, Syrian regime forces ambushed and killed a group of nine army deserters.  

Headlines  

  • Clashes between pro- and anti-Syrian groups in Lebanon’s capital of Beirut killed three people and injured at least 20 others in the worst spillover violence since the beginning of Syria’s uprising.
  • The head of the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Aman, arrived in Tehran to meet with Iranian officials to discuss Iran’s nuclear development program.
  • An Israeli human rights group released a video which appears to show a settler firing upon a group of Palestinian protesters, injuring one person, while Israeli soldiers and police fail to intervene.
  • Egyptian presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq, former prime minister under Hosni Mubarak, has climbed in polls days ahead of the first round of voting.

Arguments and Analysis 

‘Achieving Long-Term Stability in Yemen: Moving Beyond Counterterrorism’ (Atiaf Zaid Alwazir, Project on Middle East Democracy)

"With ambassadors from the UN Security Council, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and the European Union appointed as advisors and monitors for different aspects of Yemen’s transition, the international community has an opportunity to encourage the Yemeni government to manage a successful democratization process. The United States, who has been assigned the military and security portfolio, will have a particularly important role in the months ahead. Yet skepticism looms among many Yemenis who fear that the U.S. administration may use its military aid to solidify the status quo by pushing to keep corrupt allies in the security forces. The U.S. needs to rebalance its bilateral policy toward Yemen so that political and economic development is elevated alongside its counterterrorism strategy. Such a policy would not only promote long-term stability in Yemen, it would also build greater support in the short-term for the campaign against radical militants."

‘In Streets and Online, Campaign Fever in Egypt’ (David D. Kirkpatrick and Mayy El Sheik, The New York Times)

"Three days before voting begins in the first competitive presidential election in the history of the Arab world, the combination of novelty, high stakes, suspense and confusion has infected Egypt with a case of campaign fever that makes World Cup soccer finals look tame by comparison, to say nothing of the predictably quadrennial two-party contests that Americans still call exciting. There are no reliable opinion polls here to help sort through the noise. Nor is there a permanent constitution to set the president’s duties or powers. But there is a widespread conviction that whoever wins the election will play a major role in setting Egypt’s course for decades to come."

‘Al-Jazeera’s (R)Evolution?’ (Vivian Salama, Jadaliyya)

"In March of 2011, an unusually forthright editorial by an anonymous writer made its way into the Peninsula Qatar, an English language daily bankrolled by a member of the emirate’s ruling family…"What essentially ails the Qatari media (English and Arabic-language newspapers) is the absence of a comprehensive law that specifies its role in a clear-cut way and seeks to protect it against the people and interests opposed to free expression or those who cannot appreciate criticism," the op-ed read. It was at about the same time this editorial ran that Al-Jazeera Arabic, the renowned television network that essentially put Qatar on the map, started facing a dilemma. The network has found it increasingly difficult to distance itself from the growing political ambitions of its patron, Qatar, particularly as it is kept alive by the $100 million it receives annually from the government. Moreover, the wave of information now available to the masses via the Internet and satellite television has exposed the gaps in its reporting of issues that do not fall in line with the government’s agenda, while also highlighting its biases in the various uprisings."

‘Lebanon: the trouble with Tripoli’ (Rohan Talbot, OpenDemocracy)

"International media have tended to frame this as ‘spill-over’ from Syria. The civil conflict there certainly has an impact here, and the two communities justify their fighting with reference to events unfolding across the border. Nevertheless the story in Tripoli is more complex than simple metastasization of Syria’s violence. North Lebanon is home to a majority-Sunni population who suffered considerably under the Syrian occupation of Lebanon that ended in 2005. Animosity and resentment therefore existed toward the Syrian-associated Alawites long before the uprising across the border. But a more important root to the current violence is the poverty blighting these communities. It is no secret that Tripoli is neglected in terms of investment, education, public services and employment compared to Beirut. Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen are not just the centre of ideological animosity, but also among the most deprived communities in Lebanon, with approximately 20% of men there being unemployed."

–By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey 

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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