Clashes in Aden between Forces Loyal to Yemen’s Ousted Presidents
The Yemeni city of Aden, to which President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi fled in February, erupted in clashes yesterday that have marked the divided loyalties of the country’s military. The fighting began when Hadi tried to dismiss the commander of the Special Security Forces in Aden, a unit loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, ...
The Yemeni city of Aden, to which President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi fled in February, erupted in clashes yesterday that have marked the divided loyalties of the country’s military. The fighting began when Hadi tried to dismiss the commander of the Special Security Forces in Aden, a unit loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has thrown his support behind the Houthi rebellion that seized Sanaa in January. Rather than submit, Saleh loyalists tried to seize the airport, but were pushed back by Hadi’s forces, which then raided the Special Security Forces’ base. Sanaa retaliated with an airstrike on the compound where Hadi has been staying.
A statement from the Houthi government in Sanaa called for calm and dialogue, but the violence has the potential to alter the power dynamics in Aden, which is increasingly being seen as a second capital in Yemen. Since Hadi fled Sanaa last month, several Gulf nations supporting him have moved their embassies to the southern port city, which was once the capital of South Yemen before the country’s unification. Saleh’s forces are viewed as suspect in the city on account of their violent suppression of a southern secessionist movement, and Hadi’s victories on Thursday were met with celebrations by some Adenis. However, some fear that it could be a harbinger of greater violence and polarization in the country as Hadi, Saleh, and the Houthis jockey for power. On Wednesday, unknown gunmen assassinated a noted Yemeni journalist and Houthi spokesman in Sanaa. “Saleh was militarily defeated today in Aden, and we are worried,” an officer loyal to Hadi told the New York Times. “He may use his cards.”
Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Tunis Attack
The Islamic State released an audio message claiming responsibility for the attack in Tunis on Wednesday, though the claim has not been independently verified. Accounts continue to differ as to the number of gunmen, but two assailants were killed in the attack and have been identified. They appear to have been radicalized in Tunisia and to have traveled to Libya for training. Nine additional people have been arrested in relation to the attack. The death toll from the attack has now risen to 23 people.
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walked back comments he made during his campaign that there would be no Palestinian state during his administration; he said yesterday that he still supports a two-state solution but that the conditions do not exist at present.
- An Egyptian court acquitted the interior minister of ousted President Hosni Mubarak who was facing charges of illegally accumulating $23 million through corrupt practices.
- Saudi-supported Islamic scholars are counseling conservative interpretations of Islam and the application of religious law as an alternative to the extremism of the Islamic State; some analysts see this as contradictory, while others say “quietist Salafism” is a compelling alternative ideology.
- President Obama spoke about the potential nuclear deal with Iran today, calling it a “historic opportunity” in a statement in honor of Nowruz, the Persian new year’s celebration; “May Norouz indeed usher for the world a ‘new day,’” tweeted Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
- The CIA has declassified the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate used by the Bush Administration to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003; the document shows severe gaps in intelligence and dubious sourcing with regards to Iraq’s weapons program and ties to al-Qaeda.
-J. Dana Stuster