Over one hundred armed tribesmen loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh stormed the Interior Ministry building in Sanaa, demanding to be re-enlisted in the police force. Security forces stormed the building later and over fifteen deaths were reported.
Gunmen also kidnapped an Italian diplomat in Sanaa, and reportedly taken to the Maarib province.
The incidents are the bloodiest to hit Sana’a since President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took over the presidency after Arab Spring demonstrations ousted former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The ministry storming is widely seen as a direct challenge to Hadi’s authority by Saleh loyalists.
Interior Ministry officials said the former policemen were Saleh loyalists, who were promised they would be enrolled in the police force in return for helping tackle last year’s uprising.
July 29, 2012
Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk
The fighting in Sanaa has by far been the most intense since former President Ali Abdullah Saleh handed over power. They are also the most serious on a tribal and political levels.
As analysed by Political Capital, the internal divisions within the former pro-Saleh regime camp has manifested itself in a most serious manner. It has created a fourth front facing the fragile Yemeni state, besides AQAP, southern secessionists and the Shiite Houthis. The danger with this rift, that appears to be growing is that it could weaken the ability of the central government to maintain order and unity as its resources, already highly stretched fighting AQAP militants, are scarce. Divisions in the previously pro-government camp could also weaken the government further, as tribesmen have often fought AQAP militants alongside government forces, particularly in recent weeks.
In addition, the kidnapping of an Italian diplomat from the capital, though not for the first time, is another escalation as the security situation in the capital deteriorates.
The events therefore constitute yet another step towards even greater fragmentation of the country, with a substantial increase in political and economic risk.