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Leading tribal leader Sheikh Hussein bin Abdullah al-Ahmar and Chief of the National Alliance Council and one of leaders Hashid tribe, resigned from the Yemeni ruling party and announced his joining anti-regime protests. In a massive rally in Amran province, dominated by Hashid and Bakeel tribes, chieftain Hussein al-Ahmar, announced his resignation from the ruling General People's Congress party in protest to violence and repression against protesters in Sana'a, Aden, Taiz and other provinces.

 

Al-Ahmar also vowed not to keep silent towards deaths among protesters. Many other chieftains of Hashid and Bakeel, who attended the rally, pledged to join anti-government protests and chanted the slogan “People want to oust the regime.” Meanwhile, President Saleh vowed at a meeting with the High Security Council, the second in two weeks, to defend the Republic of Yemen to the last drop of blood. He said addressing military leaders: “You vowed to defend the Republic of Yemen to the last drop of blood and this vow is standing.” Saleh protesters in the south of “attempting to divide the country” and protesters in the north of “attempting to return the country to the monarchy rule.”

 

The past two weeks have witnessed an increase in anti-government protests in Yemen, with a number of people killed or wounded. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) appeared to jump on the bandwagon, joining protestors in their calls to topple Saleh.

 

February 27, 2011

 

Analysis and Forecast: Decreasing Risk


 

The overall assessment of the situation is that it is generally in favour of reducing the risk facing the country in the medium to long-terms. However, this may not necessarily be the case in the short term. Political Capital’s assessment of the situation in Yemen for the past two years has generally been an increase of risk of the country’s breakdown. The inability of the regime to absorb southern Yemenis into the government and army and rising poverty and unemployment has led to an intensification of calls for the secession of the south from the north. This would lead to exacerbating the economic situation in Yemen, given the country’s dwindling oil reserves, that form the majority of the government’s income. The protests, and now their support by the key Hashid tribe, effectively reunites the country in their opposition to the regime. What remains is the support of the army which so far appears to side with the regime. The support of the Hashid tribe for the anti-regime protestors may well encourage the army leaders to abandon the regime. As a result, it is expected that with a new regime, southerns will be able to take a more prominent role in the government and therefore significantly reduce pressure to secede. However, this requires that any new regime is quick in grasping the opportunity to form a cross-party consensus that includes both southern parties as well as northern tribes.

 

The remaining threat that faces both the current and new regime is the support AQAP are lending to the uprising. They are expected to remain a serious security threat if they are not part of any new regime. If they do become part of the new regime, Yemen faces international isolation and may find itself under greater economic pressure than before.