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Over 200 were reported killed in a week of fighting between Yemeni forces and Islamic militants and separatist fighters in South Yemen. A government offensive was into its seventh day, attacking militant bases in the southern province of Bayda.

 

An earlier offensive by the government against militants in the southern city of Lawda is reported to have resulted in dozens of casualities.

 

The militants, affiliated to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, have reportedly killed dozens of tribesmen.

 

 

Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk


 

The wide-scale offensive launched by the new Yemeni president is the largest concerted effort by the central government to defeat the insurgents of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). AQAP and its sympathizers have taken control of several areas in the country's south,including in Bayda. Some areas have essentially become no-go areas for the government forces and are under total control of the insurgents. The government offensive increases the pressure on the central government, as it still faces serious and growing challenges from southern secessionists, northern Houthis as well as the growing number of factions within the north, who were once part of the Saleh regime. It is understood that the US and Saudi Arabia are providing logistical support to the Yemeni government in the latest offensive, which would reduce the pressure on the government. However, the intensity of the fighting and the heavy losses that both sides are incurring will undoubtedly stretch the resources of the central government at a time when the new regime is still struggling to assert its control.

 

Whilst the success of the government's operation will be a positive development contributing to stabilizing the country, there is a significant risk of destabilization of the central government if the fighting is prolonged and not conclusively ended in the government's favour. Until the fighting is ended, there is an elevated level of risk.