Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula announced that is has formed the Aden-Abyan Army, to "liberate the country".
Meanwhile, intense clashes were reported across the south of the country. A top policeman was shot dead and many others, including a number of soldiers, were killed in separate incidents in Yemen’s southern province of Abyan, security officials said.
Protests were reported across the south to mark the 47th anniversary of the launch of Yemen’s uprising against British colonial rule. The protest in Mudia, east of Abyan’s capital Zinjibar, which has been a focus of separatist sentiment in the south, led to deadly clashes between demonstrators and security personnel.
The security official blamed the shooting on supporters of the Southern Movement, a coalition of autonomist and pro-independence groups. But Southern Movement official Abbas al-Assal denied its supporters were involved in the shooting, saying it was carried out by a masked man "who belongs to Al Qaeda".
The Sanaa government has occasionally accused the Southern Movement, a coalition of secessionist and autonomist groups, of allying with Al Qaeda, a charge the movement denies.
Separately, militants ambushed a military convoy, killing and wounding several soldiers in the town of Nahila, where intense clashes are continuing between suspected Al Qaeda militants and the army.
Abyan Governor Ahmed Mohamed al-Maisari narrowly escaped an ambush on his convoy yesterday.
October 1-15, 2010
Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk
The south of the country is rapidly descending into chaos. Exact figures of the casualties are difficult to confirm, but reports suggest tens have been killed.
However, the most serious development was the announcement by Al Qaeda that they are forming the "Aden-Abyan" army to "liberate the country". Al Qaeda have chosen to call the army "Aden-Abyan", rather than Yemen, to make it appeal to the southerners, who are increasingly frustrated with the central government which they are beginning to view as occupiers. This serves to rally southerners, many of whom are sympathetic to Al Qaeda, around Al Qaeda’s new army. With the south increasingly likely to secede, Al Qaeda has now even further strengthened its position.
Although the central government relies on US and Western military support, it cannot be seen to openly rely on this as this can only lead to further rallying of the southerners around Al Qaeda’s new army, and use this as a liberating force both to liberate themselves from what they see as the occupation of the northerners as well as the foreign forces, should they openly intervene. The central government’s choices are increasingly being limited as the agenda seems to be driven by Al Qaeda and the seperatists. If it were to avoid a catastrophic collapse and not only threaten the country but the rest of the Gulf, the central government needs to heavily concede and offer to share power with the southerners, opening up both government and army jobs. Otherwise, the situation appears to be heading to total collapse.