Friday, September 21, 2012

Yemen Conflict Map: September 2012 (#4)

Since June, the Yemeni government has completed its campaign to free the south from Al Qaeda rule, but multiple rebel movements remain active. Keep reading for a summary of the current situation. (To see other maps in this series, view all Yemen updates.)

Map of current division in Yemen, including Al Qaeda or Ansar al-Sharia activity, Houthi rebel control, and the location of the Southern Movement insurgency. Update for September 2012.
Presence of rebel forces in Yemen as of September 2012. Ansar al-Sharia is part of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Map by Evan Centanni, using this blank map by NordNordWest/Wikipedia (license: CC BY-SA).

In our previous Yemen map update, we reported on the government's June 2012 capture of most of Abyan province from Ansar al-Sharia, an armed group associated with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). After the fall of the militants' two main "Islamic Emirates" in the towns of Jaar and Zinjibar, the U.S.-backed Yemeni army advanced east into neighboring Shabwah province; after about a week, the Islamists had fled Azzan, their primary stronghold in Shabwah.

At the time, Ansar al-Sharia was also known to control the Shabwah towns of Hawta, Rawdah, and Rudum, yet the militants appear to have since gone underground; Yemen's government declared victory in the entire region, and no word has since filtered through of Islamist-controlled towns. However, what has become clear is that the extremists have not fled altogether, but are only keeping a lower profile. Reports have even emerged of a major Al Qaeda training camp in Abyan's Mahfad district

Flag of Yemen Country Name:  
• Yemen (English)
• Al-Yaman (Arabic)
Official Name:  
• Republic of Yemen (English)
al-JumhĊĞriyyah al-Yamaniyyah (Arabic) 
Capital: Sana'a
Meanwhile, a certain amount of chaos continues in the rest of the country despite the political deal that largely calmed last year's uprising. In the capital city of Sana'a, the transitional government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Al-Hadi faces periodic Al Qaeda terrorist attacks as well as insurrection from soldiers loyal to deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh, the latter of whom have reportedly taken control of some government buildings.

South of the capital, there is still a simmering separatist insurgency in formerly independent southern Yemen, and in the north a large area is still controlled by the Al Houthi rebels. A Zaidi Shiite rebel group, the Houthis currently maintain an informal truce with the transitional government as they await an overdue national dialogue process. However, they sometimes clash with local militias who resent their territorial encroachment, as well as Salafist fighters, extremist Sunnis who consider the Zaidis to be heretics.  

Graphic of Yemeni flag is in the public domain (source).