Al Qaeda in retreat in Yemen
For the last week, intense fighting against al Qaeda (foreigners and local tribal supporters) in the south has continued. The southern Abyan province has been a center of al Qaeda (and allied Islamic radical groups) activity for years. The army concentrated 20,000 troops in Abyan for this operation, along with nearly 10,000 tribal allies. The army received assistance from American UAVs (most of them armed with missiles) and the air force.
Troops have pushed al Qaeda out of Zinjibar, the provincial capital, in the last few days. There have been several hundred casualties a day most days in Abyan for most of May. Two-thirds of the dead have been Islamic radicals and their tribal allies. Most of the remainder were soldiers or pro-government tribesmen.
In response to losses in Abyan, al Qaeda has unleashed their remaining suicide bombers in attacks that are supposed to break the will of the government forces. That has not worked, as the attacks simply make the soldiers more eager to get some payback. Most of the casualties are al Qaeda, with the rest split between soldiers and civilians (caught in the crossfire, or a terror attack).The local al Qaeda ally is Ansar al Sharia, and their partnership with foreign Islamic terrorists gave rise to tribal militias opposing religious rule in Yemen. Over 5,000 tribal gunmen have joined with the army in the fight against the Islamic radical forces (which number less than 10,000, most of them local tribesmen). While religious differences are frequently invoked, most of the fighting in the south is over tribal politics. The national government is a coalition of tribal leaders, and the uprising last year, that eventually drove president Saleh out of power after three decades running the country, was mainly about Saleh not taking care of the more powerful tribes. The new government is redistributing the goodies, and that has brought out tribal militias to help with the fight against al Qaeda.
...Yemen has been one of the few places where al Qaeda attempted to mass forces and take and hold real estate. That has made it easier to attack and destroy their forces. Yemen is not an easy place to conduct an insurgency because there are few places to hide.