Earlier this week, in what appeared be a desperate attempt to remain in power, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh unleashed his guns on Sadiq al-Ahmar, leader of the powerful Hashid tribal confederation. Ahmar's gunmen in the Hasaba district of northern Sana'a appear to be holding their ground against the military's attempts to dislodge them; meanwhile, thousands of tribal reinforcements are fighting their way toward the capital from Amran, the heart of Hashid tribal territory, although they were stopped by Saleh's military on Friday.
Saleh's resort to violence represents more finely calculated politics than, for example, the desperate and vengeful attacks of Libya's Muammar al-Qaddafi. By transforming the conflict from a popular people's protest movement against an autocratic leader into a military conflict between the state and leading tribal rivals, Saleh may be positioning himself and his family to remain key players in Yemen.
Hashid and Bakil are the two large
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