Al Qaeda in Yemen is in trouble. For the last few weeks, the terrorists have been quiet. Their most notable act lately has been a press release claiming 36 attacks (bombings, murders, kidnappings) in the last six months. Al Qaeda has been under heavy attack in Yemen for the last few months. Reinforcements from Saudi Arabia have been sparse, because of a major roundup of Islamic radicals up there. The tribes in the south, which had hosted al Qaeda members, have been bought off by the government. While the tribes have not handed over their al Qaeda guests, they have told the terrorists or cool it, or move on. The alternative is death, or being handed over to the government.
Somali pirates have devastated the Yemeni fishing community, by stealing boats that go too far from the coast, and force the fishing boat crews to work for the pirate gangs, or simply killing the fishermen and keeping the boats, which are more suitable for trips far out to sea. In the last seven years, the catch has declined over 70 percent and many of the 20,000 fishermen are destitute, or just scraping by. The Yemeni Coast Guard has not been much help, as Coast Guard patrol boats make lots of money hiring themselves out to escort merchant ships through pirate infested waters.
Increased anti-terrorist activity has had some interesting side effects. The big one is the large amount of drug smugglers arrested, and the revelation that drug smuggling north, to the oil-rich Gulf states, has increased more than the government realized. The drug smugglers had developed arrangements to bribe the usual security forces they encountered on their way north. But the government has deployed a lot of new troops to man roadblocks and border posts. The drug smuggling gangs are scrambling to make arrangements to pay off the new security forces, so the hashish and pills can keep moving to anxious customers up north.