Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tribesmen target internet cables to press demands

Thursday, Jan 19, 2012

Gulf News

Sana’a: Yemen’s rebellious armed men have found a new tactic to squeeze more concessions from the troubled central government. It is by sabotaging internet cables that pass through different territories.

Internet connections in three Yemen provinces have been almost brought to halt for three weeks when tribesmen targeted cables, an engineer from Yemennet, the internet provider in Yemen, told Gulf News.

“The tribesmen destroyed the international internet cable and set up their tent near the damaged [cable], vowing to stay put until the government responds to their demand.”

The tribesmen in many restive provinces resort to blowing up oil and gas pipelines, electricity cables and blockade roads to force the government to bow to their demands of either releasing their convicted tribesmen or giving them jobs.

The most significant disruption of fuel flowing from the central troubled province of Mareb occurred in May 2010 when a suspected American drone targeted a local government official and member of the influential Al Shbawan tribe.


The death of Jaber Al Shabwani, who was on clandestine dawn mission to convince Al Qaida militants to surrender, sparked angry reaction from his tribe who attacked security camps and sabotaged an oil pipeline.

As the government did not reveal the killer of their tribesman, armed men sporadically targeted oil supplies in the province. This week the Yemeni ministry of oil said that the tribal banditry has hugely affected the country’s oil industry and the government is unable to meet the country’s soaring demands for cooking gas. According to a website of the ministry of defence the country pay $20 million (Dh73.4 million) to import cooking gas to make up for the loss in local production and the government is on the verge of running out of funds to import more cooking gas.

The road between Sana’a and the western port province of Hodeida was blocked by an influential constructor who demanded millions of Yemeni Riyals in delayed payments from the government.


Observers in Yemen think that local tribes are exploiting the turbulence in the country to hold the government ransom and force it to make more concessions. Others think that these tribes are just puppets for many parties to weaken the government.

“Many parties are launching a counter-revolution to prove that there is no difference between [the] opposition government or the former ruling parties. Also they want to discredit the revolution’s image as to tell people the youth revolution did only bring destruction and instability,” said Ahmad Aydth, the editor of Marebpress, a news website.

The tribesmen destroyed the international internet cable and set up their tent near the damaged [cable], vowing to stay put until the government respond to their demand.”

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