For decades now, Yemen has avoided being mistaken for a peaceful country. The so-called presidential republic is home to terrorist redoubts, territorial warrior clans and a military regime that—while raking in a tyrant's ransom in American military training and funding—adheres to strict divide-and-conquer principles of deceit and double-dealing.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh is no fan of the Arab Spring. When Yemenis took to the streets in early February to express displeasure with Abdullah Saleh's management style, the president used government snipers to pick off protesters. At least 120 vocal critics were killed, and thousands wounded, during that initial uprising.
The clampdown raised the stakes of the rebellion, and Yemen is now—depending on who's talking—either teetering on or plunged into civil war. While clearing out demonstators' tents from Liberty Square over May 29 and 30, Saleh's security forces killed 57 protesters. Another seven were killed May 31 in Taiz.
Tribesmen loyal to Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar are battling government troops in the capital city of Sanaa. People throughout the country's southern region are fleeing their homes. Residents take only what they can carry, their burden increased by a profound uncertainty that any inhabitable structure will await their return.