Civil war looming in Yemen; UN claims 50 have been killed in Yemen since Sunday; Moody's may downgrade Japan's credit rating; US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Asian tour to emphasise US military's commitment to the region; Japanese employment rate has risen; Karzai demands end to airstrikes; and more
Top of the Agenda: Fears of Civil War in Yemen
Fears of a Yemeni civil war loom as a tenuous ceasefire collapsed between the embattled regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and powerful tribal groups (al-Jazeera) pushing for his ouster in the capital of Sanaa. The rupture came overnight as violence rekindled, leaving several dead and dozens injured in some of the most severe hostilities Sanaa has seen. Government forces assaulted a compound belonging to the family of Hamid al-Ahmar, Saleh's strongest rival; and tribal forces under the Ahmars recaptured several structures they had vacated under the ceasefire (NYT).
A spokesperson for the United Nations claims that over fifty people have been killed in the southern city of Taiz (BBC) since Sunday, when the Yemeni army and other governmental forces attempted to destroy protest camps and disperse activists using water cannons, bulldozers, and live ammunition. Violence also continued in the southern town of Zinjibar (WSJ), which the Saleh regime claims has been seized by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The government dispatched helicopter gunships and warplanes to bombard rebel positions in the southern province, where fierce battles over the weekend killed more than thirty people.
In this article for NOW Lebanon, Hussein Ibish wonders if Yemen is about to disintegrate into an extended period of conflict and chaos.
On ForeignPolicy.com, Nathan Brown writes that Western leaders must stop ignoring the flaws of repressive Arab regimes that they deem indispensible and enact policies that reflect the needs of Arab societies, not Arab rulers.
In this piece for Foreign Affairs, Daniel Byman writes that al-Qaeda will have a tough time regrouping after this year's blows: The Arab revolutions discredited al-Qaeda's violent jihadist message, then the raid on bin Laden's Abbottabad compound killed the messenger.
PACIFIC RIM: Setbacks for Japanese Economy
The Japanese economy (Guardian) suffered dual setbacks with Moody's threat to downgrade the country's credit rating, coupled with a rise in unemployment for the first time in six months.
China: On his final trip abroad as US Defense secretary, Robert Gates (WashPost) is expected to address Asian military leaders in Singapore and emphasize the staying power of the US military in the region despite budget cuts at the Pentagon.