Yemen terror tensions ease as host of Gulf Cup

Saudi Arabian fans in Aden, Yemen, on Sunday for the Gulf Cup finals. “The games are great!,” a critic of the Yemeni government said. “We are all Arabs!”













by New York Times:

This decaying port city, near the heart of Yemen’s deadly Qaeda insurgency, may seem an odd place to host an international soccer tournament.

Yet there they were, tens of thousands of fans from across the Arab world, packed into a vast stadium on Sunday night to watch the final game of the Gulf Cup. No one seemed to care much that a small army of police officers was guarding the streets outside, or that Yemen’s national team lost in the first round.

Kuwait took the title with a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia on Sunday, but the real victory, many said, belonged to Yemen: the two-week tournamentfinished without a single terrorist attack.

The tournament, which featured teams from eight Persian Gulf states, was a concerted effort by Yemen’s government to change the country’s image as an insurgent battleground and wellspring of global terrorism plots, including an attempt in October to send explosive packages to the United States. It seems to have succeeded, at least in this part of the world.

Yemeni officials said they spent $600 million on the event and sent 30,000 police officers and soldiers to secure the tournament’s sites. The government built a dozen new hotels and renovated more than 100 old ones to host the 500,000 fans who attended the Gulf Cup. Tickets were free, and visitors were bused to the matches; the government did not want to risk half-empty stadiums. All this in a country where half the population lives on $2 or less a day.

Six field hospitals had been set up in case of casualties during the tournament, and the police used dogs to check for explosives. During the matches, military helicopters circled the stadiums and armored personnel carriers thundered through the streets of Aden. Helmet-clad riot police officers watched the stadium entrances, and an army of plainclothes police officers loitered throughout the city, sizing up passers-by.

No foreign security forces were visible, though the United States has stepped up its military role in Yemen in the past year and has carried out airstrikes on suspected Qaeda bases.

New York Times

Looks like the U.S military is keeping Al Qaeda busy.

Can the people of Yemen finally begin to trust in their government?