YEMEN - The Yemeni government has declared an open war against al-Qaeda, which has been increasingly growing since January 2009 when the Yemeni branch merged with the Saudi branch to form the so-called al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
The United States and Britain are teaming up to help Yemen, which is facing an armed rebellion in the north and increasing separation sentiments in the south, in addition to this open war with al-Qaeda.
The failed plot to bring down a US-bound airliner on the Christmas day by the Nigerian terrorist, Omar Abdul Mutallab, who allegedly trained and planned in Yemen, was also the declaration of war against United States by AQAP, which claimed responsibility for this plot and vowed that more painful strikes are on the way.
Two al-Qaeda operatives at least were killed and three injured on Monday January 4th, when anti-terror Yemeni forces clashed with an Al-Qaeda cell in Arhab area, about 40-50 km east of the capital Sana'a.
The cell is believed to have been on its way to implement their previous threats against US and UK embassies in Sana'a, which all closed at the beginning of the week.
The head of the so-called military wing of AQAP, Kasem al-Raimi and his comrade Hezam Mujali, were likely among the dead. Both al-Raimi and Mujali survived a raid on their hideout on December 17th in the same place where 4 would-be suicide bombers were killed and 4 others arrested.
The two embassies of US and UK in Sana'a reopened on Tuesday, which means only hours after the Arhab operation and after the Yemeni security officials said there was no serious threat against the embassies.
"The successful operation implemented by the Yemeni security forces against terrorism in Arhab on January 4th, removed an issue of concern and helped the embassy to take the decision of reopening," said the embassy in a statement. The terror threat is still high on the American interests.
The security officials also said those terrorists who threatened the embassies were struck in their hideout in Arhab, and five other al-Qaeda members suspected of being behind the threats were arrested immediately after the threats in different places in Sana'a and al-Houdeidah.
The second strike on Arhab came only one day after a swift visit to Yemen by the US commander for Middle East, David Petraeus who met President Ali Abdullah Saleh and senior officials.
The Western-trained Special Forces troops were deployed this week in the eastern areas of the country where at least 400 Al-Qaeda operatives are hiding and trying to incite the most conservative tribes there against America and the "agent and traitor" Yemeni government, who launch a "Crusade war" against them.
The Eritrean-backed al-Shabab al-Mujahid in Somalia said, in a press statement, they would send fighters, Mujahideen, to support AQAP for fighting the "enemies of Allah" in Yemen.
Earlier, the Yemeni security forces arrested Mohammed Abdu Saleh al-Hawdali in a raid implemented Wednesday December 30th, on an al-Qaeda hideout in al-Hudeidah province west of the country.
The security officials described al-Hawdali as a dangerous operative of al-Qaeda, and that his arrest came after accurate surveillance for his movements.
In Arhab again, the security forces arrested Mohammed Ali al-Hanek, an al-Qaeda operative, who came back from Afghanistan.
The American-backed Yemeni war against Al-Qaeda started on December 17th, when the Yemen government implemented three simultaneous preemptive strikes on al-Qaeda hideouts in Sana'a, Arhab, Abyan, and on December 24th, on Shabwah.
The eastern provinces of Abyan Shabwah, and Marib, which almost lawless, remote, poor, ignored, are considered as safe havens of al-Qaeda militants.
The next strike is expected to be on Marib, the main stronghold of al-Qaeda and its leadership.
Therefore, the tribesmen of Marib, who are loyal to the government, warned al-Qaeda operatives to immediately stay out from them or surrender them selves otherwise their fate would be like that of their comrades in Arhab, Abyan and Shabwah.
The tribesmen said that their province Marib in general and Abaida valley in particular had been safe haven for planning many previous terrorist acts like the assassination of security officials in Marib and in Hudhrmout and killing and kidnapping of tourists.
The tribesmen warned four local prominent men known as al-Qaeda members from staying in the province of Marib any more. The four men, all of them from Marib, Aidh Jaber al-Shabwani, Ali Fares, Tarek bin Saood Mueli, Ghalib al-Zaidi, are wanted by the security forces as terrorists.
Saeed Obaid al-Jamhi, an expert in Islamic groups and author of the Book al-Qaeda in Yemen said that the last strikes confused al-Qaeda.
"The new in the strikes was the cooperation and coordination between Yemen, US, Saudi Arabia and all the Gulf Countries," said Obaid.
Obaid said al-Qaeda in these remote areas focuses on incite the simple tribesmen against the government and United States.