Yemen Troops Battle Al Qaeda Forces for Control

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Fighting between suspected al Qaeda gunmen and army troops in south Yemen, Tuesday, has left 19 people dead, a military official said.

The violence in the Yemeni provinces of Taiz and Abyan sparked two days after the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saleh left the country after being seriously injured in an attack on his palace.

With Yemen being the home base of al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula, some fear the current instability will create an opening for the terrorist group to take over the country.
CBN News Terrorism Analyst Erick Stakelbeck said Yemen's neighbors are watching the situation closely.

"In the short-term, I would be surprised if al Qaeda seized complete control of Yemen - only because countries like Saudi Arabia would get involved," he said. "But in the long-term, I can absolutely see al Qaeda's Yemen branch coming to power in that chaotic country."

"They (al Qaeda) are on the move in Yemen," Stakelbeck noted. "It doesn't bode well for the future, with the power vacuum there now."

Meanwhile, there is speculation that Saleh plans to return after successfully being treated for his injuries.

Yemeni opposition parties are trying to lock in a transition of power before that occurs.

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