North Yemen closes in on Aden

THE CIVIL conflict in Yemen, after two months of bitter fighting, is entering its end-game. The rebellion by the southern leadership after its forces were attacked by the north on 5 May gradually is being extinguished.

Yesterday, military sources in the northern capital, Sanaa, said that they had captured the airport on the outskirts of Aden, which serves as an air base for the small but hitherto effective southern Yemeni air force.

At the same time, sources in Sanaa said northern forces had captured al-Mukalla, the capital of Hadramawt province, 600 km (380 miles) east of Aden, where the southern leader and Vice-President of the old united republic, Ali Salem al-Beidh, fled earlier in the fighting. Southern sources denied these allegations.

A Reuters correspondent visited the airport outside Aden and said it was still in southern hands. The reporter said that later yesterday a second assault backed by tanks was made on the airport by northern troops, but was meeting stiff resistance. Southern sources said a small group of northern troops penetrated the outskirts of al-Mukalla, but were repulsed.

But there is no disputing the trend: northern forces are moving slowly but relentlessly to crush the secessionist rebellion.

On Monday, northern artillery mounted its heaviest bombardment so far on Aden. At least 41 people were killed in the shelling. The city is hard pressed to cope with the continuing siege.

The pre-war population of 350,000 has been swelled by an influx of 50,000, fleeing the fighting in the hinterland. Fuel, food and water are in short supply. The main water pumping station and pipelines have been damaged and the International Red Cross has been unable to repair them.

The capture of Aden would spell the effective end of southern hopes of seceding from the united Yemen, four years after the two countries came together. Already the southern leadership is reported to be on the run.

Mr Beidh is variously reported to be in Oman, Moscow, Kuwait and Cairo, although there is no official confirmation he has left al- Mukalla.

The advance of northern forces has overthrown the conventional wisdom that the north was not strong enough to impose a military solution, that a negotiated settlement would have to be sought. The various ceasefires - the latest brokered by the Russian Foreign Minister last week - have seldom held more than a few hours. Diplomatic initiatives have dribbled into the sand.

The main support for the south has come - despite its Socialist political leadership - from Saudi Arabia and most members of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC). They wish to punish the northern leadership for supporting Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

The foreign ministers of the six members of the GCC met in Kuwait yesterday together with the two Arab states - Egypt and Syria - which had backed the GCC's drive to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait three years ago.

The southern Yemenis had hoped the meeting would formally recognise the breakaway Democratic Republic of Yemen (DRY). But at this stage it would do little to change realities on the ground.

Furthermore, the south is divided between the cosmopolitan Adeni community, the apparatchiks of the Yemen Socialist Party, and the mercantile classes of the Hadramawt.

Arab analysts are now looking at the post-war settlement. One theory is that when the Yemeni Socialist Party is crushed, the country will revert to a confrontation between two political forces: the party of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the fanatical, tribally based, Islamic traditionalists of the Islah party, who oppose all traces of modernity or Socialism.

(Map omitted)

Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvAs the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian on why he'll never bow to critics who habitually circle his work
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey outside Mo Nabbach’s M&M Hair Academy in west London before the haircut
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Keeper flaps at Nasri's late leveller, but Black Cat striker's two goals in 10 minutes had already done damage
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Arts & Entertainment
Play It Forward: the DC Record Fair in Washington, US
musicIndependent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads on Record Store Day
Sport
video
News
Supermarkets are running out of Easter Eggs
Deals make eggs cheaper than normal chocolate
Life & Style
Wasp factory: 1.3 million examples of the Vespa scooter have been sold in the last decade
motoringIconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales
Voices
voicesThe Ukip leader on why he's done nothing illegal
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Online Advertising Account Executive , St Pauls , London

£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Advertising Account Executive - Online, Central London

£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Senior Infrastructure Consultant

£50000 - £65000 Per Annum potentially flexible for the right candidate: Clearw...

Public Sector Audit - Bristol

£38000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have experience of ...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
10 best activity books for children

10 best activity books for children

Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books