CAIRO -- The Yemen summer has seethed with pitched battles and bloodshed, raising fears that the country will tumble into further disarray, even as Washington has more than doubled its military and security aid.
Gunfights and explosions break out in spasms across a nation at the dangerous intersection of the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.
In the south, an al-Qaida-linked network has carried out strategic attacks on security targets, while in the north, a rebel group has renewed fighting against rival tribes and government forces.
The country is accustomed to extremism and tribal animosities. But the fighting is an indication that President Ali Abdullah Saleh remains unable to outflank his enemies, despite increased raids on al-Qaida militants and a restive truce with the northern insurgent group, the Houthis.
Desperation and anger are feeding militant organizations such as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which has also set its sights on international targets. It claimed responsibility for a failed U.S. passenger jet bombing in December and the attempted assassination of a Saudi prince.
Washington has increased its security aid to Yemen from $67 million to $150 million and is training and providing intelligence to its special forces.
The al-Qaida faction responded with an assassination bid against the British ambassador in April, a string of deadly attacks on security forces launched in June, and is apparently behind an English-language magazine, Inspire, trying to broaden recruitment with articles on making bombs and using encrypted messages.
Al-Qaida's assaults in the south have been bold and coordinated, including simultaneous attacks July 14 on two police stations in Zinjibar that killed at least three officers and a June raid on a security headquarters in Aden, freeing prisoners and killing 11 people.
They come as U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, whom the Obama administration is trying to assassinate, has sought more prominence among militants.
The recent attacks suggest al-Qaida is manipulating its tribal connections to exploit tensions in a widening and violent southern secessionist movement.Filled with angry and unemployed young men, the south is rich territory for recruitment and inciting clans against the state.