(MENAFN - Arab News) TARIQ Al-Fadhli, a Yemeni tribal leader believed to have links with Al-Qaeda, has returned to his hometown of Zinjibar, the provincial capital of the Abyan governorate.
This has sparked tensions between his supporters and gunmen from the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), tribal militias that helped army troops drive Al-Qaeda-linked fighters from Abyan earlier this year.
Yemeni authorities accuse Al-Fadhli, the chief of a powerful tribe in Abyan, of helping Al-Qaeda-linked fighters take control of Zinjibar as well as other towns in the province, the scene of fierce clashes between Al-Qaeda forces and the army. Al-Fadhli fled Zinjibar after troops assisted by gunmen from the PRC drove the fighters out.
Upon his return, PRC gunmen besieged his residence in midtown Zinjibar and gave him an ultimatum that if he does not surrender himself to the police within 24 hours, they would storm his house. The security chief of Abyan province also tried to convince him to surrender but he refused.
Analysts say that the fact that the government has not taken any action against Al-Fadhli until now suggests that it is too weak and is afraid it will not succeed.
Abdulsalam Mohammed, a political analyst and head of the Abaad Studies and Research Center, said that the PRC are trying to fill the void because the government cannot currently handle the situation. "We all know that the popular committees have played the biggest part in kicking the militants out from Abyan. The government could not get the job done until after PRC fighters were directly involved in the battle," he said.
"Al-Fadhli is suspected to have provided Al-Qaeda militants with logistical support and weapons in 2011," Mohammed continued.
"The government should get involved and arrest him. We hope the PRC don't kill him because they are not a legitimate force. "Only the government has the right to arrest or kill him." "The PRC fighters are still surrounding Al-Fadhli's house, in which only (Al-Fadhli) and 15 of his supporters remain,"
Mohammed Radwan, a member of the PRC, said. According to Radwan, some forces from the army's 155th Brigade provided Al-Fadhli with protection as they escorted him from Shuqra, a town in Abyan, until he reached his residence in Zinjibar.