Yemen’s Ongoing Internal Struggle Against Al Qaeda
A suicide bomber dressed in a military uniform killed at least 101 soldiers at the central security headquarters in Yemen during a military parade rehearsal in Sabeen Square in Sanaa. The BBC reported that a source had confirmed al Qaeda involvement in the attack. However, this attack is one of a multitude of ongoing problems within Yemen. Frank Gardner writes of the complexities in the problems that face Yemen: “dwindling oil, dwindling water, rising food prices, soaring unemployment, a Shia insurrection in the north, a separatist movement in the south and corruption and tribal feuds are rife.” Despite all of these problems, a priority still seems to be al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) – what some perceive to be the most dangerous branch of al Qaeda. Given all the surrounding issues, Gardner hypothesizes that Yemen’s war against AQAP will be a very long one. James Traub echoes Gardner’s sentiments, describing Yemen as a “disaster area” on the verge of becoming a “failed state.” Traub argues that Yemen’s priorities should lie in “a political system which all factions are prepared to buy into.”
Meanwhile, outside Sanaa, other problems continue to simmer. Al Jazeera interviews Ali Salim el Beidh, the leader of the separatist movement in South Yemen, who says his goal “is not secession but the restoration of an independent southern state.” Sudarsan Raghavan writes of the conflict in Arhab, an ongoing feud between military divisions that is fueling political instability and making way for AQAP to gain influence. Arhab also has tribal roots, resurrecting an old order power struggle between tribal leaders and the Republican Guard.