Yemen attack underscores increasing Al Qaeda threat
The latest Yemen attack – on a vehicle carrying British embassy workers – shows how 'resilient and increasingly agile' Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have become, says one expert.
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Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Yemen’s branch of the terrorist organization, launched an increasing number of attacks against Yemeni security forces in southern part of the country throughout the summer.Skip to next paragraph
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Fighting climaxed to a five-day battle between the government and militants in Hawta, a city known for being a haven for insurgents, in September. Additionally, AQAP recently released a hit list of 55 government officials whom they are targeting.
While the focus of the war against Al Qaeda in Yemen has primarily centered around military action, such as drone strikes, in Yemen’s tribal-dominated countryside, yesterday’s terrorist attack showed that the organization is still capable of carrying out its calls for violence in the capital – far from the known militant strongholds in southern Abyan and Shabwa provinces.
Fighting Al Qaeda a top priority
Yemen’s government, which is set to receive a huge increase in aid from the international community, has announced that its making the fight against Al Qaeda its top priority. But analysts have continually called into question the government’s capability to stamp out Islamic extremism within its borders, which is especially troublesome given the magnitude of the threat AQAP poses.
“It is this whole amalgam of Al Qaeda in Yemen that is worrisome,” Boucek says. “There are militants who want to target the Yemeni government, Saudis militants who want to target the Saudi government, and those who want to target foreigners. All these guys are finding that Yemen is a safe place to be planning attacks.”
In another example of Yemen’s rising importance in American foreign policy, on Monday, US Undersecretary for Political Affairs William Burns visited Sanaa.
According to a report released by the US embassy, during his trip Mr. Burns reasserted the US’s commitment to supporting the Yemeni government, which faces many challenges to its stability including an armed southern secessionist movement and severe poverty.
“I'm here also to emphasize President Obama's commitment to a broad, long-term partnership with Yemen,” he said. “A partnership in which we work together toward two key goals: to help Yemen deal effectively with the immediate security challenge that's posed by Al Qaeda and terrorists who threaten all of us; and second, to work together in support of Yemen's efforts to deal with serious long term developmental and governance challenges.”