AQAP's campaign against the Yemeni military

Article Highlights

  • An assessed campaign objective may be to demonstrate AQAP’s force and to degrade the Yemeni military’s will to fight.

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  • It is probable that intelligence collected from the military bases feeds into AQAP's counterintelligence operations.

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  • We must watch Yemen closely to avoid being surprised by the predictable attack of another al Qaeda franchise.

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The rush of events in Iraq, Ukraine, Israel, Syria, and elsewhere has dropped Yemen from the news, but al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) continues its military operations there. AQAP has attacked a number of Yemeni military headquarters over the past year and its military capabilities are growing. It would be premature to expect an AQAP offensive on the scale of what the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham recently conducted in Iraq, but it would also be a mistake to rule out the possibility of a series of significant attacks that could unhinge the Yemeni security forces and, in conjunction with the expanding al Houthi conflict in the north, possibly the Yemeni state.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed credit for a June 26 attack on the military headquarters and the airport in Sayun, Hadramawt, in east Yemen. The attack was the fourth in AQAP’s campaign against what it has identified as drone operations sites—locations where the Yemeni military shares intelligence with the U.S., recruits spies, or otherwise assists in directing American drone strikes. The use of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) to destroy the entrance to the site in conjunction with a ground assault by 10-20 AQAP militants characterizes these attacks.

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