Unrest in Yemen Could Benefit AQAP

Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released the fifth issue of its English-language magazine, Inspire, on jihadist forums this week. The recent issue, "The Tsunami of Change," dedicates significant space to the spreading political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. The underlying theme of previous issues--encouraging individuals to attack Western targets--is carried over into the new issue. The existence of AQAP in Yemen makes the recent instability in that country unique in the broader wave of unrest across the Middle East.

The protests throughout Yemen are occurring at a time when AQAP is al-Qaeda's most active franchise. AQAP has launched two attacks on the U.S. homeland since late 2009. The unrest in Yemen could benefit AQAP in two immediate ways: The unrest creates more space for AQAP's activities and increases AQAP's chances of evading counterterrorism operations. In the past week, an Islamic emirate has been declared in Abyan governorate while Ali Abdullah Saleh's historically weak regime appeared to have lost further control over territory. There are already indications that AQAP is planning another attack and that the plot may be more concrete than the information typically picked up from terrorist chatter.

Saleh's regime in Yemen is unstable as protracted negotiations over Yemen's political future proceed indecisively. The specter of state collapse or fragmentation has become very real. Secretary of Defense Gates said this past weekend that "if [Saleh's] government collapses or is replaced by one that is dramatically more weak, then I think we'll face some additional challenges out of Yemen." There are several key issues that need to be addressed in order to re-evaluate U.S. policy in Yemen and think ahead about potential challenges; one of which is how the perception of tacit U.S. support for an increasingly illegitimate Saleh regime will impact any future U.S. relationship with Yemen.

AEI's Critical Threats Project is following the situation in Yemen closely and will be providing updates on rapid developments there.

Maseh Zarif is research manager of AEI's Critical Threats Project.

PhotoCredit:U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Todd M. Roy

 

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Maseh
Zarif
  • Maseh Zarif is the deputy director and Iran research Team Lead for the American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project. He works on national security issues related to the Middle East and South Asia, with a particular focus on Iran’s nuclear program and its regional activities. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, National Review Online, and Foreign Policy, among others, and has appeared on CNN and Fox. Before joining AEI, he worked for several years in corporate finance as an analyst and a consultant.

What's new on AEI

Rebuilding American defense: A speech by Governor Bobby Jindal
image Smelling liberal, thinking conservative
image Stopping Ebola before it turns into a pandemic
image All too many reasons for pessimism about Europe
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 20
    MON
  • 21
    TUE
  • 22
    WED
  • 23
    THU
  • 24
    FRI
Monday, October 20, 2014 | 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Warfare beneath the waves: The undersea domain in Asia

We welcome you to join us for a panel discussion of the undersea military competition occurring in Asia and what it means for the United States and its allies.

Event Registration is Closed
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 | 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters

AEI’s Election Watch is back! Please join us for two sessions of the longest-running election program in Washington, DC. 

Event Registration is Closed
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 | 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
What now for the Common Core?

We welcome you to join us at AEI for a discussion of what’s next for the Common Core.

Thursday, October 23, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Brazil’s presidential election: Real challenges, real choices

Please join AEI for a discussion examining each candidate’s platform and prospects for victory and the impact that a possible shift toward free-market policies in Brazil might have on South America as a whole.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.