Al-Qaeda expands into Yemen security vacuum

Al-Qaeda expands into Yemen security vacuum
Al-Qaeda is using the political turmoil in Yemen and the redeployment of popular militias from areas of the south to attack government forces across the region.
2 min read
28 January, 2015
Militia volunteers guard a street in Aden [AFP/Getty]

Al-Qaeda has intensified its military operations in the south and east of Yemen as it seizes on the security vacuum caused by the ongoing war between the Houthi movement and central government.

The organisation has robbed banks and killed security and military commanders in Hadhramaut and attacked on army barracks in Shabwah and Abyan over the last week.

Al-Qaeda uses Hadhramaut, full of valleys and deserts, as a centre for its operations in the south and east.

On Monday al-Qaeda carried out at least three operations in Abyan and clashed with the army in the coastal area of Shuqrah and al-Mahfid. Four al-Qaeda fighters and a number of soldiers were killed.

     Ignoring al-Qaeda might enable it to extend its control over vast areas in the south and east of Yemen.

Al-Qaeda escalated its operations as the paramilitary forces from Abyan, Lahej, and Ad Dali, known as "Popular Committees", moved into Aden. The Aden committee made this decision in protest against the Houthi movement's coup against the president, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

That has allowed al-Qaeda to move back into southern and eastern areas the popular committees had helped drive them from three years ago.

The committees were established in 2011 to aid the army against the Ansar al-Shariah group and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

These new gains by al-Qaeda have increased concerns the group will reoccupy several governorates - all the way from Abyan and Shabwah to Lahej and Hadhramaut, al-Bayda, and Marib.

An anonymous security source told al-Araby al-Jadeed that "any deployment of al-Qaeda in Abyan will strengthen its members in Lahej and pose a risk to Aden."

The source added that "ignoring al-Qaeda might enable it to extend its control over vast areas in the south and east of Yemen."

The popular committees are now faced with securing Aden and going back to Abyan to curb the expansion of al-Qaeda on the other.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.