Posts Tagged


Air strike in Sana'a (photo credit: Ibrahem Qasim, Flickr: CC BY-NC 2.0)

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) went “on the run” two weeks ago as UAE-supported military forces closed in on the city of Mukalla, AQAP’s de facto capital in eastern Yemen. Saudi state media celebrated a mass annihilation of fleeing AQAP fighters. In reality, the evidence from the ground was more complex. According to my sources in and around the city — borne out by other reporting — AQAP conducted a tactical withdrawal following negotiations with local intermediaries. It remains a coherent organization. This “liberation” of Mukalla from al-Qaeda rule raises awkward questions. First, how was AQAP able to facilitate a graceful exit, such that it can regroup and bide its time to return? Second, and more fundamentally, how has AQAP continued to spread its influence …