AQAP and US Response to Yemeni Uprisings

AQAP’s (also referred to as Ansar al-Shariah) operations and territorial gains in the Abyan and Lahij Governorates are disconcerting, particularly as they enable the group to augment their current influence in the Shabwah, Mar’ib and Al Jawf Governorates, ultimately providing a line of communication and smuggling route from the Gulf of Aden to Saudi Arabia. In addition, their gains in the southern Governorates potentially facilitate an offensive against Aden, the historically significant port city that has acted as the capital of southern Yemen. Though these are interesting developments for Yemen, in the larger picture, the force strength of AQAP in Yemen are in large part more loosely affiliated with the aim of ousting Saleh and as US Counter-terrorism Advisor John Brennan puts it, “only a couple dozen” individuals are actively plotting against external targets. In my view, AQAP’s presence has, though counter-intuitively, diminished the response of the international community to the uprisings. US counter-terrorism operations, which Saleh has consistently supported, seemingly take precedent over all other considerations.Though the US and international community have supported the Gulf Cooperation Council’s attempts at brokering a transition deal, their response has been insufficient.

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