As the power of Saleh's regime is decreasing, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is increasing its presence in some regions of Yemen, writes
analyst at the Middle East Institute D. Nechitailo.
AQAP fighters are now in full control of Azzan, Shaban, al-Houta, and al-Rawda along with a coastal region of al-Radum in the southern province of Shabwa (see map
), all of Abyan with its towns of Zinjibar, Waqar (formerly Jaar), and Shuqra and others (see Abyan map
), the town of al-Sadar and the town of Joba in the province of Hadramawt (see map
), several areas in the province of Aden (see map
), the town of al-Habilayn and the village of al-Hamra in the province of Lahij (see map
), the town of Radaa in the province of al-Baida and a mountainous area in the province of Taiz (see map).
Abyan and Shabwa get more distinct features of the support base of al-Qaeda in Yemen. Thus, AQAP waging war with a significant number of fighters that can be safely called the regular army, which differs from the usual representation of the organization, which used to be hidden in the remote mountainous areas.
In controlled areas, al-Qaeda has assumed the functions of the state legislative authorities to ensure the safety of residents, providing them with medical care, the establishment of social infrastructure. Along with this, it is broadcasting the Islamic-education programs. At the same time, al-Qaeda was able to collaborate with Somali Mujahideen from al-Shabaab, and receives from them weaponry and trained fighters.
Al Qaeda aims to expand its zone of influence, enhancing the appeal to the population. In this respect the Mujahideen often act as the sole guarantor of protection from arbitrary bands intent to rob and pillage. These activities greatly simplifies the task of attracting new adherents to its ranks.
Thus, the AQAP, at request of local residents, has taken under the protection the roads in Shabwa, Abyan and Hadramawt. But despite the favorable regional conjuncture, al-Qaeda is in no hurry to expand its zone of responsibility, so as not to disperse its forces. It relies on Da'waat, seeking to enlist the widest possible support from local residents through the use of media resources.
Al Qaeda-controlled areas became centers of stability and security. And this is a positive response, says Nechitailo. This tactic allows you to act in good conditions. The number of the Mujahideen is already in hundreds of thousands, says the expert. Thus, in a very short time there was a restructuring of the system of al-Qaeda, previously oriented at pinpoint sabotages. At present its fighters are practically freely living in settlements. In addition to these two southern provinces of Yemen, al-Qaeda continues to create structures in other regions of the country waiting for the right political moment to advance its progress even further.
Areas controlled by AQAP are very important, because oil and gas reserves in Yemen are for the most part in the southern provinces. The fight against al-Qaeda in these areas will not be easy for the regime of Saleh, even if he tried to enlist the support of militants from local political groups - in particular "Ihwans". The losses among the Mujahideen of al-Qaeda in the battles against the Yemeni puppets have been exaggerated.
In an effort to use the political moment, al-Qaeda is doing great work in areas under its control: an unprecedented work at the call of youth for Jihad in Allah's way, attracting Muslims to Abyan from Shabwa, Marib, Al-Jawf and Hadramawt, focusing on the future of large-scale offensive in a situation of chaos in the country.
Al Qaeda is preparing new recruits in military training camps and suburbs of loder, near Abyan in Zinjibar. Over the past six months, according to Yemeni journalists, more than 1500 new recruits joined the ranks of AQAP. Along with that, from neighboring Somalia the very large quantities of arms, ammunition and numbers of fighters have been coming in.
In areas controlled by the Al-Qaeda, Salafis serve as the executive and the judiciary authority. The information available, including the YouTube, indicates that the AQAP helps the needy, restore electricity and supplies electrical transformers. In the town of Waqar (formerly Jaar) of the province of Abyan, Mujahideen arrested 15 young people for what they viewed pornographic movies on mobile phones. Local residents support the introduction of Sharia in AQAP-controlled areas.
In Yemen has already formed an "Islamic Crescent" led by al-Qaeda, which included the southern province of Abyan and Shabwa, oil-bearing province of Marib in the east and Al-Jawf province in the north, wrote Nechitailo. The next possible step is the liberation of South Yemen, he said. The situation in the country is playing into Mujahideen hands.
An evolution of al-Qaeda is taking place in Yemen. This is an example of the natural evolution of a partisan-like group of saboteurs into fully functioning, equipped and supplied regular armed forces.
When AQAP started to gain political influence in the southern regions of the country, there was a period of chaos and upheaval, which was followed by taking control of the territory, setting up a regular army, aiming at further promotion of Sharia Law throughout the Arabian Peninsula.
Department of Monitoring