Al-Qaeda in Yemen: A 6-month outlook


    Yemen’s shaky truce in a years-long civil war between Government forces, Houthis and separatists has recently been broken. All sides are backed by foreign powers such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In the midst of this Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has become increasingly active, inflicting heavy casualties in brazen attacks upon all actors. Government forces and the Security Transitional Council (STC) have launched offensives to try and wipe out AQAP’s long-ignored presence in the region. 

     KJ-1: It is likely that AQAP will retain its influence in the region in the next 12 months.

    • AQAP recently attacked a base controlled by the STC, inflicting over 20 casualties. (Source)
    • The UAE-backed STC in august tried to significantly reduce the influence of AQAP, which frustrated the other main actors in Yemen. (Source)
    • The STC group claims to have taken AQAP bases in the Abyan region demonstrating some minor successes against AQAP. (Source)
    • The kidnapping of UN officials by AQAP still remains fairly common with videos released on the 4th of September showing UN officials in AQAP custody. (Source
    • Current trends within Yemen suit AQAP and allowed the group to recoup its strength going from 300 fighters in 2009 to over 3000 today. (Source)  
    • Previous attempts to wipe out AQAP’s presence by the U.S. and local forces which were greater in intensity all failed.(Source)
    • The recent death of the Cleric Youssef al-Qaradawi on the 26th of September will not help the situation as he offered an ideological counterweight to the teachings of Al-Qaeda. (Source)
    • The failure to renew the truce on the 3rd of October 2022 will benefit AQAP as differing sides will be occupied with each other. (Source)

    KJ-2: It is likely that a new truce will be agreed upon in Yemen in the next 6 months.

    • Tehran has recently reiterated it has no preconditions for negotiations and wishes to enter into constructive talks with Saudi Arabia.  (Source)
    • The UAE recently invested in Israeli air defense systems to protect itself from drone attacks. (Source)
    • Iran is currently dealing with widespread civil unrest meaning its attention is focused on Kurdish areas of Northern Iraq, not on Yemen. (Source)
    • AQAP provides a common enemy for all the main opposition groups in Yemen and in September the Governments forces and STC forces both launched their own operations against AQAP in the south. (Source)
    • Saudi Arabia and UAE will push for peace due to their desire to protect oil infrastructure. (Source)
    • Fighting has resumed but it remains limited in scale. (Source)
    • The UN continues to play an important role in overseeing the truce and support from Yemeni leadership is ongoing. (Source)
    • The Yemeni Government is willing to make concessions to ensure a truce. (Source)
    • The UN is still in negotiations with all sides. (Source)

    KJ-3: It is likely that the increased activity of AQAP will attract the attention of international actors in the next 6 months.

    • The U.S. is increasingly interested in the region due to energy security concerns and has pressured Saudi Arabia to maintain stability in the region that AQAP naturally threatens. (Source)
    • There is an increase in U.S. support against AL-Qaeda in recent months globally, such as on the 21st of September when U.S. air support killed 27 affiliated militants in Somalia. (Source)
    • Western leaders are still worried about Al-Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan and abroad they released a statement on the 22nd of September. (Source)
    • Increased Al-Qaeda activity in India over the summer led to a harsh crackdown on AL-Qaeda-affiliated organisations. (Source

    Intelligence cut-off date: 7th of October 2022

    Aidan Hickey
    Aidan Hickey
    Aidan is a Third Year War Studies Student at King's College London with a keen interest in the Middle-East and Insurgency.

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