Measuring the progress of the Yemeni government’s fight against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is difficult to do via press accounts. We get snippets of data here and there. One of the better reports in the past few months was AQAP’s loss of its stronghold in Jaar. After losing its control of the city, AQAP claimed that it withdrew to spare civilians and and preserve its forces.
Ever since then we’ve been wondering how AQAP would deal with the loss of Jaar and other territory it once controlled.
This report from the Yemen Times earlier this month provides a possible clue. An AQAP suicide bomber detonated his bomb at the funeral for a nephew of Abdu al Teef al Sayid, who is a leader in the Popular Resistance Committees. An unnamed “deputy manager of Aden’s security” is cited by the Yemen Times as explaining that al Sayid was previously “affiliated” with AQAP but defected to the government. This brought on AQAP’s attempt to kill him at his nephew’s funeral. Al Sayid was spared, but 45 others were killed and dozens more wounded.
Citing this same “deputy manager,” the Yemen Times added:
Regarding the security situation, he said Al-Qaeda militants have rapidly started building up their activities in Ja’ar, claiming that the army didn’t chase Al-Qaeda to break into their strongholds and arrest them; the army expelled them from Abyan and then withdrew.
He said Al-Qaeda militants still hold strong positions and they may reclaim the city anew.
Another source “said there was an absence of security” in Jaar.
According to a report in the Yemen Post, AQAP-affiliated militants recently attacked a Popular Resistance Committees’ checkpoint in Jaar, killing one person.
It will be interesting to see how the situation plays out in places like Jaar over the coming months.
Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal.