Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Al-Qaeda Wolf in Yemen | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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For years, the statements used to tell stories about Al-Qaeda Organization targeting Yemen, and then it became apparent that it was indeed Al-Qaeda, but the target was not Yemen. Al-Qaeda had come to use the Yemeni territories to attack ships, embassies, or targets across the borders.

When the famous incident of the escape of the hardened members of the organization from a prison in Sanaa occurred, many people did not believe the story about digging a tunnel, and escaping through it. The even stranger story is the one about the release of one of most dangerous suspects to go to his home on condition that he pledges to return when summoned to stand again before the judge.

Now, indeed the wolf has arrived in Yemen. There are documented reports confirming that convoys from the Al-Qaeda Organization are moving in large numbers to the northern mountains of Yemen to the extent that the situation has become dangerous when it is coupled with the presence of the Huthi rebels there. This adds to the troubles of the country as the southern secessionist demonstrations erupt.

Now the Yemeni authorities are screaming for help against the real Al-Qaeda. However, how can Al-Qaeda be confronted in a country whose terrain is difficult, whose central authority is weak, whose resources are poor, and which is targeted by foreign powers? The picture suggests a new Afghanistan, but not completely yet.

If the Yemeni authorities made a mistake in the past, it was in begging too frequently for help in confronting the danger of terrorism, while at that time they used to refuse to deal with that danger in a serious way. The Yemeni authorities used to think that Al-Qaeda was a foreign danger that primarily frightened the United States, and that there was no reason to exhaust the state defense resources on a problem that concerned a foreign group. Also the authorities in Sanaa, similar to what other countries considered before the situation in Yemen developed, thought that the country’s political stance would protect it from the evil deeds of Al-Qaeda. This is despite the fact that Al-Qaeda carried out its first operation in the waters of Aden before the events of 9 September 2001.

The political interpretation at that time of all the attacks carried out by Al-Qaeda against embassies, service centers, and foreigners was that they were operations against foreign targets. Today, Al-Qaeda intends to spread its control over Yemen, or take complete control of some of its regions; it tries to do so by exploiting the chaotic circumstances that are emerging in the country because of the rebellion of the Huthis, and the restiveness of the southerners.

Al-Qaeda, as its observers understand, is no longer the private organization of Bin Laden. It has been transformed into a huge machine linked to major regional regimes, such as Iran. The Iranians themselves do not deny that there is some kind of a relationship, but they give various justifications. There are many indications that link Al-Qaeda to Iranian apparatuses with regard to arming, passage, and the joint stances as the two sides become active together, and calm down together, as they do for instance in Iraq.

Whether it is Al-Qaeda or organizations cloned from it, the increase in the number of the terrorist groups in the mountainous regions is something that is confirmed by the news reports, which indicate that we are on the verge of a new chapter of terrorism that might be no less dangerous than the terrorism that harmed Iraq.

The critical situation in Yemen makes it imperative for all the Arab countries concerned in the region to extend a helping hand as soon as possible to the Sanaa Government, to encourage it to be prepared for what is happening to its country, and to start its battle before the infiltrating armed men do so.