London- Leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Qasim al-Raymi took about 60 days to engage in an extended dialogue in which analysts said he showed weakness and disarray. The Qaeda offshoot is said to face its darkest days in Yemen, analysts added.
Up-to-date and official statements credit Washington for staging over 90 raids in two months.
Raymi exhibited a desire to find a way to halt the United States strikes, analysts said when reviewing the AQAP chief’s speech.
A US State Department spokesman made a brief statement to Asharq Al-Awsat saying that Washington will not roll back on its decision to disrupt and destroy AQAP presence in Yemen.
Oxford University’s oriental studies faculty member Elisabeth Kendall, who wrote a paper on AQAP and ISIS in Yemen, said that Raymi’s tone mirrored AQAP anxiety under pressure, he resorted to stretching the truth when revisiting resistance Qaeda militants put up against the US strike on January 29 in the Yakla area of the Al Bayda province in central Yemen.
Elaborating on a set of questions emailed to her by Asharq Al-Awsat, Kendall said that AQAP is struck with deep paranoia, which is obvious in their attempt to promote the idea of Iran-aligned Houthis coordinating with US forces.
Since the US administration stepped up its efforts against the terror group, it proportionally resulted in the Qaeda branch intensifying its anti-US propaganda, and away from their original antagonists, the Houthis.
AQAP media is going out of its way to portray US strikes as a “war on Islam”.
In the interview, conducted last March and aired towards the end of April, Raymi echoed the organization’s disintegration and rivalry with its terrorist counterpart ISIS.
Kendall notes that Raymi’s comments on singling out “Islamic” groups being determined by the pretext of a common enemy could be hinting an understanding being underway between AQAP and ISIS gunmen in Yemen.
“I think that at this stage, Raymi is trying to reshuffle the cards, trying to draw on alleged common interests between Yemeni tribes and pro-coalition members and AQAP is desperate,” said the Yemeni political analyst and researcher Baraa Shiban.
“Raymi is trying to remind people that he still exists, and I believe that he wants to embarrass the Arab coalition and the Yemeni government in front of their international allies,” he added.
“The AQAP chief’s allegations were picked up by many Western media. Instead of questioning claims made by a terrorist, Western media reported news stories wrongly claiming that AQAP has joined ranks with pro-US groups in Yemen,” Shiban said.
Eager to strike an alliance, Raymi claimed that his group is fighting off Iran-backed Houthis, a common enemy with the Yemeni government.
Many Yemeni government officials warned that the AQAP leader has made arrangements with Houthi leaders to further complicate the scene in Yemen.
But recent strikes stand to prove that alliances in Yemen are as clear and solid as ever, with Washington coordinating with the internationally recognized government and the Saudi-led Arab coalition against Iran-aligned putschists.
The Yakla raid earlier in January was an example of procedural coordination and collaboration between groups supporting the legitimate authorities in Yemen and the US.
Authorized by US President Donald Trump, the operation’s goal was to gather intelligence on AQAP and also, as claimed by unnamed sources, target the group’s leader Raymi.