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Al-Qaeda... In Sanaa and Beyond - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Al-Qaeda’s attempt to storm the U.S. embassy in Sanaa is an indication that the terrorist organization is regrouping and reestablishing its power in Yemen, where it is utilizing various factors and circumstances in order to create a safe haven for itself there.

With increased military operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the endeavors of the Iraqi Awakening Councils against it, the Al-Qaeda organization has started fleeing to Yemen in order to escape and regroup there. Moreover, A Yemeni source told Newsweek magazine that the authorities are aware of this fact and of the threat members of the organization returning from Iraq pose, who are now better trained and more dangerous.

The choice of Yemen is grounded in many factors, including the fact that many members of al-Qaeda are Yemeni in origin; they joined the organization in Afghanistan and were part of Osama Bin Laden’s entourage and provided his personal security. Bin Laden has always considered Yemen a base for mobilization, exploiting many conditions, most notably geography. Nabil al-Soufi, editor of News Yemen, argued that al-Qaeda “looks at Yemen as a logistical supply base”, as it benefits from two factors: “A fertile environment for the growth of al-Qaeda’s ideology, and a State that is not in control of the arid and mountainous regions of the country, where al-Qaeda can establish training camps, without anyone noticing “.

This is what the organization is seeking; to be in close proximity to its targets in the region, notably Yemen, which it considers an effective geographical weapon to target international economic interests with its access to Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, and also to significantly target Saudi Arabia, where the terrorist organization has suffered major blows by Saudi security. Plans for terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia have been previously uncovered during raids in Yemen, most notably the raid in which the al-Qaeda leader al-Qaeiti was killed in Aden.

Yemen’s geography is also very similar to that of Arab Gulf states, where there is the benefit of long borders with Saudi Arabia and borders with the Sultanate of Oman. Despite the difficult terrain, these are arms and drug smuggling regions, which al-Qaeda will try its best to utilize.

Therefore, all indicators point to al-Qaeda fighters fleeing to Yemen from areas of conflict in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, which will in turn significantly increase the economic, political, and social burdens on Yemen.

Of course, this crisis will not be Yemen’s problem alone, but a problem for all Gulf States, particularly Saudi Arabia. It will also threaten international economic interests in the region. Here is where the gravity of this situation lies, which will require cooperation at all levels and from all directions … Cooperation that first begins between the Yemenis and their government that is facing a terrorist organization, in order to avoid al-Qaeda’s exploitation of the economic conditions and social and tribal factors, as well international cooperation in the exchange of information and expertise.

To sum it up, what is taking place in Yemen is not just a domestic concern, but rather a dangerous and disturbing issue for all.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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