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Yemen: The Next Battlefield - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Just days after the Al Qaeda organization incited the Yemeni tribes against the Sana government; a new attack took place on Saturday, this time against a Yemeni intelligence headquarters in Aden. This is not to mention the large number of militants who have begun to gather in Yemen from all over the world, including America, Europe, Africa, and of course, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, amongst other countries.

All of this means that Yemen represents a genuine battlefield against Al Qaeda, and may even replace Afghanistan [in this regard] which is what the Americans currently believe. Saudi Arabian security officials have been warning that Al Qaeda is gathering in Yemen, and that Yemen represents the coming threat for a long time, however nobody paid attention to this at the time. However today this threat is real, and is something that can be seen clearly in Yemen, even to those who take little interest in news of Al Qaeda.

Yemen’s problem can be seen in the complexity and inter-relation of its internal issues, which of course is something that Al Qaeda desires as it allows the organization to operate in the region once more, especially after it received a number of painful and wounding security and financial blows in Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda is also receiving heavy blows in Iraq, particularly following confrontation with the Iraqi Sahwa movement in Iraq’s predominately Sunni areas, and this is not to mention the violent strikes being delivered to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, meaning that Yemen represents Al Qaeda’s safe haven today.

Al Qaeda is benefiting from a number of crises in Yemen; such as the Huthi crisis, the southern Yemeni crisis, as well as the political and religious conflicts, and Yemen’s tribal reality, not to mention the existence of geographic regions outside the government’s control. Therefore, any foreign intervention to confront Al Qaeda would only serve to further complicate and inflame the situation, however intervention could be justified by the fact that the Yemeni authorities are in dire need of training and equipment, especially to its [intelligence] agencies, which represents the best weapon in counter-terrorist operations. However Al Qaeda would benefit from this intervention by inciting the [Yemeni] tribes and religious figures.

Ignoring Yemen would also be a disaster for everybody, and we can recall that the African youth who almost blew up an American airliner last year was a student in London who received his training in Yemen. In other words, Al Qaeda’s evil represents a threat to everybody, although its primary target is Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda wants a region close to Saudi Arabia where it can attract and train fighters, and from which it can launch attacks. We must also not forget that the terrorist who attempted to assassinate Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Prince Mohammed Bin Naif was also traveling from Yemen.

Therefore the most effective solution to confronting Al Qaeda in Yemen must come from internal Yemeni action that is not based upon formulistic action so much as it is based upon genuine and practical solutions, otherwise the threat is not just against [governmental] installations and police stations and others, but against Yemen as a whole, and the region.

Therefore, the grand battle in confronting Al Qaeda in Yemen would be in convincing Sana of the necessity of putting forward real solutions to block Al Qaeda’s path, for the threat is not just in what Al Qaeda is doing, but also from the extent of their infiltration and the level of their deployment.

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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