"Let nothing human be alien to me"- Terence

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Very quick thoughts on al-Jawf

I am traveling for the holiday and stealing a few minutes on a computer.  Basically, I feel that if the attack in al-Jawf is indeed the work of AQAP- and frankly, it might be; I haven't had time to do anything, so I apologize if this is outdated- this marks a very new and dangerous but morbidly positive step.  For years we've been arguing that AQAP has managed to avoid the schismatic violence that has marked much of Qaeda's existence.  In doing so, they have avoided the kind of backlash you saw in Iraq.  If this was them, then there are a couple of possible reasons.

1- They are increasingly emboldened, and feel that they can expand their circle of enemies.  Fight the government, fight the West, now they can take on more ancient and dogmatic enemies- Shi'ites (even though Zaydi's aren't anything close to Twelvers).

2- Command and control is splintering.  This doesn't have the hallmark of the low-risk/high-reward mentality we've seen heretofore.  This could have wild and unpredictable, splintering consequences.  It is possible that newer recruits have un-Yemeni ideas of how to do things, and are more aggressive and less patient.

(Of course, it is in AQAP's interest to create more chaos in the country, so it could be argued that this is a smart move, but it seems to go against their norm.)

Both of these could open up a scary chapter, but a less-disciplined, less-patient AQAP is one that isn't as scary in the long run.  Who knows?  AQAP showed a terrifying learning curve; maybe their decline will be just as steep.  It is way too early to tell, of course- this is all just idle speculation, fueld by three straight Thanksgiving dinners at three different places, with one more to go.

1 comment:

  1. Brian knows AQAP better than almost anyone, and it is totally possible that they are behind the two attacks on Huthi supporters this past week. But I don't think we should discount the possibility that government or pro-government elements are responsible. Both al-Huthi and many civilians in the war zone have long blamed Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar and other "Salafi" elements within the armed forces for perpetuating--and periodically restarting--the conflict. For another take on the situation, see my latest post on the Yemen Peace Project blog.