Yemen

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operates out of Yemen, a fragile state plagued by a myriad of socio-economic and security challenges. The population of Yemen faces high levels of poverty and unemployment, a low literacy rate, and an addiction to a drug called “qat.” Furthermore, Yemen’s natural resources are depleting. Predictions say that the capital, Sana’a, will run out of water in 2015 and Yemen’s oil supply will run out in 2017. The al Houthi insurgency in the north and the Southern Movement’s calls for secession both pose an existential threat to the government and place a significant strain on its resources and security apparatus. The combination of these factors creates an environment in which AQAP finds shelter, allowing it to train and prepare for attacks. This section provides analysis and background information on the security challenges in Yemen.

 

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh placed family members in critical positions throughout Yemen’s security forces. This graphic shows his family network.

There will be extensive repercussions within the Yemeni state should the Saleh regime be completely overthrown given the extent of Saleh’s reach throughout the state’s institutions.

 

Recent Products

Warning: AQAP's Looming Threat in Yemen

AQAP's Campaign against the Yemeni Military

Yemen's Counter-Terrorism Quandary

Yemen's Pivotal Moment

Testimony: AQAP's Role in the al Qaeda Network

Mutiny in the Yemeni Military

 
Analysis

A New Wave of Military Restructuring Decrees in Yemen

Desknote: The Southern Movement Uprising

Tribal Militias in Yemen: Al Bayda and Shabwah

Yemen's Military Restructuring: Removing Saleh's Networks

Al Qaeda in Yemen: Countering the Threat from the Arabian Peninsula

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: Leaders and their Networks

Abyani Tribes and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen

Yemen's Military Shake-Up: Weakening Ousted Saleh's Network

Yemen Order of Battle

Insurgency in Yemen: The New Challenge to American Counter-Terrorism Strategy

The Parallel Revolution in Yemen

Recipe for Failure: American Strategy toward Yemen and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula 

Taiz: The Heart of Yemen's Revolution

The Death of AQAP's Anwar al Awlaki

Ten Years After 9/11: Al Qaeda's Reemergence in Yemen

Al Qaeda's Gains in South Yemen

Terror Partnership: AQAP and Shabaab

Al Qaeda's Yemen Strategy

Crisis in Yemen and U.S. Objectives

Yemen Strategic Exercise

Yemen Protests: U.S. Policy in Crisis

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in 2010: The Intensification of the Near War

Militant Islam's Global Preacher: The Radicalizing Effect of Sheikh Anwar al Awlaki

President Saleh's Missed Opportunity: Yemen's Decision to Reject an al Houthi Cease-fire

Terrorist Rehabilitation in Yemen?

Testimony Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

January 15th Strike: Targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Leaders and Implications

Christmas Day Attack: Manifestation of AQAP Shift Targeting America

Christmas Day 2009 Airline Bombing: Yemen and al Qaeda Context

Denying al Qaeda a Safe Haven in Yemen

A Critical War in a Fragile Country: Yemen's Battle with the Shiite al Houthi Rebels

 
Backgrounders

Yemen Crisis Situation Reports

Tracker: Unrest in Southern Yemen

Tracker: AQAP and Suspected AQAP Attacks in 2010, 2011 and 2012

Yemen Protests Briefing Packet

Yemen Dashboard

Critical Threats Project Briefing on Yemen and AQAP

Yemen's Southern Challenge: Background on the Rising Threat of Secessionism

Profile: al Houthi Movement

 
Maps

Map of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Attacks in Yemen

Map of Yemen Unrest

Map of Sana'a

Yemen Conflict Map

Battle Map of Conflict Area on Border of Saudi Arabia and Yemen

 
QUICK TAKES

Update on the Crisis in Yemen, May 16, 2011

Al Qaeda and its Affiliates Exploit Yemen Unrest, April 4, 2011

Yemen Protests Update, March 28, 2011

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's English-Language Magazine, July 13, 2010

Anwar al Awlaki - Militant Islam's Global Preacher, March 12, 2010

A Missed Opportunity in Yemen? February 4, 2010

Yemen, AQAP, and a Way Forward, January 21, 2010

To sign up to receive Quick Takes, please do so here.

 
External Publications

Al Qaeda's Yemen-based Affiliate is Alive and Well, The Daily Caller, May 8, 2012

He's Back: Implications of Saleh's Return to Yemen, AEI Center for Defense Studies, September 23, 2011

Yemen Slides Toward Civil War, The Weekly Standard, June 3, 2011

Unrest in Yemen Could Benefit AQAP, The Corner: National Review Online, March 31, 2011

The Shifting Tactics of AQAP, The Corner: National Review Online, November 24, 2010

The Continued al Qaeda Threat from Yemen, The Daily Caller, November 1, 2010

A Litmus Test for Yemen, The Corner: National Review Online, August 23, 2010

We Must Not Forget About Yemen, The Corner: National Review Online, July 9, 2010

Eliminating al-Awlaki, The Corner: National Review Online, April 7, 2010

How to Apply 'Smart Power' in Yemen, The Wall Street Journal, January 13, 2010

It's a War. Where's the Strategy?, The Corner: National Review Online, January 7, 2010

IN THIS SECTION

Warning: AQAP's Looming Threat in Yemen

By Alexis Knutsen, Katherine Zimmerman, August 14, 2014

The horrific images and story of 14 murdered soldiers that came out of Yemen on August 8 pale in comparison to those coming from Iraq and Syria. Yet they may presage the emergence of a renewed threat from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) that the U.S and Yemen are ill-prepared to handle.

Yemen Model Won't Work in Iraq, Syria

President Obama says the United States is looking to its Yemen policy as a model for what to do in Iraq and Syria. But what the president labels the “Yemen model” has not been as successful as the White House claims; indeed, it is in danger of collapse.

AQAP's Campaign against the Yemeni Military

By Katherine Zimmerman, July 7, 2014

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula continues its military operations in Yemen. It would be premature to expect a large-scale offensive, but it would also be a mistake to rule out the possibility of a series of significant attacks that could unhinge the Yemeni security forces.

Yemen's Counter-Terrorism Quandary

By Alexis Knutsen, June 26, 2014

Yemeni efforts since 2011 have reduced AQAP’s control, but the escalating conflict with the al Houthis threatens to divert key resources away from the counter-terrorism fight once again.

Yemen's Pivotal Moment

By Katherine Zimmerman, February 12, 2014

Yemen is at a pivotal moment today, three years after the outbreak of popular protests, and the future of America’s strategy against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is on the line.

Mutiny in the Yemeni Military

By Sasha Gordon, July 10, 2013

The Yemeni military has long been weakened by corruption, fragmentation, and instances of insubordination, but in the past year and a half its soldiers have been bucking orders and casting out commanders at an increasingly faster rate. If this trend continues to accelerate, it risks knocking out a vital pillar of U.S. counterterrorism strategy.

A New Wave of Military Restructuring Decrees in Yemen

By Sasha Gordon, April 11, 2013

The Yemeni National Transitional Government yesterday issued eight decrees that are aimed at restructuring and unifying this weakened Yemeni military. It will be important to watch whether powerbrokers within the security forces accept the new decisions and whether the Yemeni security forces become a truly reliable partner in the fight against AQAP.

Desknote: The Southern Movement Uprising

By Sasha Gordon, February 28, 2013

Yemen’s fragile and reversible gains against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are threatened by a new challenge:  the re-emergence of a violent secessionist movement in the south.

Tribal Militias in Yemen: Al Bayda and Shabwah

By Sasha Gordon, February 7, 2013

Local Yemeni tribal militias, called “popular resistance committees,” are now the primary defenders of areas threatened by Ansar al Sharia. These militias have been effective, but are not reliable in the long term.

Yemen's Military Restructuring: Removing Saleh's Network

By Katherine Zimmerman, Sasha Gordon, December 20, 2012

Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi issued a series of decrees yesterday that served to both restructure Yemen’s security forces and to remove remnants of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s network from official command positions.