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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. The al Houthi movement in the north has increased its influence substantially since 2011. The Southern Movement leadership is calling for secession and the re-establishment of a South Yemen. 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.

Recent Products

2015 Yemen Crisis Situation Reports

ISIS in Yemen: Fueling the Sectarian Fire

Map: al Houthi Areas of Influence

Yemen Order of Battle

Why America's Yemen Policy is FailingCNN

In Yemen, No Good Options are Left, National Review Online

Sana'a Under Siege: Yemen's Uncertain Future

Obama's Counterterrorism Strategy is Already FailingU.S. News and World Report

Don't Replicate the Failure of YemenThe Weekly Standard

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


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

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


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


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


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

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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


2015 Saudi-led Intervention in Yemen: Order of Battle

By Charles Caris, April 23, 2015

This Order of Battle (ORBAT) describes the structure and placement of the Saudi-led coalition forces involved in Operations Decisive Storm and Restoring Hope in Yemen.

Iran's Mohsen Rezaei Writes Open Letter to Yemen's Abdul Malik al Houthi

By Mehrdad Moarefian, March 30, 2015

Mohsen Rezaei, Iran's Expediency Discernment Council Secretary and former senior Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander, praised the leader of Yemen’s al Houthis, Abdul Malik al Houthi, in an open letter on March 28.

ISIS in Yemen: Fueling the Sectarian Fire

By Alexis Knutsen, March 20, 2015

The Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham claimed credit for a deadly attack in Yemen. The targets of the attack match traditional ISIS methodology, designed to stoke sectarian war, and are a sharp deviation from historical al Qaeda’s practice.

Yemen Order of Battle

By Charles Caris, February 23, 2015

The Yemen Order of Battle (ORBAT) describes the structure and placement of the Yemeni Armed Forces down to the brigade level.

Why America's Yemen policy is failing

By Katherine Zimmerman, CNN Opinion, February 13, 2015

There is no easy strategy for success in Yemen. But one thing is certain: A partnership with the Houthis— who prefer to run the country as puppet masters from the wings, infiltrating rather than controlling the Yemeni military and governmental institutions—is not the answer.

al Houthi Areas of Influence

By Katherine Zimmerman, April 17, 2015

The al Houthi movement, an armed Zaydi Shi’a group that fought six wars with the Yemeni state between 2004 and 2010, expanded its influence in Yemen considerably in 2014.

2015 Yemen Crisis Situation Report

By The Editors , January 23, 2015

An archive of the 2015 Yemen Crisis Situation Reports.

In Yemen, No Good Options Are Left: It is in Washington's Interest to Stop the Slow-Motion Collapse of an Ally

The Sana'a showdown is a sideshow to the slow-motion collapse of the entire Yemeni state. Cui bono? Al Qaeda. Who loses? The United States of America.

Sana'a Under Siege: Yemen's Uncertain Future

By Alexis Knutsen, September 25, 2014

The al Houthi siege on Sana’a on September 21 sets a dangerous precedent that could lead to the repartition of Yemen. The al Houthis, whether intentionally or not, have set Yemen on a path that puts the existence of an essential U.S. counterterrorism partner on the table.

Obama's Counterterrorism Strategy Is Already Failing

President Obama strategy’s against the Islamic State is based on what the U.S. is doing in Yemen, combining targeted airstrikes with support for a local partner, a counterterrorism strategy which Obama claims has been successful and has made the U.S. safer. Unfortunately, those claims are not accurate.