Click for Situation Reports on 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. 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

2016 Yemen Crisis Situation Reports

Challenging the Yemeni State: ISIS in Aden and al Mukalla

Signaling Saudi Arabia: Iranian Support to Yemen's al Houthis

AQAP Expanding behind Yemen's Frontlines

AQAP a Resurgent Threat, CTC Sentinel

A New Model for Defeating al Qaeda in Yemen

Exploring ISIS in Yemen


Ramadan Bombings: Part of ISIS's Global Strategy?

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Mid-Level Leadership

Desknote: The Growing Threat of ISIS in Yemen

ISIS in Yemen: Fueling the Sectarian Fire

Sana'a Under Siege: Yemen's Uncertain Future

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

Yemen Order of Battle

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


Saudi Unit Deployments to the Yemen Border

Map: al Houthi Areas of Influence

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

Why America's Yemen Policy is Failing, CNN, February 23, 2015

In Yemen, No Good Options are LeftNational Review Online, January 22, 2015

Obama's Counterterrorism Strategy is Already FailingU.S. News and World Report, September 11, 2014

Don't Replicate the Failure of YemenThe Weekly Standard, Sepetmber 11, 2014

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


Province Ties to the Islamic State Core: Islamic State in Yemen

By Katherine Zimmerman, November 14, 2016

The Islamic State is present in Yemen and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future. That reality may well lead U.S. policymakers to see Yemen as a front in the counter–Islamic State fight. That would be a mistake.

Iranian involvement in missile attacks on the USS Mason

Iran almost certainly played a role in the missile attacks against the USS Mason near the Bab al Mandab Strait on October 9 and October 12. . Iran likely supplied the missiles and, at the very least, Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF) or Lebanese Hezbollah operatives provided technical expertise and modifications in support of those who launched the attack.

Escalation in the Red Sea: Yemen’s Civil War, Iran, and Saudi Arabia

By Katherine Zimmerman, Emily Estelle, October 14, 2016

The deliberate targeting of U.S. Navy vessels from al Houthi-Saleh–controlled territory is a significant inflection in the Red Sea and a sign that Yemen’s civil war is becoming tangled in regional dynamics and conflicts. It does not make sense when seen in the context of only one the conflicts—the Yemeni civil war, the Iranian-Saudi conflict, and Iran’s more aggressive posturing in the region.

Yemen Frontlines: October 2016

By Katherine Zimmerman, October 6, 2016

The frontlines of Yemen’s civil war have remained relatively fixed because neither side has the military strength to extend its influence significantly beyond the borders of its support base.

Yemen Warning: Sana'a Offensive

By Nicholas Jonsson, Bailey Palmer, July 15, 2016

Yemeni military forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi will likely launch an offensive to seize control of the al Houthi-Saleh—controlled capital, Sana’a, in the coming weeks.

Challenging the Yemeni State: ISIS in Aden and al Mukalla

ISIS is prosecuting a campaign in Yemen designed to elevate its position on the global stage and compete with one of al Qaeda’s strongest affiliates. ISIS will likely surge in Yemen during Ramadan 2016 and attempt to derail ongoing efforts to bring stability and security to southern Yemen.

Signaling Saudi Arabia: Iranian Support to Yemen’s al Houthis

By Katherine Zimmerman, April 15, 2016

Iranian activities in Yemen are not about Yemen. They are, rather, part of the regional struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran that is now playing out on battlefields and in political and diplomatic arenas throughout the Middle East.

AQAP Expanding behind Yemen's Frontlines

By Katherine Zimmerman, February 17, 2016

AQAP is well on its way to reconstituting the emirate it held in 2011 and 2012 almost unnoticed by the outside world. U.S. airstrikes have had no effect at all on its expansion and have not significantly degraded the group’s ability to target the United States. AQAP is becoming an ever-more serious threat to American national security, and no one is doing much about it.

2016 Yemen Crisis Situation Reports

By The Editors , January 7, 2016

An archive of the 2016 Yemen Crisis Situation Reports.

AQAP: A Resurgent Threat

By Katherine Zimmerman, CTC Sentinel, September 11, 2015

Al Qaeda’s Yemen-based affiliate has been quietly expanding as the country descends further into civil war. It may be one of the few beneficiaries of Yemen’s collapse, other than the Islamic State, which is developing its own Yemeni franchise.