Yemeni security forces will need to defeat the Ansar al Sharia insurgency to restore stability and control in the south. The military operation against the militants has not significantly reduced their operating space and they remain able to launch offensive attacks.
Ansar al Sharia attempted to expand its area of control westward in south Yemen. Ansar al Sharia militants attacked an army base in al Mallah town in Lahij governorate March 31. At least 23 soldiers and nine militants were killed in the ensuing fight. The Yemeni military regained control of the area three days later, claiming to have killed at least 43 militants. Suspected al Qaeda-linked militants ambushed a Yemeni military convoy east of Hawta in Lahij governorate, killing an army officer on March 25.
The Yemeni military continues to combat Ansar al Sharia militants in Abyan governorate. Airstrikes killed ten militants near Umm al Jabalayn village north of Zinjibar. Four militants were killed in an artillery bombardment of positions north of Zinjibar on March 27. Yemeni military officials reported that navy ships shelled militant positions in Zinjibar district March 22, killing 29 militants.
A March 30 drone strike killed at least four al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants outside of ‘Azzan in Shabwah. Militants subsequently attacked Total’s LNG pipeline that runs through Belhaf port in Shabwah. Gunmen attacked the engineering team tasked with repairing the pipeline on April 3. AQAP militants conducted a reprisal attack on the pipeline in mid-October after another drone strike.
Republican Guard troops in Arhab district, north of Sana’a, began shelling tribal positions at the end of March. Gunmen attacked Republican Guard posts in Arhab April 1, attacking positions held by the 3rd Infantry Brigade, the 83rd Republican Guard Brigade, the 62nd Mechanized Brigade, and the 63rd Mountain Infantry Brigade. Sporadic fighting in Arhab has been ongoing since the outbreak of unrest in Yemen in the spring of 2011.
Violence continues in north Yemen. Local reports said that roadside bombs in Kushar in Hajjah governorate killed at least seven civilians March 22. The al Houthis are believed to be responsible for those attacks. A member of the al Houthis’ political office, Dhaif Allah al Shami, stated that the group would form a political party if the “conditions were ripe.”