Al Qaeda and associated militants continue to operate in southern Yemen. Yemeni government troops backed by local tribesmen have failed to dislodge al Qaeda-linked militants from southern Abyan governorate. Further, recent clashes in Sana’a between government troops and pro-opposition defected army units and tribesmen heighten the risk of armed conflict.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is attempting to develop the capability to use chemical nerve agents. American counterterrorism and intelligence officials have seen indications that AQAP operatives are attempting to use their sanctuary in Shabwah governorate to store precursors for and produce a toxin called ricin. Shabwah is adjacent to militant-controlled Abyan.
Government troops continued battling al Qaeda-linked militants in Abyan province. Yemeni military officials said militants attacked forces from the 25th mechanized brigade in Zinjibar. Military officials reported conflicting estimates for the number of militants and soldiers killed during the subsequent fighting. Militants have controlled Zinjibar since late May.
Elite government troops and defected army soldiers briefly fought in the capital. Locals in Sana’a reported that Republican Guard forces and troops under the command of defected General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar clashed in Shamlan. One civilian was killed in the shelling and gunfire. Opposition sources said government reconnaissance planes attempted to fly over General Ahmar’s headquarters.
A resolution to the political crisis in the capital will not end the fragmentation of the Yemeni state, which remains at risk of a broader armed conflict. The current situation has increased al Qaeda's operating space in Yemen.
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