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Guest Thinkers

A Bit of a Backlash?

Many apologies for the delay in postings, other work has gotten in the way, but I promise to be better in the future. 

It has been an incredibly busy few days in Yemen from people lighting themselves on fire in al-Baydah to everyone’s favorite ex-jihadi, Tariq al-Fadhli, burning everything he could think of, including (apparently) every flag he had in his house (Yemen, US, and a few others) and a handful of pictures. 

Yemen handed down sentences to journalists today.  And, of course, Inspire magazine put out a new issue.  There was much less breathlessness about this one in the media, although, and again, of course, Anwar al-Awlaqi’s fatwa took top billing.  My thoughts on him are, I think, out there enough that I don’t need to re-argue the case here.  However, I said earlier and I will say again, we are only going to see AQAP push him forward more and more in the future.

I was interested in Adil al-Abab’s ruling as well, although (hopefully) more on that later.  What I want to discuss (briefly, because it is late and I have long day tomorrow) is the article in Inspire entitled “The Jihad in Abyan.”  This stood out to me for a couple of reasons, first I was interested to see that the fighter, Abu Zakaria al-Eritiri, states specifically that he went to Abyan on orders of the amir, which is Nasir al-Wihayshi.

Second, I was fascinated by his description of the fighting, particularly the interactions between different tribes around Mudiah, where the assassination of a security official he is talking about took place. 

A few posts ago, I mentioned that AQAP had largely avoided civilian casualties and were hitting what they aimed at – namely soldiers and security officials.  (See ‘Abab’s ruling in Inspire for their rationale for this.)  It seems AQAP is getting some push back – again see ‘Abab’s ruling, as well as the story from Abu Zakaria about the tribe descending on some of the AQAP members. 

All of this brings me to today’s news.  Earlier this week, a deputy criminal investigator, Atiq al-Amari, was killed in what many believe to be an AQAP strike.  (Ar) His tribe, Al Amari, it seems is not so happy about this.  Roughly 100 men from his tribe have descended on the town where he was killed and are refusing to leave, essentially staging a sit-in and refusing to bury the body until the “perpetrator” is revealed.  (Ar)

All of these things: Abab’s ruling, the story from Abyan, and the sit-in in Shabwa are interesting fragments of a much larger and still moving picture of how AQAP handles its relationship with the tribes. 

All we have are these fragments, and so it is important not to read too much into too little, but a bit of tribal push back and the fact that al-Abab felt the need to justify the practice are all good signs. 


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