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The Other Vanguard of International Terrorism

Despite Setbacks Al-Qaeda Profits from Yemen Civil War

SWP Comment 2016/C 04, 12.01.2016, 8 Pages Research Areas

Yemen has been in the grip of open civil war since spring 2015. The biggest beneficiary of the conflict is the Yemeni al-Qaeda, whose recent capture of territory in southern Yemen opens up new opportunities. Its current gains will hinder a future stabilisation of Yemen and exacerbate the terrorist threat to Saudi Arabia. It also presents new dangers to the West, given that the Yemeni al-Qaeda is by far the strongest group in the network, and has already made repeated attempts to bring down transatlantic airliners. The danger it presents was underlined by the attack it instigated on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January 2015. Although al-Qaeda in Yemen has lost important leaders since then, and a number of its fighters and commanders have defected to the Islamic State (IS), the collapse of the Yemeni state increases the risk that it will exploit its expanded radius of action and prepare new attacks on the United States and Europe.