Yemeni al-Qaeda Factions Fight Over Local Control

Commanders Clash After Local Leader Killed in Drone Strike

While al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) interests in Yemen have mostly shifted eastward to the port of Mukallah and the areas north of that, the group’s historical base of operation, the Abyan Province, has remained mostly under their control.

Today, however, Abyan’s capital of Zinjibar is seeing some significant infighting, as a pair of local AQAP commanders got into a significant round of clashes, which left at least seven dead and nine wounded.

Abyan’s AQAP chief was Jalal Baliedy, who was killed in a US drone strike on Thursday. This new fighting is between his top deputies, including his brother Ossan Baliedy, over who is going to end up in charge of the area.

It’s no small matter, as AQAP has had control of Abyan for most of the past five years, and even if it isn’t their most high-profile possession right now, it seems to be one place that neither the pro-Saudi forces in the south nor the Shi’ite Houthis have a realistic way of ousting them from.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.