The Monday US drone strike which killed a 12-year-old, who officials initially labeled an “al-Qaeda militant,” seems to be adding to the increasingly disastrous US war and sectarian unrest that are giving al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) a recruitment boost.
The Shi’ite Houthi rebels were already giving AQAP a recruitment boost by advancing along the coast, convincing the Sunni tribes in the region that AQAP is the primary faction resisting their advance.
The US drone strikes were themselves a long-standing source of tension among Sunni tribes, which have often been targeted. They’ve complained the “militants” killed were civilians time and again, but the rights groups confirming a 12-year-old was among Monday’s victims seems to have added to this anger, and again, put AQAP in a positive light for the tribes as the only group fighting against them,
Exactly how big AQAP can get remains to be seen, but the group has had occasional control over portions of two provinces in southern Yemen, and seems to remain mostly interested in that territory, as opposed to expanding outside of the Sunni tribal portions of the nation.