Regional al-Qaeda Hopes to Rebound From North Yemen Fighting

AQAP looks to exploit power vacuum

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemen-based faction, is nowhere near as big as it was 5-6 years ago. Though at times they’ve used the Yemen War to insinuate themselves with UAE factions to get arms, their influence is clearly waning.

But fighting in the Maarib Province, already one of their key strongholds, is looking to give AQAP a new lease on life. Locals say the AQAP presence seems to be looking to take advantage where the fighting has limited the presence of other factions on the ground.

That’s the way AQAP has long survived, and occasionally thrived. From the times the Arab Spring got factions out of parts of the Yemeni coast to today, the nation’s instability has always been an opportunity for the jihadists, who are more than willing to attack either Houthi or pro-Saudi forces, but are at times treated as the Saudis’ natural allies on the ground for the purposes of arms sharing.

AQAP has a very uncertain future in Yemen, seemingly unable to outfight existing factions, and operating chiefly where they are too busy to go. Much as the end of the Arab Spring led AQAP to decline until the Saudi invasion, the end of the war likely is going to cost them a lot, and leave them trying to rebound once again.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.