Al-Qaeda Bombing Kills Six Members of South Yemen Secessionist Force

11 members of Southern Transitional Council also wounded

An explosive device struck a military vehicle carrying troops belonging to the secessionist Southern Transitional Council (STC) force today in Yemen, killing at least 6 and wounding 11.

The attack was immediately blamed on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and took place in south Yemen’s Abyan Province. AQAP has long had a presence in Abyan and had effective control over the province for much of the Arab Spring.

The STC is backed by the United Arab Emirates and has designs on southern secession from Yemen. While not formally part of the Saudi-backed “recognized government,” it also decidedly opposes the Shi’ite Houthi movement in the north.

Since splitting from the government, the STC has de facto control over much of southern Yemen. The group’s operations are aimed at retaining control over the region, and at times resisting both AQAP and the pro-Saudi forces.

Ironically, though AQAP and the STC are at odds with one another, the United Arab Emirates made considerable efforts to recruit AQAP’s former members into the STC as experienced fighters.

The STC has been courted by pro-Saudi forces, who offered them a spot on the Presidential Leadership Council. While the STC isn’t totally aligned with the Saudis, this gesture has tempered the amount of fighting among them.

The United Arab Emirates backed the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen, hoping to install the Saudis at the expense of the Houthis. Emirati interests in the country have since evolved into backing secessionism, hoping to ensure substantial influence in a post-war South Yemen, assuming it reasserts itself as an independent entity.

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.