"In Yemen there is great potential for [AQAP] to take advantage of undergoverned spaces to regroup, plot, and prepare for attacks against US and Western targets in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and the region," says Christopher Boucek, author of a September report on Yemen called "Avoiding a Downward Spiral."
The Saudi government, which shares a long, rugged border with Yemen, is extremely concerned about its neighbor's internal turmoil.
"Yemen is the backyard of Saudi security," says Mustafa Alani, a counterterrorism expert at the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center. "The Saudis look at Yemen and see separatism, sectarianism, terrorism, so they have genuine concerns."
Yemen: A terrorist haven?
In an effort to stop further deterioration, the Saudi government is publicly "standing 100 percent behind" the Yemeni government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, says Mr. Alani. "They think it must be supported despite all its shortcomings."
The kingdom has been the second-largest contributor – after the United States – to an international appeal for humanitarian aid in Saada, where an estimated 150,000 Yemenis have been displaced from their homes because of ongoing fighting between government forces and Houthi rebels.