Friday’s discovery of US-bound suspicious packages that originated in Yemen highlights the threat of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a 2009 merger of Yemeni and Saudi militants. On Oct. 29, President Obama vowed to strengthen cooperation with Yemen to ‘destroy’ AQAP, but the country faces numerous challenges in achieving that goal. Here are five worth noting:
Yemen’s weak central government has long been engaged in a delicate dance with Yemen’s strong tribal networks, which seek to protect their local interests before those of the national government.
The largely autonomous operation in rural areas of these tribes, which sometimes share clan ties to suspected AQAP militants, can create zones where AQAP can operate relatively free from government interference.
One tribal governor interviewed by the Monitor earlier this year said he was trying to rein in suspected militants, but lacked support from the central government, which was busy trying to contain a Houthi rebellion in the north and a secessionist movement in the south.
“In all honesty, [government control] is not so strong,” said Misri in an interview with four journalists attended by several local subgovernors and the regional Army chief. “We don’t have enough weapons, we don’t have enough soldiers. Our resources are so stretched that if something happens in the countryside, we can’t respond because there are no helicopters of airplanes.”
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