Al Qaida has recovered from a U.S.-led counter-insurgency
campaign and seized areas along the coast of Yemen.
The Yemeni Interior Ministry acknowledged that Al Qaida in the Arabian
Peninsula has restored units and captured an area near the port city of
Mukalla. The ministry said AQAP, based in neighboring Saudi Arabia, sought to
establish a no-go zone in the southeastern province of Hadramaut.
“This is a terrorist plot to proclaim an Islamic emirate in the Gayl
Bawazir area,” the Interior Ministry said.
This marked the first report of AQAP seizing territory in Yemen since
the U.S.-led military campaign, including drone attacks, against the Islamist network in 2012.
Over a one-year period, the Yemen Army, backed by air strikes that targeted
suspected Al Qaida operatives, drove the Islamist fighters from several
provinces in the east and south.
Security sources AQAP has sought to impose control over the villages
around Mukalla. They said fighters distributed leaflets that declared an
independent area under Islamist rule.
The Interior Ministry said Army and other forces would be sent to expel
AQAP from Hadramaut. The province was said to have undergone a military
redeployment that left few troops to stop Islamist militias.
AQAP was believed to have continued attacks in Hadramaut. On late May
25, a remote-controlled bomb exploded in a military vehicle and killed two
people and injured six others.
Earlier, President Abbed Rabbo Mansour Hadi convened military and
security commanders to review sabotage attacks on Yemen’s energy and power
infrastructure. The president said he was empowering governors to deploy
security forces to stop the attacks.
“The governors have the president’s powers in their provinces, and the
military and security forces are highly trained to deal with them as soon as
possible and with zero tolerance,” Hadi said.