Despite a Nov. 7 announcement that a new inclusive Yemeni cabinet was formed in an effort to defuse the ongoing political stalemate in the country, there has been no indication of a deescalation of terrorist activity by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
The Houthi rebels, Shiite Zaydi Muslims who hail from Yemen’s far north, swung down from their stronghold in Sa’ada province to take Amran in July and overrun the Yemeni capital in late September. Since then, AQAP has capitalized on the crisis by declaring an open war on the Shiite rebels and has escalated its terrorist attacks in conjunction with the rebels’ southward military advance.
The newly formed Yemeni cabinet, which includes Houthi representatives, marks the latest attempt to solve the crisis currently facing Yemen and to create a functioning government that can restore a semblance of peace to the country. However, over the weekend, AQAP carried out a series of high-profile attacks in central and eastern Yemen, including one targeting US ambassador Matthew H. Tueller, indicating that a political solution to the Houthi crisis will not readily translate into a deescalation of clashes between the Shiite rebels and AQAP.
Attacks in Ibb, Bayda, and Hadramout
AQAP claimed that at least 25 Houthis were killed on Nov. 7 in clashes that began the previous morning at 10:00 a.m. in Ibb province. A statement released by the terrorist organization indicated that the fighting began when about 500 Houthi fighters headed towards the Najd al Adan region in Ibb province. AQAP fighters reportedly opened fire on the Houthis while they were in the process of cordoning off a main road in the area, resulting in the deaths of 25 fighters. AQAP claimed that none of its operatives were hurt in the exchange.
In Bayda province, the site of prolonged Houthi-AQAP clashes for nearly a month, AQAP carried out a coordinated suicide attack that claimed the lives of “tens” of Houthis. The initial attack, carried out by Mu’adh al Khawlani via a vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED), targeted a health center in the Manasseh area of Radaa city at 1:00 a.m. on Nov. 8 as about 70 Houthis gathered there.