Yemen: al-Qaeda attacks amid protest wave

Suspected al-Qaeda gunmen killed four soldiers in Yemen on March 6—the day after President Ali Abdullah Saleh refused to yield to protesters demanding his immediate resignation. The elite Republican Guard soldiers were ambushed near Marib about 170 kilometers east of Sanaa, the capital. The attack was not overtly connected to the wave of anti-government protests. Security forces arrested 16 protesters in the main southern city Aden on March 5. At least 19 protesters have been killed by security forces or regime supporters since Feb. 16, according to an AFP toll. (Middle East Online, March 6)

Clive Williams of Australia’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre noted that while the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) “is now al-Qaeda’s most dangerous and accessible franchise,” the wave of revolutions in the Arab world “has left al-Qaeda playing catch up.” Using the name “Jasmine Revolution” seemingly to apply to all the popular uprisings that have ensued since the Tunisian rebellion, he states: “These are frustrating times for al-Qaeda. The jasmine revolution is more about gaining political and cultural freedoms and the right to a job, than it is about wanting to live in a fundamentalist Islamic society.” (Radio Australia, March 2)

See our last posts on Yemen and the new Arab revolutions.

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