CFR 12/04/14

Top of the Agenda

Yemeni Al-Qaeda Branch Threatens U.S. Hostage

Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a video on Thursday threatening to kill (AP) Luke Somers, a photojournalist kidnapped more than a year ago in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital. AQAP claimed responsibility (WSJ) on Wednesday for a suicide bomb attack on the Iranian ambassador’s residence in Sanaa, which killed six; the ambassador was unharmed. Two weeks ago the group denounced (Al Arabiya) ISIS for expanding to countries “in which they have no mandate.”

“While the world’s attention has been focused on the atrocities and momentum of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Yemen is teetering on the verge of an all out sectarian civil war. And that’s not the worst of it: the lessons that should have been learned in Yemen, and that ought to apply in the fight against ISIS, have been largely ignored,” write Michael Shank and Casey Harrity for the Daily Beast.

“The United States is unlikely to take action: Fighting the terrorist group the Islamic State takes precedence over challenging Iran’s growing influence in the region. Houthis are enemies of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and the rebels’ coming to power in Sana will provide a de facto assurance to America with respect to Al Qaeda,” writes Ibrahim Sharqieh for the New York Times.

“With Saleh’s downfall, there was a cautious yet optimistic belief that Yemen’s new president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, could move the country forward. So far, those dreams have yet to be realised, as not much has changed for the better in Yemen. The same problems of rampant corruption, poor governance, poverty, regional rivalries and religious differences that have been around for as long as anyone can remember still plague the country, both in the north and in the south,” writes Martin Reardon in Al Jazeera.