I still don't think there is much of an answer, and I reserve my own opinion until I have had more time to think, but for those who want an early answer as well as some background I can't recommend a better article than the one by Khalid al-Hammadi one of the best journalists working in Yemen. (I link to the Mareb Press re-print/stealing as al-Quds al-Arabi's website is, in my opinion, horrible.)
Also, I teased al-Shihri's audio tape earlier today, and while I have listened to it a couple of times, I will need to listen to it a few more times before I am ready for a fully analysis - not that Waq al-waq is necessarily the best place for that. Still, for those interested it has been posted to You Tube Part I is here and Part II is here (the whole thing is just over 15 minutes). Do notice the ranking Mulla 'Umar gets.
UPDATE: I can't believe I forgot to mention this when I posted, but clearly my favorite part of Khalid's story is when he uses the quote from al-Fadhli that compares the northern soldiers in 1994 to locusts in the south. I mean, yeah, of course, but who would have ever thought he would be the guy to say it.