So until there is something more for us to discuss, there is this intriguing article from Ali Soufan published by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Soufan, of course, has a long history in Yemen - for those wishing to learn more you should read Lawrence Wright's fine book: The Looming Tower.
Soufan's article is quite good and I think he has some interesting things to say about defeating al-Qaeda in its various manifestations. But I'm not sure that his premise, at least when it comes to Yemen, is correct.
This is the initial part of his opening paragraph:
"In mid-June, a group of tourists visiting Yemen's tribal areas were brutally murdered by terrorists most likely connected to al-Qaeda. This tragic event underscores a particularly difficult challenge for the United States and its allies: as al-Qaeda's activities are undermined in one part of the world, it adapts and moves its operations elsewhere. Yemen and Somalia -- where the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab movement is now a major force -- are the latest examples of this phenomenon." [Emphasis added]
In my opinion this is not what happened in Yemen. It may be what is going to happen, but it hasn't happened yet. Al-Qaeda re-grouped in Yemen because both the US and Yemeni government began to put other things first on their list of priorities. After November 2003, which I date as the end of the first phase of the war against al-Qaeda in Yemen (pithy, yes?), both governments began to move other things to the top of their list.
For the US it was democratic reforms and anti-corruption campaigns as part of the Bush administration's desire to remake the Greater Middle East. For the Yemeni government it was a growing conflict with the Huthis in the north, which took off in June 2004.
The regrouping and reorganizing of al-Qaeda in Yemen is the direct result of lapsed vigilance on the part of both Yemen and the US. It may eventually be true that as al-Qaeda is forced out of certain areas they find their way to Yemen, but this hasn't happened yet.
I pointed this - or at least tried to - in an article I wrote for the CTC Sentinel way back in December 2007, Issue 1 pgs. 14 - 15, for those looking to re-read the piece.