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Tomorrow’s Papers Today

After a long day of reading about the Yemeni civil war – the one in 1994 not in 1962 – I treated myself to a quick scan of the pan-Arab daily papers, which I usually save for a morning treat with my coffee. But I couldn’t resist today. There isn’t much, particularly since al-Hayat continues to give my computer fits. But Arafat Madabish has this piece in al-Sharq al-Awsat on the kidnappings.

mouth. (The Minister of Information for those just joining us.) But the one thing that struck me was his There isn’t much here that we didn’t discuss this morning – arrests of 40 plus and so on – although government accusations against the Huthis seem particularly weak in al-Lawzi’s dismissal of al-Qaeda as the perpetrators because they haven’t put out a statement. I’ve heard this same refrain from a number of Yemenis both inside and outside of the government in recent days.

I would caution them all to have a little patience. Al-Qaeda rarely puts out statements on the schedule favored by editors and analysts. (Remember the attack on the US Embassy back in September? Most news outlets were running with, what I believed to be a false, claim from Islamic Jihad. That was pre-Waq al-waq days, but here is a link to a post I wrote for Jihadica.)

Whatever this was and is – and we still don’t know much – it is far from over. What is certain is that it is a new development in Yemen, and as such it should not be expected to fit earlier patterns of behavior, particularly from al-Qaeda. For quite a while I argued that al-Qaeda in Yemen had developed a pattern of linking its rhetoric to its attacks. That is, it often followed statements or journals with an attack. This held for a while, but the group eventually changed tactics as the government started issuing warnings and taking precautions in the wake of al-Qaeda statements and new issues of Sada al-Malahim.

One of AQAP’s strengths, and what makes it so different from its precursors in Yemen, is its ability to adapt and change its tactics. So in this case, I still believe, that just because we haven’t seen a statement from AQAP doesn’t mean it wasn’t involved. This isn’t to say that the organization definitely was involved (although whether it was or not, the attack fits the group’s narrative) simply that it is still much too early to be ruling out potential perpetrators.


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Ginny Hill has written a couple of articles over the past few days on Yemen and Guantanamo and al-Qaeda and failed states. The first is at Open Democracy and provides […]