Be Careful What You Wish For
Gregory Johnsen, a former Fulbright Fellow in Yemen, is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. Johnsen has written for a variety of publications on Yemen including, among others, Foreign Policy, The American Interest, The Independent, The Boston Globe, and The National. He is the co-founder of Waq al-Waq: Islam and Insurgency in Yemen Blog. In 2009, he was a member of the USAID's conflict assessment team for Yemen.
Long days of writing and scrambling to meet deadlines often leave little time or energy for writing's lesser cousin, blogging. And today is no different. Normally, I would prefer to be curled with a Richard Russo novel, but with all the news coming out of Yemen, the Waq al-waq team summoned our collective civic duty and fired up the computer one more time.
First, up is this report on Anwar al-'Awlaqi. The AP writes that Yemeni officials are looking for him. My guess is that he is either still in San'a or in Shabwa, not that knowing where he is makes him easy to detain.
Next up is the al-Qaeda news for the day. Apparently, something happened in Shabwa - I'm hearing that the car exploded on its way to its bombing target, but it is difficult to know for sure. News Yemen has a story here.
Yesterday, as some have noted in the comments, Muhammad 'Abd al-Rahman al-Rashad, who is on the Saudi most-wanted list, released an audio statement yesterday. I have downloaded the tape and printed off the transcript but I haven't had time to read or listen to either, which limits my comments. However, it won't stop them.
Generally, if the content as reported by the AFP and others is correct, then this rising anti-Shi'a tone could signify that the Saudi members of AQAP are gaining more prominence and latitude within the organization. Again, as I have pointed out earlier, I think this is a chink that can be exploited, as I don't think this type of rhetoric will find a particularly receptive audience in Yemen. The audience in Saudi, I am willing to concede, is different.
Finally, we come to the Huthi news of the day. I have been writing about this conflict all day and have little intellectual energy to continue, so I will just add that in many ways what Yemen has been saying for the past several years with regards to Iran is now coming close to being a self-fulfilling prophecy. If I were the Yemeni government I would cease with the rhetoric and allegations, as it really is playing with fire.