Wednesday Papers: Another regional movement
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.
In other news, yet another regional movement has emerged to mimic the ones claiming to represent the south and the central plateau. This time it is the desert region, which appears to mean mostly Marib and al-Jawf. The spokesman, or probably more accurately a spokesman, Ahmad bin Sa'ud, suggests that federalism is the answer to Yemen's problems. (I have my doubts)
I am impressed, however, by al-Tagheer's reporting on the subject. So often in these Arabic reports one gets the impression that any group with an e-mail address, a spokesman and a logo can command a disproportionate amount of media coverage. Al-Tagheer makes clear in its reporting what anyone who knows Marib would suspect and that is that this group does not appear to have much local support.
Finally this morning we have some more news on the al-Qaeda front. Mareb Press is reporting that a video was distributed yesterday evening throughout Marib showing a security official, Bassam Sulaymna Tarbush, being executed as a warning to others not to work with the government.
This is the type of thing that is not likely to get a lot of traction in the English language media, but it is this type of thing that has the biggest impact on the ground. Most foreign journalists tend to focus, understandably, on explosions and large attacks, but those tend to follow out of incidents like this.
Mareb Press opens the article by linking this execution to Iraq and suggesting that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is following tactics developed in Iraq. There may be something to this and I have suggested that the rising anti-Shi'i rhetoric coming out of the organization is reminiscent of Iraq. But without seeing the video it is difficult for me to pass judgement. And this brings up another interesting point: Why would AQAP only distribute the video in Marib and not post it on the Internet?
I have a theory, but it is all speculation so I will refrain until there is a bit of proof to support my thoughts. And we will wait and see if the video is eventually up-loaded to a jihadi forum. One other thing of note, Mareb Press suggests again that al-Qaeda was behind the strike earlier this month that killed a security official in Marib. But AQAP has yet to claim credit for the attack, and it is important to remember that not all violence in Yemen can be attributed to AQ.