While the world is focused on the menace of al-Qaeda-linked terrorists in North Africa, Daniel Green says that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has rebounded from a series of conventional military defeats and is fighting a "dirty war" against the Yemeni government:
Having been temporarily defeated using conventional military methods, AQAP has shifted tactics. Over the past several months, the group has undertaken a concerted murder and intimidation campaign targeting security, military, and intelligence officials working against it, not just in the south, but also in the capital. The most notable victim thus far was General Qatan, the southern commander who was killed by a suicide attacker in mid-June. By one count, at least fifty-five officials, many of whom worked on counterterrorism, have been assassinated by suicide attacks, improvised explosive devices, or small-arms fire.
AQAP's ability to conduct such strikes in the capital shows that its reach has grown significantly. It also suggests possible collusion with government security forces in Sana, some of whom may be allied with former president Saleh.
Green suggests that Washington expand military training for the Yemeni armed forces, focus on tribal committees to try and run al-Qaeda out at the grass-roots and bolstering U.S. intelligence to better anticipate assassination attempts.
The U.S. has had some recent counter-terrorism success in Yemen. The "number 2" of AQAP recently died from wounds sustained in a drone strike. The U.S. drone war in Yemen has also sharply escalated, with four drone strikes in the last five days. According to Ken Dilanian, the U.S. carried out 10 drone strikes in 2011 and 42 last year. It would surprise no one if we surpassed that figure in 2013.