Why Is al-Qaeda Thriving in Yemen? Saudi Arabia

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Why al-Qaeda is thriving in Yemen, Saudi Arabia!

In reviewing Gregory Johnsen's book on al-Qaeda in Yemen, Clint Watts describes how Saudi Arabia fueled the rise of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP):

Going into this book, I expected to be convinced that drones were more central to AQAP’s rise. However, having read the manuscript, I actually am more confident in my assessment from this past summer that it is a combination of external and internal factors that have led to AQAP’s regeneration with the most important enabler being the Saudi purge of AQ members in 2006-2007. Greg does discuss this Saudi purge in the book and I believe it is critical to understanding where and when AQ grows and ebbs. Young Saudi foreign fighters have been the largest portions of recruits and leaders for years supplying one jihad after another. With the decline of Iraq, Saudi foreign fighters flowed into Yemen and today I imagine AQAP in Yemen is now competing with Syria for the collection of fresh recruits. Having read Greg’s book, I see the influx of Saudi foreign fighters, the failures of rehabilitation programs and repeated prison escapes as the driving factors in AQAP’s recent heights. Drones didn’t generate AQAP’s growth, drones responded to AQAP’s growth. [Emphasis mine.]

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