Analysts: ‘Fighting Al-Qaeda at this time is pointless’
This week, Al-Qaeda members executed three Yemenis by sword after accusing them of spying for the US.
And recent movement by the militant group in Abyan, Shabwa, Rada’a and other parts of Yemen has provoked harsh criticism against lax security and raised doubts about ambiguous relations between some security officers and Al-Qaeda members.
Fears are rising over possible Al-Qaeda expansion to other cities and while some Yemenis stress the importance of using force against Al-Qaeda, others believe that dialogue is the best way to curb the group’s expansion, arguing that any use of force will simply create more sympathizers and make it easier to recruit new members.
Last Wednesday, Vice President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi said that there is will be no compromise with terrorist groups, stressing the importance of tracking Al-Qaeda to elimination.
But some sheikhs and tribal leaders reject the idea, calling for direct dialogue with Al-Qaeda.
Sheikh Abdurrahman Al-Marwani, head of the Dar Al-Salam Organization, told the Yemen Times that using force against Al-Qaeda is meaningless.
"We should confront their thought with our thought," he said. "We should put pressure on them by drying up their funding sources and we must support other modest intellectual groups."
Al-Marwani added that using force against Al-Qaeda would lead many uneducated people and disenfranchised youths to sympathize with them.
"Al-Qaeda always exploits people’s sympathies," he said, urging clerics and NGOs to play a vital role in confronting the danger of Al-Qaeda.
Dar Al-Salam, a peace organization with a tribal base, has played an important role in raising awareness about the danger of terrorism and revenge among tribesmen, promoting reconciliation rather than revenge in tribal communities.
Al-Marwani indicated that the coming months would likely witness conflict between Al-Qaeda members and Houthi groups. "They are ideologically different and both have vast resources," he said.
While he confirmed that Al-Qaeda has substantial financial resources, he played down the group’s capability to expand to other cities in Yemen.
According to Al-Marwani, Al-Qaeda militants have exploited Yemen’s unstable security situation, trying to represent a number of tribes and speak in their name. However, he added that tribes are coming to realize the danger that Al-Qaeda represents.
Ali Al-Munaifi, a tribal leader from Marib governorate, also voiced his concern about using force against Al-Qaeda.
"It's very important to create a proper solution instead of fighting them," he said. "We must begin a serious and honest dialogue with them."
Al-Munaifi explained that many people have joined the group seeking revenge for the deaths of relatives who were members and were killed by Yemeni and American strikes.
Speaking to the Yemen Times, he said: "If they refuse dialogue we should use force to eradicate them.
“But any commitment to force should be taken seriously and without the risk of betrayal by some security officers who are known for their secret relations with Al-Qaeda."
According to Al-Munaifi, many Al-Qaeda members are moving and gathering in Marib. "They have a wonderful ability to influence people to join them. They use the Quran and hadiths to persuade people about their ideology and aims in a clever way.
“They can expand because they are well organized,” he added.
Gains and losses
Khaled Al-Abd, an activist and journalist from the Southern Movement (Hirak) in Abyan, specializes in Al-Qaeda affairs form war-torn Abyan governorate. “Fighting Al-Qaeda at this time is pointless,” he said.
According to Al-Abd, Al-Qaeda has received logistical support by the remnants of the regime that empowered Al-Qaeda members to take up arms.
"Fighting Al-Qaeda needs preparation, planning and funds – and needs a long time as well," he told the Yemen Times.
Al-Abd revealed that Al-Qaeda utilizes both regional and international links to implement a special agenda in Yemen, accusing some officials from the Political Security Organization of supporting the militants.
He added that Al-Qaeda exploits unemployment and poor education to recruit many youths to Al-Qaeda.
"They offer financial temptations to those deprived youths who are known for their poor behavior," he said.
Aish Awas, Security Researcher at the Saba Center for Strategic Studies, said that Al-Qaeda’s recent gains had provided them with important experience in storming and taking control of cities.
"These gains will grant Al-Qaeda a chance to promote its ideology further afield, recruiting new members and establishing military camps to train its fighters," he said.
However, he added that while Al-Qaeda had made gains over the last year, it had also suffered strikes and losses that cannot be underestimated.
"The most important losses that Al-Qaeda faced was the deaths of Osama Bin Laden and Osama Al-Awlaki. Moreover, some 200 Al-Qaeda members were killed in the last year," he explained.