Extremism spreading across Yemen
Extremists exist, and even thrive, in these areas because of many reasons, including the absence of the state, the lack of tribal control centering in these areas and the mountainous topography.
In terms of the core differences between Al-Qaeda and its affiliate, Ansar Al-Sharia, Obaid said that Al-Qaeda militants aim to accomplish Islamic unity; they are religious men. Their numbers are no more than 1,200 in Yemen. They are dangerous and highly trained with a real ability to execute what they want. Most are more than 20 years old.
Members of Al-Qaeda in Yemen are in agreement with all Al-Qaeda branch leaders nationwide, according to Obaid.
By contrast, he said Ansar Al-Sharia, as a group, has no definite goal; the reasons behind their actions are personal and political.
“The members are a hybrid of prison escapees, failures and believers in secession,” Obaid said. “Their ages fluctuate from between 15 and 18, led by figures who take advantage of the unstable state.”