Yemeni officials claim that security forces have made significant gains against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) insurgent arm, Ansar al Sharia, in south Yemen. The insurgency began quietly last March, and by early summer, Ansar al Sharia threatened the port city of Aden. Regaining control over the territory held by Ansar al Sharia will begin to reduce AQAP’s sanctuary in Yemen.
Yemen claims to have recaptured territory in and around Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan governorate, after weeks of intense fighting. Mohammed Albasha, Yemen’s embassy spokesman in Washington D.C., announced in an emailed statement that the army entered the center of Jaar, north of Zinjibar, this morning, and that troops have control of the Governor’s mansion in Zinjibar. The mansion appeared last spring in militant footage documenting Ansar al Sharia’s seizure of Zinjibar. Yemeni troops have been positioned in Abyan and Shabwah governorates to pursue Ansar al Sharia militants and are set to begin an operation to secure ‘Azzan in Shabwah, a militant stronghold. The commander of Yemen’s southern military zone Major General Salem Ali Qatan claimed that Ansar al Sharia suffered “heavy losses” while only four Yemeni soldiers were killed. Control of Zinjibar and Jaar will give the Yemeni military control over the main artery into Aden.
The Republican Guard’s 3rd Armored Brigade accepted the appointment of a new commander after a two-month standoff. Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi appointed Brigadier General Abdul Rahman Abdullah al Halili commander of the brigade on April 6, replacing Brigadier General Mohammed Qaid Saleh al Hathifi.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed credit for two suicide attacks on al Houthi targets. A suicide car bombing in Hazm, the capital of al Jawf governorate, reportedly killed 13 supporters of the al Houthi movement on May 25. The al Houthis also reported a failed suicide bombing in Sa’ada city the same day. Clashes between al Houthi rebels and Salafist fighters broke out June 3 in Sa’ada’s Kataf district, killing over thirty people. Separately, the al Houthis have announced that they will participate in Yemen’s upcoming National Dialogue.
Leaders of the Southern Movement are set to meet this month in Cairo to prepare for the National Dialogue. Supporters of secession from north Yemen have become increasingly active. Yemen’s Defense Ministry reported that one soldier was killed when troops from the 35th Armored Brigade were attacked in Dhaleh governorate by southern secessionists on June 10. Southerners marked the 22nd anniversary of Yemen’s unification with protests across the southern governorates on May 22. At least one protester was killed in al Mukalla in Hadramawt governorate when the demonstration turned violent.