The Yemeni government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh has ordered 3,000 new troops, including members of U.S.-trained counterterrorism units, to support offensives against the Al Qaeda affiliate, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), suspected in last week’s foiled package-bomb plot, according to a Yemeni security official.
The Yemeni military campaign, nearly a year old, has garnered few victories against AQAP. Tribal animosities inflamed by the U.S. backed counterterrorism campaign have pulled much-needed local tribal allies away from the government. This blurring of allegiances is also undermining the already weak hold Mr. Saleh has over his country.
The Wall Street Journal reported on 2 November: “We always told the Americans that it’s hard to gauge loyalty among the tribes,” said an adviser to Mr. Saleh. “In Yemen, the tribe comes first, and once tribal blood starts to spill, the bloodshed is hard to stop.”
This has been the same in Iraq and Afghanistan but was slow, if yet, to be learned by U.S. military and political leaders.