SANA’A, July, 27 — Al-Qaeda has released a statement implying responsibility for the conflict between militants and the state in Abyan governorate that has been ongoing since late May.
A voice recording alleged to be Nasser Al-Wuhayshi, leader of Al-Qaeda in Yemen has been posted on an Islamist website. It is directed towards Ayman Al-Zawahiri, seen by many terrorism experts as the leader of Al-Qaeda since Osama bin Laden’s death.
“Our situation is good, thank God, and we are progressing well on the local and international level, according to your [Al-Zawahir] plan,” said Al-Wuhayshi. Whilst the recording does not specifically mention Abyan, the text implies that the governorate is the topic of the statement.
In the recording Al-Wuhayshi vows to continue fighting the “US enemy,” accusing them of starting the war against Al-Qaeda in Abyan by sending in drones.
“The American enemy stood disabled against the situation in Yemen. The only thing they could do is intelligence work and air strikes… They choose the war,” said Al-Wuhaishi, accusing both the Yemeni regime and the opposition parties of accepting American interference in Yemen.
Al-Wuhaishi also claimed that Al-Qaeda should support the peaceful revolution in ‘Change Squares’ nationwide, saying that the revolutions in Arab countries supports their plans in vanquishing the ‘enemy’. He added that the Yemeni people are ‘over’ their political parties that only look out for their own interests and serve the enemy.
Moreover, Al-Wuhaishi announced that members of Al-Qaeda are part of the revolution, and they are in the ‘Change Squares’ sharing with the protesters their happiness and sadness.
Political analyst, Ahmed Al-Zurqa, suggests that the tape was created to serve President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s interests, and that the voice may not be that of Al-Wuhaishi.
“Al-Wuhaishi speaks about what is happening in the ‘Change Squares’ and that Al-Qaeda is part of it,” said Al-Zurqa. “Everyone knows that Al-Qaeda believes in violence and not peaceful means.”
Al-Zurqa suggested that the message in this tape is only a repetition of what Saleh and his security bodies have said previously, which means that Al-Qaeda is delivering Saleh’s message to the world.
According to Al-Zurqa, the fact that the message attacked the opposition political parties, and said that Al-Qaeda members were in the ‘Change Squares’ is meant to lead to the conclusion that the independent youth in the squares are Al-Qaeda members.
“The fact that the youth in the squares remain peaceful assures us that no Al-Qaeda members are in the squares” he explained.
“The timing of the tape is another factor that makes me suspicious that the tape was sent by Al-Qaeda,” said Al-Zurqa, adding that the regime needs this step as means to negotiate the current transfer of power that is currently on hold.
“He [Al-Wuhaishi] didn’t talk about any of their operations in Aden, like the car bombing operation last week that targeted the British expert and the second that killed military soldiers,” said Al-Zurqa.
“He didn’t talk about the fight in Abyan directly, and he didn’t mention the condition of the president’s health which are the main things Al-Qaeda usually talk about.”
Al-Zurqa claims that this tape has been released to justify the expected violence against the ‘Change Squares’. He also said that this is not the first time a tape alleged to be made by Al-Qaeda has been released to serve the aims of the regime. He referred to a tape by Al-Wuhaishi that was released when Saleh was threatening that the south would separate from the north, which Al-Zurqa alleges, justified the regime’s next step.
Recently, tribes in Abyan have joined together to fight the alleged Al-Qaeda militant groups in their governorate. Yemen’s official news agency has reported a number of Al-Qaeda leaders have been killed by the military in Abyan, though few admit to recognizing the names of these Al-Qaeda leaders.
Last week the army launched an offensive against militants in Abyan. Reuters reported that the army so far has only regained one military site. An army spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that Al-Qaeda fighters had attacked one of its camps on Monday night.
“Ten militants were killed by heavy shelling before they could make it to the military camp,” he said, adding that one of those killed was a senior member of the militant group.
At least 60,000 families have been displaced from Abyan to Aden and Lahj governorates since the fighting began in May.