Yemen has conflicts with Al Qaeda in the South, and Al Houthis (a Shiite separatist group) in the North.
Neither group has widespread support in Yemen. Al Qaeda is seen as a threat by the West, because it has links to terror organisations around the world. But Al Qaeda has little popular support in Yemen, and appears to have no political ambitions other than destruction of anything and any regime associated with the West, and with the US in particular.
Al Houthis has political ambitions in both Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
“Al Qaida has no popular base, no political horizon and no alternative to the existing regime. They consider the state an enemy because of its alliance with the US,” Yemeni political expert Fares Saqqaf said.
At the same time, “Al Houthis are newly formed, as their first confrontation with the state was in 2004. They are close to people, and are followers of a certain Shiite sect (Yemen is prediminantly Sunni).
Yemen is the poorest of the gulf states, with limited oil supplies, and chronic water shortages.
Without US support against Al Qaeda, and Saudi support against Al Houthis, Yemen may well be in serious trouble.
The catch is that dependence on US aid may reduce Yemen’s credibility amongst other Arab states, and may increase the likelihood of attacks in the US.
The suspect, Nigerian-national Abdul Mudallad, said he received instructions and training from al Qaeda operatives based in Yemen ahead of boarding the Detroit-bound flight Friday, according to U.S. law-enforcement officials.
These officials said they couldn’t confirm Mr. Mudallad’s claims. But the purported bombing attempt came as Yemen’s security forces intensified military operations against al Qaeda forces, with significant U.S. intelligence support.
The US has provided nearly $70 million in counter-terrorism aid to Yemen this year, compared with nothing in the previous year.
Nearly half the terror suspects currently held by the US are Yemeni nationals.