News Analysis |
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is a wing of the banned militant outfits which were, in the past, spearheaded by Most the Wanted Man of his times, Usama Bin Laden. The militant group has expressed its grave reservations and threatened Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman over his “sinful projects.”
“The new era of Bin Salman replaced mosques with movie theatres, substituted books, that belonged to the imams, with absurdities of the atheists and secularists from the East and the West and opened the door wide for corruption and moral degradation,” said the Madad news bulletin, AQAP’s mouthpiece, broadcasted from Yemen.
The group was specifically critical to the recent WWE mega event, Royal Rumble that took place in the coastal city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
“(Foreign) disbelieving wrestlers exposed their privates – and on most of them was the sign of the cross – in front of a mixed gathering of young Muslim men and women. The corruptors did not stop at that, for every night, musical concerts are being announced, as well as movies and circus shows,” the bulletin further stated.
Yemen has become the last known stronghold of whatever is left of Al Qaeda after the assassination of Osama Bin Laden in a raid by the US SEALS on a compound in Abbottabad, back in 2011.
Osama Bin Laden was succeeded by Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahiri who, according to knowledgeable analysts specializing in Insurgency and counterinsurgency affairs, has not been able to lead the group as well or keep it as cohesive as it used to be.
After the death of Osama Bin Laden, several factions of the original Al Qaeda emerged, the most prominent being the ISIS and Al Nasr Front. The ISIS took the extremes of the Al Qaeda ideology to a new level which resulted in the denouncement of the organization by Ayman Al-Zawahiri, who is still the chief of original Al Qaeda. The other significant faction, backed by Zawahiri, is the Al Nasr Front which is fighting President Assad’s Army and has almost been defeated completely.
The conflict in Yemen has led Al Qaeda to exploit the vacuum of lawlessness in the land because of the power rift between Houthi Rebel, Hadi Government, and Saudi coalition.
The Houthis hand, by the support of Iran, in destabilizing or at least attempting to agitate Saudi Arabia by installing hostile elements at the border of the Kingdom has engaged both Saudi Arabia and the United States to mark Houthis as the primary threat. Though apparently Houthis do not pose a direct danger to the United States, from US perspective, they cannot be allowed a free and smooth drive to occupy whole of Yemen, which will eventually be the success of its foe, Iran.
Moreover, if the Houthis were able to occupy the country and consolidate power, Saudi Arabia – The long-term US ally and largest buyer of its weapons – will be under constant threat of belligerence which is not beneficial for US interest.
Further to this, the US has been using its Predator Reaper drones inside Yemen to target AQAP members, not allowing them a completely opponent less field to play either.
Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has led the foundation and implemented drastic and unprecedented socioeconomic reforms inside Saudi Arabia. While the reforms have widely been appreciated by western media and governments, who have long criticized the kingdom for using the authoritarian rule to snub the individual freedom of its people, there is also a resentment among some Saudis.
Recently, there had been an incident where, according to Saudi media, a small quad drone hovering over the Royal Palace was shot down by Royal Guards. In regard to this, several news outlets worldwide believed it to be a coup attempt which was thwarted by Saudi forces.
Therefore, the reporting depicts that a coup attempt is not entirely implausible given the umbrage which a traditionally fundamental society must be feeling while a rapid transition towards moderation is being forced down its throat.
Internal rifts coupled with the external challenges, such as the particular threat from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, highlight the troubling times which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia might have to endure in times to come. It could turn from bad to worse in no time if both these resistances somehow decide to align themselves and integrate together.