It seems that the government of Yemen is addictive to war. This week, the government has been trying to stop the ongoing war in Sa’ada and start peace negotiations with Houthis. Houthis agreed to the conditions the government put on the table.
With the Houthi war maybe nearing to an end, the government is finding other ways to keep Yemeni blood dripping. The open war it announced against Al-Qaeda was hailed internationally but angered many in Yemen.
The anger does not come because Yemenis support Al-Qaeda, but rather because Yemenis feel that hundreds of innocent civilians will be killed by Yemeni and U.S. airstrikes on Al-Qaeda targets under the slogan of hunting Al-Qaeda members.
The last attacks on Al-Qaeda in Abyan and Shabwa killed 102 civilians and two Al-Qaeda members. Do you expect families of innocent civilians who were killed in the raids against Al-Qaeda to stay quiet after the death of their loved ones? I personally expect them to join hands with Al-Qaeda just to try to get revenge from the government or the U.S. for killings their brothers, sisters, parents or even friends.
If we go back in history just five years ago, we will see that Houthis were only 2000 in number. However, after the government imprisoned thousands, air raided over 20,000 homes and killed more than 2300 innocent civilians, Houthi followers gradually increased. Today Houthis number over 100,000 fighters.
We expect the current small number of Al-Qaeda followers to reach tens of thousands in the next couple of years if the attacks against them start harming innocent children and women. Al-Qaeda followers in Yemen do not exceed 400 in total. This might change if Yemen fights Al-Qaeda in the same way the U.S. forces have fought them in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.