Tag Archives: al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb

Yemen and Al-Qaeda’s Long-Term Strategy

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 10, 2016

During al-Qaeda's occupation of al-Mukalla, Yemen, April 2015 to April 2016 (source)

During al-Qaeda’s occupation of al-Mukalla, Yemen, April 2015 to April 2016 (source)

In Yemen, at the end of last month, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was cleared from al-Mukalla, their major urban stronghold. This ends a year of occupation and brings to a close what is effectively the third emirate or statelet AQAP has either set up or attempted to set up in Yemen since 2011. These projects offer some insights into al-Qaeda’s methodology in getting to an Islamic state, including its rebranding in opposition to the Islamic State (IS). Continue reading

The Islamic State, Libya, and Interventionism

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on February 19, 2015

Rebels with Qaddafi's

Rebels with Qaddafi’s “golden gun”

Yesterday morning in Libya, it was announced that militias from Misrata were moving into Sirte to combat the Islamic State (I.S.). The militias preparing to fight I.S. are drawn from Libya Dawn, the Islamist coalition that ousted the internationally-recognised government in August 2014. Continue reading

Al-Qaeda in Syria Condemns Al-Qaeda in Yemen’s Softness on the Islamic State

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on October 20, 2014

Maysar al-Jiburi (Abu Mariya al-Qahtani) [source]

Al-Qaeda broke relations with the then-Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in February. In June, ISIS declared that it had restored the caliphate and changed its name to simply the Islamic State (IS). Since then, some jihadist groups, including some affiliated with al-Qaeda, have declared their allegiance to IS. With the beginning of American airstrikes against IS, in Iraq on 7 August and extended to Syria on 23 September, the question of where jihadi-salafists stand with regard to IS has become more acute. It was in this predicament that a statement was released today from a leader of al-Qaeda in Syria condemning al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen for its statement of solidarity with IS in the face of these U.S.-led attacks. By the lights of al-Qaeda in Syria, the Yemeni branch’s statement was too lenient toward IS and will be misinterpreted as support for an organization that has struck down senior officials of al-Qaeda in Syria and remains actively at war with al-Qaeda in that theatre to this hour. Continue reading

Algeria’s ‘Years of Blood’: Not Quite What They Seem

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on March 21, 2014

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Antar Zouabri, who became leader of the GIA in the summer of 1996

In December 1991, the Algerian government—the military regime in power since the French were expelled—gave in to public pressure, which had already turned sanguinary, and allowed an election. It was quite clear that the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), a fundamentalist party, would emerge victorious. To forestall the institution of a theocracy, in January 1992, the military launched a coup and shut down the final rounds of the election. A civil war erupted in which the jihadists sought to overpower the secular, if dictatorial, government. By the late 1990s, the jihadists’ savagery had meant their campaign had run aground; the vital centre in Algeria swallowed its misgivings and sought shelter behind the State. By 2002, the civil war was declared over: the jihadist revolt had been beaten.

That is the official story.

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