|Presence of rebel forces in Yemen as of September 2012. Ansar al-Sharia is part of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Map by Evan Centanni, using this blank map by NordNordWest/Wikipedia (license: CC BY-SA).|
In our previous Yemen map update, we reported on the government's June 2012 capture of most of Abyan province from Ansar al-Sharia, an armed group associated with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). After the fall of the militants' two main "Islamic Emirates" in the towns of Jaar and Zinjibar, the U.S.-backed Yemeni army advanced east into neighboring Shabwah province; after about a week, the Islamists had fled Azzan, their primary stronghold in Shabwah.
At the time, Ansar al-Sharia was also known to control the Shabwah towns of Hawta, Rawdah, and Rudum, yet the militants appear to have since gone underground; Yemen's government declared victory in the entire region, and no word has since filtered through of Islamist-controlled towns. However, what has become clear is that the extremists have not fled altogether, but are only keeping a lower profile. Reports have even emerged of a major Al Qaeda training camp in Abyan's Mahfad district
Country Name: |
• Yemen (English)
• Al-Yaman (Arabic)
• Republic of Yemen (English)
• al-Jumhūriyyah al-Yamaniyyah (Arabic)
South of the capital, there is still a simmering separatist insurgency in formerly independent southern Yemen, and in the north a large area is still controlled by the Al Houthi rebels. A Zaidi Shiite rebel group, the Houthis currently maintain an informal truce with the transitional government as they await an overdue national dialogue process. However, they sometimes clash with local militias who resent their territorial encroachment, as well as Salafist fighters, extremist Sunnis who consider the Zaidis to be heretics.
Graphic of Yemeni flag is in the public domain (source).