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The investigation of the devastating Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed American ambassador Christopher Stevens — limited as it is by security concerns that hampered the FBI’s access to the site –h as begun to focus on a Libya-based Egyptian, Muhammad Jamal (a.k.a. Abu Ahmad al Masri). As a detailed Wall Street Journal report explains, Jamal is notable not only for having fighters under his command and operating militant training camps in the Libyan desert, but also for having recently gotten out of Egyptian prison.

This latter fact makes Jamal part of a trend that has gone largely unremarked upon in the public sphere since the beginning of the “Arab Spring” uprisings: prisons in affected countries have been emptied, inmates scattering after being released or breaking free. In many cases, it is a good thing that prisoners have gone free: the Arab dictatorships were notorious for unjustly incarcerating political prisoners, and abusing them in captivity. But jihadists have also been part of this wave of releases, and we are now beginning to see the fruits of the talent pool that is back on the streets.

Many commentators have remarked that the jihadist movement has shown increased vigor recently, including al Qaeda’s North African affiliate and the various Ansar al Sharia groups that emerged in multiple countries, but the prison releases have been an important part of this story that analysts have generally ignored.

Prisoners have gone free for a variety of reasons. Muammar Qaddafi’s government used these releases as an offensive tactic early after the uprisings, setting prisoners free in rebellious areas in order to create strife there. As the rebellion continued, some prison governors decided for their own reasons (perhaps as a way of defecting) to empty prisons they were charged with guarding. Chaos allowed some escapes, as guards afraid of reprisals fled their posts; in other cases gunmen attacked prisons in order to release the inmates. And regimes that experienced less chaotic transitions, including Tunisia but especially Egypt, have been hesitant to continue imprisoning virtually anybody jailed by the old regime, including violent Islamists with blood on their hands.

The potential for danger was actually apparent very early in the events of the Arab Spring. In January 2011, even before Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak was toppled from power, it was widely reported that thousands of prisoners had escaped from Egyptian jails, including militants. A lengthy hagiographical account of how “the mujahedin” had escaped from the Abu Za’bal prison soon appeared on the Ansar al Mujahedin Network, a jihadist web forum.

After Mubarak’s fall, many people imprisoned by the old regime were let back on the streets. Hani al Saba’i, a figure with deep ties to the jihadist movement who runs the London- based Al Maqrizi Center for Historical Studies, published several lists of names of militant figures who had been released, beginning in February 2011. As he wrote on February 27, “This release is one of the positive outcomes of this popular Egyptian revolution that we hope to conclude with the application of the Islamic sharia.”

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There is a new trend sweeping the world of jihadism. Instead of adopting unique names, groups increasingly prefer to call themselves ansar, Arabic for “supporters.” In many cases, they style themselves Ansar al-Sharia – supporters of Islamic law — emphasizing their desire to establish Islamic states. Yet despite the fact that these groups share a name and an ideology, they lack a unified command structure or even a bandleader like the central al Qaeda command (or what’s left of it), thought to be based in Pakistan. They are fighting in different lands using different means, but all for the same end, an approach better suited for the vagaries born of the Arab uprisings.

The name Ansar al-Sharia shot into the news last week in the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, when the local organization Katibat Ansar al-Sharia was accused of perpetrating it — charges the group denied. Many reports seem to have confused Benghazi’s Ansar al-Sharia with another Libyan group, based in Derna.

The naming trend actually started in Yemen, when al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the powerful and ambitious local al Qaeda branch, established the front group Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen in April 2011. It is possible this was born out of Osama bin Laden’s musings over whether to rebrand al Qaeda. None of the names in the documents captured from the late al Qaeda leader’s compound mentioned Ansar al-Sharia as a potential example, however. More recently, one of the preeminent global jihadi ideologues, Shaykh Abu al-Mundhir al-Shinqiti, put his stamp of approval on the new wave of Ansar al-Sharia groups.

Shinqiti, who is of Mauritanian origin, published an article in mid-June titled “We Are Ansar al-Sharia,” calling Muslims to establish their own dawa (missionary) Ansar al-Sharia groups in their respective countries and then to unite into one conglomerate. It should be noted that most of the Ansar al-Sharia groups were already created beforehand. The most prominent of these organizations are the ones in Yemen, Tunisia, and Libya, along with newer versions in Egypt and Morocco to a lesser extent.

The rise of these Ansar al-Sharia groups points to an end of al Qaeda’s unipolar global jihad of the past decade and a return to a multipolar jihadosphere, similar to the 1990s. One key difference, however is that jihadi groups are now more ideologically homogenous — in the 1990s, jihadis thought locally and acted locally, while many now talk globally and act locally. These newer groups are also more interested in providing services and governance to their fellow Muslims.

Distinguishing between these differing groups is crucial for better understanding the new landscape of the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the trajectory of new salafi-jihadi groups that are not necessarily beholden to al Qaeda’s strategies or tactics. Although there are no known formal or operational links between these disparate organizations, it is possible they may try to link up in the future based on ideological affinity and similar end goals. For now, though, conflating them would be premature. Here’s a guide to the major groups going by this name.

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Over the past decade U.S. drone strikes have killed between 1,800 and 3,100 people in Pakistan, along with hundreds more in drone attacks in Yemen and Somalia, as a result of the United States’ efforts to combat al-Qaeda and its affiliates. The rise in strikes since the beginning of the Obama administration, and the growing stridency of questions surrounding the legal, moral, and practical efficacy of the program, have led to a lively debate among the commentariat. This debate is indeed important, but it is also crucial to understand how the drone program has affected the jihadis, and how jihadis have deployed the issue of drones in their propaganda. This is a necessary part of gaining a wider understanding of whether the program is a worthwhile endeavor.

Surprisingly, one does not see much discussion of drones by al-Qaeda Central (AQC), or by the Taliban (though it is possible that individuals in these groups are talking more about this in face-to-face encounters than online). Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), on the other hand, has exploited the drone issue extensively in the newsletter put out by their front group, Ansar al-Shari’ah (AS). As a result, question of whether drones are drawing more individuals into the arms of AQAP has been raised frequently in the past year.

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After at least six months of handwringing, Yemen’s President ‘Ali ‘Abdullah Salih has finally signed the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) deal to step down as president of Yemen. It would require Salih to step down when a new president is elected after 90 days from the date of signing. There is hope for the future, yet there is much to fix and many challenges ahead in Yemen. The next government will have a difficult time putting the country back together as Salih’s dithering has led to a loss of control at the fringes of Yemeni society in the south, but even more so in its volatile north. The Huthis, a revivalist Zaydi movement, whose main base of operation is in Sa‘da, is wrestling control of Yemen’s northern governorates from the Yemeni state, its tribal allies, and Islamist factions.

Within a few hours of Salih signing the GCC deal, the leader of the Huthis, ‘Abd al-Malik Badr ad-Din al-Huthi, released a communiqué denouncing the deal. ‘Abd al-Malik emphatically stated: “We consider any agreement with the oppressor is a betrayal of the blood of the martyrs and the wounded, and a disregard for the sacrifices of the Yemeni people and a painful stab against the free rebels who have endured all kinds of suffering and imprisonment, torture and murder of more than ten months.” ‘Abd al-Malik proclaimed that the revolution would continue until the demands and goals of the revolutionaries are met.

Prior to the Yemeni uprising that began following the fall of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in late January 2011, between 2004 and 2010, the Yemeni state fought the Huthis in six rounds of battles; the last with the help of the Saudis. Besides their pent up antipathy toward Salih’s regime, one reason that the Huthis may be against the resolution is because they have made a lot of progress over the past few months in taking over three governorates in northern Yemen. The past few months have seen renewed fighting in northern Yemen this time between the Huthis and Islah, one of the main opposition parties in Yemen that is a coalition of Ikhwanis (the Muslims Brothers), Salafis, and tribal elements from the Hashid tribal federation.

At the outset of the Yemeni uprising, ‘Abd al-Malik announced his support for the pro-democratic protests and for regime change. Large crowds of Huthi supporters joined in protests in Sa‘da where the Huthis main base of operations lies. At the same time, the Huthis saw an opportunity to wrestle control of Sa‘da back from the state as Salih’s regime became isolated in Sana‘a. On March 26, the Huthis took Sa‘da and installed new military checkpoints as well as established their own administration in Sa‘da Governorate, independent from Yemeni authorities; appointing former arms dealer Fares Mana‘a as the new governor.

The Huthis also began an offensive in al-Jawf Governorate, which is southeast of Sa‘da. Fighting picked up in July against fighters from Islah where hundreds are believed to have died on both sides. There are reports that the Huthis are in control of al-Jawf now, too, and have now turned its attention to Hajjah Governorate, which is south of Sa‘da. On November 9, the Huthis beat back the pro-government Kashir and Aahm tribes and were able to take control of Kuhlan Ash Sharaf District, which is vital since there is a highway there that connects Sana‘a to the Red Sea. Pro-government sources in Hajjah believe the Huthis are taking these strategic positions to prepare an attack on Sana‘a. If Hajjah falls to the Huthis they will be in control of three governorates in northern Yemen.

Another issue at hand is increasing tensions with the Salafis at the Dammaj Institute in Sa‘da, which could exacerbate already thick sectarian tensions. A month ago, the Huthis laid siege to the Dammaj Institute complex after a letter from Imam Yahya al-Hajuri, the principal of Dammaj Institute, was leaked to the Huthis. In the letter, al-Hajuri thanked Brigadier General Yahya Mohamed ‘Abdullah Salih, the president’s nephew and chief commander of Yemen’s security forces, as well as the Saudis for fighting the Huthis in previous rounds of battle. The Huthis are also claiming that Salafis are bringing weapons inside their educational institutions. Making matters worse, al-Hajuri has sanctioned a jihad against the Huthis.

Attempts at reconciliation have been futile, as both sides have broken multiple potential ceasefires over the past few weeks with continued low-level fighting. Tensions have also been heighted because according to ‘Abd al-Malik, two weeks ago, the Huthis foiled a suicide attack in al-Jawf on Eid al-Ghadir, which is celebrated by Shi‘a to commemorate the Muslim prophet Muhammad’s speech appointing ‘Ali ibn ‘Abi Talib as his successor, which is a contentious issue between Sunnis and Sh‘ia. Although ‘Abd al-Malik blamed the failed attack on the United States as a way to ratchet up sectarian strife as he did in August when there was a successful car-bombing, this case like the one in August was most likely perpetrated by elements in or affiliated with al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Earlier in the year, AQAP declared jihad against the Huthis, whom they view as agents of the Iranians or as they call them rawafid (a derogatory term for Shi‘a meaning rejectionists). AQAP also claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack that killed ‘Abd al-Malik’s father, Badr ad-Din al-Huthi, who was seen as the most influential Zaydi scholar of the past generation, and later his funeral procession both in late November 2010. Additionally, there are reports on global jihadi forums that AQAP has set up training camps in Sa‘da with 200-300 fighters.

There is no end in sight for the potential of even more expanded fighting in Yemen’s north between the Huthis and Salafi elements as well as AQAP. The destabilization of Yemen’s north has been a worry of the Saudi regime, which is one of the main reasons they entered the sixth battle between the Yemeni state and the Huthis in late 2009 and early 2010. As Gregory Johnsen has noted on numerous occasions, Saudis main policy with regard to Yemen is to keep it stabilized enough so it that does not become a failed state, at the same time, not strong enough so that it does not challenge the Saudi state.

If the Saudi’s decide to join the fight again to try and suppress the Huthis it has regional implications as well. Although the Huthis follow the Zaydi school of Shi’ism while the Iranians practice Imami (or Twelver) Shi’ism there is a level of affinity. Unlike Hizbullah, HAMAS, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad the Huthis are not an official proxy of the Iranian state. That said, due to the sectarian overtones of the fight between the Saudis and the Huthis, Iranian media endorsed the side of the Huthis. The Iranian government also decided to name some of their streets after Huthi “martyrs” from the fighting. As such, the conflict in northern Yemen could quickly become another chess match between the Saudis and Iranians in their cold war.

Even if the conflict in northern Yemen does not become a strategic regional battle, the fragile state of the northern governorates is a worry to the fractured Yemeni state. Indeed, the new Yemeni government has much to deal with including a spiraling economy, depleted water and energy resources, continued humanitarian disasters, secessionism in the South, and disillusioned youth who jump started the uprising; yet a resolution to the decade-plus long grievances of the Huthi movement and the Zaydi population in the north at large would go a long way in hopefully providing space for the new Yemeni government to deal with even more dire issues.

In the past month, Yemen has returned to the spotlight. The CIA now believes that the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is a larger security threat to the United States than al Qaeda Central in Pakistan. Since then, press accounts have stated that the United States government plans to carry out drone attacks in Yemen, and reported that U.S. Central Command plans to give $1.2 billion in aid to Yemen’s military over a five-year period. But such policies, no matter how well-intentioned, are unlikely to solve the very real challenges posed by al Qaeda’s presence in Yemen and may well make the situation worse.

It originally appeared that there was widespread consensus in the government on providing such military aid to Yemen. But a recent article in the New York Times highlights that there is a vigorous debate within the Obama administration about the efficacy of such aid. The Obama administration has been debating the legality of droning an American citizen (i.e. Anwar al-Awlaki). Before rushing into a major new program, it’s worth recalling the reasons why past U.S.-backed efforts aimed at eliminating al Qaeda’s presence in Yemen have failed.

Efforts to aid the Yemeni government against AQAP have done little to help solve some of Yemen’s larger societal problems, including water shortages, declining oil supplies, refugee and IDP problems, population growth, rebellion in the north, and a secessionist movement in the south. Indeed, increased military aid could actually exacerbate the already pervasive military culture in Yemen and cement the war economy, and intensify the grievances of citizens from the rebellion led by the Huthis in the north and the secessionist southern movement in the south. This is problematic because Yemen’s President ‘Ali ‘Abdullah Saleh views those conflicts as more of a threat to his power than AQAP and may well be tempted to use counterterrorism assistance against them. If this were the case, as Brian O’Neil argues, this would severely undermine the United States’ efforts.

Drone strikes are often proposed as an effective method for targeting AQAP’s leadership. But such strikes in Yemen could lead to many innocent civilian deaths without having a significant impact on AQAP’s leadership. The debate about their effect in Pakistan, which reveals a deep tension between military utility and potentially negative political effects, may be even more intense in Yemen.

The only reported drone strike in Yemen since President Obama came into office was the Dec. 17, 2009 strike on the community of al-Ma’jalah in the Abyan governorate in southern Yemen, which killed 41 civilians and 14 members of al Qaeda, but no one of importance. Consequently, AQAP used this drone strike as the reason for the attempted Christmas Day attack conducted by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, en route from Amsterdam to Detroit.

This, however, was not the first time drones have been used in Yemen. In November, 2002, the Bush administration conducted a drone strike which killed the leader of the group then known as al Qaeda in Yemen, Abu ‘Ali al-Harithi, which also killed American citizen Kamal Derwish (Ahmed Hijazi). This reportedly hobbled the organization for some time, but as Gregory Johnsen points out: “this is not 2002 and if the U.S. thinks that by taking out [AQAP leaders] al-Wahayshi, al-Shihri or al-Raymi it can do what it did when it killed al-Harithi it is sadly mistaken. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula will survive the deaths of any one of those individuals and possible the deaths of all three.”

The politics are treacherous. Launching drone strikes could hinder efforts to solve the northern and southern conflict peacefully. As Gregory Johnsen has warned, conducting drone strikes in Yemen could entangle the United States in tribal conflicts, which would further draw the United States into Yemen’s internal matters, as well as inflame other challenges to the Yemeni government such as the southern insurrection and the Huthi rebellion.

If the United States tried to target an AQAP operative in a Huthi stronghold in northern Yemen and accidentally killed individuals who sympathize with the Huthi cause, it would most likely break the fragile peace and lead to a resumption and major escalation of war between the Huthis and the Yemeni government. Further, in the past round of battle from August, 2009 to February, 2010, Saudi Arabia — which collects a large amount of American military aid — overtly entered the war. A small counterterrorism operation could quickly spiral into a regional war that has nothing to do with AQAP, but could further destabilize the security situation in Yemen and detract from the fight against AQAP.

One has to also consider the rise in recent months of violence between AQAP operatives and Yemeni security forces, which has mainly occurred in southern Yemen as well as the recent uptickin violence by the Yemeni government against the southern movement. This could potentially lead southerners to establish closer ties to AQAP, even though each group has different goals. AQAP has already tried to co-opt the southern movement’s banner for cessation, though, under the framework of an Islamic Emirate when releasing a message titled “Message to Our People in the South.” As the leader of AQAP, Nasir al-Wahayshi, states: “We in the al Qaeda network support what you are doing: your rejection of oppression practiced against you and others, your fight against the government and your defending yourself.”  As of now, there is no evidence of collusion between the two groups even if the Yemeni government argues otherwise. The southern movement has rejected overtures from AQAP in the past. But if the Yemeni government continues to conflate the southern movement with AQAP and further violence is directed toward the southern movement, it could lead to an alliance of convenience.

Another issue has to do with the legality of targeting an American citizen. How the Obama administration decides to handle the situation with Anwar al-Awlaki will shed light on the United States’ legal policy vis-à-vis the war on terror. Will it lead the United States down a slippery slope that further erodes the rule of law and its legitimacy in the eyes of the international community? Or, will it affirm Obama’s statement in his inaugural address: “we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.”

Finally, the United States should not be surprised if AQAP tries to respond to drones by attacking the homeland as it nearly did with the Christmas Day failure. What if AQAP was successful? As Greg Scoblete succinctly points out: “the call for America to push aside its weak local partner and take care of the problem itself will only grow louder.” Will the United States then expand its aid to deal with Yemen’s other domestic issues – governance, infrastructure, education, healthcare, and economic development? Or potentially put boots on the ground? That would only further entrench the United States in a complex society that it truly does not understand; and, as we have seen in Afghanistan and Iraq, that leads to greater trouble.

But what if pouring $1.2 billion of military aid into Yemen buttressed by a drone offensive against AQAP works? Obviously, one hopes the United States is successful in dismantling AQAP and that it does not repeat the same mistakes it made in 2003 by taking its eyes off of al Qaeda’s presence in Yemen. But, it is hard to envision the United States completely succeeding since President Saleh has an incentive to keep AQAP alive. Between 2003 and 2006 the United States reduced its military aid significantly. As such, President Saleh views AQAP as a tool to continue to get attention from the United States even at the expense of his nation.

The United States should encourage Yemen to peacefully resolve the conflicts in the north and south as well as address the grievances these groups have, which would free up resources to tackle other pressing issues. The United States should also do the following: take a lead in a new international donor fund initiative for development and reducing poverty, but unlike in the pastmake sure donors follow through; continue its low-profile training of Yemen military officials; support efforts to diversify Yemen’s economy, which relies heavily on unsustainable depleting oil resources; promote international aid programs to help the more than 300,000 IDP’s and refugees; and stimulate reform efforts in the political, judicial, educational, infrastructural, and medical realm to better serve Yemen’s citizens. This may marginalize AQAP by taking away potential rhetorical points, leading to its eventual defeat.

Aaron Y. Zelin is a research assistant in the politics department at Brandeis University and blogs atJihadology.

The news that the Obama administration had approved the extra-judicial killing of an American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki has extended Yemen’s fifteen minutes of fame. Awlaki was accused of assisting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and helping inspire the Ford Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, and recruiting the failed Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. This widely publicized incident has overshadowed a far more significant and worrisome story coming out of Yemen in the past week, one that could further hamper Yemen’s efforts in combating AQAP. The two-month truce between the Yemeni government and the so-called Houthi rebels in Yemen’s north has started to deteriorate. Last Wednesday it wasreported that a member of the Houthis murdered a school security guard. The next day, according to Yemeni officials, the Houthis shot unsuccessfully at a military plane. Security officials announced this past Saturday that a Houthi member killed a Yemeni soldier.

Houthi representatives have denied the latter two claims, but it might not matter. While it is nearly impossible to verify either claim since there is no independent media in Sa’ada, the Yemeni government has started to view these events as a breach of the cease-fire agreement. Brian O’Neil, a former writer and editor for the Yemen Observer, explains: “The truth here doesn’t actually matter. What matters is the willingness of the parties to believe the stories. That is how wars start, or start again.” If the war resumes, it could jeopardize the tentative gains of recent months, complicating American efforts to support the Yemeni government’s campaign against AQAP, and spark another humanitarian and political disaster for Yemen’s people.

The Houthis trace their origins back to a Zaydi Shi’ite revivalist movement, “al- Shabab al-Mu’mineen” (the Believing Youth), which was responding to Wahhabist proselytization efforts in the northern Yemen province of Sa’ada. Hussein Badr ad-Din al-Houthi, the original leader of the Houthi rebellion whose death ended the first battle in September 2004, complained of marginalization and claimed that Yemeni President ‘Ali ‘Abdullah Saleh had not focused on building institutions or investing in public services in Sa’ada. Hussein became more outspoken and critical of President Saleh following 9/11, arguing that Saleh used the War on Terror as justification for targeting the group and arresting its members. The conflict came to a head on June 18, 2004, when the Yemeni police arrested 640 protesters in front of Sana’a Grand Mosque. Two days later, Yemen’s security apparatus tried to arrest Hussein in Marran district in Sa’ada leading to clashes between Yemeni soldiers and the Houthis. What was originally seen as a police operation quicklyturned into a full-fledged battle in which Hussein was killed.

The conflict between the Houthis, now led by ‘Abd al-Malik al-Houthi, and the Yemeni government has witnessed a familiar pattern of clashes, ceasefires, and then renewed fighting.  In previous rounds of battle, similar low-level confrontations and accusations of each side breaking agreements led to a renewal of major conflict. For instance, the second battle began in March, 2005 when Yemeni security forces killed three members of the Houthis because of their alleged failure to disarm. Clashes broke out between the two sides, leading to twenty-one deaths and the start of the third installment of fighting in late November, 2005. The fourth battle began in January, 2007 when Houthi militants attacked security strongholds, leaving six people dead. Major fighting was initiated again in May, 2008 when a motorcycle rigged with explosives blew up outside of a Mosque in Sa’ada, sparking the fifth round of fighting. Lastly, the sixth and most recent battle began in August, 2009 because the Houthis took control of a stretch of highway that linked Sana’a to the Saudi border. In light of these past events, it would hardly be surprising if these minor incidents over the past week lead to an outbreak of a seventh round of fighting.

Another outbreak of war would be damaging to American counterterrorism efforts against AQAP. Yemen’s assistance in combating AQAP would be hampered since President Saleh views AQAP as less of a threat to his power in contrast to the Houthis and the Southern Movement attempting to secede in the south. Therefore, much of the government’s security apparatus would be allocated again to the north, and there would be increased risks of it diverting aid intended to be used against AQAP to its struggle in the North.

More importantly, it would be harmful to Yemen and its citizens.  A new outbreak of fighting would further embed war spending in Yemen’s economy, from which both sides and intermediaries have benefited. In the past it has also allowed the Yemeni government to expand its military budget. What’s more, because of a lack of governmental oversight, military officials have taken to trafficking weapons, some of which ironically have ended up in the hands of the Houthis. This has exacerbated the militarization of the government, which has become far more tyrannical whenhandling the protests led by the southern movement. Although southern movement leaders have rejected AQAP, it could potentially lead southerners to look to AQAP since its leader Nasser al-Wahayshi has endorsed their cause. Furthermore, the effects of another war in the north will further exacerbate the humanitarian crisis, which has left more than 250,000 Yemenis internally displaced.

If the United States wants full cooperation from President Saleh in denying AQAP a safe haven, the conflict in the north must be resolved. Rather than helping Yemen defeat the Houthi insurgency, the U.S. should support efforts to maintain the ceasefire and find a political solution to the ongoing conflict. It is in the United States’ interest to convince the Yemeni government to be patient with alleged violations of the recent cease-fire agreement since the Houthis are willing to look into the provocations from the past week. Moreover, the beginning of a new round of fighting would erase all the positive, yet limited progress that has been established over the past two months. The United States and Yemen’s citizens can only hope that renewed fighting does not take place, for if it does, the consequences could be very detrimental.

Aaron Y. Zelin is an M.A. candidate at Brandeis University, researching the intellectual origins of al Qaeda’s ideology.