Mentre lo Stato Islamico puntando verso Bagdad dà dimostrazione di cosa vuol dire manovrare per linee interne al Qaeda approfitta del caos e del fatto che tutta l’attenzione occidentale è rivolta verso l’ISIS per rafforzarsi in Siria e nello Yemen. Scrive il Washington Post in una bella analisi pubblicata ieri:
Al-Qaeda affiliates are significantly expanding their footholds in Syria and Yemen, using the chaos of civil wars to acquire territory and increase their influence, according to analysts, residents and intelligence officials.
The gains have helped the terror group’s affiliates become major players in the countries and have complicated efforts to resolve the conflicts. Al-Qaeda offshoots could also be gaining sanctuaries to eventually plan attacks against the United States and Europe, analysts say.
In Syria, al-Qaeda’s wing, Jabhat al-Nusra, plays a leading role in a new rebel coalition that has captured key areas in the northwestern part of the country. In Yemen, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has seized parts of the country’s largest province, territory that includes military bases, an airfield and ports.
“Al-Qaeda is becoming more deeply entrenched in Syria, and it is gaining significant momentum in Yemen, and the global focus on ISIS has distracted from the expansion of this other radical, transnational group,” said Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle Eastern politics at the London School of Economics, using an acronym for the Islamic State.
Although there is little evidence that the two al-Qaeda affiliates are collaborating, both are adopting similar strategies of expanding where they can in the shadows of more powerful insurgent groups, analysts say. At the same time, the two branches of al-Qaeda are trying to position themselves as more palatable brands of radical Islam among citizens in Yemen and Syria who feel threatened by the Houthi rebels and the Islamic State. […]
E’ l’espansione di Al Qaeda nella Penisola Araba (AQAP) nello Yemen che, al momento, preoccupa maggiormente gli analisti delle intelligence occidentali. Proprio per il passato recente del gruppo che si è dimostrato capace di pianificare attentati terroristici contro bersagli occidentali:
In Yemen, AQAP has quietly exploited a war between pro-government forces and Shiite rebels to seize chunks of the southern Hadramaut province, including its capital, Mukalla. AQAP fighters also are battling the rebels, known as Houthis, farther east in Bayda province, although they have not taken control of much territory there.
AQAP is perhaps al-Qaeda’s most powerful affiliate, tied to several bomb plots aimed at the United States, including an unsuccessful effort to blow up a Detroit-bound plane in 2009.
In recent years, the Yemeni military had launched offensives against AQAP, often with the help of the United States. But the Yemeni army has split, with some units siding with the Houthis. The remaining pro-government forces are focused on fighting the Houthis, not AQAP.
The complex war in Yemen now also involves the Saudis, who have been bombing Yemen to try to drive back the Shiite Houthis, whom they see as proxies of their rival, Shiite Iran. But the Saudis are not targeting AQAP, which comprises Sunnis.
“Why would Saudi attack them if they’re effectively on the same side in this war?” said a Yemeni intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing security concerns. […]
Katherine Zimmerman, an expert on AQAP at the American Enterprise Institute, said the group has gradually asserted control over parts of Yemen, such as Hadramaut, where the Houthi rebels are not fighting. In other provinces, such as Bayda, AQAP militants are trying to win favor with locals by battling the insurgents, she said.
“What we’re seeing today in eastern Yemen is much more similar to what Jabhat al-Nusra is doing in Syria,” Zimmerman said, adding that it is “a safe assumption” that the affiliates are coordinating with al-Qaeda’s senior leadership.
She said that AQAP’s leader, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, who once worked as Osama bin Laden’s secretary, maintains ties with al-Qaeda’s senior leaders.
In an interview last month, the leader of the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, acknowledged that he takes orders from Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian who replaced bin Laden as al-Qaeda’s chief. Those orders include refraining from attacking the West “for the moment,” said Abu Mohammed al-Jolani, a nom de guerre. […]
In un modo o nell’altro strategicamente i termini della questione restano sempre gli stessi: i gruppi terroristici e di guerriglia sono strumenti all’interno di proxy wars, nell’ambito delle quali tali gruppi accrescono la loro potenza e capacità.