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Fighting intensified across Yemen between government forces and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula-affiliated militants. Reports of U.S. drone strikes in Yemen led to the killing of eight civilians and seven AQAP-affiliated members in south Yemen. This was part of more intense fighting between Yemeni government forces and AQAP fighters in several areas. Across Yemen, at least 53 civilians and fighters from both sides were killed, according to Yemeni security official.

 

In the Lowder district, at least 17 AQAP fighters were reportedly killed when tribesmen loyal to the government clashed with militants and took over three strategic locations in the district. Three security officers were killed in Lowder.

 

May 1-15, 2012

 

 

Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk


 

The fighting between government forces and AQAP fighters is at its most intense since the uprising that unseated the deposed President Saleh. AQAP has in recent months been able to consolidate its position in large areas of Yemen, that have become de facto breakaway regions within the country. The offensive by government forces against AQAP and AQAP-affiliated fighters is an ambitious attempt to defeat the militants.

 

However, because of claims of limited capabilities of the central government, support of US forces has been involved. Civilian deaths have resulted from US drone attacks on militants, and this has led to creating sympathy for the militants from tribes. The fighters have been able to galvanize some tribal support, primarily due to family and tribal connections, rather than strictly ideological ones. With increasing civilian casualties and open US involvement, the challenge of isolating the militants is becoming more difficult, with increasing intensity of fighting.

 

Whilst reclaiming the AQAP-controlled areas in the country will contribute to an overall stabilization, the intensity of the fighting that aims to achieve this increases the overall risk for further overall destabilization.