Since the seizure of the Yemeni capital of Sana’a by Houthi rebels in late September, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has stepped up its terrorist attacks throughout the country, claiming credit for a total of 149 attacks in 14 provinces. These attacks have targeted AQAP’s traditional enemy, the Yemeni government and military, and led to more frequent attacks on the Houthi rebels. At the same time, AQAP has also managed to carry out several attacks against American interests, including the US Embassy in Sana’a and the US Ambassador to Yemen.

A few days after the Houthi sweep of Sana’a on Sept. 21, AQAP disseminated a statement portraying the Houthis as Shiite heretics threatening Sunni interests in Yemen, and called on all Sunnis to take up arms against the rebels. AQAP has played the role of the protector of Yemen’s Sunnis and has waged a relentless campaign against the Houthis, allegedly alongside some Sunni tribesmen.

Although fighting between the Houthis and AQAP has spread throughout much of northern and central Yemen, Baydah province has been a focal point of such battles. Clashes around the provincial capital of Radaa broke out on Oct. 15, when the Houthis attempted to advance on the city. Since then, AQAP has claimed 47 attacks in Baydah, mostly in the city of Radaa and its outskirts.[…]