A House Divided: AQAP, IS, and Intra-Jihadi Conflict
Date: 2016-09-03

By Dr. Saud Al-Sarhan



In recent months, as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s organization, known as the Islamic State (IS), has grown in influence and renown, tensions between it and other ِAl-Qaeda affiliates in the Middle East have increased. For the time being, al-Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), led by Abu Basir al-Wuhayshi, is trying to put off a confrontation with IS in order to avoid internecine conflict and divided loyalties within its membership. As al-Qaeda’s major personalities clash over differences in strategy and ambition, the question remains: Is AQAP headed for a bloody civil conflict?

The following discussion considers the current state of relations between al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and IS: AQAP’s attempts at peacemaking among both major jihadi personalities and the ranks of ordinary militants, its desire to contain IS and maintain its own territory, and the threat posed by IS’s growing popularity. This report will also take a look at the most influential characters allied with IS in Yemen, their shifting personal allegiances, their public statements and appearances,  and the potentially violent repercussions of their private grievances, alliances, and betrayals.

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