Whatever Al-Qaeda in Yemen spokesmen may say about continuing their activities, it seems that the organisation's fighters are reintegrating themselves back into society, writes Nasser Arrabyee in Sanaa
According to Al-Qaeda in Yemen spokesmen this week, the organisation is not at an end in the country, but is only regrouping and is using new tactics. The Arab Spring uprising will end in a new Islamic caliphate, the spokesmen said, claiming that Al-Qaeda is an essential component of the revolutions in Yemen and the other Arab Spring countries.
"We will not allow the Americans to tailor our revolutions as they wish," said one member of Al-Qaeda in Yemen who wished to remain anonymous. He had also shaved off his beard and reintegrated into society after the organisation announced last month what it called a "withdrawal" from towns in the south of the country that had previously been declared Taliban-style emirates.
"The Americans and their agents will not defeat us, except if they kill all Muslims," the man said in an interview in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, where he lives with hundreds of comrades who call themselves Ansar Al-Sharia, or supporters of Sharia law.
He said that he had no problems in travelling in Sanaa and throughout Yemen. "People like us, and they hate America," he said. "People are ready to hide us, but for myself I do not care if I am killed or put in prison."
"US drone attacks in Yemen are attacks on all Yemenis and all Muslims and not only on us," he said. "We should establish an Islamic government here in Yemen, which should pave the way to establishing an Islamic caliphate based on freedom and justice, such as what was the case in Jaar and Azzan."
Al-Qaeda in Yemen was driven out of the latter two towns last month after a year-and-a-half of Taliban-style rule.
The Al-Qaeda member is just one example of thousands of supporters of the organisation who disappeared after the Yemeni government regained control of many areas in the southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwah with American and Saudi support.
In Jaar, 65km east of Aden, many people said last week that they had approved of Al-Qaeda rule and wanted the organisation to return.
"Al-Qaeda provided many basic services for us, like water, Quranic schools, teaching people how to pray, and obligating everyone to go to the mosque. They gave us security, unlike the government, which gives us nothing," said Khaled Mohamed, a resident of Jaar.
Al-Qaeda in Yemen members can be reintegrated into society very easily, and for tactical reasons they seem to be doing so.
Sheikh Abdel-Maguid Al-Zandani, accused by the US and the UN of supporting terrorism, said this week that he and a number of other scholars should be appointed by new Yemeni president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi as guides in the forthcoming national dialogue.
Al-Zandani also insisted that Al-Qaeda be involved in the dialogue.
The forthcoming national dialogue is intended to be the second and last stage of the transitional period that is supposed to end in February 2014, according to the Saudi-led and US-supported deal that ended the Yemeni crisis.
Al-Zandani said in a statement issued by a religious organisation he established last year that the scholars of the organisation would be telling all those involved in the national dialogue what was right and what was wrong.
Al-Zandani's political party, the Islamist Islah Party, the Yemen branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, has also been demanding the release of at least 26 men accused of having links with Al-Qaeda.
According to Islah Party spokesmen, the men were put in prison for their political views, having been "kidnapped" from protests by the government in 2011.
For its part, the Yemeni Socialist Party has been complaining of being marginalised by the Islah Party. In a statement issued on 2 July by its political bureau, the Party said that Islah was trying to dominate the south of the country.
Al-Qaeda in Yemen is very active in Sanaa and other main cities like Aden, now that hundreds if not thousands of its fighters have returned with their beards shaved or at least trimmed.
Yemeni intelligence official colonel Mohamed Al-Kudami was also assassinated on 2 July in Sanaa only a few days after some 10 suicide bombers were arrested before implementing terrorist acts against Yemeni and western officials and interests in the Yemeni capital.
Two Al-Qaeda camps at least are still in operation in Yemen, one, the larger, in Al-Mahfad, a mountainous area between Abyan and Shabwah, and the other in Wadi bin Ali in Sayoun in Hadhramout province.
However, even the men in these camps are trying to reintegrate themselves back into society in order to avoid US air strikes.