The Jihadology blog has the latest issue of AQAP's English-language magazine, Inspire, which was released earlier this week. I haven't had a chance to read the whole thing yet, but two things caught my attention right away. First, in a brief commentary about AQAP's new campaign of violence against so-called Huthi supporters, the magazine's editor makes the following claim:
We would like to state that our war is with the Rafidha [Rejectionist] Shi'a sect which is alien to Yemen and was only imported recently from Iran, and not with the Zaydi Shi'a sect which is considered to be the closest sect of Shi'a to ahl as-sunnah.
This statement is remarkable for two reasons: first, it is identical to the false claims the government of Yemen has been making since the beginning of the Sa‘dah wars (that the rebels are Iranian agents). Second, it states that AQAP has no problem with Zaydiyah, which is an unexpected position for them to take. It seems illogical at best for AQAP to distinguish between Shi‘i sects. That Zaydiyah is close to Sunnism is a cliché, but the reality is that the Huthi rebellion grew out of a very Zaydi revival movement that, among other things, stressed the opposition between Zaydiyah and the kind of Sunnism espoused by AQAP.
As I see it, the best reason for AQAP to make the above claim is that it has had time to think, since the attacks of November, about the implications of declaring war on Zaydiyah, and has realized the danger in such an act. Maybe AQAP and the government can effectively drive a wedge between al-Huthi and the Zaydi population at large, but I doubt it, especially when we all know that al-Huthi's network of support has in the past transcended sectarian identities.
The second thing I noticed in this issue of Inspire is that the magazine provides translations of only one of the two statements AQAP released about its attacks on Huthi targets. We were able to publish translations of each statement within twenty-four hours, so why doesn't Inspire have both of them now? If I'm not mistaken, Brian O'Neill and Greg Johnsen have both hypothesized in the past that the editors of Inspire, and perhaps even the editors of AQAP's Arabic magazine, are too distant from the organization's operational branches to even know about operations in time to include them in publications. This seemed to be the case with the original Arabic statements on the attacks, which were much-delayed, and is probably the case again here.