There are many similarities between the FATA region in North-West Pakistan and the area of West Yemen. Both regions are mountainous and very steep, the weather during the winter extremely harsh. Almost all the population in both regions is divided and organized into tribal lines. Like all mountain people they are excellent trackers and warriors. They are known as hostile toward strangers, resenting any foreign authority, sticking to their long lasting traditions and are devoted Muslims. For the Pashtu tribes in Pakistan and the tribesmen in Yemen war is not a necessity but a way of life. In both regions the central regime has only a limited grip on the population.
Indeed the mountains of Yemeni remote tribes’ territory served always as safe haven for outlaws including, in the last decades, fugitives of Al Qaeda. From the remote, ungoverned and mountainous areas Al Qaeda operatives managed, from time to time, to carry out terror attacks on Western targets all over Yemen, manly in the more accessible South.
The war in Iraq drew many radicals of the Muslims world as well as from the Muslim communities in Europe to fight the Jihad in Iraq. But the recent success of USA army in Iraq of uprooting Al Qaeda came with a price. Thousands of Islamic veterans, who fled Iraq, shifted the focus of the war on terror to other regions primarily Afghanistan, North Africa, especially Algeria, and Yemen.
Yemen also absorbs many Saudis who fled the crack down on militants in Saudi Arabia since the Riyadh Suicide Attacks from 05/2003. The French fleet, based in Djibouti, is patrolling extensively the straits of Aden in order to protect the commercial ships from Somali pirates but also to cut the connection between Islamic militants in Somalia and their partners in Yemen.
The sophisticated attack on USA embassy in Yemen (Sanaa 09.17.08 ), which was carried out on 09/17/2008 is a clear signal that Al Qaeda is regrouping successfully in Yemen, that the country is hostile and dangerous to westerners and that Yemen becomes one of the epicenters in the Global war on terror.