In 2016, the Obama administration described AQAP as “the most active and dangerous affiliate of al-Qaeda today.” Since taking office, Trump had made his counter terrorism strategy one of his top priorities. As his first year in office comes to an end, it’s worth looking back at Trump’s strike activity as a marker for what’s to come under, as well as after, his administration. Trump’s agenda in Yemen is an about-face from the policies pursued by his predecessor, and indicate a sustained aggressive approach against various terrorist organizations in the area, particularly AQAP. How Trump dictates operations against AQAP will hold lasting consequences for future counter terrorism policies, regional stability, and the evolution of al-Qaeda’s threat to the U.S. While drone strikes have been effective in decimating AQAP’s leadership, thereby keeping the U.S. casualty count low, the president must determine how his administration will continue the precarious balance of operating in a country engulfed in civil war without becoming directly involved in the conflict. I have written commentary on this topic for RealClearDefense here.
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