Overview:  AQAP, ISIS-Yemen, the IRGC-QF, and Iran-backed terrorist groups such as Hizballah exploited the political and security vacuum created by tension between the internationally recognized Republic of Yemen Government (ROYG) and the STC.

The ROYG controlled about two thirds of the country’s territory, but only 30 percent of the country’s population.  On April 7, then-President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi issued a presidential declaration transferring his powers to a Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) consisting of one president and seven deputy chairmen.  Although one PLC chairman concurrently served as the president of the STC, tensions between the government and the STC persisted in the south.  AQAP and ISIS-Yemen maintained significant areas of influence in the south — though in 2022, AQAP was displaced from its stronghold in al-Bayda governorate.

The ROYG cooperated with the U.S. government on counterterrorism (CT) efforts but could not fully enforce CT measures or consistently undertake operations across the country because of instability, violence, and degraded capabilities.  A security vacuum persisted, which provided AQAP and ISIS-Yemen room to operate.  STC-affiliated Security Belt Forces continued to play a notable role in CT efforts, as they exercised control over significant parts of Aden and Abyan.  ISIS-Yemen was considerably smaller in size and influence, compared with AQAP, but remained active and claimed attacks.  AQAP remained active in central Yemen, most notably in al-Bayda, Abyan, and Shabwah governorates.  Human rights organizations reported that both ROYG- and STC-aligned security forces leveraged allegations of terrorism to detain and silence independent journalists for reporting deemed critical of local authorities.

2022 Terrorist Incidents:  AQAP militants carried out numerous attacks throughout Yemen in 2022.  Methods included suicide bombers, vehicle borne IEDs, ambushes and armed clashes, sniper fire, kidnappings, and targeted assassinations.  Notable terrorist incidents included these two:

  • In February, AQAP kidnapped five UN workers in the southern governorate of Abyan as they were heading to Aden.
  • In May, AQAP assassinated two senior Yemeni security officials in al-Dhale governorate.

As reported by the UN Panel of Experts, the STC launched in August what it described to be a counterterrorism operation, “Arrows of the East,” against AQAP militants in Abyan and Shabwah governorates.  AQAP responded by carrying out a series of counterattacks against the STC, the deadliest of which occurred in Abyan governorate in September and resulted in the deaths of at least 20 fighters from the STC-affiliated Security Belt Forces.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  There were no significant changes.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Yemen is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force, and its FIU is hosted in the government-controlled Central Bank of Yemen (CBY).  Yemen remained on the FATF “gray list” in 2022.  Although FATF determined that Yemen completed its agreed action plan in 2014, it has been unable to conduct an onsite visit to confirm whether the process of implementing the required reforms and actions has begun and is being sustained, because of ongoing security concerns.

Between December 2021 and October, the FIU signed or renewed information-sharing MOUs with Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Jordan, and other Yemeni institutions such as the Yemen Customs Authority.  The FIU also released in May its first annual report since 2012 containing all suspicious transactions and money laundering cases in 2021.

Throughout 2022, the CBY continued incremental efforts to implement IMF Diagnostic Report recommendations to enhance Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) capacity.  The CBY reactivated its AML/CFT National Committee and, with U.S. support, began updating its bylaws and internal procedures in line with FATF recommendations.  The CBY also established an AML/CFT unit within its Banking Supervision Department in November.

The ROYG has a domestic designations regime in place that allows it to impose sanctions on terrorists and/or terrorist groups.  In 2022, the ROYG designated the Houthis as a terrorist organization under domestic authorities.  The consequences of those sanctions are unclear but include a “blacklist” that prohibits entities and individuals from conducting banking transactions and that is communicated to jurisdictions with which the ROYG FIU has bilateral information-sharing relationships.

Countering Violent Extremism:  There were no significant changes in 2022.

Rehabilitation and Reintegration:  The ROYG developed a 2022-24 National Plan for the Rehabilitation of Child Recruits.  This plan reportedly aims to provide the necessary psychosocial and educational support to reintegrate former child soldiers into society.

International and Regional Cooperation:  The ROYG continued to cooperate with the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, the GCC, the United States, and other countries in pursuit of a political solution to the conflict.  Yemen is a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League.

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