The ink is barely dry on the thumbs of millions of Yemeni voters and the political rhetoric has once again heated up. One of the leaders of AQAP, Fahd al-Qasa‘a, is lashing out against the election of al-Hadi. Hardly any surprise here. But at the same time, as reported in the Yemen Post, he is blasting (so far only in words) Islah, the largest Islamic party in Yemen. For anyone who knows Yemen, this is also hardly a surprise, although many on the outside still think an “Islamist” is an “Islamist” no matter what the facts on the ground. Alienating Islah, which is as much a regional power block as a religious party, seems a sign of desperation or else a calculated outreach to disaffected southerners. Criticism of al-Hadi as a clone of the United States, Saudi Arabia and the GCC resonates well with many southerners, where AQAP hopes to make inroads. The former President of the PDRY and Vice President to Salih after unification, Ali Salim al-Baydh, has also labeled al-Hadi a hack in the grasp of foreign interests. Strange bed fellows indeed.

But the plot thickens. The statements by al-Qasa‘a were quoted in a newspaper owned by Ahmad Ali Abdullah Salih, the man who would be king after his father. You can follow his exploits on a Facebook page. The current dissension among the political rivals is anything but tranquil. It almost makes the current Republican debate circus in the United States look like a love fest. But one need not quote Machiavelli to see that the bottom line here is political power, not religious persuasion. Anyone who thinks that Zaydi vs. Shafi’i is still the way to carve Yemen up into sects or that Islah and AQAP are of the same cloth needs to do a lot of rethinking.

And the game is far from over.