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AQAP and ISIS fill vacuum in #Yemen




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The recent upsurge of violence in Yemen between forces loyal to the legitimate government of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and groups seeking the secession of southern Yemen has opened up renewed space for terrorist groups, including ISIS and AQAP, to operate in the country.

According to the spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR), Ravina Shamdasani, armed groups affiliated with AQAP and ISIS terrorist groups have intensified their activities in Yemen in recent weeks, activities "that have seriously affected civilians". The UN official described these renewed activities as an "extremely worrying development".

In an interesting twist, the reemergence of the groups may end up working in President Hadi’s favour, since he stands to benefit from their renewed strength in countering the Houthi rebels on the one hand and the secessionists on the other. Beyond being a mere beneficiary, several media outlets in the region and analysts on social media have highlighted apparent concrete links between elements of Hadi’s government and the terror groups, potentially even running through the office of Vice President, Abdul Muhsin Al Ahmar.

The allegations of cooperation between AQAP and ISIS terror cells and the UN-recognized government became more credible after internationally wanted ISIS leader Abu Al Bara Al Baidani was pictured fighting alongside the forces of President Hadi against Southern Transitional Council (STC) forces in the province of Shabwa. The Shabwa Elite Forces, an armed group belonging to the STC, managed to arrest Al Baidani following clashes.

Several additional outlets published pictures of known Al Qaeda elements fighting alongside Al Islah Party members against STC forces in Shabwa. The Al Islah party, allied to the Muslim Brotherhood, was identified by several outlets as having promoted the influx of terrorist fighters into the government’s ranks.

In an attempt at damage control, Yasar Al Hosaini, a media officer at President Hadi’s office, claimed that the attacks against STC forces were mounted by the Yemeni army, but by then pictures of Al Qaeda fighters wearing Afghan clothing had spread widely.


Notably, even as the government made efforts to deny the presence of Al Qaeda members in their midst, Ansar Al Sharia, a terrorist umbrella network that includes AQAP, published a statement claiming their role in the attack on STC forces.

The recent outbreak of fighting between erstwhile allies has complicated the already highly complex situation in the country.





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