Terrorism Threat Re-Emerges in Yemen

ISIS, Al-Qaeda Are Once Again Threatening American Interests in Yemen

By Luis Arellano

September 14, 2019

By Luis Arellano

The internationally recognized government of Yemen is seeking a dangerous rapprochement with Da’esh and Al Qaeda terrorists. While the government hopes the effort will bring new peace to the region, experts warn that these terrorist groups remain committed to their goals despite the changing dynamics of the war in Yemen.

“Deeply worrying developments,” is how Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office, described the growth of terrorist groups in Yemen in recent months.

Exclusive photos from a Yemeni government official source show Da’esh terrorists are becoming more brazen in Yemen. Some of the photos show them deploying confiscated armored vehicles.

A Saudi-led international coalition has intervened in Yemen under the terms of a United Nations resolution since 2015 in support of that government. However, since the start of the mission Egypt, Morocco, and now the United Arab Emirates have all withdrawn or reduced their involvement in the conflict.

The Yemeni government is now using militias affiliated with Al Qaeda in a desperate bid to regain influence in the South of Yemen. Experts warn this dangerous policy could easily backfire and lead to even further gains for terrorist groups.

The main goal of U.S. military efforts in Yemen which date to 2001 are to undermine the role of terrorist groups in a country located along the strategic Bab El Mandeb waterway. Toward that end a U.S. military drone was shot down in Yemen last week.

Yet, a recent post on social media appears to show one of Yemen’s Al Qaeda chefitans fighting alongside Yemeni government forces.

More than three million civilians have been displaced as a result of the ongoing conflict which has pitted international forces against Iranian supported Houthi militants. Taking advantage of the chaos are Sunni terrorist organizations which have carved mini-states and competed with each other for influence. Areas in white on the above map indicate current regions of Yemen controlled by terrorist groups.

Al-Qaeda and its affiliates continue to hold a large swath of territory in Yemen more than four years after the current conflict began. The ongoing war in Yemen has consumed the group’s attention in Yemen but, in the past the country has served as a number of attacks on U.S. interests. These include the 1998 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen and the targeting of U.S.-bound airliner on Christmas Day in 2009.

Another important terrorist group in Yemen is Ansar al-Sharia is an Islamist terrorist group which dates to 2011 declared its affiliation with ISIS in 2011.

According to the Washington Post, the two groups have attracted foreign fighters from Saudi Arabia, North Africa, and Pakistan. With Houthi forces often large attacks across the border on Saudi Arabia, the civil war in Yemen could devolve into a wider civil war in the Arabian peninsula.

“Every additional day of the conflict adds to the total of the tragedy and misery. No country can tolerate the stresses of internal conflict indefinitely,” said Martin Griffiths, the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen in a media appearance in late August.

The above image was created by Koopinator on WikiLeaks and is used with attribution. More information can be found here.