ISIS Gaining Ground In Yemen; Saudi Arabia Confronted By Islamic State And Iran-Backed Shi’ite Insurgents Along Northern Border, And Hegemonic, Iranian-Backed Houthis And al Qaeda On Their South
According to a Yemeni official who spoke yesterday to CNN, stating that “ISIS has a presence in at least three provinces in southern and central Yemen; and, there’s now a ‘real competition’ between ISIS and the Yemen-based terrorist group — al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP.” U.S. officials have acknowledged that ISIS is recruiting new members in Yemen; but, that AQAP remains the ‘alpha male,’ for now.
“Yemen is significant in Islam,” said Katherine Zimmerman, a Research Fellow at Washington D.C.-based think-tank — The American Enterprise Institute. “it’s a place where we’ve seen attacks against the U.S. [originate, USS Cole]; and, it has been a major feeder for foreign fighters into Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. There’s a recruiting pipeline that ISIS may try and tap into.”
A Yemeni official who spoke to CNN, said “AQAP is still the dominant terrorist presence in Yemen, with ‘hundreds” of members — compared to “dozens,” for ISIS. Still, he added, “there’s a new kid on the block.” And, according to CNN’s Brian Todd, “ISIS may be using its financial strength, which it derives from the export of stolen oil, ransom payments from hostages, criminal activities, and foreign donors.”
And, there is growing concern that this “fight” for supremacy between ISIS and al Qaeda, “could create a dynamic wherein the groups compete to strike the U.S. first and the hardest.” “it could lead to an attack against the U.S. embassy in Sa’ana, which is vulnerable,” said Zimmerman. “And, it could also direct its attention to Saudi Arabia.”
If The Houthis Are Able To Solidify Control Over The Southernmost Country On The Arabian Peninsula – It Could Create A Risk For Israel And Other Countries’ Sea Traffic
Aeril Ben Solomon, writing on The Jerusalem Post’s website, says that “the Iranian-backed Houthis rebels, are on the verge of a coup in Yemen, as Sunni rivals within the country and regionally, seem helpless to stop them.” “The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), must intervene now — to save Yemen,” the UAE-based Gulf News,”
headlined its editorial on Tuesday. “Al Houthis already control 14 provinces out of 21,” the paper noted, adding “the GCC cannot watch idly, while the Iran-backed Houthis terrorize a neighboring country; and, flex their muscles in a region already riddled with conflicts.”
“If the Houthis are able to solidify control over the Arabian Peninsula’s southernmost country, which abuts the Red Sea, whence ships travel to and from Eilat, Aqaba, and the Suez Canal, they could endanger Israel’s’ and other countries’ sea traffic,” Mr. Solomon wrote. “The GCC took its eye off the ball in Yemen. It let it’s own backyard go up in flames,” said David Andrew Weinberg, a specialist on Gulf affairs, and a Senior Fellow at The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, to the Jerusalem Post. “By fiddling while Yemen burns, the Saudis have given Iran a huge new advantage along its southern border,” he said. “The Saudis are now confronted with Islamic State and Iranian-backed Shi’ite insurgents on their northern border, and hegemonic Houthis as well as AQAP on their southern one,” he said.
Oren Adaki, a research analyst of the Arab world, at the same Washington D.C.-based think tank, who closely follows Yemen, told the Jerusalem Post that “Saudi influence in Yemen is at an all-time low. The Houthis takeover of Yemen means absolutely everything to Iran. They are watching events unfold there — like an investor watching his investments his investments return heavy dividends,” Mr. Adaki added. “Iranian officials could hardly contain themselves during the first days following the Houthis seizure of Sanna in late September. They openly boasted that Sanna had fallen into their sphere of influence; and, eagerly announced that they support the Houthis,” Mr. Solomon concluded.
And. if Iran is successful in building a nuclear weapon — such a development will change the dynamics in the Middle East overnight; and, provide Tehran will a larger umbrella and buffer — to foment more mischief and extend its geopolitical reach. V/R, RCP