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Saudi Arabia and ISIS
ISIS Attacks Saudi Coalition in Yemen

Saudi Arabia’s Yemen mess might have just become even messier. The AP reports:

Attacks targeting exiled Yemeni officials and Saudi-led troops fighting in the country’s civil war killed at least 15 people Tuesday in the port city of Aden, authorities said. A new Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) affiliate claimed responsibility for the assault, which officials previously blamed on Yemen’s Shiite rebels […]

The official Saudi Press Agency blamed the Houthis for the attack, saying the rebels fired Russian-designed Katyusha rockets. Those rockets are part of the Yemeni military stockpile that the Houthis, as well as al-Qaeda’s local branch in the country, have seized amid the war’s chaos.

But by Tuesday afternoon, the new ISIS affiliate in Aden claimed the attacks in a message circulated by militant sympathizers online. It said a truck bomb driven by a militant named Abu Saad al-Adani first attacked the hotel, followed by a bomber named Abu Mohammed al-Sahli driving an explosive-laden Humvee.

The ISIS claim may not be true; the group would have plenty of incentive to opportunistically claim credit for another group’s dirty work. It could also just be an one-off attack. But if ISIS is starting to get more involved in the Yemeni civil war, this attack could mark the beginning of a big problem for Saudi Arabia.

As WRM wrote on Monday, the Saudis are confronting a host of strategic problems across the region right now, including Iranian-backed Shi’a aggression in general and the Iranian-supported Houthi insurgency in Yemen. They are therefore trying to build a united Sunni front to confront the Shi’a and the House of Saud may be tempted to turn a blind eye toward domestic funding of groups like ISIS that, though they might go too far (in Saudi thinking), at least fight the “right” enemy.

But history shows that radical terror groups, prominently al Qaeda, bear no love for the Saudi government, and ISIS is no different. If the jihadi group becomes a third player in the Yemeni war, that involvement will complicate even further what’s already starting to look like a quagmire for the Saudis.

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  • gabrielsyme

    In respect of Yemen, the Saudis are reaping what they have sown. By bombing and invading Yemen, the Saudis have created the space for al-Qaeda to expand and thrive, and for ISIS to emerge (probably from some former al-Qaeda followers attracted to the proclamation of the Caliphate).

  • Kevin

    Yemen was a huge distraction for Saudi Arabia, more like an expedition to Sicily than a blow against real threats. The Houthis may be distasteful to the Saudis, but were probably not a serious threat. They were glad to accept modest amounts of Iranian support in the civil,war, but weren’t under their thumb and weren’t signing up for a Shiite jihad across Arabia. Their intervention against Morsi in Egypt stabilized their western front. The serious threat they face comes from the north and east with developments in Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and the Gulf. They are wasting their resources bombing hill tribes in the Yemen.

  • Silverfiddle

    Didn’t President Obama tell us just a short while ago that Yemen was one of his foreign policy success stories?

    Maybe Putin can step in and help him out…

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