HOUTHIS, ISIS, AND AL-QAEDA IN YEMEN
On the weekend of 05-07 July, the Saudi-owned, Dubai-based international TV channel al-arabiyya program sin’at al-mawt (industry of death) carried a special on the alliance of the Shi’a Houthis with the Sunni ISIS and al-Qaeda in Yemen. The program’s host interviewed a Saudi expert on radical groups named Haroun az-Ziadi who provided the following information:
The al-Qaeda franchise in Yemen has been allied with the Houthis for over 10 years, thanks to Iranian influence on both groups. The al-Qaeda franchise in Yemen (called AQAP in U.S. sources, for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) was thus able to obtain Iranian weapons.
(Note: The bin Laden clan, from which Usama bin Laden’s father hailed, has been a major clan in the Eastern portion of Yemen, particularly the Hadhramawt province, for hundreds of years. This region, consequently, has been al-Qaeda’s primary stronghold on the planet–especially after 9/11 when Usama bin Laden was hailed as a hero.)
ISIS, on the other hand, initially fought against both its rival al-Qaeda and the Shi’a Houthis, however, recently ISIS has formed “tactical alliances” with both al-Qaeda and the Houthis against their common targets, the legitimate Yemeni government, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. This development was likely due to advice (or pressure) from their respective state sponsors with the Houthis begin sponsored by Iran, ISIS being sponsored by Turkey, and al-Qaeda being aided by both Iran and Turkey.
(This development should be seen in the light of Turkey and Iran coming together on a number of other issues, such as supporting the terrorist government in Tripoli, Turkey continuing to purchase Iranian oil in defiance of the U.S. embargo, and hatred of Israel just for starters.)
The Saudi expert claimed that the Houthis were flabbergasted when the Saudi Special forces captured the ameer da’esh (the prince of ISIS), Abu Usama al-Muhajir.
Al-Muhajir had originally been a member of al-Qaeda but switched over to ISIS in 2015. Significantly, he is from the eastern portion of Yemen, near the above-mentioned Hadhramawt. And, it was in this area where he was captured in early June.
On 07 July, the Saudi military spokesman Gen. Maliki reiterated the contention that both ISIS and al-Qaeda are allied with, and cooperate with, the Iranian-backed Houthies.
The spokesman for General Haftar’s forces, General Ahmad al-Mismari, claimed on 07 July that ISIS in Libya has been reduced to the level of no longer having any military significance.
During the pan-African conference in Niger this past weekend, most delegates condemned Haftar’s attacks against Tripoli and demanded that he withdraw.
Meanwhile, additional tribes (some with Berber ancestry) in eastern Libya (often called Barqa) swore their allegiance to General Haftar and his army.
COMMENT: During Greek times, eastern Libya was called Cyrenaica, and the western portion Tripolitania. Even during the first half of the 20th century were ruled as separate provinces. I would not be surprised to see the solution to the Libyan crisis (if there ever is a solution) the division of the country into two parts, one based on Benghazi, and the other based on Tripoli.
Barry Webb has logged a 25-year career as an Arabist for the NSA, has two MA degrees in related subject matter, and is currently a Senior Fellow with Americans for Intelligence Reform. He is the author of Confessions of an (ex) NSA spy: Why America and its Allies are Losing the War on Terror. His website is www.barrywebbauthor.com