TEL AVIV – Al-Qaeda’s recent gains in Yemen attest to the failure of the Obama administration’s Middle East policy, said an Arab intelligence official who spoke to Breitbart Jerusalem.
The official said he believes the radical Sunni organization’s recent capture of the town of Ahwar shows that Washington’s airborne “surgical” offensive against its leaders has failed to undermine the terrorist group’s military infrastructure and degrade its will to fight.
Washington decided to pressure Saudi Arabia to negotiate with the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, he said, after they realized that Al-Qaeda is gaining from the ongoing conflict between the Saudi-backed government and the rebels.
One year after Riyadh launched a military campaign against the Houthis, delegates from both sides met last week to discuss a scale-down of hostilities.
The official said that American intelligence failed to detect Al-Qaeda’s rise as the belligerent parties engaged in a war of attrition.
“The Americans weren’t interested in the Yemeni war in the first place, but since they were so adamant to move ahead with the Iranian nuclear deal they lent their support to the Saudis to minimize Tehran’s reach in the region,” he said. “That policy drove two opponents of Al-Qaeda against each other, which was exploited by the group to assassinate government officials and consolidate its foothold around the capital Aden, as well as key regions like Taaz, Hadramout, and others.”
The war for Yemen’s future is no longer between Saudi and Iranian loyalists, but between Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. The United States must push for a Saudi-Houthi pact immediately, so they can collaborate to fend off the jihadists. The recent bombings in Ivory Coast, and IS’s storming of areas in Libya, prove that Washington has yet to grasp the threat posed by IS and Al-Qaeda, or at least adopt a consistent strategy to fight them.”
On Sunday, fighting in Yemen between IS and Al-Qaeda killed at least 22.
The AP reported on the clashes:
Yemeni security officials say fighting between local affiliates of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State group has flared in the port city of Aden, killing 22 people at a time when government forces are battling both groups.
They said Sunday that 17 of those killed were from Al Qaeda, three were government forces, and two were civilians. The officials, neutral in the conflict pitting government forces against Shiite rebels, spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to brief reporters.
Fighting broke out Saturday when government forces sought to retake areas held by local affiliates of both Al Qaeda and IS, causing civilians to flee their homes.
Both extremist groups have exploited the chaos of Yemen’s 18-month civil war to expand the territory under their control in southern and eastern Yemen.