Al Qaeda advancing in Yemen as Houthi's lose ground

Posted Aug 9, 2015 by Ken Hanly
Saudi-backed forces have driven Houthi rebels in Yemen out of the southern port of Aden and are advancing in surrounding areas. Another development is happening at the same time.
An image grab from an Al-Malahem Media video from March 29  2014 shows Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Penin...
An image grab from an Al-Malahem Media video from March 29, 2014 shows Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula chief Nasir al-Wuhayshi at an undisclosed location in Yemen
, Al-Malahem Media/AFP/File
As Saudi air strikes weaken the Houthi forces, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula(AQAP) is taking advantage of the situation to launch its own offensive east of Aden. AQAP fighters seized three towns near Aden, Rabat, Lahourn, and Masaabin. AQAP targeted local Shi'ites in the towns claiming they helped out the Houthi rebels who are also Shia. AQAP was able to seize the towns with little resistance. It raised its black flag and turned some public buildings into military headquarters.
While the Houthis and their allies — troops loyal to former president Ali Saleh — have been driven out of Aden and some areas around the port, they still occupy most of northern and south-western Yemen. Local militia, many allied with the Southern Movement, have now been joined by some troops from the UAE. Unlike the U.S. which still has launched a number of drone strikes in areas under AQAP control, the Saudis have not bombed these areas. No doubt, the Saudis see AQAP fighters as useful in the combat against Houthis. Also, AQAP often allies itself with local Sunni tribes so that bombing them would create blow back against the Saudis. The Islamic State is also active now in Yemen carrying out deadly terror attacks especially in the capital Sanaa, controlled by the Houthis.
Some 150 residents of Aden returned to the city by Yemenia, the national carrier, from nearby Djibouti where they had fled to avoid the fighting. This is the first commercial flight since the airport re-opened a short while ago. According to the civil aviation authority the airport at Sanaa the capital will receive daily flights from Amman Jordan. The Saudi's earlier damaged the runway to prevent an Iranian plane claiming to be carrying aid from landing. The Saudis feared the plane might have weapons for the Houthis whom Iran supports. Pro-government and rebel commanders also agreed to a prisoner exchange.
AQAP has been expanding its area of control for months. Early in April it took control of the city of Al Mukalla, the capital of the province of Hadrahmut to the east of Aden. In the process, the group released many prisoners and emptied out a bank. Later, on April 16th they took control of a major airport and oil export terminal in southern Yemen. As you can see from the appended video, Southern Separatists form a considerable part of the opposition to the Houthis. They will demand more autonomy or separation in return for continued support for the government-in-exile of president Mansour Hadi. They did not support him when we was in power.