When pro-Saudi forces seized the southern Yemeni port city of Aden this summer, there were immediately reports of Sunni Islamist factions, including al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), setting up shop in the area. This was unsurprising, as Saudi forces have mostly left AQAP alone during the war.
But AQAP’s presence is growing quite a bit recently, with fighters storming a supermarket today, briefly taking several hostages. It was a relatively small incident, but one that raises concern about Aden’s status as a “temporary capital” of Yemen, and whether the Saudis really have serious control over the city.
Tribal mediators got some talks together over the weekend aimed at getting AQAP to agree to leave the city, but were so far unsuccessful, with the supermarket raid likely a show of force after the talks didn’t work.
AQAP’s presence is more than just a token one at this point, with dozens of tanks and armored vehicles under their control, and the group holding large armed parades in its own honor, while resisting threats of forcible disarmament by the pro-Saudi forces.
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