Yemen’s local al-Qaeda faction, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), has issued statements today condemning both ISIS, the major Sunni Islamist faction in Syria and Iraq, and the Houthi rebels, the top Shi’ite faction in Yemen.
The statement on ISIS, by Sheikh Nadhari, says that the group is “driving a wedge” among jihadist groups by trying to expand its territory so much. He complained they were threatening the legitimacy of other Sunni Islamist groups and should be consulting more with jihadist leaders.
Criticism of the Houthis makes more sense, with AQAP commander Qassim al-Raymi calling them “enemies of Islam.” AQAP and the Houthis have been fighting over territory in central and southwestern Yemen for weeks now.
That they’re singling out ISIS as well, a group that is increasingly allied with the local al-Qaeda faction, Jabhat al-Nusra, suggests a split within al-Qaeda over how to treat ISIS, and an effort by AQAP to try to assert itself as a big player in the group.