Yemen has been a mess in a lot of ways for a lot of years, but one thing it hasn’t traditionally had, despite its population being split between Sunnis and Shi’ites, is sectarian warfare. Officials warn that could be changing.
Yemeni officials are now claiming that the prominence of the Shi’ite Houthi rebels has proved a boon for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) as a Sunni counterbalance.
After expanding out of their traditional territory in the north, the Houthis quickly took the capital city of Sanaa, but then kept going south along the sea, capturing some important Sunni territory.
Though its not clear how much credibility its repeated defeats at the hands of Houthis has cost AQAP, the indications are that Sunni tribesmen are joining them in greater numbers to resist the Houthi surge into their territory.