Al-Qaeda Fights Alongside Saudi Coalition in Yemen’s Taiz

Saudis Deny Direct Cooperation With AQAP

While most of the Saudi War in Yemen has seen them ignoring al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) as the Islamists seized cities somewhat off the beaten path, today filmmakers caught the two sides fighting side by side against the Shi’ite Houthis in the city of Taiz.

Saudi officials denied any formal coalition cooperation with AQAP, but UAE troops were seen on the film directly supporting both Sunni militia fighters and AQAP forces in combat along the front lines, suggesting a fledgling alliance, at least in this region.

Taiz has been the main focus of the Saudi-led war for months now, but has seemingly been stalemated throughout. Desperation to accomplish something on the ground may have played a role in the sudden arrival of AQAP forces to join the battle.

While the combined forces put the Shi’ite Houthis at a decided disadvantage, they don’t necessarily mean the situation in Taiz is going to be resolved, because as with other territory around pro-Saudi parts of Yemen, AQAP and other Islamist groups have tended to set up shop and have fought the local security forces, leaving places like Aden in a perpetual state of conflict.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.