Al-Qaeda, ISIS clash in Yemen's al-Qayfa

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden


A tank is deployed by the Yemeni army in al-Bayda province on May 18th, 2014 to confront al-Qaeda elements. [AFP/Stringer]

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) elements clashed in Yemen's al-Bayda province Sunday (March 24th), local media reported.

The clashes, which lasted several hours in the area of al-Qayfa, led to a number of casualties and wounded elements on both sides, tribal sources said.

AQAP also captured several ISIS positions in Zaaj and Arar after expelling ISIS fighters from those areas.

This is not the first time the two extremist groups have clashed in al-Bayda. AQAP has had a longer presence in al-Bayda province, and hence views ISIS as an intruder that must be eliminated.

"The main reason for the conflict between al-Qaeda and ISIS is that both groups are vying for influence in al-Bayda province's al-Qayfa where ISIS surfaced as a new rival for al-Qaeda" after the war in Yemen broke out, political analyst Adnan al-Humairi told Al-Mashareq.

Al-Qaeda "cannot tolerate a rival" in al-Qayfa which it sees as "an area of absolute influence", he said.

The group did not even withdraw from al-Qayfa despite the presence of the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) in the area, he added.

Meanwhile, the two terror groups are engaged in a propaganda war as ISIS has been publishing videos "to present itself to the local population as an alternative for al-Qaeda", he said, stressing that these efforts will not succeed.

AQAP has lost its strongholds in Hadramaut, Abyan and Shabwa provinces over the past few months, with its presence now mostly confined to parts of al-Bayda province.

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