ISIS, al-Qaeda clash again in Yemen's al-Bayda

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden


This file photo from March 2012 shows an area in al-Bayda province where Yemeni airstrikes killed at least 33 suspected al-Qaeda militants. [AFP PHOTO/STR]

In the ongoing battle for dominance between the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) and al-Qaeda in Yemen's al-Bayda province, ISIS on Wednesday (March 27th) took back an area al-Qaeda had seized a few days ago.

In a statement circulated online, ISIS fighters boasted they had recaptured al-Bayda province's al-Humaydah area from al-Qaeda elements, who had wrested it from them two days prior.

ISIS claimed it had retaken al-Humaydah following battles with al-Qaeda, during which the group's fighters blew up an al-Qaeda operations command post in al-Quraishyah district in the north of the province.

Clashes broke out Sunday for several hours in al-Qayfa area between ISIS and al-Qaeda, resulting in casualties and injuries on both sides.

Afterwards, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) captured a number of ISIS positions in the Zaaj and Arar areas, and expelled ISIS fighters from them.

Struggle for dominance

"Conflict between al-Qaeda and ISIS in al-Qayfa and other areas in al-Bayda province is over influence," said political analyst Adnan al-Humairi. "It is also an existential conflict for both groups, as each seeks to control the entire area."

"Al-Qaeda and its elements, who are mostly from the local area, consider ISIS an outsider in their area that must be uprooted," he told Al-Mashareq.

ISIS, meanwhile, sees the area as a base from which to further its ambitions of creating a proto-state, al-Humairi said.

Al-Qaeda's recent attack against ISIS and that group's retaliation is part of the expected cycle of violence between two groups battling "for the same area of influence", he said, noting that despite its setback al-Qaeda has the upper hand.

"Neither group can allow the other to control those areas because they are considered supply routes for food and weapons to sustain them," he explained.

"These areas are important to al-Qaeda because it has had an earlier presence there, and therefore it will not leave them for ISIS whatever the cost," he said.

"Al-Humaydah had been a training camp for ISIS, but was captured by al-Qaeda last year," he said. "What happened today is that ISIS was able to recapture a site that used to be under its control."

The ongoing war in Yemen has created a vacuum that has enabled these groups to regain a foothold in parts of the country where they had largely been eradicated and to carry out attacks on security forces and military leaders.

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