Fears grow as extremists exploit Aden instability

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden


Yemenis walk in a street market in Aden on August 11th, following clashes between pro-government forces and separatists. [Nabil Hasan/AFP]

Yemeni analysts are warning that the current state of instability in the temporary capital of Aden is opening the door for heightened extremist activity.

Several social media accounts associated with the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) on Tuesday (August 13th) claimed the group had assassinated a Yemeni army officer in Aden.

ISIS supporters posted pictures of Sgt. Nasr Abdou Qaid, who was killed as he drove his car through Aden's Sheikh Othman district, and of the automatic rifle fitted with a silencer which they identified as the murder weapon.

Political analysts who spoke with Al-Mashareq said last week's fighting, which pitted supporters of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) against pro-government forces, has made it easier for extremists to carry out attacks.

Saudi deputy defence minister Prince Khalid bin Salman has warned the infighting could be exploited not just by the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) but also by al-Qaeda and ISIS, AFP reported.

"Armed clashes between conflicting parties in Aden weaken both sides and benefit both the terrorist groups, which are waiting for a chance to carry out their terrorist operations, and the Houthis," political analyst Faisal Ahmed told Al-Mashareq.

"The battles that took place in Aden will have negative ramifications on security and the readiness of security forces to counter threats posed by al-Qaeda or ISIS," Ahmed said.

"The way ISIS carried out its operation shows the security vacuum in Aden," he said, noting that this "will create loopholes that the terrorist groups will exploit".

The current situation also will affect UN-run humanitarian relief operations, he said, and "will further compound humanitarian suffering".

The UN recently announced it was decreasing the number of its staff members in Aden out of concern for their safety, he noted, stressing the need to "find solutions that will restore security as it was before the recent events in Aden".

This will ensure the UN and other organisations are able to resume their work.

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