“We’ve arrived”: those are the cynical words uttered by the Islamic State’s wing in Yemen after they released their very first regional propaganda video in which they threatened Shia-Houthi tribesmen. Now, ISIS has established itself in the town of Lawdar near Aden after they quickly defeated demoralized government soldiers in the area. Furthermore, ISIS has set up several camps in undisclosed locations in the deserts of Yemen to train new recruits.
This newly formed Yemeni ISIS army is believed to have emerged from local Ansar al-Sharia (al-Qaeda) defectors; many whom are of Saudi descent. Currently, the Islamic State can boast of control in areas of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Nigeria and now Yemen as well. The stated long-term goal of self-proclaimed ISIS Caliph, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, is to capture the whole of Africa and the Middle East within the next five years.
Put together, the Islamic State, Ansar al-Shariah and their affiliates are now control of an estimated 15-20 % of the country. However, the strongest factions in Yemen still remain Ansar Allah (Houthis) who have established themselves in the capital of Sana’a and loyalists of the Aden-based president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
Remarkably, the Saudi-led coalition against Houthi militants, which includes 10 different African and Middle Eastern countries, stubbornly refuses to target jihadists fighters from ISIS and Ansar al-Shariah.