PRAYER ALERT: An ISIS inspired group claimed responsibility for two mass killings on March 20 in Yemen. During midday prayers, suicide bombers struck two Shiite Houthi mosques in the capital city of Sana’a. In one of the mosques, worshipers were reciting in unison, “Death to America. Death to Israel. Curse upon the Jews. Victory to Islam. Allahu Akbar.” Then immediately the bomb exploded, though ISIS also curses America and Israel. The ISIS inspired terrorist attack against the Houthis was the deadliest in Yemen’s history, killing 142 and wounding more than 351.
(See map: Light green: controlled by Houthis and Saleh loyalists. Light orange: controlled by Hadi loyalists. Grey: controlled by al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia. Yellow: controlled by Southern Movement.)
But on the same day the same ISIS inspired group avowedly attacked the Houthi’s enemies. It claimed to have killed 29 Yemeni security forces defending police centers in Lahij, north of Aden. Aden is the southern port where President Abed Rabbuh Mansur Hadi fled on February 21 from house arrest in Sana’a. Shiite Houthi rebels had stormed Sana’a on September 21 and seized the presidential palace on January 22. Of Yemen’s 21 provinces, the Shiite Houthis now control nine in the north. On March 22 they captured Taiz, the third largest city and the gateway to the south.
The Shiite Houthis are backed by Shiite Iran. Iran seeks to use the crisis in Yemen to destabilize and overcome its oil-rich neighbor to the north, Sunni Saudi Arabia. The Houthis are also now allied with former long-time Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh has vowed to drive President Hadi out of the country. But Hadi still enjoys wide support in the south. Last week Saleh’s supporters dropped bombs near Hadi’s presidential palace in Aden. In response, on March 23 President Hadi called on military help from Sunni Gulf countries to stop the Shiite Iran-backed Houthis from advancing further south.
The conflict is complicated not only by the new Sunni ISIS inspired group, but the long-established Sunni al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula…
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