Home/Daniel Larison/The U.S. and Al Qaeda Are Still on the Same Side in Yemen

The U.S. and Al Qaeda Are Still on the Same Side in Yemen

The AP reports on something that has been more or less common knowledge for years:

The leader of al-Qaida’ branch in Yemen said that his militants have often fought alongside Yemeni government factions — remarks that could embarrass the U.S.-backed coalition fighting the impoverished Arab country’s Shiite rebels.

On top of that, some of Hadi’s associates have been sanctioned by our government for their connections to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). This shouldn’t come as a surprise. There have been reports of collusion between coalition-backed forces and AQAP for years, and the coalition has made no secret that its priority in Yemen is fighting the Houthis and their allies. The Saudis have tried to spin their war as a fight against Iran, which has both greatly exaggerated Iran’s role in the conflict and distracted Washington from the gains that AQAP has been able to make under the coalition’s noses. The only enemy the U.S. plausibly has in Yemen is the one that our government’s policy has been helping to strengthen for over two years.

The coalition hasn’t been embarrassed by previous evidence that AQAP is on their side in this war, and it won’t be embarrassed by more evidence showing the same thing. They evidently don’t care if they are found to be cahoots with jihadists, and they probably assume that Washington won’t ever hold them accountable for this behavior. This should embarrass politicians from both parties that have backed the Saudis’ atrocious intervention, and it should make the Trump administration halt its support for the war, but neither of those things is likely to happen.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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