Middle East, Terrorism, War and Conflict

Islamic State Accepts Responsibility of Killing Yemen Official

The governor of Aden was killed by a suicide car bombing and the Islamic State has accepted the responsibility of the attack. This is a huge blow to pro-Saudi Yemeni forces who have been struggling to maintain a grip on the strategic port city since July when they took it over from the rebels. According to a security official, along with eight of his guards, Governor Jaafar Saad was killed on Sunday while their convoy was traveling through a district near the seaport. An Islamic State branch is based in Aden and they claimed responsibility for the bombing, according to a social media statement that was translated by SITE Intelligence Group that keeps track of extremist activities.

The Saudi-led coalition has been trying to restore President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power through its seat in Aden, but the recent attacks have made it really difficult. Mr. Hadi had been exiled to Saudi Arabia and made a return to the southern city back in the last month. An eight-month long air campaign has been conducted by a coalition of Gulf Arab allies and Saudi Arabia against the Houthi-rebels allied by Iran as they have been overrunning most of the country. Since the Saudi campaign kicked off, Yemen has become home to a number of branches of the Islamic State.

In March, more than 140 people were killed when militants carried out twin attacks on Houthi mosques in the capital city San’a. The conflict’s both sides are deemed as enemies by the Islamic State and they have carried out attacks against the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and also the Houthis. The aim of the group is to govern Yemen according to, what it believes, is the strict interpretation of Islamic law. Mr. Saad had been a prominent figure in Aden’s pro-Saudi forces and he had also held the post of major general in Yemen’s army.

In October, he was appointed as the governor and a series of bombings had been carried out by the Islamic State in the same month that took the life of 15 soldiers in Yemen. It was last year that the current conflict in the city began as the Shiite Muslim group, the Houthis took over San’a thanks to their power base in the north. In February, they drove Mr. Hadi from power who had fled to Saudi Arabia for a while, but he returned to Aden.

Saudi Arabia consider the Houdis as a proxy of Iran, their primary regional rival. Therefore, in March, they assembled a coalition and began airstrikes for unseating them. Aden was captured by the Houdis in April, but the Saudi-led coalition was able to claim it back in July through the inflow of ground troops. Since then, the coalition has been moving towards the east to the capital, but in recent months, they have had to deal with some setbacks. The vulnerability has been exploited by the al Qaeda or AQAP and the Islamic State and they have launched attacks for gaining territories. 

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