AQAP Makes Move while Saudi-Iran Tension Escalates
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has issued bounties of up to 20 kilograms of gold — worth approximately $774,000 — for the death or capture Houthi leader Abdelmalik Bedrudin al-Houthi and former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said yesterday that AQAP “has seized the opportunity of the disorder ...
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has issued bounties of up to 20 kilograms of gold — worth approximately $774,000 — for the death or capture Houthi leader Abdelmalik Bedrudin al-Houthi and former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said yesterday that AQAP “has seized the opportunity of the disorder there and the collapse of the central government,” but acknowledged the challenges to continued counterterrorism operations. “It’s always easier to conduct counterterrorism when there’s a stable government in place,” he said. “That circumstance obviously doesn’t exist in Yemen.”
There have been visible signs of the tension between Iran and the Saudi-led coalition in recent days. The Iranian navy has deployed two warships — a destroyer and a support vessel — to the Gulf of Aden near the Yemeni coast. Members of the Saudi coalition have been operating in the waters off the coast of Aden, where they have implemented a blockade. This is the first Iranian military presence in the vicinity of the Yemeni war. Secretary of State John Kerry responded to the news yesterday, saying “Iran needs to recognize that the United States is not going to stand by while the region is destabilized, or while people engage, you know, in overt warfare across the lines, international boundaries and other countries.” Elsewhere, Saudi officials turned away an Iranian flight of 260 pilgrims saying it was not permitted to enter Saudi airspace.
There have been some humanitarian successes this week. After more than a week of discussions with the Saudi government, India is nearing the completion of its evacuation efforts in Yemen. The Indian government has evacuated more than 500 people from 32 countries, including 12 Americans and three Pakistanis. Doctors without Borders and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were able to deliver aid and medical personnel to Aden by boat yesterday. An ICRC spokesperson said the situation is “nearly catastrophic…Shops are closed, so people cannot get food, they cannot get water. There are still dead bodies in the street. Hospitals are extremely exhausted.”
Islamic State Releases Hostages in Iraq, Kills Rival in Syria
The Islamic State freed 217 Yazidi hostages, including 60 children and many others who are elderly or disabled. The released are now receiving aid from Kurdish forces in Kirkuk Province. In Syria, the Islamic State attacked rebel-held positions in Aleppo with two car bombs. The attacks killed 32 people, including a regional commander for the Islamic State’s al-Qaeda-affiliate rival Jabhat al-Nusra.
- Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke publicly about the announced nuclear framework agreement today, saying that he is “neither for nor against the outcome of the recent talks” and emphasizing that nothing has been finalized.
- Talks in Moscow between the Assad regime and an opposition organization, the Syrian National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change, have resulted in a six-point consensus document on resolving the civil war, including an immediate ceasefire and democratic transition; other rebel groups boycotted the talks.
- The Egyptian government will try 379 alleged members of the Muslim Brotherhood for the deaths of two police officers during protests in support of ousted President Mohamed Morsi at al-Nahda Square in August 2013 at which many protesters were killed.
- Two Israeli soldiers were stabbed near Ramallah by a 27-year-old Palestinian man who was shot and killed in the altercation.
- Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to authorize the construction of a natural gas pipeline between Pakistan and Iran during a visit to Islamabad this month; the project has been delayed but may proceed now with the prospect of sanctions reductions for Iran.
-J. Dana Stuster
MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images