An affiliate of the Islamic State in Yemen claimed credit for several attacks in the port city of Aden that had previously been blamed on Houthi rebels.
Aden is now occupied by a coalition of Saudi-led troops, including many from the UAE, and local militia who support the internationally-recognized government of president Mansour Hadi. Until recently government officials have been in exile in Ryadh Saudi Arabia but some officials have now returned to set up government operations in Aden which will be designated the capital. Sanaa the former capital is still occupied by the Houthi rebels who have set up their own government. They also control much of the north west of Yemen although the Saudi-led bombing and ground campaign has driven them from several southern provinces.Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula(AQAP) has been able to control more territory as it has battled the Houthis often with the cooperation of local Sunni tribes who also oppose the Shia Houthis. However, the Houthis have the support of army forces loyal to former president Saleh. As in other countries, some Al Qaeda fighters have switched their allegiance to the Islamic State. In Yemen IS has so far been known mostly for terrorist attacks against the Houthis including attacks on mosques. However, Al Qaeda fought a guerilla war against the Hadi government when it was in power so it is hardly surprising that they should also attack the Saudis and others who support the Hadi government as it tries to re-establish itself in Aden. There are reports that Al Qaeda members received arms during the offensive to drive out the Houthis and they are also said to control part of the port city. Some of these fighters may have joined the Islamic State. AQAP controls a large area east of Aden including Mukalla the capital of Hadramawt province.The official Saudi Press Agency previously blamed Houthi rebels for the attack. One attack targeted the 239 room Al Qasre Hotel and Resort which officials of the Hadi government are using as headquarters. Two other attacks were launched against locations used by UAE troops.The IS affiliate in Aden circulated a message claiming responsibility for the attack and providing details. It said that a militant called Abu al-Adani attacked the hotel using a bomb-laden truck. He was followed by another bomber who drove a Humvee packed with explosives. The Central Operations Headquarters of the Saudi and Emirati Forces and the Emirati military administrative headquarters were also targets in separate attacks. The claims have yet to be independently verified. Neither Saudi, Emirati, or Yemeni officials would comment on the claims.The UAE official news agency did say that the death toll included four soldiers from the UAE, although the Saudis said that one Saudi and three UAE soldiers were killed. Local fighters were also among the dead. The UAE has a large military presence in Yemen with 4,000 ground troops, tanks, armoured vehicles, and attack helicopters. On Sept. 4, 52 UAE soldiers and 10 from Saudi Arabia were killed when the Houthis successfully hit an ammunition depot. The new attacks by IS fighters adds to the already complicated set of combatants in the Yemen civil war that is reported to have killed more than 4,000 people and created a huge humanitarian crisis of displaced persons and a population on the brink of famine. There is no sign of any peace as the Hadi government and its allies appear to believe that they can win militarily.The war has taken a heavy toll on Yemen. More than 4,000 people have been killed, and the humanitarian crisis has left the impoverished country on the brink of famine.