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United Arab Emirates Steps into Fight against Al Qa’ida in Yemen

One of America’s closest allies in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates, has launched a campaign by its special forces to hunt members of the Yemeni Al-Qa’ida franchise, Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), arguably the most virulent and dangerous branch of the terrorist organization. The troops are considered to be highly seasoned and are pursuing Al-Qa’ida fighters in the mountains and in the desert regions. Al-Qa’ida was able to increase its grip on areas in Yemen a year ago when the UAE joined the fight against ISIS and the Houthis led by Saudi Arabia. That campaign tied up the Houthis but in doing so allowed Al-Qa’ida to work fastidiously to gobble up its own territory. The Emiratis are part of the American administration’s strategy to train local fighters to do their own fighting, limiting American servicemen to advisory roles. Speaking about the UAE military, a senior American counterterrorism official told the Reuters news agency that, “They are the most capable counterterrorism force on the ground in Yemen.”