ISIS, Al Qaeda, Houthi Rebels Compete in Yemen

Local Fighters Team with al-Qeada, Abyan Province, Yemen, Photo by Joe Sheffer

Local Fighters Team with al-Qeada, Abyan Province, Yemen, Photo by Joe Sheffer

YEMEN - ISIS has infiltrated Yemen, a country already flooded with terrorist groups. The Syria-based terror group, known for its extreme brutality and shockingly successful recruitment of outsiders, has gained a tentative foothold alongside the Al Qaeda forces already present.

Al Qaeda remains the dominant presence, but the competition for recruits and support may sway in favor of the more financially-appealing ISIS. This friction between the two groups can spell increased trouble for civilians in Yemen and elsewhere. In-country fighting and instability has escalated, as is evidenced by a gun battle between the two groups last month and White House analysts fear the competition will become a race to see who can hit US soil first and hardest. (Source: CNN)

Another key player in the Yemeni crisis is the Houthis, a rebel group demanding greater control of what they claim is a western-controlled government and protesting unequal distribution of resources. They belong to the Zaidi branch of Shia Islam, also known as Fivers, a sect of Islam almost exclusively present in Yemen. They are from the Shi'ite minority similar to the Twelvers found mainly in Iraq, Lebanon and Iran and are known for being most similar to Sunni Muslims in matters of religious law and rulings. They do however, believe in the concept of an Imamate as being essential to their religion, which makes them distinct from Sunnis. (Global Security.org, "Zaydi Islam”, by John Pike)

Pressure from Houthi fighters resulted in the resignation of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. His departure triggered thousands of Yemeni citizens to counter-protest the Houthi actions. (Source: BBC)

Yemen, although among the world's poorest countries, has strategic political and geographical importance. The terror activity poses a danger to the U.S., who is often the target for attacks. In addition, it is a gateway for foreign fighters to go to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, providing ample recruiting opportunities for ISIS and other terror groups. The U.S. government had found allies in Yemen officials and was working with their government to develop counter-terrorism methods. Now that the shaky government has been obliterated by rebels and terrorist groups compete for dominance and destruction, the future of Yemen is unclear.

Bahrain's Bloody Spring

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:58 PM EDT, 23 February 2012

King Hamad Bin Isa Al-KhalifaMANAMA, Bahrain - Only history will reveal the true extent of change wrought by the 2011 Arab Spring, but it is obvious that the situation in the Middle East is fundamentally different from what it was a year ago. Many changes have occurred, though many appear to be cosmetic when measured against the deep historical changes which did not materialize.

The Arab Spring revolution started peacefully in Tunisia, then spread to Egypt, where the ruling family led by President Hosni Mubarak chose to violently suppress protesters.

As the world watched with fascination, emboldened citizens in Libya, Yemen and Syria also took to the streets to demand regime change.

Courageous protesters risked imprisonment, torture and death in the pursuit of freedom. Journalists and on-the-ground activists leveraged traditional and social media outlets to expose human rights violations which eventually resulted in the dethroning or exile of entrenched heads of states, their families and coteries.

But, as the immediacy of the revolution began to fade, the citizens of the island kingdom of Bahrain continue to be oppressed. The Sunni ruling monarch, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, rules over a Shia Muslim majority, and in his efforts to thwart the reform demanded by the populace, his government has been accused of sanctioning gross human rights violations.

On 14 February 2011, Bahrainis dissidents organized massive protests coordinated by word of mouth, texts messages, and "a Facebook page named "Day of Rage in Bahrain", a page that was liked by more than 90,000 people just one week after its creation.

The Bahrain government responded with what has been described as a "brutal" crack down on the protest, including shocking violations of human rights that caused massive anger. Later on, demonstrators demanded that King Hamad step down." (Source: Wikipedia)

In an effort to demonstrate equanimity and transparency, King Hamad ordered the creation of an Independent Commission of Inquiry. The Commission has subsequently recommended reform and advised the monarchy to provide unfettered access to the country by Human Rights NGO's that are currently denied entry to document abuses.

Bahrain's Bloody Spring is a human rights travesty, but the rest of the world bears some responsibility for ignoring these people who have given so much in pursuit of a more democratic governmental process.

The award-winning documentary which follows, won the Foreign Press Association Documentary Award of the year. It provides a graphic and unvarnished portrait of the dangers protesters and those who would assist them face. We need to spread the word to let them know that their efforts are not in vain and their struggle is not forgotten.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xaTKDMYOBOU]