“Aden is currently controlled by anti-Houthi forces aligned with the Saudi-led military intervention, and Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi is reportedly planning on returning to the city next month, concluding his exile in Saudi Arabia” - Foreign Policy, The Middle East Daily, 21/08/15
“Al-Qaida militants took control of a western district of Yemen's main port city of Aden on Saturday night, residents said.” - Al-Qaida militants take control of Yemen's Aden, raise flag at port, 23/08/15
Last Friday, reports placed Aden under the control of forces aligned with Saudi Arabia; on Saturday, Aden was taken by Al-Qaeda (AQ). This reversal of fortune raises a couple of serious questions: either Foreign Policy, and other media outlets, are a vehicle of disinformation or Saudi Arabia made a deal with Al-Qaeda.
If the local residents' account - that dozens of AQ militants were patrolling the streets and raised their black flag on government buildings, in absolute freedom – is bona fide, we then have to ask what happened to the military build-up backed by Saudi Arabia? These forces (composed by +/- 1,000 Hadi loyalists and allied Yemeni "Southern Resistance" forces) reportedly helped the UAE and Saudi Arabia placing nearly 2,800 troops in Aden (including special forces and UAE regular army troops) indicating that together they had been controlling Aden for over a month – a move considered a major blow for the Houthis - and now we learn that in one day a humble number of AQ militants manage to take the city from under their control? There has either been a lot of disinformation about the Operations in Yemen or the Gulf Nations just confessed their true relationship with Al-Qaeda. And if so, the awkward quid pro quo with the Iranians starts to make more sense by the minute.
It is not unusual for countries to make deals with the devil – sometimes a necessary political move, however risky it may be. Notwithstanding, what may be happening here is that Saudi Arabia and its Gulf partners, in their quest for protecting their interests in Yemen, may have reached out to a Sunni Group, albeit a worldwide recognised terrorist organisation, to help them reach their goals due to their extensive knowledge of the area and combat experience.
Operation Golden Arrow, in Aden, involved landing crafts and amphibious warfare vessels, UAE armoured brigade task forces with a “battalion-size contingent of Leclerc main battle tanks and armored recovery vehicles, dozens of BMP-3M infantry fighting vehicles, Denel G6 155 mm self-propelled howitzers, RG-31 Agrab 120 mm mortar carriers, and Tatra T816 trucks” (source); and 2,800 troops (placed on the ground to man such artillery) who not only seem to have vanished but also handed the city to Al-Qaeda. Why?
A colleague of ours shed some light on a possible reason: Saudi troops, including Special Forces, belong to the Saudi National Guard, which is the same as saying they are troops loyal to the Monarchy; and Saudi Arabia has little interest in keeping them on Yemeni ground for too long lest the Royal Family back home is vulnerable to domestic attacks – one of the reasons why Pakistan was pressed to join the Saudi-led coalition back in April (before the Pakistani Parliament voted the move down).
It is not a secret that the Muslim Brotherhood and Shiite Insurgent groups are against the Gulf Monarchies (whom the first consider illegitimate [for having been forged by foreign entities, i.e. the United Kingdom], and whose Sunni oppression the second is trying to fight against), therefore they are trying to end their rule by all means necessary. The Gulf Kingdoms are not oblivious to this fact; hence, withdrawing their troops and placing a Sunni group, in Aden, to keep the Iranian-backed Houthis at bay (while keeping the Kingdoms safe) would make sense.
If Saudi Arabia indeed handed Aden to Al-Qaeda, this could simply mean that the Arabian Kingdom once again used the radical Islamist group to shape its foreign policy; but a possible official explanation will be that it's a reaction to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (a.k.a Iran Deal) – when it fact the JCPA is a reaction to this sort of Saudi dealings with terrorist groups.
Either way, Saudi Arabia may be sending a very interesting message – not to Iran but – to the West: the Iranian power is limited when compared to that of the Arab Gulf Nations', since they have pulled out a brilliant stunt against the world right under their noses, all this time. They created groups like Al-Qaeda, they funded them, they enabled their activities around the world and now, with a snap of fingers, they can summon them to prevent the Iranian expansion in the Middle East. The reported events - that the Saudi-led coalition had thousands of troops in Aden, for over a month, and now dozens of AQ militants are controlling the area with ease - support the suspicion raised in this article. If this is not the fruit of disinformation, there may be a competition taking place to see who is more duplicitous: the Persians or the Arabs?
The answer is there.