Security members of the Houthi movement and emergency personnel gather outside a building used by the Houthi police force damaged by a bombing in Sanaa. (AFP/MOHAMMED HUWAIS)
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Al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen is surging in strength, finding new support and recruits among the country's Sunni tribesmen, in a backlash to drone strikes and the rise to power of Shiite rebels who have taken over the capital and other parts of the country, tribal leaders and Yemeni officials warn.The expansion of the Shiite rebels known as Houthis has been a godsend for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as the branch of the terror network in Yemen is called. The turmoil in Yemen has taken on a sharply sectarian tone, pitting Sunnis against Shiites, to the benefit of Sunni Al-Qaeda. As Al-Qaeda gains ground locally in Yemen, that strengthens its ability to carry out attacks abroad against the United States, its main priority.Now as the Shiite rebels push into largely Sunni regions of central Yemen on a declared campaign to fight Al-Qaeda, the conflict has taken on a sharply sectarian nature of Sunni vs. Shiite, to the benefit of Sunni Al-Qaeda.Local tribes give Al-Qaeda militants safe passage through their areas to strike the Shiites, said Ali Abu Sarima, a local tribal leader who opposes both the Houthis and Al-Qaeda.Still, Al-Qaeda has sought to fuel that perception.
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