File - In this April 23, 2013 photo, a suspected Yemeni al-Qaida militant, center, holds a banner as he stands behind bars during a court hearing in state security court in Sanaa, Yemen. I (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)
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When Al-Qaeda overran the Yemeni port city of Mukalla last month, the group's commanders immediately struck a deal to share power with the area's tribesmen.While the United States and the West might hope that the competition between Al-Qaeda and ISIS would weaken two major militant threats, each is instead maneuvering to benefit from the region's turmoil.For nearly two decades, Al-Qaeda was unchallenged as the world's most prominent terrorist organization.It eclipsed Al-Qaeda in Libya, where ISIS' strongest external branch controls several cities and most of Al-Qaeda's onetime allies have switched to swear fealty to it. Militants in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and Nigeria's fearsome Boko Haram – all once linked to Al-Qaeda – have also pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.In Afghanistan, where the Taliban, a top Al-Qaeda ally, has long dominated, young militants frustrated with the lack of progress in a nearly 14-year insurgency see a winner in ISIS.Al-Qaeda backers gloated when Iraqi troops and Shiite militiamen retook the Iraqi city of Tikrit from ISIS last month.By building such partnerships, Al-Qaeda is essentially betting that ISIS will burn itself out and be weakened by bearing the brunt of the Arab and Western military backlash against its caliphate, while the terror network gains ground through its alliances.
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