Tiffany Miller ’17
On Friday, March 20, during noon prayer at the Badr mosque in Sana, Yemen, two suicide bombers attacked the place of worship leaving 137 dead and 357 wounded. According to NPR, one bomber entered the mosque and detonated his device, which then caused worshippers to flee towards the entrance of the mosque, where the second bomber was waiting to make another explosion.
The mosque was held by members of the Shiite community, which currently holds the majority of power in Yemen and has therefore been subject to attack by the opposing Sunni rebels. This attack is especially significant because it is the first large-scale attack that the Islamic State has claimed to have made against civilians. It is also the first ISIS attack in Yemen, and coming as it did after the violence in the south the day before, it points to the alarming unrest growing within the country.
There is worry that the lack of security will draw other jihadists and that Yemen is now being used as a battleground for Saudi Arabia and Iran to confront each other, as Saudi Arabia has been supporting the Sunnis and Iran has been aiding the Houthi Shiites. There is also speculation that this attack was intended as a display of power on behalf of ISIS towards Al-Qaeda.
Any and all of these implications are extremely troubling considering the U.S. agenda in the area, as until now Yemen has been regarded as the model for post-revolutionary Middle Eastern countries. Despite the growing unrest in Yemen, the U.S. has decided to withdraw its troops from the area.