Speed Reads

you get a weapon, and you get a weapon, everybody gets a weapon!

Al Qaeda-linked fighters in Yemen are reportedly using U.S.-made weapons

Weapons and armored vehicles manufactured and sold by the United States to Saudi Arabia have been transferred to forces in Yemen including fighters linked to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), CNN reported Monday. U.S.-made weapons have also been found among the Houthi rebels whom the U.S.-supported, Saudi-led coalition is primarily opposing in Yemen's civil war.

Presented with the evidence from CNN's report, the Department of Defense has confirmed it is investigating the situation. If, as CNN reports, Saudi Arabia has "used the U.S.-manufactured weapons as a form of currency to buy the loyalties of militias or tribes, bolster chosen armed actors, and influence the complex political landscape," it has violated the terms of its arms sales with Washington.

Though AQAP is considered the most dangerous branch of al Qaeda and is subject to U.S. drone strikes, it has flourished in the chaos fostered by the Saudi-led intervention and has partnered with Saudi coalition fighters to oppose the Houthis. Saudi Arabia has reportedly supported those ties by airdropping American arms into regions where AQAP is known to be active.

Once U.S.-made gear is in the hands of Yemeni militias and terrorists, some of it is sold, traded, surrendered, or otherwise lost to still other actors, Houthi rebels included. From there, CNN notes, it could be examined for potential replication by Iran, to which the Houthi forces are linked.

Read the full CNN report here, and read more about the U.S. partnership with Saudi Arabia here at The Week.