Dr. Elisabeth Kendall is Senior Research Fellow in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Oxford University’s Pembroke College. Previously, Dr. Kendall held positions at the Universities of Edinburgh and Harvard, as well as serving as Director of a U.K. government-sponsored center focused on building Arabic-based research expertise into jihadist movements. Kendall spends significant time in the field, especially in Yemen.
The Islamic State in Yemen has changed over the past two years from simply being a branch of the transnational jihadist movement to an entity resembling a proxy or a tool in a broader conflict between regional players. These regional patrons along with their proxies in the war-torn country have been using ISIS as a justification for their expansionist policies, as a scapegoat for politically motivated acts of aggression, or as a disruptor of the peace process, and a vehicle through which to stoke tensions inside the Saudi-led Arab coalition.