The United States is considering a request from the United Arab Emirates for military support to assist a new offensive in Yemen against al-Qaida's most dangerous affiliate known as AQAP, U.S. officials told Reuters.
A U.S.-backed military push by the Gulf ally could allow the administration of President Barack Obama to help strike a fresh blow against a group that has plotted to down U.S. airliners and claimed responsibility for last year's attacks on the office of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, has exploited the chaos of Yemen's year-old civil war to become more powerful than any time in its history, and now controls a swathe of the country.
The UAE has asked for U.S. help on medical evacuation and combat search and rescue as part of a broad request for American air power, intelligence and logistics support, the U.S. officials said. It was unclear whether U.S. special operations forces - already stretched thin by the conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan - were part of the request.
The U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the UAE was preparing for a campaign against AQAP, but declined to offer details, citing operational security.
Washington's consideration of the request comes ahead of Obama's planned trip next week to a summit of Gulf leaders in Saudi Arabia. The multiple conflicts in Yemen will be high on the agenda.