Yemen’s counter-terrorism unit to fight Ansar Al-Sharia
The 200 anti-terrorism soldiers were sent to Abyan last Saturday with the newly appointed governor Jamal Al-Aqel, a security source told local media outlets.
President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi ordered the Defense Minister last Thursday to send reinforcement troops to Abyan in order to launch major attacks against Ansar Al-Sharia in Abyan, Shabwa and Lahj in the south and east of Yemen.
These forces include soldiers from the Central Security Forces and the Republican Guards.
Yemen’s CTU which receives financial and military assistance from the US and UK is still led by the former president’s relatives.
Saleh’s relatives withdrew these anti-terrorist forces from Abyan, Shabwa, Hadramout and Marib at the beginning of the popular uprisings against Saleh’s rule in Feb. 2011 back to the capital Sana’a.
“These highly-trained forces were established and supplied with new American strategies to combat terrorism. They ought to have been involved in fighting Al-Qaeda a long time ago,” said Dr. Saeed Al-Jemhi, a Yemeni researcher specializing in terrorism.
“Anti-terrorist forces are supposed to be in the governorates dominated by Ansar Al-Sharia, not elsewhere,” he added.
Al-Jemhi explained that despite not receiving any military training, the people’s defense committees have been fighting Ansar Al-Sharia for seven days in Lawdar and they were able to conquer them.
“So, it is natural that the highly-trained anti-terrorist forces will be able to defeat them easily,” added Al-Jemhi.
“The new regime is more serious in combating terrorism. President Hadi affirmed this on the day he took office swearing that he would fight terrorism,” he said.
Al-Jemhi said that Hadi would be more concerned about combating terrorism in Abyan, not because he is president, but because Abyan is his hometown.
“Al-Qaeda will obtain more opportunities to spread in Yemen if anti-terrorist forces fail to stop Ansar Al-Sharia. They will be a source of terror amongst other countries,” he said.
It is expected the engagement of the CTU in the fight against Ansar Al-Sharia will hasten the victory of Yemen’s army.
“Anti-terrorist forces will play a crucial role in the clashes against Ansar Al-Sharia for they are specialized in guerilla warfare,” said Aysh Awas, a political and security expert at the Sheba Strategic Studies Center.
“These forces need to be headed by the military, to be under the command of one leadership,” he explained.
He added that anti-terrorist forces need to locate the strongholds of Ansar Al-Sharia in order to launch surprise attacks against them.
“The government has to ensure the residents’ loyalty by establishing all the needed projects in these governorates in order to win the battle against Ansar Al-Sharia,” noted Awas.
Anti-terrorist forces were not involved in fighting Al-Qaeda, due to the division in the army caused by the popular uprising last year, according to Awas.
“There are many attempts to reunite the military under the command of one leader. The most important agenda of the military is to eradicate the existence of Ansar Al-Sharia in Abyan,” Awas concluded.