Yemen intensifies war on terror
“The war on Al-Qaeda has not kicked off yet,” stated President Hadi at the Military Academy graduation ceremony held May 5th in Sana’a. Immediately following his speech, Al-Qaeda responded aggressively by killing dozens of soldiers.
On the contrary, Al-Qaeda protagonist in Abyan, Hmaza Al-Zunjbari, said in an interview published on Al-Quds Arabic London based newspaper on Monday that Al-Qaeda in Abyan is not simply a group of militants, but stated.”We have become an integral part of the nation and none can eradicate.”
Expressing Al-Qeada’s spirits in Abyan, he mentioned, “We do not fight with equipment and materials. We fight and Allah is with us. Therefore, we lose nothing to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of God.”
A field leader from the local committees of defense fighters in Lewder, Ali Abeeda, spoke to the Yemen Times by phone, saying that Al-Qaeda has started to gain ground in the last few months due to the government’s unclear policy regarding the eradication of militants from Abyan..
“There must be decisive and clear policies to at least stem the expansion of Al-Qaeda in the Abyan governorate,” the commander said. He went on to add that “ recently Al-Qaeda has significantly grown in strength compared to the last two years. Al-Qaeda holds weapons similar to the army’s. Most of the weapons dealers in the south affiliate with Al-Qaeda. Also, foreign support is apparent to anyone..”
He added that Al-Qaeda in Abyan now looks like a complete and highly organized army, only lacking an air force.
Abeeda also stated that Al-Ayn and Yasoof Mountain are completely seized by Al-Qaeda.
The Yemeni army in Abyan has been in fierce battles with Al-Qaeda militants since the eruption of protests in February 2011.
Abeeda explained that the currently fragile security situation has emboldened Al-Qaeda to broaden its control on several areas.
Regarding the military forces’ morale, Abeeda told Yemen Times that the Yemen army in Abyan has expressed a willingness to fight Al-Qaeda’s spread, particularly after the joining of local tribesmen in the fight against them.
In his last speech, Hadi clearly expressed intolerance for the terror network in Yemen pledging to purge Al-Qaeda from the country.
Abeeda approved of Hadi’s speech, saying that it was forceful and clear. “We are in need of powerful government that we can cooperate with to destroy Al-Qaeda,” he concluded.
Saeed Obaid, a Yemeni Al-Qaeda Affairs expert told the Yemen Times that the army is unable to ensure victory unless it is united. “Fractured army forces coupled with a weak political will to eradicate Al-Qaeda are the primary reasons behind its expansion in several areas in Abyan,” said Obaid.
Al-Qaeda has recently stepped up its operations, killing hundreds of soldiers. “The war on Al-Qaeda has only started. President Hadi seems determined to wipe out Al-Qaeda. They are just starting to see how serious he is. The current escalation of fighting between the army and Al-Qaeda militants in Abyan is unprecedented. It’s a very fierce battle,” Obaid added.
Taking advantage of the political upheaval the country experienced last year, Al-Qaeda took control of many military camps and locations throughout Yemen, even capturing a number of army personnel in Abyan.
“Al-Qaeda is very strong at the moment, It has heavy, medium and light arms that were taken from military outposts,” Obaid said.
John Brennan, US Deputy National Security Advisor and Assistant for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security met with President Hadi on May 13. During the meeting, they highlighted bilateral collaboration between the two countries.
“Brennan conveyed President Obama’s strong commitment to support Yemen as it continues to implement its political agreement and prepares for a Comprehensive National Dialogue,” pointed out in a press release on May 13.
It continued to say, “He [Brennan] affirms the strong partnership between the United States and Yemen politically, economically and militarily.”
The escalation of the war on Al-Qaeda in Yemen has been a joint operation. The US and Yemen are partners in the fight on terrorism. It has also lately been reported that the British Special Forces are starting to join the fight on terror in Yemen.
According to the local Al-Masder website, “the British special forces and American Central Intelligence Agency implement joint operations on Al-Qaeda Organization in Yemen by tracking the the groups movements in order to provide information for drone strikes.”