Saudi-led Arab Coalition and terror combating

Geopolitics | 17 Oct 2017 00:00
 Saudi-led Arab Coalition and terror combating



This paper focuses on military operations by the Arab-led Coalition against the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in southern provinces of Yemen. It highlights impacts of those operations on the AQAP as well how the AQAP managed to expand in liberated areas because of grave mistakes made by the Arab Coalition which is led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates [UAE] to support the government of Yemen. 

The paper suggests that combating the AQAP was serious only after the popular youth uprising 2011 and with the ascending of the current president to the office. The regime of former president utilized the AQAP to increase his influence or to get training for forces led by his son.

It highlights military operations against the AQAP in southern governorates that started in Aden, and then moved to Hadramout, Abyan, Lahj, Al-Dhalea and Shabwa. It discusses military operations of the Arab Coalition in Shabwa that was declared recently by the UAE army. 

The forces that were tasked to fight the AQAP in Shabwa is a militia that receive instructions from Al-Riyadh and not from the internationally recognized government. Recruitment for this militia, known as the Shabwani Elite Forces, was based on tribal and regional standards.

It committed a large scale of human rights abuses in one month, while it has not engaged in   any confrontation with the AQAP gunmen that have either moved up to mountains or remote villages. The Shabwani Elite Forces have just taken control of oil and gas fields as well as the state’s offices instead of fighting the AQAP.

The paper explains also the situation in Taiz and how the mistakes of the Arab Coalition caused the spread of the ISIS there. In Taiz, the coalition depended on Salafi militants close to the AQAP to fight the Houthis and marginalized tribesmen in Taiz because the UAE believes that those tribesmen are affiliated to the Islah Party. This facilitated Salafi militias, led by Abu Al-Abbas to use the popular resistance as a cover for the AQAP expansion and new members recruitment.

Findings of the paper are based on interviews conducted by Abaad researchers with leaders of the Popular Resistance and the National Army in the two governorates.

The paper concludes that the AQAP expanded due to mistakes of the Arab Coalition and the legitimate government whose concerns were not right. The use of jihadists against the Houthis proved wrong results. For its part, the UAE uses military operations against the AQAP as a cover for achieving other objectives in the southern governorates that mainly target the internationally recognized government and take control of oil and gas fields. The paper says that taking no serious actions against the AQAP in the southern governorates and pushing it towards the northern governorates and the Yemeni-Saudi border represents a future threat against the Kingdom.



On March 26, 2015, Saudi Arabia announced an Arab coalition from several Arab and Islamic countries, on top of them are the Gulf Arab states, under the Saudi leadership in response to a request from Yemeni President AbdRabbo Mansour Hadi who fled from house arrest imposed against him by the armed Houthi group and the forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh who carried out a coup against the legitimacy and put President Hadi under house arrest following the invasion of the Yemeni capital Sana'a in September 2014, which gave al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and its branches and the Islamic state organization (Daesh) a chance to expand in the country due to the collapse of the Yemeni state institutions.

Since the end of summer in 1994, the Yemeni state has not witnessed like the current military mobilization, the multiplicity of polarization, fighting and the spread of uncontrolled armed militias and groups. This is why Yemen lives in an exceptional state of complications that any coming authority will need decades to deal with and will have negative social and humanitarian impacts. 
This paper attempts to discuss the possible continuation of war on AQAP and the future of confronting it by the government and militias that share control in the country.

Before the start of the study of fighting terrorism during the operations of the Arab Coalition, which was launched to confront the Houthis, we should refer to military operations after the popular youth revolution 2011-2015, as they were more serious in confronting the AQAP organization, and then the paper examines the military operations after the intervention of the Arab Coalition in March 2015 and so far.

First: Combating terrorism after the popular youth revolution 2011 through March 2015
The Yemeni government, with support from Saudi Arabia and the United States of America, has been involved in a campaign to hunt al-Qaeda elements in the country since the beginning of  war on terrorism. In 2011, a new organization called Ansar al-Sharia was declared as a branch of the AQAP organization in the southern governorates([1]). This branch claimed its responsibility for a group of military operations.
Yemen and the United States are officially cooperating in the war against al Qaeda. Under the authority of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the war against the organization was not serious - according to an American accusation, and his regime was accused of being lenient with al-Qaeda after a suspect of being behind the explosion of the US destroyer USS Cole could make an exciting prison break for the second time. 
The government campaign began in 2001 and escalated on January 14, 2010, due to political considerations, but the process was only intensified after the overthrow of Ali Abdullah Saleh from power in 2011.
Wars against AQAP organization
A mysterious war broke out in Abyan, east of Aden, during the Yemeni Youth Revolution 2011, and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula participated in these battles. Battles were erupted  between units of the Yemeni Army, local militias and tribal groups on one hand, and between al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia on the other hand. In June 2011, the fighting spread from Abyan to  approach the city of Aden. It is assumed that AQAP planned for the escape of 63 prisoners from the Political Security prison in Mukalla, including some members of AQAP,([2]) but Saleh's former regime is also accused of being behind the escape of those prisoners.

On 19 and 25 August 2010, the Yemeni Army launched a major offensive in the city of Lauder in Abyan, controlled by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, killing a number of al-Qaeda operatives, including local leaders of al-Qaeda, but operations against al-Qaeda were paralyzed when Saleh’s regime started to hand over cities to al-Qaeda to influence the Popular Youth Revolution.

After the overthrow of Saleh and the election of his deputy AbdRabbo Mansour Hadi as president of Yemen under the power transfer agreement in 2012, the Yemeni Army launched an attack against militants of both Ansar al-Sharia and al-Qaeda in Abyan in order to restore the cities that were under the control of the armed groups, especially Zinjibar. The attack began in May 12, 2012 to restore all Abyan areas that were out of the state’s control. The fighting continued until the liberation of Zinjibar was declared. During the fighting, 567 people were killed, including 429 members of the AQAP organization, 78 soldiers, 26 tribal fighters and 34 civilians([3]).

Second: After the Start of Military Operations of the Arab Coalition

The military forces of the Arab Coalition entered Aden in July 2015 but were busy with fighting against the Houthis and securing the southern coastal governorate, which lasted about nine months in a row, during which al-Qaeda carried out several attacks targeting the Yemeni government and Yemeni officials. When the Yemeni authorities and the Arab Coalition focused on defeating the Houthis and former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the terrorist groups moved freely and took over the directorates of Aden where inhabitants could see al-Qaeda militants on the streets and inside the government institutions.

The directorate of Mansoura, central Aden, is one of the areas that have seen a significant activity of al-Qaeda elements since July 2015 and became a major stronghold of al-Qaeda. The AQAP organization invested the killing of resistance leader Ahmed Idrissi in December 2015 to expand its activity and transformed Al-Mansoura into a closed military zone until April 2016 when the Yemeni forces could clear the area of the organization's presence([4]).

In July 2016, the organization launched an attack on the Sawlaban military camp in Aden, but another military campaign managed to liberate it after the organization took control of the camp and surrounded it from all sides.

The government announced a plan to eliminate the cells of the organization in Aden after al-Qaeda took control of a number of neighborhoods in the temporary capital and implemented daily assassinations that exceeded 30 operations in January 2016. It also targeted intelligence officers and judges, and reached to the Presidential Palace, and before that al-Qaeda attacked the headquarters of the government in the city. It also assassinated the former governor of Aden, who was killed with his bodyguards in a suicide bombing attack - the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the assassination([5]). This operation was followed by a military operation by the government Army to liberate al-Mukalla, the capital of Hadramout, eastern Yemen, from the AQAP organization. Late in April 2016, the operation succeeded to enter al-Mukalla city without resistance. At the same time, a parallel operation was launched to liberate Lahj governorate. On April 15, 2016, the government forces could liberate “al-Houta,” the capital of Lahj. According to military sources, the AQAP elements fled to rural areas.

A military operation also moved towards Abyan, southern Yemen, and freed several districts from al-Qaeda in August 2016, and then in Al-Dalea and Shabwa. In Taiz (central Yemen), the AQAP organization expanded in areas that were liberated from the Houthis. Although the AQAP organization was present in the southern governorates even before military operations of the Arab Coalition, even in al-Dalea, but the presence of supporters of the organization in the governorate of Taiz was a dangerous precedent as the popular incubator of al-Qaeda in Taiz is almost non-existent.

This paper tries to read two important cases of al-Qaeda in the governorates of Shabwa and Taiz. The military operation in Shabwa governorate, announced in August 2017, provides a broader concept of the campaigns against the organization after military operations or al-Qaeda expansion, it is being discussed for its update. In addition to the presence of the organization in Taiz, and how it found an incubator on the path of confrontation with the Houthis before engaging actively in the organization and adopting the idea of jihad, the paper concludes by presenting the results and mistakes of the campaign in Shabwa and supporting the organization in Taiz governorate.

Operations in Shabwa

On August 3, 2017, the UAE military announced the launch of a military operation against al-Qaeda in Shabwa to be carried out by the Abu Dhabi elite forces that were trained by Abu Dhabi with the participation of US forces. With the launch of the operation, media said that elements of the AQAP organization withdrew to the mountains after the advance of these forces. The Shabwa operation repeats the scenario of the restoration of the capital of Hadramout, Mukalla, from the jihadist organization in April 2016, which resulted in the deaths of 800 elements within hours without the occurrence of battles or finding the bodies of those extremists([6]).

US drone has been flying periodically over Shabwa since the start of military operations (March, 2015), targeting dozens of elements and even leaders. This shows a significant activity for the organization that engages in a strong tribal environment, but certainly not enough.

The US Defense Department confirmed the participation of its forces in Yemen alongside with the UAE, but said the support was intelligence and logistical as well as a small ground force. But it did not rule out sending more troops to Yemen([7]).

It is noteworthy that this declaration- the start of military operation in Shabwa- was not from the Yemeni General Staff, which is supposed to be the main engine of the process, not in the name of the Arab Coalition, the partner with the internationally recognized government. It is clear that the announcement came from the UAE Army alone. The Pentagon confirmed the operation without even mentioning coordination with the Yemeni government. The statement issued by the UAE Army refers to several key points:

A) The Shabwani elite force consists of tribesmen from Shabwa governorate

B) The force received training from UAE forces

C) will keep security in Shabwa governorate and confront the organization in the tribal areas

D) The American presence in the process

E) The military operation began against al-Qaeda

F) Al-Qaeda fled from Mukalla towards Shabwa governorate

G) The Shabwani elite force emerged for the first time via the deployment along the oil pipelines area in Shabwa in August 2016, and the next deployment was in the same month in 2017. The force is estimated at 2500 fighters, mostly tribesmen.

Points should be noted about the “Shabwani elite force”:

1) It is not subject to the authority of the Yemeni government or the Ministry of Defense, or the local authority in Shabwa but to the UAE leadership alone. The most prominent observation is that the military operation was not announced by any Yemeni entity.

2) Its fighters were recruited from some "selected" tribes and their deployment in other tribes to impose security may make the tribes clash with the "Shabwani elite force" as the criterion of recruitment was tribal, as indicated by the UAE Army statement. The recruitment included the tribes of Al-Wahidi, Bilabid, Bani Hilal and Belhareth in the districts of (Rezum, Mayfa'ah, Rawdah, Habban, Ataq, Markha al-Sufla, Osailan, Jardan, Arma, Dahr and al-Talh), while the tribes of al-Awalik (al-Saeed, Nesab, and Hateeb) were excluded. The tribes of al-Mesabain (Bayhan Al-Olya, Ayn) were also excluded, in addition to the directorate of Markha al-Olya, which was affiliated to Al-Bayda until 2002.

3) Since the recruitment into the militias, the army and Shabwa elite force is restricted to the Shabwa governorate only, this force is regional and promotes the identity struggle and the division of the country. The ideology of this force is not based on a comprehensive national identity, so the state will face a complicated stage after the completion of the current crisis.

4) This force has been deployed in the oil and commercial areas, oil companies in the governorate, the gas fields, the centers of directorates and the headquarters of the local authorities. The aim of confronting al-Qaeda elements (hiding in the valleys, mountains and caves) is used just as a cover for the extension of Abu Dhabi power to these areas to manage those districts and the governorate of Shabwa.

5) The remaining of these forces outside the control of the Yemeni state may trigger clashes between tribes and government forces and these forces or between the elite force and tribes of Shabwa that reject the presence of the elite force in their areas. This serves Al-Qaeda.

6) It is clear that the United States still relies on the UAE intelligence, despite the secret prisons([8]), and this encouraged US to be involved in Abu Dhabi plan to control the oil and gas fields, with Washington’s awareness or unawareness of the real objectives of Abu Dhabi. 
The Abaad Center for Studies and Research continued to observe the military operation against al-Qaeda in Shabwa for 30 days, since the beginning of the military movement, and reached the following result:

 - There was no a real military operation against the AQAP organization and there were no clashes and direct confrontations with cells of the organization.

- After the arrival of this force, there was a campaign of demonization against tribes of “Al-Awalik”, “Musabeen” and the sons of the directorate of Markha al-Olya that used to belong to al-Bayda before the administrative division in 2002, followed by a wide targeting of the people of these tribes. Human rights organizations say that only two days after the military operation was announced, the Shabwani elite force arrested Nasser bin Shafr al-Awlaki along with his family and relatives and took them in a helicopter to Balhaf in Dhawaran area, where the LNG exporting port is located, the main place for UAE activity([9]).

On August 8, the Shabwani elite force also raided the home of Hamza Mohammed Abdullah Fareed al-Awlaki in Ataq and arrested him and took him by a helicopter to the Balhaf area([10]).

- The Shabwani elite force activity focuses on the spread in the public utilities, the port of Balhaf  and the protection of oil companies operating in the region, in addition to expanding the spread in areas mostly urban areas in the central districts.

- The activity of the "Shabwani elite force" focused on activities related to the government, such as giving the authorization to commander of those forces to restore the operation of the Balhaf port and restart the power station([11]).

- The activity of “Shabwani elite force” focused on chasing and detaining those who are believed to be associated with the political Islam in the governorate.

- Chasing and arresting "popular singers and artists", as in the case of kidnapping the popular singer Fahd Saleh Mohammed Dian al-Awlaki, from the directorate of Markha in Khoura district of Shabwa.

- The Shabwani elite force is regularly accused by human rights organizations of being "contemptuous of law and human rights"([12]).

Al-Qaeda in Taiz

The new occurrence is the existence of al-Qaeda in the governorate of Taiz as it has never existed and had weapons and carried out operations before. Although al-Qaeda was individually present in Taiz in 2011, it remained idle throughout that period. After the launch of the Arab Coalition’s Decisive Storm, the organization appeared to be active in the fighting against the Houthi militia and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and gained a wide influence. Al-Qaeda appeared in Taiz when it claimed responsibility for the killing of the American citizen, Joel Sharm, in the city in 2012. Early in 2017, the US State Department announced $ 5 million as award for any information about the American death([13]).

The organization’s activities were verified to spread, recruitment and implementing some assassinations and suicide bombings and the bombing of shrines. The most prominent operations were the bombing of the shrine of Prophet Shoaib in August 2015 in the Jabal Sabr area, south of Taiz, and the bombing of the shrine of Wali Abdullah al-Tafil in the same month in Thoabat area, east of the city. The tomb of Sheikh Al-Khulani, west of Taiz, was also destroyed in November 2015([14]).

The reason for the spreading of jihad organizations in Taiz is the serious mistake committed by the Yemeni government and the Arab Coalition, where extremist elements and groups were accepted to join the resistance against the Houthis under the justification: “the aims justify the means.” In addition to fears of the United Arab Emirates that fighters associated to the Yemeni Islah party may completely lead confrontations with the Houthis.

In May 2017, the organization announced the establishment of an intellectual competition for the people of the city on the occasion of the Holy Month of Ramadan. Militants from the organization roamed the streets of the city of Taiz and distributed posters bearing the conditions of the competition and a list of prizes distributed between "weapons and computers([15]).


Abu Al-Abbas Brigades

Abu al-Abbas Brigades represent al-Qaeda in the Yemeni governorate of Taiz based on several ways to reach the organization - for new recruits. First: engaging in the battalions as a part of the popular resistance and then, after being trusted and filled with jihad ideology, they move to another stage within the attraction process of al-Qaeda.

This became clear through the existence of al-Qaeda cells in Taiz in the Brigades of Abu Abbas, that are run by (Adel Faree), namely: "The gang of truth”, led by Radwan al-Odaini, and the Farouk Brigade, led by Moamen al-Mekhlafi, and the brigades in general, led by “Abu Abbas” himself. Some of them joined the Islamic state organization (Daesh) - a volatile entity that does not have a specific identity or influence areas, but many sources talk about its presence; and other terrorists joined the so-called “Ansar al-Sharia” - the state of Taiz, that is one of the branches of the AQAP organization and it is present in the same governorates where Al-Qaeda exists.

Abu Al-Abas Brigades is considered to be the stage of preparation and rehabilitation for al-Qaeda in Taiz through winning the legitimacy of resistance, the freedom of movement and mixing with people of various components for the purpose of attracting them to the organization. In order to show their influence, AQAP elements move on motorbikes and in vehicles in some streets and old zones of the city, raising the slogans of al-Qaeda and IS. They sometimes wear the Afghani dress and take photos for publishing. They also targeted most of former PSO officers (the Yemeni intelligence apparatus) as revenge for the past when several of them were detained, and threatened security and military officers who were trying to perform their duties at their work stations([16]).


The emergence and their areas:

As the people of the city began to confront the Houthis who came from Sana'a as part of their expansion, al-Qaeda figures (Ansar al-Sharia) began to move early in the Republican Zone, the old city of Taiz and parts of Al-Jahmaliya (east of the city). These geographical areas- with population density- have a demographical nature that is suitable for al-Qaeda expansion as the majority of population in those areas is loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. There is also a dispersal of gangs and Salafi centers. In addition, these areas can be closed from the south easily to secure them and carry out operations due to their narrow streets and the convergence of buildings.

These elements found that the name of the Salafist resistance, led by Adel Farea, who is called Abu Al-Abbas, and others a good cover that gave them an opportunity to follow and hide under it at the same time. Because of their combating experience they obtained and their ability to plan for battles, compared to youth who joined the resistance to defend the city and confront the Houthis and forces loyal to them, many young people were impressed by them and they gained the sympathy of many people. From this point, al-Qaeda began the process of winning new elements with enthusiasm and rush as they considered battles between Shiites and Sunnis as religious, not political, because of the ideological feeding of Salafism from the beginning.

The organization was able by its newly incorporated elements to deploy in the fighting fronts and obtain financial resources by looing banks and shops before they got support from the UAE. Their first invasions were against the branch of the Yemeni Bank for Reconstruction and Development([17]), and imposed levies on the merchants and began to pay for their associates  more than the rest of members of the popular resistance on various fronts. In a statement during a mass festival, Abu al-Abbas said: "There is nothing wrong with obtaining the money of banks as the money belong to Muslims and go to jihad"([18]). They also began to attract those who sympathized with their ideology and were angry with the Houthis or have personal grievances, giving them the opportunity to announce themselves and to take Souk al-Sameel area, after liberating it from the Houthis, as a location to manage their movements([19]).

The real resistance continued to form and announced the establishment of a unified council of resistance and the Military Council, and the National Army began to rearrange its ranks. Despite this step, the official support of the Arab Coalition and the legitimacy to the National Army and resistance in Taiz was delayed while a parallel support from Abu Dhabi and Gulf figures and merchants to the Salafi trend continued to flow as they used to do in different areas of the conflict. As the funds flowed, elements of various trends also flowed and jihadists infiltrated to fight under the pretext of resisting the Rawafid (Shiite Houthis), so the organization began to expand and increase its popularity to become the richest and biggest among other resistance factions.

Targeting Strategic Areas:

According to journalists and politicians who spoke to Abaad Center([20]), what is certain is that al-Qaeda has not a specific battlefront in Taiz to fight regularly against the Houthis and Saleh’s forces. Members of al-Qaeda suddenly appear during the battles erupt from time to time, wearing Afghani dress, and extending influence in any liberated area if it has a strategic importance.

The elements of the organization insist on the presence in the important places of the city and checkpoints. For example, they rent apartments in different parts of the city and join individuals affiliated to Abu Abbas who center in the southern region at the foot of Sabr Mountain, stretching from the Jabal Al-Aswad Mountain, that is overlooking Al-Saleh Gardens, through Aqaqah area and hills that are overlooking the University of Taiz, and then Seenah, Al-Sawani, Al-Jumhori, Al-Noqtah Al-Rabe zone, Al-Jahmaliah zone, and Al-Askari, in addition to Al-Nasiriah, the old city of Taiz, 26 September Street zone, Al-Janad Hotel zone, Al-Maliah zone, and Souk al-Sameel).

The fighters, dressed in Afghani uniforms, are always on orders from Abu al-Abbas and emerged during his recent surprise control of the Political Security Department (second half of 2017), Al-Qahira Castle, and the Security Administration in Taiz after differences between Abu al-Abbas and gunmen led by a young man called Ghazwan al-Mikhlafi.

At various times and for multiple reasons - most of them were fabricated or plotted by other parties- members of the organization (affiliated to Abu al-Abbas) used to close a specific area for a sudden deployment of their groups as a training on breaking into neighborhoods and buildings. These moves have been repeated more than once in more than one place in the center of the city. Every time they do so, they target a broader area([21]).

The Abu al-Abbas organization receives a huge financial support, which has contributed to the strengthening of the status of his fighters in light of the interruption of salaries([22]) and the deterioration of the living situation in the city as a result of the siege imposed by the Houthis. Their financial capabilities, which other factions of the popular resistance do not enjoy, enabled Abu al-Abbas group to attract a number of people in the resistance and the National Army. They formed a safe haven for any forsaken one, who was not accepted in the Army for whatever reason, or those who committed crimes and were rejected to join any faction or brigade([23]).

In view of the Table (1), we note that Ansar al-Shariah and the Islamic State Organization focus on the collection of weapons from battlefields and storing them, and carrying out their own operations. In addition, their areas are considered to be places for the manufacture of explosives and for training new members.

The table (1) demonstrates the extremist groups that are under the control of Abu al-Abbas




Place of presence

Ansar al-Sharia

Less than 100

-         Ibrahim A., General Supervisor

-         Abu Abdulrahman al-Adani, Emir of Taiz state

-        Marwan R., Deputy Emir

-         al-Akama and Souk al-Sameel

Contains laboratories for making explosives and training center



-         Abu al-Shohada’a (father of martyrs)- his name is unknown

Financial Chief and responsible for the file of deaths and injuries

-         Talal A.

Leader of Thoabat groups


The fronts where they fight are:

-         Thoabat and Jahmalia al-Oliya

They widely infiltrated Abu al-Abbas groups and battalions of Decisive Movement (Jihadist Salafis) and work through them 

Islamic State (Daesh)

On the process to be established and they are a few numbers compared to others, less than 30 elements

-         Ahmed. S

-         Belal W.

(Abu Walid)


Two others recently joined them, Harith L. H. and Hamam al-Saudi, after they were dismissed from Ansar al-Sharia

-         Al-Janad Hotel

-         Salaat al-Malikah

-         Site in the al-Jumhori zone


They do not fight in a specific front but they are carrying out special operations.
They are accused of being behind most of the assassinations and attacks against the popular resistance and the National Army.
They collect weapons and do looting actions.
They have a weapons cache in al-Turbah, outside the city of Taiz.


UAE Funding

In addition to the looting and levies that Abu Al-Abbas groups depend upon as a resource of funding, Abu Al-Abbas also receives an open funding from the United Arab Emirates. The  report of the Security Council's Experts Committee indicates that Abu al-Abbas Brigades refused to join the Yemeni army; and that official forces, including the Hadrami elite force, the Shabwani elite force, and the forces of the security belt that are all supported and funded by the UAE - were not subject to the authority of the legitimate government([24]). 
The report adds that the conflict in Taiz strengthened the role of Abu al-Abbas with the direct support from the UAE. During his struggle against the Houthis, Abu al-Abbas allowed the deployment of the AQAP operatives in Taiz to strengthen his forces and restrict the political influence of the Islah Party([25]).

Not only that, but Abu al-Abbas is the primary responsible for the support of the coalition in Taiz. "At one point in early 2016, I received an invitation from the Coalition leadership to visit them in Aden to discuss the military situation in Taiz," said a senior resistance official. "When I arrived there, I met with the commander of the Coalition forces stationed in Aden, he is one of the UAE forces. I explained to him the military and material needs to move forward in the confrontation fronts in Taiz, but I was surprised with his reply as he asked me to return to Taiz and call him from there to talk to Abu al-Abbas, and he directed Abu al-Abbas to give us some urgent military supplies and other things([26])." In November 2015, Abu al-Abbas announced the arrival of two UAE and Saudi battleships carrying weapons to liberate Taiz([27]).

The Campaign Mistakes and Results
The legitimate authorities and the Arab Coalition, specifically the United Arab Emirates, have committed serious mistakes related to combating terrorism in the liberated governorates, which can be summarized as follows:

- Secret prisons run by the UAE or an affiliate in the governorates of Aden and Mukalla. Human rights organizations say there are 18 secret prisons, in addition to a prison at an Emirati base at  the port of Assab in Eritrea([28]). These prisons, which resemble the black sites of the American intelligence, and the brutal torture mentioned in the testimonies of prisoners, represent a  breeding ground for jihadists and involvement in terrorist organizations for revenge.

- The United Arab Emirates recruited tribesmen (carefully selected) in the southern governorates to form the elite forces and the security belt, which was considered by other tribes as an assault against them. Therefore, the violations against al-Awalik tribes in Shabwa were a turning point from war on terrorism in the governorate to confronting the Yemeni tribe and attacking the Yemeni social structure, which in its role will cause permanent obstruction to the fight against terrorism.

- The declaration of war against al-Qaeda through the UAE armed forces is the beginning of the losing approach to fight al-Qaeda, so that the Pentagon itself ignored the mention of the Yemeni army! which means that this process is carried out outside the framework of the authority and the internationally recognized government.

- The UAE-run elite forces and the security belt, in addition that they were formed on a regional basis, they are run outside the framework of the Yemeni army, and are not subject to the management of the Yemeni government, but to the UAE. The suspicion that UAE has its own objectives, outside the objectives of the Arab Coalition, clearly appears via the military forces that UAE maintains, estimated up to 30,000 Yemeni fighters.

Al-Qaeda has weapons that enable it to fight for several years, if there is a favorable environment and a popular incubator. This is possible in light of the failure of the United States and UAE to understand the nature and cohesion of the Yemeni tribes. In al-Bayda, for example, members of the organization fight along with popular forces against the Houthis (who are Shiite while al-Bayda tribes are Sunni), so the absence of support for resistance against the Houthis' in those areas enables al-Qaeda to continue to deepen its roots.

-The mistakes of the US and the Arab Coalition raids enhance the motive of revenge for the Yemeni tribes. The bombing of the village of Yakla in al-Bayda, January 2017, provoked reprisals among the tribes. The killing of 47 people, mostly civilians (women and children), was a catastrophic ground operation for the future of counter-terrorism, and the biggest crime is that another operation killed civilians months later in an area between Shabwa and Marib.

- The unserious war against al-Qaeda in the southern governorates pushed them toward the north areas on border with Saudi Arabia. This could constitute (the hell borders), if the Houthis take control of the north-west outlets and al-Qaeda takes control of the north-east outlets on borders with Saudi Arabia.



[1] Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)». Counter Extremism Project.

[2] The escape of 62 members of al-Qaeda from Mukalla prison

[3] Yemen army seizes third city after Qaeda pullout

[4] A large public satisfaction in Aden after the cleansing of Mansoura from Al-Qaeda elements - Yemen Press (8/4/2016)

[5] South Yemen... From the grip of the Houthis to the hands of Al-Qaeda- Russia Today (10/2/2016)

[6] Abu Dhabi from "Mukalla" to "Shabwa" ..Objectives and Risks - Yemen Net (7/8/2017)

[7] US Troops Are on the Ground in Yemen for al-Qaeda Offensive – (4/8/2017)

[8] The American Associated Press and Human Rights Watch have revealed in two separate investigations in the southern Yemeni governorates the involvement of UAE forces or instructions from the UAE leadership to torture thousands of political detainees under the pretext of counter-terrorism in 18 detention centers, including some secret prisons and another at an Emirati base in Eritrea. The United States was accused of involvement in such investigations to get statements under torture.

[9] Condemnation of the targeting of a Yemeni tribe by UAE-run forces - Al Jazeera Net (11/8/2017)

[10] Previous Source

[11] Commander of the Shabwani forces, Khalid al-Azmi, statement to the American website Mashareq (15/8/2017)

[12] Statement from President of the Sam Organization, Nabil al-Baydani, Al Jazeera Net, the previous source

[13] Five million dollars to give information about the killers of US teacher- Al Hurra (15/3/2017)

[14] Youth are a valuable fishing for “Da'ash” and “Al Qaeda” in Taiz - the New Arab (4/4/2017)

[15] Al-Qaeda holds an intellectual competition for the people of Taiz and discloses the prizes – Aden al-Ghad (10/5/2017)

[16] Accusations from journalists and officials in the resistance, Abaad Center researchers were unable to get independent source of this information.

[17] Gunmen loot the Yemeni Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Taiz- Baraqesh Net (3/5/2015)

[18] The looting of half a billion dollars from the banks of Yemen - the New Arab (28/8/2015)

[19] According to politicians, journalists and leaders of the Popular Resistance to researchers at the Abaad Center in Taiz.

[20] Politicians, journalists, and Popular Resistance leaders spoke to researchers at the Abaad Center between July and August 2017.

[21] The testimony of local officials to the Abaad Center researchers in Taiz (July 2017)

[22] The interruption of salaries since August 2016 has led to an increase in human tragedy in the Yemeni governorates.

[23] Testimonies of leaders in the Popular Resistance to the researchers of the Abaad Center in Taiz (July 2017)

[24] Confidential U.N. Report Suggests Saudi-Led Coalition Failing in Yemen - Foreign Policy (18/8/2017)

[25] UN Report: Saudi Arabia and the Emirates funding militias in Yemen - Al Jazeera Net (20/8/2017)

[26] Abu Al-Abbas.. The UAE Arm to Reproduce the Aden Experience in Taiz - The New Gulf (21/5/2017)

[27] Two Saudi and UAE battleships carrying weapons .. To resolve the battle of Taiz - Middle East (6/11/2015)

[28] To get information, Human Rights Watch and the Associated Press relied on the families of abductees and former abductees, who were in those prisons, as well as government officials. The Yemeni government formed a committee after the results of these investigations were published late in June 2017. Despite the committee determined two weeks to announce the results, no one of the results has been announced until today, 30 August 2017.

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