Armies of Liberation

Jane Novak's blog about Yemen

Al Qaeda in Yemen (AQAP): factions, motivations & regions

Filed under: Al-Qaeda — by Jane Novak at 1:00 am on Monday, October 13, 2014

Excellent article on the factions, motivations and regions of various “Al Qaeda” groups in Yemen including identifying which groups are primarily mercenaries (murtasaqat).

Yemen’s Mounting Challenges: Fractured militant groups & Post-Conflict reconstruction

By Fernando Carvajal Analyst at University of Exeter
Yemen Post:

While many praise recent victories by Yemen’s army over militant groups in Abyan and Shebwa, some warn of the coming chaos. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader Nasser al-Wuhayshi warned governments of Yemen and the US of planned operations in a video published in late March. This warning came as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) published its intention to join the fight in Yemen. These announcements also coincided with the creation of Ansar al-Sharia Central Region.

US-led drone campaign Easter weekend was interpreted as a delayed, but brazen response to events in March. Drones targeted camps in Abyan and individual militants in al-Baydha and Shebwa provinces, where initial media reports claimed top leaders were targets. Yemen’s government also claimed Special Forces had participated in raids by helicopter incursion and recovered a number of bodies. No further information has been provided with regard to the operations in late April.

As heightened security warnings lead to closing of four western embassies, observers highlight not only threats made by AQAP but also fears of rifts within the organization. Local analysts have indicated growing divisions within AQAP over the past six months extend from differing visions of its future. Some argue the rift between al-Wuhayshi and second tier leaders over priorities has also led to individuals like Makmun Abdul Hamid Hatim and Ibrahim al-Rubaish praising ISIS, challenging al-Wuhayshi’s allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden’s successor, who formally denounced ISIS early this year. Intensions by ISIS in the Arabian Peninsula remain obscure, but contact with Somalia’s al-Shabab and AQAP in 2013 raised concerns over an expansionist agenda beyond Syria in attempt to wrestle the jihadist movement from al-Zawahiri.

The rift has also affected relations with Ansar al-Sharia (AAS), which is led by Emir Jalal Bil’ayd al-Maraqashi. Since the murder of shaykh Ali Bin Salem Ba’wazir in February, the so-called insurgency group has exhibited signs of widening divisions. The conflict within AAS is said to extend primarily from prioritizing political assassinations over the establishment of emirates in the eastern province of Hadhramawt. Observers in Aden and Sana’a insist this rift has damaged the group’s capabilities and role vis-à-vis AQAP.

Western analysts still see AAS as a natural extension of AQAP, but many in Yemen’s military insist the group is simply a mercenary arm rather than an ideological ally. Evidence lies on the priority given to Ahwar, Abyan during the current military offensive. By securing Ahwar the army has managed to eliminate a major strategic supply line that allowed AAS to deliver services for AQAP from the coast of Abyan to the mountains of Mayfah in Shebwa. The area in Ahwar was previously protected by government supported Popular Committees, but the resignation of its leader in late April illustrated the difficulty of securing the area and the troubled relations between the Committees and the government of president Hadi.

The fact Jalal Bil’ayd has now appeared in a number of videos by al-Malahem, AQAP’s media wing, served to assure analysts of the relationship between AAS and AQAP. Al-Malahem identifies Bil’ayd as ‘commander’ in videos, but has yet to officially announce his place in the hierarchy. Military officials in Sana’a have often referred to AAS as mercenaries (murtasaqat) and dismiss labeling Bil’ayd AQAP due to his obscure background and role within AAS following the death of Khaled Abdulnabi in 2011, and the split with shaykh Abdul-Latif Saeed in 2012. The relationship has simply been explained as one of mutual interest, where one looks for financial gains, while the other requires a strategic force multiplier.

The rise of AAS Central Region (AAS-CR) has also generated much concern among Yemeni analysts. The group was announced in typical AAS form, rather than by any AQAP related media source. Yet, Bil’ayd has not commented on the new wing. It is believed this wing of AAS is not only gathering some of the militants who dispersed from Abyan in June 2012, but also incorporating a large number of Yemenis and foreigners returning from Syria. The main evidence cited is the role played by those previously in charge of logistical support for Yemenis joining the fight in Syria, along side al-Nusrah Front or ISIS. Those identified as responsible for the fighters in Ibb, Taiz and al-Dhale also happen to be high profile figures with roots in each of those provinces in the Central Region. The area not only covers access to Bab al-Mandab, as opposed to the Gulf of Aden, but it is also a strong hold for Salafi elements.

The Central Region was identified as an area of priority for AAS to counter Houthi expansion, but the group had not previously expressed such interests. In contrast, ISIS has expressed fighting Iranian influence as a priority, along with its antagonism of Gulf monarchies. If indeed ISIS is responsible for AAS-CR as Yemeni analysts indicate, it would suggest ISIS is using a known brand, Ansar al-Sharia, to gain a foothold in the Peninsula and aims to take advantage of rifts within AQAP to cement that presence. It would also imply ISIS is taking the battle with al-Zawahiri out of Syria and challenging the leadership of the global jihad movement. Blogs now boast of the number of jihadist groups in Central Asia and Southeast Asia pledging allegiance to ISIS, providing further evidence of ambitions by ISIS.

Recent incidents in Sana’a have taken many by surprise, but the opening of new fronts by AQAP, as the army intensified its offensive in Abyan and Shebwa, was expected. This has renewed a lack of confidence in the government even as president Hadi and the armed forces gain support from a growing section of the population, from Sana’a to the conflict areas. The government and its international partners clearly have to gain the confidence of those affected at this time and assure people they will not be abandoned once victory comes, and that funds will be available to rebuild and help displaced people return home. Also, concerns remain over military and security capabilities to contain AQAP’s expected reaction when defeated in Abyan and Shebwa, as well as the ability of AAS to create more chaos in Aden, Lahj and Hadhramawt.

Weeks to come will be a great test to president Hadi’s resolve, international partners, and the people. Without a clear post-conflict strategy for the affected areas, people fear a vengeful return by AQAP and AAS. To prevent this will require access to funds for long-term troop presence, and perhaps new Popular Committees, as well as economic opportunities. Fighting a versatile enemy of the State in multiple fronts is a major challenge. Assuring long term security before discontented grows once again will be a monumental challenge.

Houthis dish on Al Qaeda in Yemen

Filed under: Al-Qaeda, Islamic Imirate, Security Forces, al-Bayda, banking, state jihaddists, terror financing — by Jane Novak at 10:50 am on Wednesday, October 1, 2014

finally after 10 years

Highlights:

AQAP leaders “are well aware they are the next target” for Houthis in Yemen AQAP recently bought so many guns, the prices rose. (Specific purchases arms and autos listed.)

AQAP receives funding via deposits in Qater Islamic Bank transfered to local branches, Saudi Arabia & cash carried in diplomatic pouches, small amounts are laundered by young people so it is indistinguishable from normal remittances.

AQAP’s Nabil al Dahab & Abu Khaled are training 163 foreign explosives experts in Yemen (Specific AQAP locations listed.)

(Read on …)

“Brigade 27 Mika (Mechanical) is the Octopus of Smuggling and Terrorism in Hadramout, Yemen”

Filed under: Hadramout, Military, Security Forces, mil restrucuturing, state jihaddists — by Jane Novak at 8:23 pm on Friday, August 29, 2014

Update: This article (which I did not write) is reprinted from the Hadramout Tribal Coalition website and can be found at http://www.alhelf.com/?p=1368.

The following article asserts that significant parts of the Yemeni military in Hadramout simultaneously operate as an organized crime syndicate and an incubator for al Qaeda. The configuration is not unusual in Yemen where military fiefdoms spawn local tyrants, loyal jihaddis and unchecked smuggling networks. While some vital security sector reforms have been instituted, like biometric identity cards, dislodging these nodes of criminality is essential to integrating the entire military within an overt command and control structure focused on the security of Yemeni citizens.

Brigade 27 Mika (Mechanical) is the Octopus of Smuggling and Terrorism in Hadramout

Hadramout has not experienced any kind of smuggling such as drug trafficking, arms smuggling and human trafficking in its history like it has now. Unfortunately, Hadramout became unable to maintain its well known a safe and a security place and great values anymore, and it became the home of all kinds of smugglings. Due to Hadramout’s position and to its wide borders, it was and still used to be the station of smuggling into neighboring countries. With time expansion, another task was added to Hadramout which is converting it into an incubator for armed groups (Al-Qaeda) to serve the main purpose of the Big Mafia in the Republic of Yemen (RoY).

The beginning of this story goes back to the 1994 war and the arrival of the armed groups of Mujahedeen to Hadramout coast, who took part against the war on communism (Southern Forces). This decision was taken by the ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh and Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar, his brother from a different father, through recruiting those Mujahedeen and they were officially numbered and turn them into a brigade called Brigade 27 Mika ( Mika means Mechanical). Staff Gen. of this brigade since its start is Abdulaziz Makaleh Al Zindani(عبدالعزيز المقالح الزنداني ), one of Al-Qaeda militants and a cousin of Sheikh Abdul Majeed al-Zindani(عبد المجيد الزنداني). With the establishment of this brigade, smuggling and terrorism were strongly started. Its network was strongly developed since then, and is threaded from the coast of Hadramout all the way to the neighboring countries, and even inside some of neighboring territory.

The Brigade 27 Mika site is not in one place, but it spreads gradually from the coast and all the way to the neighboring countries to secure the borders for mainly smuggling and terrorism!! The Brigade 27 Mika consists of five battalions, and they are located in strategic positions with functions as follows:

1- Coast Guard Battalion: It is the one that insures all landings of contraband materials from outside RoY, and it secures all the smuggling of fuel and crude oil from Hadramout by ships to the international black market.

2- Battalion 4: a battalion stationed in the Al Dabah area(الضبه), the official crude oil export port. This battalion led by Mujahid Alkotaiba (مجاهد القطيبي) and it is the smuggling and terrorism operation room. It coordinates with local smugglers, some Local Fish Associations, and international smugglers; and it also protect trafficking along the pipeline into the valley.

3- Oil Companies Protection Battalion: This battalion has 2 tasks: the first one is to protect the collection of illegal dues from the oil companies which is amounted about a quarter of a billion dollars a year; and this amount goes directly to the Oil Mafia as cost of protection, as many press and government reports mentioned this many times, without being remitted to the state treasury. The second task is to secure the lines of smuggling in the middle of the valley and make sure they are not exposed to the obstacles. The person in charged of this battalion is Mohammad Qahm (محمد القحم) regardless of the change of the well know and the highly corrupted battalion commander in a year or so, i.e. Ahmed Al Tharab( ‏احمد الضراب).

4. TOTAL Protection Battalion: TOTAL contributes part of strengthening this network, intentionally or unintentionally, through forming alliance with the traditional power and Oil Mafia to protect them and thus protect the smuggling network.

5. Al Suwairi (السويري) Battalion: This battalion was initially created as a training camp for the Mujahedeen and for the returnees from Afghanistan which follows Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar commands directly. Later on, this Mujahedeen camp was turned into a Mujahedeen battalion which follows Brigade 27 Mika.

The elimination of the smuggling and terrorism threats to Hadramout and to neighboring countries starts with the removing of Brigade 27 Mika away from Hadramout and the dismissal of the battalion’s effective leaders of Brigade 27 and other effective members and Mujahedeen.

By Mohammed Al Haddar

Possible Al Nashiri facilitator mediates compensation for civilian drone victims in Yemen

Filed under: Air strike, USS Cole, al nashiri, al-Bayda — by Jane Novak at 1:13 pm on Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Title 2: Why I can’t blog too much anymore

Al Masdar reports Yemen’s former Interior Minister, Hussain Arab, is one of the dignitaries who negotiated on behalf of the Yemeni government with civilian victims and their families following US drone strikes over the week-end. The agreement reached is for 30 Kalashnikovs and 12M Yemeni riyals, about USD 55K, which was paid on Monday 4/21. The strikes targeted one vehicle containing known al Qaeda, killing ten, as well as a workmen’s car that unexpectedly appeared.

“Regrettably, three civilians were also killed during the attack and five were injured when their pickup truck unexpectedly appeared[18][19] next to the targeted vehicle,” the (Yemeni government) statement said. Quote via Just Security.

At least the Yemeni government didn’t try to smear the victims as al Qaeda, like they did in Hadramout,. Quickly taking responsibility, expressing regret and paying compensation is a step in the right direction.

At the time of the USS Cole bombing, Hussain Arab was Yemen’s Interior Minister. He resigned in April 2001. Defense evidence introduced in Yemeni court in the 2004 Cole trial included “ a letter to al-Qaeda commander Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri instructing Yemeni authorities to give safe passage to al-Nashiri and three bodyguards without being searched or intercepted. The letter states that, ‘All security forces are instructed to cooperate with him and facilitate his mission.’ ” His mission was a terror attack on a US warship.

Mr. Arab has held other official positions since his resignation including recently on the consensus committee of the National Dialog Committee.

The trial of Al Nashiri aka Billal, al Harazi etc., is proceeding in court in Guantanamo Bay today where lawyers are arguing whether two witnesses can be interviewed by the defense in France without submitting the questions first to the prosecution.

The original Arabic article from al Masdar is below the fold.

Related: Sami Dayan (Dhayan) was convicted of the murder of the effective General Qatan in Abyan. General Qatan had recently given interviews noting a state faction’s complicity in arming and facilitating al Qaeda. Sami is the reason I had to make up a category called State Jihaddists in 2009. He was overtly working for Ali Mohsen in Jaar at that time. I think Abdulkarim al Nabi gave in interview that discussed Sami Dayan as well as his own situation. Both could be termed local jihaddists and occasional mercenaries, but they are not the al Qaeda of Wahishi and certainly not AQAP leaders. Dayan was sentenced to 15 years, and will probably be released in two, if he doesn’t escape first.

(Read on …)

Assassin arrested in Yemen

Filed under: Hadramout, assassination, political violence, state jihaddists — by Jane Novak at 9:17 am on Wednesday, March 19, 2014

(Via Twitter) @BaFana3 Developing story in #Yemen : Man arrested for failed bid to kill judge in #Hadhramaut admits he killed 28 others. Who does he work for?

Additional

It was really an usual news to hear that a security guy in the Republic of Yemen RY shoot the assassin who was chasing him in the street of Sana’a on the 12th of March 2014; and the assassin was sent to the near by hospital to rescue him. On the same day, another assassin who was trying to kill a judge in the city of Sayoon, i.e. the biggest city in the Valley of Hadramout, was caught as well with others!! Wow very impressive!! Two days later 3 assassin’s were caught in Aden, i.e the capital of the former state in South before 1990.

Lets talk about each case with some details provided from news by public and officials!!

Sayoon Case:
Judge Adana Al Hamid survived miraculously an assassination attempt by Fua’ad Ba Naseeb, the assassin, but the other(s) 1 OR 2 with him was (or were) kept uncovered!!

later on, a “high authority” in Sana’a were insisting to transfer the assassin, i.e. Fua’ad Ba Naseeb, to Sana’a for investigation!! however, the security people in Sayoon refused it at once and insisted to carry the investigation in Hadramout which was welcomed by President Hadi. More news were coming day after day, the officials in Hadramout said they have very valuable information about a call the assassin received regarding the assassination attempt but the ID of the caller was uncovered. Moreover, the authorities in Hadramout mentioned that they arrested 3 who are related to assassination in Hadramout without mentioning names.

Just late last night, the assassin, i.e. Fua’ad Ba Naseeb, admitted that he fired 4 bullets and he hided the gun in Syaoon International Football field. In addition, 2 names came in the investigation one is called “Al Katheeri”!! and the 3rd is called ” Hassan B” but he is not captive!!

http://www.honahadhramout.com/2014/128888.html

http://www.mukallatoday.com/Details.aspx?ID=24722

http://www.mukallatoday.com/pages/Details.aspx?ID=24750&&C=NewsDetails

http://adenalghad.net/news/96744/#.UygZy840kRE

Aden Case:

The official news paper Al Jamhoriah mentioned that Judge Mohammed Ahmed Al Shagdari survived an assassination attempt on14th of March 2014 by a group of people while a Political Security PSO guy. i.e. Tariq Sharaf, was passing by the crime scene and exchanged fire with the group and he was killed while injured one attacker whose name is Marwan Mohammed Al Jokar. The other 2, who were arrested later on, are Redwan Ahmed Al Jokar and Sami Kasim ben Kasim. However, NO updates since the day of the indecent!!!!!

http://www.honahadhramout.com/2014/129113.html

Sana’a Case:
On 12th of March 2014, around noon time, an assassin was chasing an officer from PSO but the officer managed to shoot and injure OR kill the assassin who was taken to the near by hospital. The scene was near Coffee Trader area next to Al Khaimah restaurant. No news about the name of the PSO officer or the assassin, and whether he was killed or injured. Everything was kept so uncovered since the indecent and NO updates about what so ever in the news!!!

http://www.yemensaeed.com/news/news-local/14056-2014-03-12-16-19-08.html

It is worth mentioning that Mr. Ghalib Al Qamish was appointed as an ambassador after 33 years of being the head of PSO along with Mr. Abdual kader Kahtan, former minister of interior, on the 7th of March 2014.

Update: People in Hadramout are highly interacting with the arrested assassin, i.e. Fua’ad Ba Naseeb, case.

More news are leaked from the investigation room, and more names are discoverer day after day. While a “High Authority” in Sana’a is demanding to transfer him to Sana’a for “Full investigation”, people in Hadramout calling to keep him in Sayoon to uncover all details to the public and to the families of victims as they already know that if he is transferred to Sana’a he will be killed and the case will be closed. A similar case in Sana’a happened at the same day, i.e. 12th of March 2014, and NO news of it at all which makes the calls to investigate Fua’ad Ba Naseeb in Sana’a so fishy. Therefore, there is a big movement among the community in Hadramout to stop the “transfer” to Sana’a and proposals like forming human wall around the lockup place of Fua’ad Ba Naseeb are proposed.

Most, if not all, pro Islah news outlets are accusing Hirak of doing it and suggesting Fua’ad Ba Naseeb being part of Hirak. No one heard of him being of Hirak at all, and his political views are not met with Hirak. If he was with Hirak, then some of Fua’ad Ba Naseeb victims would pro Islah members in Hadramout!! instead, his victims were anti-Oil Mafia and anti-terrorism; while Islah members, Oil Mafia members and fanatics remain untouched for the past 3 years!!!!

Weapons, from same

The Military Police seized 2 trucks, one is of Mercedes brand and the other is of Dyna Toyota brand, full of weapons and explosives were heading to Shabwah!!

The 2 trucks were caught last Tuesday by a military check point and kept at Brigade 27 Mechanical for some days for negotiation which resulted into “royalty payment” of 4 million Yemeni Riyals.

The military check point told the Military Police which seized all of it after the release from Brigade 27 Mechanical. Some news say the loads were unloaded to the General Security Camp in Hadramout.

It has been said that these consignments belong to Mohammed Ali Mohsen (not the son of the famous Ali Mohsen) who is the Yemeni Military attache in Doha now, and he was Pro Ali Mohsen during 2011 against the ousted Saleh when he was the head of the Eastern Military Zone which was based in Hadramout!!! Some suggested that this action comes into escalation of violence game in Hadramout by big players.

It is worth mentioning that this news comes after an indecent of “Al Qaidah” seizing a big weapons consignment, approximatly 10 days ago, between Marib and Hadramout which was coming from Hadramout!! and the number of “Al Qaidah” who seized it were ONLY 2!! very brave ones wow.

You may need to refer to the links below for more details:

http://shabwaahpress.net/news/14950/

http://www.mukallatoday.com/Details.aspx?ID=24721

http://www.barakish.net/news.aspx?cat=12&sub=12&id=64640

Whats old is new again.

The following from the new website, Hadramout Tribes Confederacy HTC, at www.alhelf.com The site, in addition to reporting Hadramout news and publishing official HTC press releases in Arabic, translates the press releases and news into English for distribution via email. Use their contact button to get on the English mailing list. Here is the press release from the HTC 3/13/14:

Proclamation No. 38
An extended meeting of Hadramout Tribes Confederacy was held this morning, Thursday the 13th of March 2014, which was attended by all tribal leaders and chiefs of Hadramout. This meeting was held in order to discuss and take a decision regarding the verdict to be issued by the Confederacy on the date set in accordance with the agreement concluded between the Confederacy’s leadership and the committee headed by Brother the Governor of Hadramout when part of the compensatory amends were delivered.

The atmosphere of the meeting was permeated by commitment and concern for the demands of the people of Hadramout in accordance with the Confederacy’s proclamations and the Presidential instructions issued by Brother, the President. During the meeting, extensive study was made of the new developments in Hadramout as manifested by the vicious attack on the people of Assay’ar tribe during yesterday and today and the large military reinforcements which arrived at Arrayyan airport yesterday and which are indicative of the intent of the influential forces and robbers of Hadramout resources for escalation and sabotage of the efforts aimed at the implementation of the demands of the people of Hadramout which were taken up and adopted by Hadramout tribes Confederacy. In this meeting, the following decisions were taken:

1. Deferment of the issue of the verdict by Hadramout Tribes Confederacy until the following conditions are met within ten days from today:
A. Completion of the delivery of the rest of the pledges ordered by Brother the President consisting of one milliard Yemeni riyals to the leader of Hadramout Tribes Confederacy and for which the minister for local administration was commissioned and in accordance with the conditions of the arbitrator that signed by the said minister and the instructions of Brother the President to the Prime Minister to commission Brother the Governor of Hadramout to implement what has been agreed upon with the said minister.
B. Cessation of the aggression against Assay’ar tribe and the immediate release of Lieutenant colonel Bin Rameedan and the rest of the detainees from Assay’ar tribe.
C. Putting a stop to the military reinforcements that have been pouring into Hadramout.
D. The return to their homes of the people of Abdullah Gharib village and Ash-Shihr city who were forced from their homes.
E. Removal of the Central security personnel at the Abdullah Gharib Checkpoint who were responsible for forcing the residents of the village from their homes and for provocations of the passers by the checkpoint and their replacement by security personnel from the people of Hadramout.
F. Immediate commencement of the implementation process of the Presidential instructions to the Prime Minister relative to the demands of the Confederacy in accordance with a timetable that would be a proof of the state’s credibility; and in case of impediments those responsible must be identified and brought to account.

2. Every tribe must send ten people fully equipped and with a Shases vehicles to the Confederacy’s headquarters in Ghail bin Yameen for distribution at joint checkpoints of the Confederacy.

3. Preparing a list of the remaining demands about which no Presidential instructions were given and to follow up contacts with Brother the President in order to issue such instructions.

4. The Confederacy stresses the necessity of the continuation of the popular uprising in Hadramout by all the people and tribes of Hadramout and its strengthening until all demands have been met in accordance with the proclamations issued by the Confederacy.

Issued by
Hadramout Tribes Confederacy.
March 13, 2014

Fostering and countering terrorism in Yemen

Filed under: Al-Qaeda, Counter-terror, Diplomacy, Military, USA — by Jane Novak at 7:48 am on Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The US CT industry in Yemen is sketched out in the following excerpts from Inside Yemen’s Shadow War Asenal at Foreign Policy BY GORDON LUBOLD, NOAH SHACHTMAN

Since November of 2011, the United States has pledged nearly $600 million to Yemen for everything from spy drones to opinion polls to pickup trucks as part of a shadow war to fight terrorism there. But how much Washington is getting for its money is an open question, even within U.S. government circles…

Only a portion of the $600 million committed since late 2011 goes directly to fight terrorism — about $250 million, according to State Department officials. The rest goes towards “helping to strengthen governance and institutions on which Yemen’s long-term progress depends,” as then-White House counterterrorism czar (and unofficial envoy to Yemen) John Brennan explained last year. That includes cash to “empower women,” “combat corruption,” and provide “food vouchers, safe drinking water, and basic health services,” Brennan added.

But even that non-military aid can sometimes come with a hard edge. Last year, the State Department paid out $2.2 million to Griffin Security, a Yemeni contractor specializing in “close protection,” “surveillance systems,” and “maritime security services,” according to the company’s website. On June 26, Foggy Bottom sent another $3.1 million to Advanced C4 Solutions, a Tampa-based business with strong military and intelligence community ties, for an unspecified “administrative management” contract. Six days later, the State Department executed a second, $1.3 million deal with the same firm — which publicly declares itself a specialist in computer network attacks — for “translation and interpretation services.”

(JN-The US Air Force suspended Advanced C4 in 2011 for shoddy and unfinished work, and the firm was nearly excluded from any more work for the US gov’t.)

Overt security assistance was put on hold for about a year when former President Ali Abdullah Saleh brutally cracked down on his people. But that ban has been lifted, and the spigot is once again open. The Pentagon is outfitting the Yemenis with weapons, short takeoff and landing spy planes, night vision goggles, and even Raven drones to help Yemeni security forces to strengthen their effectiveness against internal threats and extremist activity, according to defense officials…

“We need to remember that we have done at least as badly in planning and managing aid as the worst recipient country has done in using it,” said Tony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Nonetheless, a variety of programs aim to directly achieve American security objectives in Yemen. During 2012, for instance, the Pentagon spent about $14 million on a single U.S. Special Operations Forces counterterrorism enhancement program in which a limited number of American military personnel provided training and equipment — from small arms and ammo to radios to rigid hull inflatable boats to night vision goggles to navigational systems — to Yemen’s counterterrorists. Another program, referred to in Pentagon briefing papers as the “Fixed-Wing Capability Program,” spends about $23 million “by providing equipment and training to improve the operational reach and reaction time of Yemen’s CT forces,” including two short take-off and landing aircraft. The United States spends another $75 million on building the counterterrorism unit of Yemen’s Central Security Forces.

During 2013, the Pentagon spent nearly $50 million on what’s called an “integrated border and maritime security” program to help the Yemenis be more effective with aerial surveillance and ground mobility, according to a defense official. That helped the Yemenis build up the capacity to monitor threats along the country’s nearly 1,200 mile coastline. The program includes 12 short take-off and landing aircraft, each with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, as well as flight and maintenance crews.

The United States has spent other money on Yemen, including $24 million the Coast Guard spent to build two 87-foot coastal patrol boats, and another $11 million for about 340 F-350 Ford pickup trucks, according to publicly-available contracting data. Another $27 million was spent for a contract with Bell Helicopter for four Huey II helicopters within the last three years.

Two years ago, the polling firm Gallup, Inc. was paid more than $280,000 for a “Yemen Assessment Survey.” Around the same time, Yemen was part of a major contract to provide crew-served weapons, gun mounts, and stands for .50 caliber weapons. Last year, the Army paid $3 million to Harris Corporation for radios for the Yemenis, and the Navy paid $5.4 million for aircraft engines and spare parts for CASA 235 transport planes. Also last year, the Army paid $1.9 million for tactical UAVs in both Kenya and in Yemen.

Ties into my 2012 article State Dep’t ends Yemen arms embargo

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