A Deal Between AQAP and the Yemeni Government in Shabwa


Wed, 07-07-2021 03:28 PM, Aden

Shabwa (South24)

On Monday, AQAP handed over five officers, who had been kidnapped in Markha city, Shabwa governorate, South Yemen, to a tribal mediation committee, according to an informed source who spoke to "South24".1

The source said that "AQAP handed over the kidnapped officers from Shabwa to a mediation committee in exchange for the commitment of Shabwa authorities to release a number of the organization's members from Marib prisons" in North Yemen.

During the talk with South24, the source did not indicate the number of members of the organization that AQAP is calling for their release.

The source said that the "exchange took place in the Al-Somaa area in Al-Bayda governorate, and the officers were transferred to Baihan, Shabwa." and described what happened as a "deal".

The British expert on religious groups affairs, Elisabeth Kendall, seemed puzzled that AQAP had not officially claimed the kidnapping.2

On June 15, armed men from AQAP kidnapped five criminal investigation officers, when they were on an investigation mission into the murder of a truck driver, in the Lower Markha district of Shabwa. The kidnapped were transferred to Al-Bayda governorate, the group's main stronghold in Yemen.

The officers are (Awad Al-Ayachi, Issam Al-Awadi, Fahmy Maghawi, Salem Al-Ayachi and Aref Ghanem).

The kidnapped officers appeared in a short video calling the authorities to release AQAP detainees who were in Marib prisons, who were fighting alongside the government forces there, according to one of the officers.

Al-Masdar Online, a website affiliated with the Islah party in Yemen, said that "tribal mediation managed on Monday to release the detained criminal investigation officers without any compensation, after more than 20 days of kidnapping."

South24 published earlier photos showing the presence of AQAP militants in the Markha area of Shabwa governorate, which is controlled by government forces affiliated with the Yemeni Vice President Ali al-Ahmar.

AQAP activity escalated in areas under the control of the Yemeni government in South Yemen, following the expulsion of the Shabwani Elite Forces from the governorate on August 28, 2019 with Saudi support.

The STC accuses Yemeni forces affiliated with the government of recruiting AQAP members in their camps, especially since AQAP adopted several deadly attacks by its gunmen against security and military checkpoints of the STC.

On June 11, more than 30 people were killed and wounded, most of them members of the pro-STC Security Belt forces in Abyan governorate, when a motorcycle bomb exploded in a truck carrying soldiers in the middle of a local market in Zinjibar city, Abyan governorate3.

In the meantime, the USA is still providing support to the forces of Yemeni Vice President Ali al-Ahmar, according to official Yemeni sources.

Al-Ahmar welcomed in a tweet, last Sunday, "the US decision that allows for the restoration of support and dealing with our armed forces and building their capabilities in the fight against terrorism and extremism."

- South24 Center for News and Studies

Photo: AP