The Relationship between the Political Conflict and the Latest Security Incidents in Aden


Tue, 12-10-2021 04:09 AM, Aden Time

Farida Ahmed | South24 

Since the eruption of the Yemeni Civil War in 2014, and the beginning of the Houthi-Saleh control of various areas in North and South, the first factions of the Southern Resistance were formed in a number of governorates including Aden, Dhali, Abyan, Lahij and others. After the beginning of Operation Decisive Storm(Asifat Alhazm) led by the KSA and UAE, The Southern Resistance Forces with all their factions were backed to engage in a war for liberating and securing most of Southern governorates,
Later, all Southern Resistance factions were unified under a security system for combating terrorism known as the Security Belts in Aden, Lahij and Abyan as well as the Hadhrami and Shabwani Elites, backed by the UAE. The Resistance were involved in more fierce battles against the extremist groups, the AQAP and ISIS, after driving the Houthis out of the areas under their control. The anti-terrorism battles in Hadhramaut and Shabwa were among their most powerful wars as both of them were considered bastions for the AQAP, especially the city of Mukallah for a whole year in 2016.
The security experience in South Yemen since the eruption of the war in 2014 has proved to be exceptional in spite of some defects and individual glitches sometimes, amid unstable conditions because of the war, and due to the highly polarized conflict environment at both North and South, and the attempts of several local and regional parties to play on the military balance dynamics. All those factors, and more, created big challenges for the security and military forces in South Yemen, especially that the two military Northern and Southern Forces are deeply divided and not integrated as each of which manage their own territories by themselves, one reason behind this is that most Southerners were not part of the Yemeni Army before the war, due to their forced military early retirement after the 1994 War.
After the eruption of the latest conflict in Yemen since 2014, most security and military units have operated under the leadership of the STC in South, and under the National Army in North in which the decision making is controlled by the Islah Party (the Muslim Brotherhood). It is the same army which included a large number of senior military commanders who belong to the Zaydi areas, especially those who are descended from “Hashid” tribe, including “Senhan”the hometown of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Vice President Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar, many of these commanders are still controlling it.
Systemic security disorder

In spite of the attempt to impose a strict security influence, especially in the areas, controlled and run by the STC after the August 2019 incidents, several parties attempt to undermine the security work and obstruct any state political presence in the capital, Aden, especially after signing on the Riyadh Agreement which includes the return of the government and to do its job from there. It has been clear that the repeated attempts to create chaos or security disorders in Aden aim to show the STC in a regressive position so as to appear unable to impose security control over its territories. This has enhanced the government’s rejection for return under the pretext of security defects. This directly impacts the political stability and the miserable economic situation more than it is now.
It should be said the systemic operations targeting prominent Southern leaders, whether political, military or security figures, in Aden vary in importance according to timing. For Example, the last operation which targeted Aden Governor, “Ahmed Hamed Bin Lamlas” on October 10th 2021, came one week after the return of “the parity government” to Aden. 
Crater District had witnessed, between the attack and the return of the government, armed incidents that killed and injured a number of people, due to the insurgence by the “Imam Al Salawi '' group, backed by influential parties inside the Arab Coalition and the Hadi Presidency. The violent explosion that rattled Al Tawahi District in an attempt to assassinate Governor “Bin Lamlas” and the Minister of Fisheries, General Salem Al Sqtry, which resulted in killing 5 of the Governor’s companions and injuring others was not the first of its kind, as it was preceded by an attempt to assassinate General Jaafar Mohammed Saad in December 2015 who was killed along with a number of his assistants. Similarly, General “Aidarous Al Zubaidi” survives 3 systemic assassination attempts when he was Governor of Aden (2016-2017).
The significant synchronization of the last two incidents, during only one week on the “Parity government's return to Aden lead to more than important explanation, whether the basic ‘s goal is to distract the government’s work, and to confirm the previous doubts about the turbulent security situation in Aden to push it to leave, or return again toe Riyadh instead of Aden. the Prime Minister and an accompanying delegation left Aden and travelled to Cairo in an official visit hours after “Lamlas” assassination attempt. Additionally, this aimed at scattering the efforts of the UN Special Envoy to Yemen “Hans Grundberg” who visited Aden days ago, and promised to engage all parties in the peace process and to “change course” (1).
These equations may relate to something more important which is the attempt by political parties in the Yemeni scene, top of which is the Islah party to underestimate the political importance of Aden, run by the STC, to weaken the latter’s position in any future political settlement by depicting Aden as insecure and sinking into chaos. Simultaneously, they try to show the areas, controlled by the STC's rivals, represented by the Muslim Brotherhood in Marib- the last internationally recognized Hadi government's stronghold in North as being secure, as well as Sanaa, controlled by the Houthis, in order to increase their share of political participation while reducing the STC's one by belittling the political importance of Aden which is parallel to Sanaa, controlled by the Houthis, as the most political important.
Some observers noted that this tactic, which seems common among the religious groups (represented by the Islah and the Houthis) which try to present the scene in South Yemen in a more dramatic way, especially in the areas controlled by the STC aims at, along with the above mentioned reasons, pitting the local society against who runs Aden due to the troubled security situation that leads to deterioration in services and living conditions, and accordingly fuel people’s anger, along with drawing outside attention to the security violations in the areas, controlled by the STC, This opens the door to some questions like why the terrorist “operations "are committed in areas controlled by prominent Southern officials, and not by the Muslim Brotherhood or the  Houthi’s? These are legitimate questions raised by the internal and external public opinion, and being circulated after every operation.   
In this context, Brigadier General Thabet Hussein, the Military and Security Advisor in “South 24” believes that the “Southerners” in general have been a target for the “terrorist” attacks whether in the area of the former President Saleh, starting from the assassination of the then Minister of Defense's Advisor  “Maged Morshied Seif” in June 1992, or currently like the latest attempt to assassinate Governor “Bin Lamlas” and the Minister of Fisheries in the Parity government, General Salem Al Sqtry.
“Intensifying the terrorist operations against Southerners in general and the STC in particular, along with mobilization in the direction of Dhali, Kirsh, Sabiaha and Lawdar, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood’s handing over three districts in Shabwa to the Houthis target the Southern Forces and the Southern project, in an attempt to portray the STC as unable to secure Aden or establish a state” he continued.
Brigadier General Thabet Hussein added that “the STC is able to run Aden and all the Southern governorates and have the ability to establish a civil state with good governance which will support its neighbours in the Gulf region and international community in the field of combating terrorism”.
Security tightening and local grumble
There is no doubt that tightening the security measures in the capital Aden and in the roads to other Southern governorates, controlled by Southern security and military forces has not been welcomes by some of their rivals,This can be found through a quick survey of the media coverage by a number of outlets that oppose the policy of the STC and the security and the security and military units which run the Southern territories,
The systemic coverage of the security situation in Aden and others by the opposing media outlets through exaggeration, with the interaction of some local activists turned to a negative picture that contradicts the reality of the desire to enhance the security role. it is not wrong to say that there are defects and unorganized individual acts, leading sometimes to violations like killing “Abdulmalik Al Sanabani” which turned in mid-September into a public opinion issue (2). However, the organized campaigns against security in Aden, in particular, and the Southern governorates in general seem tireless and intentional. Some believe that the exaggeration aims to act as distraction from the massive violations and crimes by the Houthis and Muslim Brotherhood in Taiz and Sanaa. For example, an armed group, affiliated with military and security leaders and belongs to the Islah Party in Taiz (3) committed a horrible genocide against Al Harq Family by executing 5 of its members near their house at the beginning of August, which led to state of popular discontent against the lawlessness and chaos in the party's control areas. The Houthis also implemented mass executions in Sanaa against 9 victims, including a teenager, due to the accusation of leaking coordinates to the Arab Coalition’s planes which carries out a raid in Hudaydah  leading to the killing of Saleh Al Sammad, the head of the Houthi Supreme Political Council in April 2018. Moreover, there have several incidents of killing citizens at Houthi security checkpoints.
At the level of the Southern elites, it should be said that analysing such a rush towards those campaigns is important, especially regarding security issues in South Yemen. Those elites don’t raise questions about the reasons behind the Yemeni public opinion’s lack of similar interest in South and North towards issues which occur in the areas controlled by the Islah and the Houthis with the same degree of interest towards the STC’s areas. The Southerners often deal with this by continuous Self-flagellation, and doubting the security role by focusing on security issues that can be applied by security bodies in several stable countries. 
It is not exaggeration to say that there is clear submissiveness towards such campaigns by some local society members for several factors which probably include the attempts to analyse the phenomenon, to prove the validity of certain interpretations, or just attacking the political and military leaders they differ with. Away from the security and military considerations that serve the Southern interests. It may be a kind of drifting that indicates a certain passion or pride, or lack of familiarity with the true picture of the whole scene. It can be said one of the explanations indicates that Southern Yemen Society, especially the recent generations, grew up in an environment that has the ability to criticize, confront, express an opinion, and not remain silent towards strict security behaviours that it considers out of the ordinary, although it seems normal in politically and security stable countries, such as checking identity cards, as well as securing public facilities and roads.
The Southern observer looks at a summary of what is happening in the South and its various repercussions as related to integrated roles: as one of the goals behind the offensive  media coverage is to create barriers and obstacles to prevent any cooperation or coordination between the  Southern force and  the world countries or international organizations especially in the field of combating terrorism, while the way of killing Southern leaders and activists often reveal “terrorist operation” in systemic method that exempts any party from responsibility. 
Accordingly, The last two attacks in the capital city of Aden underscore the importance of enhancing the security and military role in South Yemen, and of making people aware of the necessity to cooperate with the security institutions and facilitate their work, especially after the communication with the security personnel began to diminish recently due to the mental confusion around many security issues in South Yemen. It is also important to reduce the media perplexity caused by platforms which oppose the security forces in Aden and other areas.
The  most likely is that the communication between the STC-affiliated official security bodies in Aden and local or international media outlets, and providing them with updated reliable news and information would be a basic and important source to feed the media with news, statements and the accompanying coverage requirements and sources without any distraction tools. Moreover, it would be an important factor that improves the level of security, its presence and  positive impact. The development of an approach to reform the security and military institutions  may require more attention from the STC, which contributes to enhancing  the  public trust  in these forces, in order to achieve the public interest of all members of society in South Yemen.

Resident Fellow with South24 Center, researcher and journalist in political affairs

- Photo: The attack that targeted the governor of Aden, on Sunday, October 10, 2021 (interrupted, agencies)

South YemenSouthern ForcesAden Security Southern Transitional CouncilMuslim BrotherhoodHouthis