Political Assassinations in South Yemen: Rivals' Last Weapon


Tue, 26-04-2022 04:25 PM, Aden

Cairo (South24)

For the first time, an analysis paper highlights the political assassination file in South Yemen in conjunction with the recent increase in assassinating prominent Southern political figures during past weeks.

The paper, issued by "South24 Center" and authored by Researcher Farida Ahmed reveals the scale of the intensified wave of assassinations most of which targeted influential Southern leaders and figures at several levels including political and military ones over several historical periods that preceded the Yemeni Unity and followed it after the 1994 War until after the 2014 War.

It also focused on assassinations in South Yemen from a wider perspective by presenting the reasons and the motives behind them along with shifting to some operations in North Yemen some of which changed several historical and political paths.


The paper added that political assassination in Yemen is not a strange phenomenon as the modern political history includes many cases of it.  Such operations often take the lead amid unstable political and security circumstances. Some parties rely on assassination as the last tool to silence rivals and undermine their strength.

It pointed out that many details about assassination operations are still unknown or being tied up to anonymous culprits which end the tasks of any investigation committees. Subsequently, they turn out to be mere memorial events in which people list the virtues of the victims. 

According to the paper, the intensity of the assassinations increased after the Yemeni regime embraced some jihadist figures as part of its structure in the government and the army. They helped it in the war against South in 1994 as admitted by Yemeni Prime Minister at the time, "Abdulkarim Al-Eryani”.

The paper shifted to the political assassinations after the 1994 War including Dr. "Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf" who was run over by a car in Haddah Street in Sanaa and Mohammed Thabet Al-Zubaidi, a founder of the anti-Saleh regime movement (self-determination movement) "Hatm" was assassinated in an ambush in Al Dhale’s Zabid area. 

After the outbreak of the peaceful Southern Movement (Hirak) in South Yemen in 2007, the paper said that “the assassinations took a new and intensified curve as most operations were carried out in broad daylight. Some of them succeeded while others failed”. Reports pointed out that the number of assassination operations implemented by the former Yemeni regime and its intelligence agencies from 1995 and 2007 is twice the number of people assassinated before the 1994 war. From 2009 to 2013, over 126 assassination operations were carried out against Southern military and security officials.

Motives behind assassinations

The paper addressed the multiple motives and reasons behind assassination operations which range between political, religious and retaliatory ones. It made a link between the recent increase of the successive assassinations and the Yemeni-Yemeni Consultations held in Riyadh amid claims that it could lead to “a broader participation of the Yemeni components in the sovereign decision, especially the Southerners”. This comes in light of the control of one political party over the presidential decision for years.

The researchers addressed the assassination operations which targeted opponents of extremist religious ideas including the two young men, "Omar Batawil" and "Amjad Abdulrahman” who were physically eliminated as well as some religious figures in Aden and Hadramout. 

Who are the perpetrators?

The paper concluded that involvement of extremist religious groups at the top of the list of perpetrators of most assassinations in Yemen as the AQAP, ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Houthis are repeatedly accused. It highlighted the role played by the Yemeni intelligence agencies which partially depend on these groups to carry out some operations, or they implement them independently through its security bodies.


The paper called the Southern political and military forces to deal with these events according to the following set of recommendations:

● There is an urgent need for an effective southern security and intelligence frame to limit the widespread assassinations which are mainly concentrated in South Yemen targeting influential political and military Southern figures. Therefore, the development of a strong intelligence agency that is completely independent from the previous security services will be important to limit these operations.

● The Southern political and security forces must admit that they are also responsible for the exacerbation of the assassinations after the recent war in Yemen, because they are currently in the positions of political decision-making as well as at the military and security levels. However, their efforts in monitoring and tracking in these operations   are still little. This requires them to adopt serious action steps, not just nominal ones.

● The potential threats and security challenges in South Yemen could serve as a motive to develop the Southern security agencies. However, the failure to interact with the importance of the assassination incidents by not responding to them properly through investigation or tracing their roots or establishing a vision to address them will necessarily lead to the penetration and disintegration of these bodies over time.

● Southern political forces should pose pressures for the speedy liberation of the telecommunications and Internet sector from the grip of the Houthis who are exploiting it in their war against South by targeting influential political and military figures through surveillance, monitoring and espionage.

● Southern media and human rights activists should take the responsibility of following up the growing assassination files, most of which are classified as "terrorist" operations in South Yemen. They have to convey them to international forums and mobilize to highlight them in a way that helps local actors to receive support for curbing such operations.

● Strengthening economic, social and other policies while neglecting security would aggravate of the phenomenon of assassinations. An integrative action must be adopted to enhance all policies and achieve the conditions for general stability, especially after the Southern military and security forces took control of most of the Southern areas.

- South24 Center for News and Studies 
- To download the full paper (here)

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