Protesters blocking an international road between the cities of Al-Qatn and Seiyun, on Monday evening, December 12 (official).

How Do the Hadrami Parties Read the «First Military District's» Threats?


Sat, 17-12-2022 04:27 PM, Aden

Abdullah Al-Shadli (South24) 

Some Hadrami parties believe that the latest threats issued by a Northern military official affiliated with the First Military District (FMD) is a continuation of the same approach adopted in the 1994 war which was launched by Sanaa against South Yemen. On the contrary, other parties who are close to the FMD view these threats as “necessary" to maintain the power of the state.

In previous statements, Yehia Al-Hashdi (known as Abu Auja), the deposed FMD's commander threatened the Hadrami parties of military confrontations. In his statements which was broadcasted by Belqees TV channel which is owned by Yemeni activist Tawakkol Karman, he criticized the Southern Transitional Council (STC) and parties who demanded the removal of the Northern forces from Wadi Hadramout. Abu Auja said: “They will be under our watch”.

These threats came weeks after the Houthi attacks which targeted oil ports for the first time in eastern Mukalla, the capital city of Hadramout.

He insisted that the deployment of the FMD "was a result of a decision and won’t depart without a decision from its leadership”. He alleged that the Riyadh Agreement didn’t include the departure of these forces from Wadi Hadramout. 

Southerners argue that the Riyadh Agreement between the internationally-recognized government and STC on November 5th 2019 included the complete departure of the Northern forces and relocating them to the battle fronts against the Houthis.

For months, Hadrami areas have witnessed a popular movement against the presence of the FMD forces whose most of their members are Northerners. The intensity of these grassroot movements has escalated amid a state of security chaos in Wadi Hadramout that has led to the increase of killing, assassination and kidnapping of international foreign workers. 

The return of crackdown 

On February 12th, forces affiliated with the FMD attempted to prevent a peaceful event in Seiyun, the biggest city in Wadi Hadramout. They detained tens of delegations in security checkpoints as well as to use live shots against unarmed civilians citizens along with physically beating them by assault rifle. 

Earlier this month, the same forces prevented an artistic event scheduled to be held in Seiyun under the sponsorship of Hadramout’s Governor and PLC Member Aidrous Al-Zubaidi. The forces stormed the place where the party was scheduled to be held. 

Last Thursday, members of the FMD launched a crackdown against protesters in Seiyun who carried out a mass civil disobedience. Footages showed chasing operations amid thick smoke that filled the city sky. The sound of gunfire from medium and machine guns was heard. Press sources said that the forces arrested a number of protests including one child. 

In an official statement, the STC condemned the crackdown and arrest campaign. The STC’s Spokesperson, Ali Al-Kathiri, said: “We won’t permit consolidating the de-facto presence of the FMD forces who have enhanced terrorism since they invaded Hadramout in 1994".

The 1994 War's approach

Commenting on these threats, the Head of the STC in Seiyun Abdulrahman Al-Jafri told "South24 Center" that the "aim behind this is to intimidate Hadramout's people. The zero hour is approaching. Our people consider these mere farewell threats before they leave Hadramout”. 

For his part, Eng. Saleh Bazqamah, Deputy Chairman of “Inclusive Hadramout Alliance” told “South24 Center”: “We don’t care about these threats. They won’t discourage us from continuing demanding for our rights and Hadramout’s rights in all domains, foremost of which is the departure of the FMD from Wadi Hadramout according to the Riyadh Agreement”. 

Marei Al-Tamimi, the Spokesperson of the “Hadrami Upraising Command" rejected these threats. He told “South24 Center”: ”This violates the Riyadh Agreement which stipulated the departure of these forces”.

As for tribal sheikh Salem Al-Mohamadi, such threats are not new. He told “South 24 Center”: “They were priory preceded by similar threats including those launched by Bin Maeili and others”. 

In This regard, Dr. Omar Bagrdana, Chairman of “Knowledge Center for Studies” told “South24 Center”: “This is an extension of the hegemony and violence approach adopted by these forces towards the people of Wadi Hadramout since 1994. The tactics of these forces have developed beyond threats and reached the level of killing and physical liquidation in broad daylight”. 

On the other hand, activist Walid Belkaser who is close to the Islah party told “South24 Center” that “This is a message which reflects to what extent the FMD is serious in carrying out its military tasks to deter those who threaten the security of the areas they were assigned to secure”. 

Jamaan Saeed, the Secretary General of the Arbitration of Hadramout Tribes of Inclusive Hadramout Conference, agreed with him. He told “South24 Center” that “The previous response of the former Commander of the FMD confirms his commitment to the state’s decisions and his rejection of any calls of sabotage in Hadramout”.

Do Hadramis agree?

In spite of the contrasts in the stances of the Hadrami parties, they ultimately agree on the need to enable the Hadramis to manage the affairs of their governorate at militarily and security levels”.

In light of this, sources in Hadramout’ local authority told “South24 Center” that “they are making arrangements to hold a consultation meeting in order to extract a unified stance towards that” without setting a certain date.

Bagrdana believes that the objective circumstances to maintain the presence of the FMD in Wadi Hadramout are over. He told “South24 Center” that “issuing a decision to drive the FMD out of Wadi Hadramout has become an important matter and a solution which would spare Hadramout from the outbreak of more conflicts”. 

However, Belkaser does see there is a need for that. Jamaan Saeed agreed with him but he didn't deny the importance of moving the security and military tasks to Hadramout’s people.

Some Hadrami parties believe that there are some actors who benefit from the ongoing presence of the FMD in Wadi Hadramout. For example, Saleh Bazqamah said that “The beneficiaries are the only ones who fear losing their own interests”.

Meanwhile, Al-Jafri goes beyond this level as he believes that “there are regional forces which don’t want stability and peace to prevail in South Yemen and in Yemen in general”. 

Jamaan Saeed believes that “the state is the one which benefits from the ongoing presence of the FMD”. He added that “the departure of the governmental forces and their replacement with militias will severely harm the state in the first place and the citizens afterwards”.

On December 9, unknown armed men ambushed a number of soldiers affiliated with the Hadrami Brigade of the FMD [a small military brigade and the only one whose members are Hadramis] in Al-Ruwayk area, Al-Abr district, Hadramout Desert. The attack was carried out while they were escorting a team affiliated with the International Organization for Migration from Seiyun to Marib governorate in North Yemen. 

Two soldiers were killed and about seven others from the Hadrami Brigade injured as a result of the ambush.

On Sunday, the International Organization for Migration announced that “it is assessing its ability to maintain its operations in this region”. The organization denounced the attack against its employees. It added: “the humanitarian workers in Yemen and the security elements who guard them risk their lives to help those who are in dire need. They should not be targets of violence”.

On March 5th, foreign employees affiliated with “Doctors Without Borders” were kidnapped in Wadi Hadramout. It is believed that AQAP is behind that. The kidnapping operation was implemented between Al-Abr and Al-Khasha where there are a number of security checkpoints belonging to the FMD.

Abdullah Al-Shadli 

Journalist and editor at South24 Center for News and Studies

South YemenWadi HadramoutFirst Military DistrictAbu AujaPLCDoctors Without BordersKidnapping