Who Does the «Yemeni Journalists Union» Represent?


Sat, 17-09-2022 02:31 PM, Aden

Abdullah Al-Shadli (South24)

Over the past period, there have been growing demands to establish a Union for Southern Journalists. This came amid several accusations against the Yemeni Journalists Union of failing to represent and adopt the journalists’ affairs. It turned out to be a “Northern” Union which served the interests of Northern political parties against their internal rivals.

The Union, run actually by Northern journalists, are accused of taking sides against South and employing all its capabilities in favor of Northern parties, foremost of which is the Islah. 

The consecutive events experienced by Yemen for years have enhanced these accusations. The public stances adopted by this Union in addition to its Northern leadership structure reveal a political Northern domination. This is apart from the real goals of such Union entities in a country that comes third globally in the list of the worst states for journalists. 

In this report, “South24” explores the truth of the allegations about the Northern journalists’ domination on the Union and the degree of its political bias. Moreover, the report includes the views of the Union's leaders, independent journalists and leading press Southern figures affiliated with the STC. 

Northern hegemony

The Yemeni Journalists Union is currently headed by the Northern journalist Yassin Al-Masoudi. The Union includes 1499 members but its Board of Directors is completely dominated by Northern journalists except for one figure. Many of these journalists are affiliated with Northern political parties such as The Islah, the General People's Congress and even the Houthis. 

The following list, monitored by “South24”, reveals the names of the Union’s Board of Directors and their political affiliations according to exclusive sources close to the journalists who spoke to “South24”. 

Board of Directors of Yemeni Journalists Union




The governorate

The party


Yassin Al Masoudi

Chief of the Union

Ibb, North Yemen

The Congress Party


Saeed Thabet

First Deputy

Born in Aden, Sheikh Othman. His origin roots back to Taiz governorate

Affiliated with The Islah. He resigned from the Union. He currently resides in Qatar and works in Al-Jazeera.












Mohammed Saeed Salem

Second Deputy

Yafa, South Yemen

A former member of the Congress Party. He is currently an STC supporter



Marwan Dammaj

General Secretary

Taiz, North Yemen

Yemeni Socialist Party


Mohamed Shbeita


Ibb, North Yemen

Not clear. He is believed to be affiliated with The Islah Party

  Heads of Committees in the Yemeni Journalists Union




The governorate

The party


Nabil Al-Asidi

Training Committee

Taiz, North Yemen. He resides in Switzerland

The Islah(according to an exclusive resource)


Ahmed Al-Jabr

Service Committee

Dhamar, North Yemen

The Islah(according to an exclusive resource)


Jamal Anaam

Rights and Freedoms Committee

Taiz, North Yemen

The Congress Party


Abbas Ghalib

Foreign Relations Committee

Al-Hodeida, North Yemen

The Congress Party


Fikri Qassem

Branch Committee

Taiz, North Yemen



Abdullah Al-Safani

Culture and Media Committee

Sanaa, North Yemen

He was formerly a member of The Islah Party. Currently, he is affiliated with the Houthis


Fatima Mutahar

Activity Committee

Taiz, North Yemen

She is leaning towards the Houthis


Hamdi Al-Bakari

Legal Committee

Taiz, North Yemen

He is leaning towards The Islah and resides in Qatar

Commenting on that, Head of the Humanitarian Journalism Foundation, the Southern journalist Bassam Al-Qadi said: “Since its establishment, the Union has been almost entirely controlled by Northerners”.

He told “South24”: “Most of those figures belong to or affiliated with the Islah. Even the independent members are not decision makers and have no powers. Thus, it is a Union dedicated to the Islah’s journalists”.

However, Northern journalist Mohamed Shbeita, Treasurer of the Yemeni Journalists Union, believes that talking about a Northern control over the Union is incorrect and inaccurate.

“The Yemeni Journalists Union’s Board of Directors are elected during a public conference attended by 1500 members and not through personal decisions,” he told “South24”

Southern journalist Salem Al-Shahet, the Head of the Union’s branch in Hadramout believes that there is a need to reconsider the way by which the Union’s elections are held.

Al-Shahet told “South24” that “the elections are held every 4 years in the general Union. As a large number of journalists are from certain areas, the winners are often the candidates affiliated with those districts”

He added: “There is a need to reconsider the way things are going. We discussed this issue with the International Federation of Journalists and there were understandings to give the branches of the Union in the governorates full powers apart from representing the country abroad”.

Al-Shahat indicated that this has been obstructed because of the events of 2011.

Ali Al-Kathiri, the Head of the National Southern Media Authority which is affiliated with STC, believes that “the Yemeni Journalists Union lost its status a long time ago and that since 19994, it has been run by the same mentality which promoted invading South and abusing its people”.

Al-Khahiri told “South24” that “after 2011, the Union lost what remained of its status and became a department affiliated with one party. It lost its tangible presence whether in South or in North”.

He added: “the Union now issues their statements from Doha or Istanbul only to cope with the project of this party and to justify its battles, particularly in South”.

He added: “We, in South, believe that this Union died with the death of the unity in 1994 when it lost its representative and union status and turned to be a tool to subdue South and erase its press and media organizations”.

Double standards

Despite the designation of the Houthis who control most areas in North Yemen as the most violator and oppressive against journalists among the local parties according to human rights reports and organizations [1], the statements issued by the Yemeni Journalists Union largely focus on the areas controlled by STC and South in general. 

Moreover, the Union’s statements about journalists in the areas controlled by forces affiliated with the Islah Party are written using shy and calm language which does not antagonize the official and security authorities in these areas contrary to the statements about Southern areas like Aden and Mukalla. 

The Yemeni Journalists Union issued 14 statements related to Southern areas since the beginning of 2022 up to the time of publication of this report. These statements are basically divided between the governorates of Aden, Hadramout, Shabwa and Lahj. On the other hand, it just issued 7 statements related to Northern areas such as Marib, Taiz and Sanaa. 

The statements about Northern areas and journalists included a solidarity statements with Journalist Mohammed Abdulmalik [2], the Editor in Chief of “Taiz Time” who alleged that he was threatened [3] by Lieutenant-General Dhahi Khalfan, Deputy Chief of Dubai Police after his website issued a video [4] that featured a verbal confrontation between the UAE security official and a Yemeni in Berlin. 

The Union largely adopted a doubtful, accusatory and politicized stance towards the issues of journalists in Southern areas, especially those which are directly controlled by STC like the capital city of Aden. 

A prominent example of that is the issue related to activist Ahmed Maher. Although the official security bodies in Aden issued an official statement in which they clarified the reasons behind arresting “Captain Ahmed Maher” for things charges related to “terrorism” and violating security, the Union condemned [5] detaining Maher by “armed elements” and ignored any mention to the security officials’ statement. 

Things were not limited to this level as Head of the Union’s Training Committee Nabil Al-Asidi repeated the same accusations against Aden’s security bodies in an interview with the Saudi-owned channel “Al-Hadath''. [6] He ignored commenting on the serious charges against Maher. He added that “Maher’s only accusation is what he wrote under the freedom of speech and his criticism towards STC”.

The issue of Maher, who holds a military rank according to the security bodies in Aden, is getting growing attention from the Union and its leaders while 4 journalists (Abdulkhaliq Omaran, Akram Al-Walidy, Saleh Hamid, Tawfiq Al-Mansori are languishing in Houthi prisons in Sanaa for about 8 years and face the cruelest forms of torture and death penalties.

In this regard, Southern journalist Mohammed Al-Yazidi told “South24” that “the Union’s stances are in the interests of the parties which control it, foremost of which is the Islah Party. This happens even indirectly. This is clear in the different tones used by the Union between Southern and Northern areas”. 

However, Shbeita criticized such claims saying that “the Union does its tasks in a professional way. All violations in all governorates are monitored and condemned”.

Northern journalist Yassin Al-Zikri believes that “the current uncontrollable circumstances impact the Union’s work”. 

He told “Soyuth24”: “the Yemeni Journalists Union is supposed to be independent but due to the current circumstances, Union’s members are like hostages. The Union attempts to be neutral in light of the narrow space available for it”.

Who are served by the Union?

On September 4th, Northern journalist Hamoud Hazaa called on the Yemeni Journalists Union to condemn the “abuses” against him by a security officer in the city of Marib. [7]

Hazaa’s call has been so far ignored. Thus, the Union was widely criticized for its quick condemnations of the simplest incidents and issues in Aden and South”.

He wrote on Facebook that “the officer who works in Marib security made a number of abuses against him including demolishing the wall of his residence, storming his sanctuary, and pointing a weapon in his face more than once”.

Local media outlets consider the Hazaa issue as an indicator about the double standard policy adopted by the Yemeni Journalists Union towards the different issues and an indicator that the Union has been politically employed by internal political parties against other parties. [8]

It is important to note that the Union issued a statement [9] on September 9th in which it officially denied the content of a video, leaked by security parties in Aden, in which Ahmed Maher admit his links with military commander Amjad Khaled who is among the most wanted person by security forces in Aden as he is accused of being behind several assassination and bombing operations.

The Union said in its statement that “Maher made confessions under duress and that he is accused of false and shameful charges that mind can’t accept”. The Union denounced what it described as “the Aden authorities’ adoption of the same way of the former totalitarian regimes by humiliating victims and forcing them amid repressive circumstances to make false confessions in order to justify their violations”.

However, the same Union just condemned what happened to journalist Abbdulhakim Al-Haddi, Director of a local TV channel, who was assaulted by Kalashnikov butts on April 5th 2022 by soldiers affiliated with Rescue Forces in the city of Al-Turbah in the Northern governorate of Taiz during his presence to direct a TV series. 

Contrary to the Union's sharp accusatory tone against Aden’s security and military bodies, the statement this time called on the securities bodies in Al-Turbah, which is controlled by Taiz Military Axis affiliated with the Islah Party, to make a ” Speedy investigation into the incident in order to reveal its circumstances, and hold those involved accountable." [10]

Sources in the Union accused the Union’s leaders affiliated with the Islah Party of providing big opportunities to the party’s members or those affiliated with it to join the Union and get its membership. 

The sources told “South24” said that the biggest number of the independent journalists or those who are close to other political parties have not been able to join the Union. They added that those who work in media outlets dominated by the Islah Party didn’t find any hardships to get the Union’s membership.

The Southern Journalists Union

There have been calls to establish an independent union for Southern journalists. This is because of the reality of the Yemeni Journalists Union which is seen by Southerners as a political tool devoid of supposed values and professionalism. As being a Union, it should supposedly protect journalists in South and North alike without discrimination.

Whether there are plans to achieve this, Ali Al-Kathiri said: “There are moves within the National Southern Media Authority towards holding a conference which gather Southern journalists and media staff soon to discuss their conditions and to agree upon establishing a comprehensive Southern press and media union entity”.

He added: “Currently, we continue consulting with Southern journalists and media staff to establish a preparatory committee during the next few days (It was established on September 11th) to prepare for the conference and identify the representation percentages of each Southern governorate as well as setting a certain date for the conference to be held in October”.

Bassam Al-Qadi believes that the establishment of a union for Southern journalists is “very important”. He added: “We began to collect data bases more than a year ago. The establishment of such a Union requires sincere efforts to be an independent one which aims to defend journalists impartially, professionally and independently”.

Abdullah Al-Shadli 

Journalist at South24 Center for News and Studies

Yemen mediaSouthern Media AuthorityMedia UnionFreedom of speechIslahSTC