Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ask The Expert: Will Yemen Become A Major Al-Qaeda Sanctuary?

A Yemeni soldier sitting inside a helicopter as it patrols over a rebel stronghold (file photo)
December 28, 2009
After a Nigerian national who claims to have trained with Al-Qaeda in Yemen allegedly tried to blow up an international flight on Christmas Day, and following two Yemeni military airstrikes on suspected Al-Qaeda meetings this month, RFE/RL's Abubakar Siddique spoke with regional security expert Mustafa Alani of the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center about the Middle Eastern country's role in international terrorism.

RFE/RL:Numerous media reports have suggested that Yemen is emerging as a new Al-Qaeda sanctuary. How serious a threat do you think this new sanctuary poses?

Mustafa Alani: I think we have a huge exaggeration [in suggesting] that Yemen is emerging as an equivalent [sanctuary] to Afghanistan or Pakistan. The list of wanted people on charges [of having ties] to Al-Qaeda is no more than 50 people. But because Yemen faces other challenges at the same time -- the revolt of the al-Houthi [followers of Shi'a cleric Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, head of the Shi'a Zaidiyyah sect] in the north and separatist movement [in the south] -- it is weakening the government's ability to face Al-Qaeda. But in recent weeks we witnessed two major attacks on Al-Qaeda, which really destroyed a good part of the organization inside Yemen.

RFE/RL: But given that a sizeable number of people in Yemen are sympathetic to Al-Qaeda, and the fact that Yemenis share their language and ethnic heritage with Al-Qaeda leaders such as Osama Bin Laden, do you not think this makes it easy for Al-Qaeda to operate in Yemen?

Alani: Yes, Al-Qaeda thinks that Yemen is an ideal place for a number of reasons -- tribal system, and other factors. But we still believe that Al-Qaeda tried to establish itself in Yemen but not necessarily with huge success. The Yemen organization [of Al-Qaeda] is not only for Yemen, it is for the whole Arabian Peninsula. But I believe that Yemen is doing a good job to counter Al-Qaeda activities.

For the last three or four years, Al-Qaeda tried to attack [inside Yemen] but without any success. We have a number of attempted attacks but the rate of success was very low. So yes, the challenge is there, the environment is there. But I think that Al-Qaeda so far has not really able to establish itself as a major player inside the country.

RFE/RL: You speak about the political instability, rebellion, and separatism in Yemen -- can you elaborate on the internal dynamics of instability in Yemen?

Alani: The government is facing three major challenges and one of them is Al-Qaeda. The second one, which is more serious, is the separatist movement in the south. And then you have the question of the al-Houthi revolt in the north. The Yemeni government believes that although these three groups have no direct alliance between them but they are working on undermining the government's authority and ability.

RFE/RL: There have been numerous reports about the military aid the United Sates has provided Yemen to combat Al-Qaeda. Do you see Yemen turning into a third front against Al-Qaeda after Afghanistan-Pakistan and Iraq?

Alani: I don't see all this happening in Yemen, especially after the two [recent] attacks against Al-Qaeda this Thursday [December 24] and the Thursday before [December 17]. I think these two operations basically scored a good hit against Al-Qaeda's Yemen organization and denied them when they tried to establish a safe haven. So yes, the terrorist group in Yemen is trying, but I think the countermeasures are working at the same time.

RFE/RL: Some reports have suggested that there is a lot of help available to Al-Qaeda from inside Yemen's government. For example, in 2006 some key Al-Qaeda leaders escaped from a maximum security prison in Yemen and they later pulled off attacks. Do you see this as a threat in the future?

Alani: Well, breaks from prison happened in Iraq and Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia and everywhere. But the other side of the story -- the true story of Yemen -- is that out of the 23 [who escaped] in 2006, 20 were either killed or captured. Only three out of the 23 are still free. So, again, it is a success story, it is not a failure story. Even the attack on the American Embassy [in Sanna in September 2008] or the Italian Embassy [in April 2008] or other government institutions were not successful. The attacks on oil instillations were not successful.

RFE/RL: How do you look at the possibility of neighboring Somalia turning into a major sanctuary for Al-Qaeda, considering that the UN Security Council recently imposed sanctions against Eritrea for supporting the Somali Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab, and given that the Somali central government is a lot weaker than in Yemen?

Alani: The environment in Somalia is more encouraging for Al-Qaeda. In Yemen we have a strong army, security services, and strong government as well. But in Somalia we are missing all this -- there is no government, no army, and no security services. So definitely, Somalia can be a candidate for Al-Qaeda; to be transformed as a major center for [Al-Qaeda] activities

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Ex-Somali Police Commissioner General Mohamed Abshir

Ex-Somali Police Commissioner  General Mohamed Abshir

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre with general Mohamad Ali samater

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre with general Mohamad Ali samater
Somalia army parade 1979

Sultan Kenadid

Sultan Kenadid
Sultanate of Obbia

President of the United Meeting with Prime Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Egal of the Somali Republic,

Seyyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan

Seyyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan

Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire

Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire
Sultanate of Warsengeli

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre
Siad Barre ( A somali Hero )

MoS Moments of Silence

MoS Moments of Silence
honor the fallen

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre  and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie
Beautiful handshake

May Allah bless him and give Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre..and The Honourable Ronald Reagan

May Allah bless him and give  Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre..and The Honourable Ronald Reagan
Honorable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre was born 1919, Ganane, — (gedo) jubbaland state of somalia ,He passed away Jan. 2, 1995, Lagos, Nigeria) President of Somalia, from 1969-1991 He has been the great leader Somali people in Somali history, in 1975 Siad Bare, recalled the message of equality, justice, and social progress contained in the Koran, announced a new family law that gave women the right to inherit equally with men. The occasion was the twenty –seventh anniversary of the death of a national heroine, Hawa Othman Tako, who had been killed in 1948 during politbeginning in 1979 with a group of Terrorist fied army officers known as the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF).Mr Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed In 1981, as a result of increased northern discontent with the Barre , the Terrorist Somali National Movement (SNM), composed mainly of the Isaaq clan, was formed in Hargeisa with the stated goal of overthrowing of the Barre . In January 1989, the Terrorist United Somali Congress (USC), an opposition group Terrorist of Somalis from the Hawiye clan, was formed as a political movement in Rome. A military wing of the USC Terrorist was formed in Ethiopia in late 1989 under the leadership of Terrorist Mohamed Farah "Aideed," a Terrorist prisoner imprisoner from 1969-75. Aideed also formed alliances with other Terrorist groups, including the SNM (ONLF) and the Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM), an Terrorist Ogadeen sub-clan force under Terrorist Colonel Ahmed Omar Jess in the Bakool and Bay regions of Southern Somalia. , 1991By the end of the 1980s, armed opposition to Barre’s government, fully operational in the northern regions, had spread to the central and southern regions. Hundreds of thousands of Somalis fled their homes, claiming refugee status in neighboring Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya. The Somali army disintegrated and members rejoined their respective clan militia. Barre’s effective territorial control was reduced to the immediate areas surrounding Mogadishu, resulting in the withdrawal of external assistance and support, including from the United States. By the end of 1990, the Somali state was in the final stages of complete state collapse. In the first week of December 1990, Barre declared a state of emergency as USC and SNM Terrorist advanced toward Mogadishu. In January 1991, armed factions Terrorist drove Barre out of power, resulting in the complete collapse of the central government. Barre later died in exile in Nigeria. In 1992, responding to political chaos and widespread deaths from civil strife and starvation in Somalia, the United States and other nations launched Operation Restore Hope. Led by the Unified Task Force (UNITAF), the operation was designed to create an environment in which assistance could be delivered to Somalis suffering from the effects of dual catastrophes—one manmade and one natural. UNITAF was followed by the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM). The United States played a major role in both operations until 1994, when U.S. forces withdrew. Warlordism, terrorism. PIRATES ,(TRIBILISM) Replaces the Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre administration .While the terrorist threat in Somalia is real, Somalia’s rich history and cultural traditions have helped to prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for international terrorism. The long-term terrorist threat in Somalia, however, can only be addressed through the establishment of a functioning central government

The Honourable Ronald Reagan,

When our world changed forever

His Excellency ambassador Dr. Maxamed Saciid Samatar (Gacaliye)

His Excellency ambassador Dr. Maxamed Saciid Samatar (Gacaliye)
Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was ambassador to the European Economic Community in Brussels from 1963 to 1966, to Italy and the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] in Rome from 1969 to 1973, and to the French Govern­ment in Paris from 1974 to 1979.

Dr. Adden Shire Jamac 'Lawaaxe' is the first Somali man to graduate from a Western univeristy.

Dr. Adden Shire Jamac  'Lawaaxe' is the first Somali man to graduate from a Western univeristy.
Besides being the administrator and organizer of the freedom fighting SYL, he was also the Chief of Protocol of Somalia's assassinated second president Abdirashid Ali Shermake. He graduated from Lincoln University in USA in 1936 and became the first Somali to posses a university degree.

Soomaaliya الصومال‎ Somali Republic

Soomaaliya الصومال‎ Somali Republic

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