Monday,16 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1209, (14 - 20 August 2014)
Monday,16 July, 2018
Issue 1209, (14 - 20 August 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Yemeni soldiers killed

Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for last week’s massacre of Yemeni army soldiers, writes Nasser Arrabyee from Sanaa

Al-Ahram Weekly

The two main religious groups in Yemen exchanged accusations this week after Al-Qaeda killed 14 of the country’s soldiers last Friday.

The Shiite Houthi group said the leaders of the Yemen Muslim Brotherhood Al-Islah Party had supported terrorists in their campaign to kill the soldiers, while Al-Qaeda claimed it had kidnapped and killed the soldiers because they were Houthis fighting in the province of Hadhrmout.

The Yemeni public was shocked to see the soldiers slaughtered after being taken from a collective bus on the highway in Hadhrmout in the east of the country.

Three weeks ago, Houthi militants defeated forces from the Al-Islah militia in Amran in the north of the country. At the time, Al-Islah implicitly accused the president, Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi, and the minister of defence of colluding with the Houthis, who now dominate Amran.

The Houthis are opposed to both Al-Qaeda and Al-Islah.

Although Al-Islah officially condemned the massacre of the soldiers, the Party’s activists have been asking why the Yemeni army is fighting the Sunni Muslim Al-Qaeda group in the southeast of the country and not the Shiite Houthi militants in the north.

The army has become the victim of sectarian arguments between the two rival groups.

In an attempt to reduce public anger at the slaughter of the soldiers, Al-Qaeda said all the 14 men were from Amran, publishing their names and home villages.

However, questions have arisen as to why the 14 men were all leaving the military base in Sayoun at the same time and on the same bus and how this information reached Al-Qaeda. 

The army is now trying to take revenge for the 14 slain soldiers, at least in order to quieten public concerns. The beheading of the soldiers was filmed by Al-Qaeda and posted on social media, apparently in an attempt to frighten local residents in Hadhrmout and prevent them from cooperating with the army.

The army has instructed the local people to observe a curfew, not to carry weapons, only to drive cars if they have full documentation, and not to rent houses to outsiders, since they may be terrorists.

To weaken Al-Qaeda’s movements, Yemeni planes also destroyed about 1,000 barrels of looted oil in an area near Huta in Hadhrmout where Al-Qaeda was planning to establish a Taliban-style emirate.

Al-Qaeda’s local leader, Jalal Beleidi, was the commander who ordered the killing of the soldiers. However, his father, Muhsen Beleidi, condemned the massacre saying that “killing soldiers is an unforgivable crime, and my son was exploited by other individuals and organisations.”

The elder Beleidi was forced to retire from the army after the 1994 war between south and north Yemen. President Hadi only ordered the return of hundreds of retired officers to the army and security services last year.

Two days before the massacre of the soldiers on August 8, the army also killed 18 Al-Qaeda operatives trying to ambush troops in Sayoun in the east of the country.

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