A top Yemeni military commander was assassinated yesterday in Aden. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and its insurgent arm, Ansar al Sharia, have made increasing threats of attacks on Yemeni military and government targets as the Yemeni military advances on insurgent-held positions in the south.
A suicide attack killed Yemen’s military commander heading the offensive against Ansar al Sharia Monday in Aden. The attacker, whom Yemen’s Defense Ministry identified as a Somali, reportedly threw himself onto Major General Salem Ali Qatan’s vehicle in Reemi neighborhood in Aden’s al Mansoura district. Two guards accompanying the general were also killed. Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi appointed Qatan as commander of the southern military zone and the 31st Armored Brigade on March 1 this year. Under Qatan’s command, Yemeni troops have entered cities held by the insurgents since last spring. Xinhua reported that al Qaeda-linked militants have claimed credit for the assassination. The U.S. has condemned the attack.
Yemeni security forces have continued their advance against Ansar al Sharia. Yemeni troops entered Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan governorate, and surrounding areas on June 12 and from there, proceeded eastward toward Shabwah governorate. The military entered Shaqra, a coastal town along the road connecting Abyan and Shabwah governorates, on June 14. Yemeni forces were supported by local tribesmen. Fighting is ongoing in Abyan, where militants still have holdouts east of Zinjibar and north of Shaqra. Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed said that Yemeni troops entered Azzan in Shabwah governorate, and claimed the town and surrounding areas are “under the control of the army.” Troops had been deployed to Azzan after the fall of Shaqra and locals reported that militants had withdrawn ahead of the advance. Azzan was a militant stronghold in Shabwah.
A leading shari’a official in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Abu Zubair Adil al Abab, justified Ansar al Sharia’s fight against the Yemeni military. He said in an audio speech released on June 13 that Yemeni soldiers’ service on behalf of the secular Yemeni government, which is partnered with the American military, is not permitted. His message to the soldiers called on them to accept Ansar al Sharia. Awad Muhammad Ba Nijar, a Yemeni cleric affiliated with Ansar al Sharia’s media outlet, Madad News Agency, called on youths to join Ansar al Sharia in jihad against the American “soldiers on the ground,” who “invaded” Yemen. (Post accessed and translated by SITE.)
The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2051 on June 12. The resolution calls for all parties in Yemen to support the political transition and demands the end to all activities that undermine the government. Specifically, the resolution notes continued attacks on energy infrastructure and the implementation of all military and civilian appointments. It threatened diplomatic or economic sanctions against those who continue to disrupt the implementation of the transition process.
Please sign up for the Quick Take to receive these updates by email.