Ottawa Spotlight اضواء أوتاوا

Hitch your wagon to a star

Jane Novak's Interview with M.T. Al-Mansouri, Ph.D. on Yemen's Internal Affairs

Al-Mansouri Mohamed Tawfik Ph. D., is a Canadian-Arab writer and researcher born in Yemen. He holds a doctorate degree in economics and agricultural science. His writing and research are published in many international scientific and non-scientific magazines and newspapers in Arabic, English and Polish. He was a member of the Yemeni military and is a researcher into Yemeni affairs. In this interview, Dr. al-Mansouri tackles the issues of corruption in the military, criminal behavior by regime officials, the impact former Saddam officers are having in Yemen and the official relationship between the government and the jihaddists among other topics.

Yemen spends about a quarter of its budget on the military. This allocation is often as a one line item in the budget without any breakdown of how the funds are to spent. The media has been prohibited from reporting on military issues without prior authorization, and there is little financial transparency. Yemen's largest bi-lateral creditor by far is Russia, with over USD 1 billion due to Russia largely from purchases of Mig 29 fighter jets. Why is Yemen's military spending so high? Is there much corruption in the military budget?

It is true that the statistic states that the Yemenite government spends a quarter of its budget on the military. Yet, in my opinion, Yemen spends much more for military and security systems. The media is not able to tell the truth in this case likewise in other social, economic and political issues of other organizations and establishments, due to the aggressive system. Yemenite system is completely corrupted and its purpose is the prohibitation of the information. The regime imports weapons from Russia, U.K., U.S.A., France etc. Then, it sells them illegally to many regional areas like Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia or for other active and inactive terrorist groups around the World. So, Yemen ends up, being the biggest legal and illegal market of weapons in the World.

Can you explain the weapons trafficking by the military in detail? Which weapons are sold to who, how do they deliver them, what are the date of some of the current transactions?

Both heavy and light weapons are sold in open way in the Yemenite weapons markets. One of the biggest Yemenite weapons market is in in Saadah. Citizens can buy any type of weapons. Transactions with other foreign groups delivered by sea. Yemen was involved in a weapons transaction scandal, when they sold weapons to one of Somali factions.

High level posts in the military are held by the direct relatives of President Saleh. What effect does this have on the efficiency of the military and in terms of command and control?

This is true that military and other important and beneficial positions are taken by the nepotism. The efficacy disappears in Saad's war as well as in the civil war of 1994; in addition, the ability of the army was lost, when they came to fight Eretria during the Eritrean occupation of the Yemenite

The military regime in Yemenis interrelated and intertwined. Their crimes together them, and the wealth of the country divided them. By this reputation the government wants to stay in power forever. The military is divided into the regulars, tribes, mercenaries, who come from the Islamic countries, who filled from the respective countries for various reasons, and the child soldiers, who are used for dirty jobs.

The Defence Ministry announced it inducted over 8000 tribesmen to fight in the last round of the Saadah War. How many soldiers does Yemen have? Why would that be necessary to have tribesmen fight in Saada considering the large amount of service members?

Yemen has a huge amount for solders, yet most of them protect the president and other leaders.

The Yemenite military system is not a dictatorial, but it has created a chaos system, which is the more dangerous. It has groups and organizations. The regime has been used the proxy fights and wars to terrorize the nation as well as the foreign people like tourists, traders, and investors.

How does the regime terrorize tourists?

They terrorize tourists by killing them. The army commanders do the same to representatives of donor countries. Also it has been alleged that relatives of the President are involved in illegal activities. The objectives of these operations are to neutralize the favourable opinions of Worlds governments.

Some media reports military commanders like Brig General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar and much of his staff have religious extremist viewpoints? Do you believe sectarianism on the part of the state has been a factor in the Saadah's wars?

Yes, the General Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar has a ties and strong relationships with extremist and mafias of the World. The Sectarian factor has not the major impact on the Saadah's war. The major factor of all Yemenite wars is usually the, who owns the power. In addition, War in Saadah is going to continue or will be spread to other regions.

A war lasting along time because of feuds and because of absence of the laws. Problems in Yemen are everywhere owing to the tyranny of tribes, which are part of the military system and for instance, in Sharab, Aljashin. Also there are other economic and psychological and inhuman wars in the region of Al-Hojaria, Taiz, Ibb and Hodeidah because those regions are more peaceful and productive regions than the others.

Can you explain Ali Mohsen's ties to extremists and mafia in detail?

Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar is the commander of the North West Military District. He is a brother of President Saleh. He also took part in forming and guiding Jihadistic Movement.

Information indicates that the authorities of Sana'a have implemented terrorism acts in Yemen as well as in the Horn of Africa.

Yemen loans out for terrorists facilities such as documents and airline tickets as. Money laundering operations are provided.

Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar is involved in all operations of terrorism. He has ties with international gangs, who smuggle weapons from Serbia, Slovakia, and Croatia. Kosovo and Montenegro.

All this operations are supervised by a high official close to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and then weapons find their way to jihadist groups in Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya, and Saudi Arabia.

Yemeni media have reported that jihaddists going to Iraq have been trained with the assistance of high ranking military commanders. Do you put any faith in these reports? What is the relationship between the jihaddists and sympathetic military commanders?

The former regime of Iraq built strong ties with the Northern Yemenite regime. They have protected themselves and they are also involved in many crimes not only in the area but also around the World. So they hide from the World, and help each other. The news is correct, because, North Yemen is not under the international control and has become one of the biggest areas for training the terrorists. We should understand that former regime of Iraq has power in Northern part of Yemen and it is working under the umbrellas of Jihaddists. I agree with the statement of the media reporters.

Can explain your answer more and give us some specific examples of terrorists trained in North Yemen. Where exactly in north Yemen? What kind of training do they receive, who trains them and finances them?

Terrorists are trained in many camps, including Saadah's, religious schools, and universities. The training is complete. The funding is received from the senate and other sources.

Thousands of Iraqi military members were absorbed into the Yemeni military. What impact are they having on both the Iraqi insurgency and in the Saadah wars?

North Yemen was and still an excellent place for formers Iraqi leaders and specialists. They have the land, the wealth and the power, which is not represented only by the Baath Party in Yemen but also by the character of the President Saleh, his relatives and other Sheiks of Al-Ahmar family. So, they contribute to insurgency in Iraq and in Saadah's war. For instance, they did that during and before the civil war in 1994, and in other Yemenite and none Yemenite civil wars. Those in Iraqi, who belong to the former Baath regime, have influence not only in the military but in all Yemenite establishments and organizations among them the Embassies.

How exactly do the former Iraqi officers in Yemen contribute to the insurgency in Iraq? Do you direct knowledge of this or is it your assumption? What is the relation of the Yemeni Baath party to the Iraqi insurgency?

Former Iraqi officers in Yemen are encouraging the Yemenite government to send volunteers to support the insurgency.

The goal of the insurgency is thoroughly backed by the former Iraqi officers, who are living in Yemen.

President Saleh's beliefs are in endorsed by the former Iraqi officers. Their objective is the same.

The Yemeni Baath Party is branches of the Baath party of Iraq .The have fateful relationships. They are also partners in investments in Yemen and outside Yemen. So, the have their financial sources to do many activities to increase and encourage insurgency in Iraq.

Military positions are often awarded as patronage by powerful sheiks and some men claim they are excluded from military service according to their hometown. Does this occur and does it lead to the rise of a type of private militia loyal to certain influential people?

It is a traditional style and the dogma of the Yemenite regime, the regime created the sheiks and commands. Sheiks became the army commanders and served a multifunction in that they become sheiks, merchants, diplomats, philosophers. So, they damage the economic political and social systems. For example, they work as smugglers businessman and carried in a trade of human beings, especially the children.

They help to spread terrorism abroad. Consequently, the real trade disappeared from the society. Even tourist has been liquidated. Investors have been blocked from the dealing in Yemen. They did not cancel the law of nationalization. Moreover, international cooperation was ignored. For example, they work as smugglers businessman and carried in a trade of human beings, especially the children.

You are saying that people with official positions are involved in criminal activity. Can you give us any specific examples of this?

An example, someone, who harms innocent people, Sheikh Mansour of Aljashin.

Abdul Karim Aleryani, former Prime Minister using the help of Iraqi medical doctors was responsible for taking a life of many students. They were selling human organs to the German hospitals. I wrote about this case in article entitled Black Comedy from the Land of Arabia Flex.

Then, there was, the other situation, Mr. Shaher Abdulhak, the infamous businessman, who was responsible for illegal transactions. The father of Farouk, who is accused of killing the Norwegian student Martine vik Magnussem in London.

Southern military officers were forcibly retired following the 1994 civil war. What is their status now and the chances of their re-integration into the military?

Southern military and other soldiers of the regions of Taiz or Middle Areas have not any chance to re-integration in general and in particular after the forcibly retired after the civil war of 1994.

Recently the situation in the south part is worse, owing not only to the demobilization of soldiers and officers of the south part , but also because of the looting of the citizen and the homeland wealth, the plunder of wealth and lack of justice and racial segregation etc . The used as unity become a metaphor expression by the regime of Sana'a. Hence, Southern are demanding emancipation peacefully, and the Sana's regime harm them. Southern people have the right to struggle in order to emancipate from the unreal unity, and their issue will bring them to a clean break.

How many soldiers are stationed in the south? Do you have any figures or statistics on how much land was looted?

There are many armed forces organs of intelligence to reprises Southern, who want to avoid the regime injustice, looting and pillaging. So, exact statistics can not be found and if it exists it is just alibi. The true nature of the Yemeni Regime will not be revealed until the fall of the regime, then access to the truth will be evident from the contents of secret state files.

Examples of looting and pillaging are the suspicious transaction of rental Aden's port to the Dubai Ports company through the authority. Aden airport was also closed to international flights and turned into an internal airport. President and his cousins occupied the fishery wealth as well as some of islands. Delivery of the strategic oil installations of Aden to close friends of the Saleh. Looting the benefit of oil refineries production. Looting large quantities of gold extracted from the south, and sell it's in the global market without the supply of revenue to the state's treasury. Looting Land of state property in the south and distributed to the President's family and close people. Demobilize around half of million civil and military people from the south state apparatus and replaced them by the others.

According to the report prepared by the American Centre for Strategic and International Studies, They have seen a remarkable increase in military Yemenite expenditure from 482 million to 942 million dollars in 2005. These weapons transactions are done through mediators to the President.

President Saleh recently announced the military will draft 70,000 youth into the military. What was the motivation behind this decision and is it a good idea or not? Will the recruits be from the regions of former PDRY as well?

President Saleh came from primitive army; he has not any ideas about the modernization of the armies and societies. In addition, he is infamous person, because of his telling of falsehoods. The security and military are everywhere the country .There is a constant state of emergency and them carrying out maneuvers without any reason. They only protect powerful people and ban people, who are asking for civil rights. Sometimes assassinations occur. They make up evidence, so they can harass and repress people.

For example, the evidence of killing national heroes or tourists as well as the bombing and killing the innocents children near the American Embassy in Sana, or killing the Norwegian student in London through the sons of the regime.

The courts and the judicial system are more like an investment company than a court. They seem to work to raise problems rather than to solve problems. People, who are considered to be intruders, are let off with a warning, instead of being prosecuted. I do not see any benefit in the president plan of recruiting youth.

Are you saying the regime was actually behind much of the incidents attributed to terror groups? Do you have any evidence of this?

The regime is actually behind all violent incidents, which are usually attributed to terror groups. The Yemenite current regime also killed the former President Ibrahim Hamdi in 1977, as well as Martyrs of October 15, 1978, hundreds of national heroes after and before and after the country was united.

Donors' countries, who have aided Yemen, have been abused as well as tourists. The destruction of USN Cole was another example of Yemenite treachery.

If Yemen is a military dictatorship, is there corruption in the military? Can you give some examples of this issue?

Examples of Yemenite Military corruption .More than half of the military machine out of service and without maintenance.

Yemenite Military and Economic Corporation buys wheat, which is supported by the government and then sells it to other countries. There is wasting of more than 50 million dollars.

It imports expired medications, medical tools and equipments. This military corporation also has prisons and army, so it kidnaps and kills employers, who oppose the corruption policy. In 1993, the Yemenite Military and Economic Corporation burned its hungers to create a beneficial economic situation for mischief leaders.

Corruption has different forms in Military, because it owns the media, which programs youth and citizens for the culture of terrorism and violence.

Corruption also in the fraud in building materials and, constructions well as contracts done by the Corps of Engineers and other units.

Corruption occurs in lack of respect for national sovereignty, Sheik Al-Ahmar and his sons received monthly funds around seventy million Saudi riyals from the Saudi government.

The corruption is represented in the number of Army, which guards the President Saleh, and other leaders.

Receiving more than the salary from several military units by some soldiers and leaders.
Enrolment soldiers to the camps, and army units, and the lack of presence (Recruitment placebo). Some soldiers receive more than one salary from several military units.

There are also officers, who register their children since birth in the army, and the government pays those salaries, privileges and when they reach the legal age it gives them high military rank.

Corruption in the armed forces is in the sale, purchase and transactions of the weapons for foreign or domestic people.

The armed forces looted the land and sold it. Most of the military leaders work in smuggling goods.

Army commanders are a businessman and dealers and they exploit their power to escape from paying customs and taxes.

Then why should Yemen have a military?

I do not see any benefits for the military to be in Yemen. They use their power for looting the country. There are many conflicts among predators in Yemen. These conflicts produced destruction to human beings and the earth. Yemen is not able to protect its border from any aggressor. The world has been changed. People need to leave in peace and ease instead of living in a state of emergency or among permanent military, security barracks and military arsenals. President Saleh is viewed as a hero, but he is not courageous enough to walk alone ten meters alone.

Can you give an assessment of President Saleh?

Medical doctors recommended president Saleh to swim in the sea due to his bad physical and mental conditions (psychosomatic illness). The advisors and guards decided to dress him in swimming equipment and to tie a rope around his chest. Despite all of this, he lost his balance and sank in the water and swallowed sea water. Because of this and his mental illness he accused people of attempting to assassinate him. He declared that all who oppose him will be sentenced to drink salt water. This information is true and based on analyzing e.g. news in media, presidential speech, pictures taken while at sea, medical reports, and behavior. This information can not only bee seen as a remote sensing but also gathered by it.

I do not see any reformations in the future from the governments and from president Saleh. President Saleh and his nepotism possessed and achieved everything by cheating and force. They also invested illegally abroad and harmed both Yemen's economy and other countries.

Is the official media a propaganda agency?

The media in Yemen does not have a vision of how to develop or reconstruct the nation. It only delivers the presidents message and allies. The media programs people to see killers and tyrants as leaders and heroes of the nation. Yemenite media shows and puts different images and photographs of the president in all forms, of media, cost too much money, and result in harming the minds of people and environment.

The media should to reform their priorities and deal with real and true issues such as, developmental programs, achievements of its citizens, discoveries and also true representation of our real national heroes. The media should also give solutions for nationalistic dilemmas such as poverty, drugs (opium khat) etc.

What effects does the president's state of mind have in decision making and creating policy? What is the influence of opium and khat a major factor on Yemen?

The symptoms of mental and psychological illness of the president Saleh occur as a kind of delirium and hallucination. President Saleh's speech proves this issue. The reasons of his sickness are many, but among them the environment in which he has been raised and worked in. It's full of violence, murder as well as the monotony of life style among soldiers and informants. In addition, the influence of alcohol and drugs (opium khat), which damages all Yemenite people.

President Saleh has involved the country and its people in war, insults and conflicts and worse of all in, the relationships and ties with neighboring countries and the World e.g. participated in creating and training the terrorists and ended by smuggling funds abroad and then used the army to guard himself and nepotism.

President Saleh should be forbidden from continuing his bad leadership and should be accountable for his atrocities by a court sentence.

When is Yemen going to be a democracy?

I am a former Arab-Yemenite citizen, and I am saying that to I disagree with contest the Yemenite government's explanations for the national issues.

Yemen is a country, which has been able to escape criticism of its reactionary policies, because of government inhuman culture and tradition of racism. Yemen uses State Terrorism to repress its own people. The elections are a farce. There is no real opposition. The same group keeps on getting re-elected.

The explanations are an effort to cover up blatant measures; the Yemen uses to disregard the Civil Rights of the Yemenite people.

Are there honest Yemenite Government officials?

I suggest that the Yemen's leaders of military as well as sheiks of tribes should only accept financial aid from only organs of the Yemenite Government in assisting Yemenite people to adapt to values and objectives and to develop themselves.

I it is also hoped that true democracy and equality can be induced in the minds of Yemenite extraction, so that they will stand imprimitive, in their relations to fellow Yemenite people.

The typical Yemenite government officials make their money in Yemen off course through deceptive and crooked means, and at the same time they maintain a residence in other countries, many of the Yemenite Diplomats at the end of their term end up keeping their families in the countries they serve in, many of them did that in Ottawa, Canada, Is there some thing called an honest Yemeni Government official? I don't think so.

Why are the leaders and sheiks following the wrong policy? What is your recommendation for them?

They follow the wrong policy because of their closed mind, selfishness and the bad heritage. I appeal to leaders and Sheiks of Yemen to release their people from corruption as well as to belief in true God, civilization and peace.

In addition, I appeal to the citizen of Yemen to struggle in order to get their civil rights. I also appeal to people and leaders to stop chewing the opium khat.

My advice and recommendation to all intellectual people as well as to the group of intelligence to study my intellectual articles, especially the Rooster and the empires (The Cloned Rooster and Rodents' Empire, The Rooster and Nationalizations' Wealth and Rights Empire, The Rooster and Murders' Empire, and The Rooster and Replicated and Animated Empire of Cows in order to know the Yemenite System and its interaction with others nations. Hopefully to know how to deal with them. The articles are located on Arab Times.

Jane Novak is an American journalist, political analyst, contributing editor at and expert on Yemenite affairs. Her website at and her e-mail is

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