Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar

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Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar
Ali Mohsen Saleh al-Ahmar.jpg
Native name علي محسن الأحمر
Born (1945-06-20) June 20, 1945 (age 69)
Sanhan, Sana'a Governorate, Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen
Allegiance  Yemen
Service/branch Yemen Army
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Unit 1st Armored Division
Commands held North-Western Military District
1st Armored Division[1]
Battles/wars
Relations Ali Abdullah Saleh (Distant cousin)[2]

Ali Mohsen Saleh al-Ahmar (Arabic: علي محسن صالح الأحمر‎), sometimes spelled "Muhsin", (born 20 June 1945) is a major general of the Yemeni army and was the commander of the northwestern military district and the 1st Armoured Division. al-Ahmar was also a business tycoon in Yemen.[3] He played a leading role in the creation of the Islamist Islah party with considerable financial backing from Saudi Arabia.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Early life[edit]

Born in Sanhan, a southeastern suburb of Sana'a, he is a member of the al-Ahmar family of the Hashid tribe and a distant cousin of former president of Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh.[5]

Aden-Abyan Islamic Army[edit]

al-Ahmar as a colonel in the Yemeni military.

Mohsen is known to have Salafi leanings and to support a more radical Islamic political agenda than Ali Abdullah Saleh. He has powerful Wahhabi supporters in Saudi Arabia and has aided the Saudis in establishing Wahhabi institutions in the Zaydi heartland,[6] creating internal tension.[7] He is believed by the United States to have been behind the formation of the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army.[8] He recruited Salafis and al-Qaeda sympathizers directly into the fight against the Zaydi Houthi rebels.[9]

Business ventures[edit]

According to ambassador Thomas C. Krajeski, Mohsen was a major beneficiary of diesel smuggling, and amassed a fortune in the smuggling of arms, food staples and consumer products. Together with Sheikh Abdullah al Ahmar's sons and Ali Abdullah Saleh, were making millions working the diesel smuggling and black market, using military vehicles and National Security Bureau and Central Security Organization staff to move the fuel to markets in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.[10]

2011 Uprising[edit]

Relations between Saleh and Mohsen had reportedly soured years before the uprising due to his rivalries with two of the president's sons. This souring of relations led to an apparent attempt by the President Saleh to kill Mohsen by asking Saudi Arabian military commanders to bomb an alleged rebel base which was in fact Mohsen's HQ.[11] On March 21, 2011, al-Ahmar said he would protect the anti-government Yemeni protesters, along with other top Yemeni army commanders, in a move that was later condemned as 'mutinous' by President Saleh.[12] On December 19, 2012, al-Ahmar was effectively fired from his position by President Hadi as part of Hadi's efforts to restructure the military and remove the political and military elite remnant from former President Ali Abdullah Saleh's rule. The forces previously under al-Ahmar's command, most notably the First Armoured Division, will be absorbed into the Defence Ministry.[13]

2014 Sana'a coup d'état[edit]

On September 16, armed clashes broke out in northwest Sana'a between the Houthi militia and some army units loyal to al-Ahmar. After four days of fighting, al-Ahmar moved toward the headquarters of Military Region VI (the previous First Armored Division, which Ahmar used to lead before he was dismissed and appointed adviser to the president for defense and security affairs in 2012). He did not comply with the president's and defense minister's directives and he led the battles against the Houthis himself, in what was seen as a possible coup attempt. al-Ahmar did not achieve any victories, and in two days the Houthis were in control of most major government buildings in Sana'a, including the buildings of state television, state radio, the prime minister’s office, the armed forces general command, the Ministry of Defense, the Central Bank of Yemen and Military Region VI.[14]

Rumored exile[edit]

Following the Houthi takeover of the Yemeni capital Sana'a, it was rumored that Sadiq al-Ahmar, members of the al-Ahmar family and Hashid tribal elders fled Yemen to Saudi Arabia or Qatar. [15] al-Ahmar is also believed to have sought refuge in either Saudi Arabia or Qatar following the Houthi ascension to power.[16][17] His absence has seen his homes in the Hadda neighborhood of Sana'a seized by Houthi fighters, and are now used as museums for the public. A Houthi member, Abu Mohammed stated "“We are going to convert all these houses to museums for citizens so they can see where their money has been going. These houses belong to all Yemenis, and no one else. We freed them from usurpers.”[18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Yemen Order of Battle | American Enterprise Institute Critical Threats Project
  2. ^ Sarah Phillips (2008). Yemen's Democracy Experiment in Regional Perspective. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 52. ISBN 9780230616486. 
  3. ^ "'Rebel' General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar, Yemen's back-up ruler after Saleh". The National. 24 March 2011. 
  4. ^ Sarah Phillips (2008). Yemen's Democracy Experiment in Regional Perspective. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 137. ISBN 9780230616486. 
  5. ^ Sarah Phillips (2008). Yemen's Democracy Experiment in Regional Perspective. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 52. ISBN 9780230616486. 
  6. ^ Barak A. Salmoni, Bryce Loidolt, Madeleine Wells (2010). Regime and Periphery in Northern Yemen The Huthi Phenomenon. RAND Corporation. p. 93. ISBN 9780833049339. 
  7. ^ Fawaz A. Gerges (2013). The New Middle East: Protest and Revolution in the Arab World. Cambridge University Press. p. 374. ISBN 9781107470576. 
  8. ^ Mark Rice-Oxley (21 March 2011). "WikiLeaks cable links defecting Yemeni general to smuggling rackets". the Guardian. Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  9. ^ Barak A. Salmoni, Bryce Loidolt, Madeleine Wells (2010). Regime and Periphery in Northern Yemen The Huthi Phenomenon. RAND Corporation. p. 162. ISBN 9780833049339. 
  10. ^ Mark Rice-Oxley (21 March 2011). "WikiLeaks cable links defecting Yemeni general to smuggling rackets". the Guardian. Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "WikiLeaks: Yemen tricked Saudis into nearly bombing president's rival". The Guardian. 8 April 2011. 
  12. ^ "Top Yemeni general, Ali Mohsen, backs opposition". BBC News. 21 March 2011. 
  13. ^ Jamjoom, Mohammed and Almasmari, Hakim. "Yemen's president restructures armed forces". CNN. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  14. ^ "Houthi victory is defeat for Yemen's Islah". September 2014. Retrieved January 2015. 
  15. ^ "Houthi victory is defeat for Yemen's Islah". September 2014. Retrieved January 2015. 
  16. ^ "ALI MOHSEN’S HOUSE: A MUSEUM WITH HOUTHI TOUR GUIDES". November 2014. Retrieved January 2015. 
  17. ^ "Houthis take Sanaa but refrain from coup". September 2014. Retrieved January 2015. 
  18. ^ "ALI MOHSEN’S HOUSE: A MUSEUM WITH HOUTHI TOUR GUIDES". November 2014. Retrieved January 2015.