Central Security Organization

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Central Security Organization
Active unknown - present
Country Yemen
Engagements Al-Qaeda insurgency in Yemen
2011 Yemeni uprising
Minister of the Interior Abdul Qader Qahtan
Chief-of-Staff Maj. Gen. Fadhel Bin Yahiya al-Qusi
CSO flag Flag of the Yemeni Central Security Organization.svg

The Central Security Organization (Arabic: قوات الأمن المركزي‎) is a paramilitary force in Yemen under the control of the Minister of the Interior, and forms a key part of the Yemeni security establishment.[1] The force is some 50,000 strong, and CSO units are equipped with a range of infantry weapons and armored personnel carriers. The force also has its own extrajudicial detention facilities.[2]

The CSO was originally founded as part of Yemen's efforts to combat al-Qaeda.[3]

In 2001 Yahya Saleh, the nephew of then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh, became Chief of Staff of the CSO. Under Yahya, the CSO became stronger, better paid, and better equipped. Yahya also oversaw the formation of the CTU, which was established with funding and training from the United States.[1]

Although nominally part of the Interior Ministry, the CSO under Yahya was largely autonomous, and is composed of two main parts; the Central Security Forces (CSF) and the Counter-Terrorism Unit (CTU). The CSF are paramilitary police that secure official buildings and infrastructure, as well as managing the dense network of security checkpoints on Yemen's highways. The CSF is also beginning to undertake covert countersurveillance at likely terrorist targets.[4]

In contrast, CTU is a far smaller force, comprising a 150-strong special forces unit that has been successful in undertaking raids throughout the country since 2003.[4]

Within hours of the 2012 Sana'a bombing, an attack by Ansar al-Sharia on units of the CSF, Yahya Saleh was dismissed by President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi through presidential decree.[5] Major General Fadhel Bin Yahiya al-Qusi replaced Saleh as the CSO's Chief of Staff.[6]


Human Rights Watch has criticised the CSO, claiming that the organisation utilities child soldiers and subjects Yemenis to arbitrary detention. Human Rights Watch has also alleged that CSF units deployed nearby had failed to prevent a killing spree carried out by pro-Saleh snipers on protesters in Sana'a on 18 March 2011, during the Yemeni revolution.[7]


  1. ^ a b "Yemen’s Military-Security Reform: Seeds of New Conflict?". Middle East Report (International Crisis Group) (N°139). 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  2. ^ Country profile: Yemen. Library of Congress Federal Research Division (August 2008).  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ "European Union to support Yemen Central Security Forces". Yemen Post. 24 February 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Strengthening Yemeni Counterterrorism Forces: Challenges and Political Considerations. Washington Institute for Near East Policy (6 January 2010).
  5. ^ "'Al-Qaeda attack' on Yemen army parade causes carnage". BBC News. 21 May 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  6. ^ "Yemen’s security forces nab drunk Saudi diplomat in Sana'a". Press TV. 25 June 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  7. ^ Yemen: Transition Needs Accountability, Security Reform. Human Rights Watch (6 April 2012).

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