Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar

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Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar
علي محسن الأحمر
Ali Mohsen Saleh al-Ahmar.jpg
3rd Vice President of Yemen
Assumed office
4 April 2016
President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi
Preceded by Khaled Bahah
Personal details
Born (1945-06-20) June 20, 1945 (age 71)
Sanhan, Sana'a Governorate, Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen
Political party Al-Islah[1]
Relations Ali Abdullah Saleh (Distant cousin)[2]
Religion Sunni Islam
Military service
Allegiance  Yemen
Service/branch Yemen Army
Years of service 1966–2012
Rank
YemeniArmyInsignia-LieutenantGeneral.png
Lieutenant General
Unit 1st Armoured Division
Commands North-Western Military District 2011-2012
1st Armoured Division 1987-2011[3]
Battles/wars

Ali Mohsen Saleh al-Ahmar (Arabic: علي محسن صالح الأحمر‎‎), sometimes spelled "Muhsin", (born 20 June 1945) is a 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.[4] He played a leading role in the creation of the Islamist Islah party with considerable financial backing from Saudi Arabia.[5] Mohsen has a good relationship with Saudi Arabia as well as Wahhabi groups, helping Saudi Arabia spread the Wahhabi mentality and radical Islamist groups in northern Yemen.[6]

He was appointed Vice President of Yemen on April 3, 2016.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Early life[edit]

Born in Sanhan, a southeastern suburb of Sana'a, he is not a member of the al-Ahmar family of the Hashid tribe.[8] He was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Mechanised forces of the Republican Guard in 1966, and participated in the North Yemen Civil War, fighting on the Republican side.[when?] He was close to Saleh since 1973, and when the latter seized power in 1978, Mohsen was promoted to full Colonel in 1979 and given command of an Armoured Brigade. In 1983 he became Military Secretary and DG Personnel, thus controlling the administration and recruitment in the Army, as well as command of two independent Brigades. In 1987 he was made Commander of the newly re-raised 1st Armoured Division which he constituted with commanders loyal to him and soldiers recruited from Ma'rib Governorate, Dhamar Governorate and Hajjah Governorate.[citation needed]. In 1998 Mohsen fell out with Saleh and formed his own separate power bloc around the 1st Armoured Division and the Hashid tribal leaders and the Islah Party.[2] He continued to lead the 1st until 2011.[citation needed]

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,[9] creating internal tension.[10] He is believed by the United States to have been behind the formation of the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army.[11] He recruited Salafis and al-Qaeda sympathizers directly into the fight against the Zaydi Houthi rebels.[12]

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.[13]

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 President Saleh to kill Mohsen by asking Saudi Arabian military commanders to bomb an alleged rebel base which was in fact Mohsen's HQ.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16]

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.[17]

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.[18] Al-Ahmar was also believed to have sought refuge in either Saudi Arabia or Qatar following the Houthi ascension to power.[19][20] 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."[19]

2015 Yemeni Civil War[edit]

After he fled Yemen as a result of the Houthi takeover, Al-Ahmar returned to Yemen to lead the military operation in Yemen's northern province of Hajja in December 2015.[21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=7023
  2. ^ a b Sarah Phillips (2008). Yemen's Democracy Experiment in Regional Perspective. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 52. ISBN 9780230616486. 
  3. ^ Yemen Order of Battle | American Enterprise Institute Critical Threats Project
  4. ^ "'Rebel' General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar, Yemen's back-up ruler after Saleh". The National. 24 March 2011. 
  5. ^ Sarah Phillips (2008). Yemen's Democracy Experiment in Regional Perspective. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 137. ISBN 9780230616486. 
  6. ^ "Cable: 05SANAA2766_a (point 21)". Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  7. ^ http://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-idUSKCN0X00UC
  8. ^ Gerges, Fawaz (2013). The New Middle East: Protest and Revolution in the Arab World. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 1107470579. 
  9. ^ Barak A. Salmoni; Bryce Loidolt; Madeleine Wells (2010). Regime and Periphery in Northern Yemen The Huthi Phenomenon. RAND Corporation. p. 93. ISBN 9780833049339. 
  10. ^ Fawaz A. Gerges (2013). The New Middle East: Protest and Revolution in the Arab World. Cambridge University Press. p. 374. ISBN 9781107470576. 
  11. ^ Mark Rice-Oxley (21 March 2011). "WikiLeaks cable links defecting Yemeni general to smuggling rackets". the Guardian. Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  12. ^ Barak A. Salmoni; Bryce Loidolt; Madeleine Wells (2010). Regime and Periphery in Northern Yemen The Huthi Phenomenon. RAND Corporation. p. 162. ISBN 9780833049339. 
  13. ^ Mark Rice-Oxley (21 March 2011). "WikiLeaks cable links defecting Yemeni general to smuggling rackets". the Guardian. Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  14. ^ "WikiLeaks: Yemen tricked Saudis into nearly bombing president's rival". The Guardian. 8 April 2011. 
  15. ^ "Top Yemeni general, Ali Mohsen, backs opposition". BBC News. 21 March 2011. 
  16. ^ Jamjoom, Mohammed; Almasmari, Hakim. "Yemen's president restructures armed forces". CNN. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  17. ^ "Houthi victory is defeat for Yemen's Islah". September 2014. Retrieved January 2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  18. ^ "Houthi victory is defeat for Yemen's Islah". September 2014. Retrieved January 2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  19. ^ a b "ALI MOHSEN'S HOUSE: A MUSEUM WITH HOUTHI TOUR GUIDES". November 2014. Retrieved January 2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  20. ^ "Houthis take Sanaa but refrain from coup". September 2014. Retrieved January 2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  21. ^ "Former Saleh ally leading operations against him". Gulf New. 11 December 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2016. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Khaled Bahah
Vice President of Yemen
2016–present
Succeeded by
Incumbent