Yemenis call for closer co-ordination among security agencies

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden

Yemenis inspect the site of an ISIS suicide car bombing that targeted a police station in Aden's al-Sheikh Othman district on August 1st. [Nabil Hasan/AFP]

Yemenis inspect the site of an ISIS suicide car bombing that targeted a police station in Aden's al-Sheikh Othman district on August 1st. [Nabil Hasan/AFP]

In the aftermath of recent deadly attacks in Yemen's Aden and Abyan provinces, government officials and security commanders stressed the need for closer co-ordination among the various security agencies.

They have called for the establishment of a single operations room, saying this will be more effective in thwarting the plans of the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah), al-Qaeda and the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS).

The call for closer security co-ordination comes in the wake of recent attacks in the two southern provinces, which left at least 69 dead and dozens wounded.

In the most recent incident, a soldier was killed Saturday (August 3rd) when an improvised explosive device (IED) planted by al-Qaeda exploded as Security Belt Forces conducted a sweep of Wadi al-Khayyala in Abyan's al-Mahfad district.

Another soldier was wounded in the blast.

The Saturday incident came as Security Belt Forces responded to a Friday al-Qaeda attack on an army base in al-Mahfad, in which 19 soldiers were killed.

On Thursday, separate attacks claimed by the Houthis and the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) targeted security forces in Aden, killing at least 49 people, many of them newly trained police cadets.

ISIS claimed a suicide car bombing that targeted a police station, killing 13 police officers; while the Houthis claimed they had launched a drone and a ballistic missile at al-Jala training camp, west of Aden.

Al-Mahfad crackdown will continue

"Security Belt Forces on Saturday kicked off a campaign to crack down on al-Qaeda elements in Wadi al-Khayyala," said al-Mahfad district director-general Ahmed al-Rabie.

"Security Belt Forces, supported by Arab coalition warplanes and Shabwa elite forces, have repelled an al-Qaeda attack aimed at capturing the forces' camp in al-Mahfad and some checkpoints in the district," he said.

"One soldier was killed and another was wounded when an IED planted by the terrorists exploded during the operation," he said, vowing that the crackdown would continue.

Al-Rabie urged security and military agencies serving al-Mahfad district and Abyan province to operate under one operations room to confront the threat al-Qaeda poses to the security and stability of the district and province.

"Security commanders across the province are discussing ways to confront the threats posed by these groups," he said.

"If the efforts of these agencies, including Security Belt Forces, security forces and military brigades, are not combined, these terrorist groups will be able to deal them blows and undermine security and stability," he said.

Joining forces to prevent attacks

Former Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr urged military and security agencies to combine their efforts under the auspices of the ministries of defence and interior and to step up intelligence operations.

This move will help to prevent future attacks, he said, and to preserve security and stability in the provisional capital of Aden and other liberated provinces.

"At a minimum, the security operations room must be combined under the command of the Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister," Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Qawi Baash said.

This will enable security agencies to follow up on reports and intelligence regarding the Houthis, extremist groups and their movements and deal with them "jointly rather than unilaterally", he added.

"The fact that the Thursday Aden attacks took place almost simultaneously stresses the need to combine the efforts of security agencies to counter the threats of the Houthis" and other groups, he said.

Al-Qaeda has been on the back foot in Abyan province since the Security Belt Forces, military brigades and Arab coalition ousted the group at the end of 2016, journalist and political analyst Ahmed Faisal told Al-Mashareq.

As the group began to disintegrate, its attacks have largely been limited to IED attacks on checkpoints, he said.

But recent attacks reveal "al-Qaeda is now aware of the gap between the security agencies and is trying to exploit this vulnerability", he said, calling for the various security forces to work together more closely to seal any gaps.

"The unification of intelligence operations requires combining the efforts of security agencies and setting up a single operations room to be able to preserve security and stability in Aden and other liberated provinces," he said.

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