The legitimate government of Yemen faces a major challenge in rebuilding its Army and repairing the substantial damage inflicted on its combat units and institutions by the Houthi takeover. Maj. Gen. Mohammed Zaid Mahmoud Ibrahim, the Yemeni military attaché in Washington, is fully aware of the magnitude of the challenges his nation faces. He believes the will and steadfastness of the people of Yemen will heal the wounds of their nation and that the Yemeni Army will remain a citadel impervious to all enemies and strife.
Maj. Gen. Mohammed has been the Yemeni military attaché to Washington since October 2012. He has held numerous official positions with the Yemeni government, beginning in 1976 as director of the Procurement Department at the Ministry of Defense, then head of the Foreign Economic Relations Department in 1979. In the early 1980s, Maj. Gen. Mohammed was a member of the High Military Court and received advanced training in economics in Russia and Germany. He graduated from the Command and Staff College in 1984, and a year later received a degree in economics from the University of Aden.
In a conversation with Unipath, Maj. Gen. Mohammed expressed his faith in the ability of the Yemeni people to overcome obstacles and secure peace by laying the foundation of a civil society offering equality for all citizens.
“There are a number of challenges facing Yemen and the region as a whole, all of which stem from the existence of terrorism in its many forms,” Maj. Gen. Mohammed said. “But in the end, though it may present many different faces, its nefarious aims are the same.”
Maj. Gen. Mohammed recounted how the terrorist problem developed in Yemen. After the country’s reunification on May 22, 1990, large numbers of al-Qaida terrorists arrived from Afghanistan, where they had been fighting Russian communists. Some were originally from Yemen, while others were from different Arab countries.
At the time, Yemeni political leadership welcomed these terrorists, but this was actually a tactical move by authorities to attack Yemeni unity for the purpose of looting the land, resources and capabilities of the Yemeni people, the general said. The political movement led by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh exploited these al-Qaida gangs from Afghanistan.
“Since the 1990s, Yemen has experienced many challenges that have affected cultural, social, economic and political realities,” the general said.
Marketing terrorist ideologies
Many terrorist and extremist elements have adopted an ideology that calls for an Islamic state in the southern Arabian Peninsula, Maj. Gen. Mohammed said. He noted that the leaders of terrorist groups were still communicating with the leader of the former Yemeni regime, and that in the shadow of this dangerous communication, bloody religious terrorism has spread far and wide. All of this took place under the auspices of the former Saleh regime.
In addition to religiously motivated terrorist attacks, the rise of extremism has sparked the prohibition and criminalization of countless scientific, cultural, political and scholarly works, all under the pretext of halal (permissible under Islamic law) and haram (forbidden). Terrorism is widespread, he noted, as is the incubation of these devious and bloody criminal movements. The greatest terrorism, he said, is the insidious spread of corruption throughout all elements of the Yemeni state.
Eradicating the scourge of terrorism
Maj. Gen. Mohammed stressed that this criminal “vermin” feeds off the destruction and distress of people around the world. Several actions, however, can help counter terrorism by drying up the sources of extremist ideology:
Combat corruption in all its forms, attacking it at its roots.
Develop a strategy to eliminate extremist Islamist organizations seeking to destroy humanity by spreading chaos and imposing a bloodthirsty culture with no relation to Islam. The essence of Islam is love and peace.
Provide generous material, morale and cultural assistance to all impoverished countries to help them overcome the scarcity their citizens face.
Implement programs that appeal to the interests and priorities of young people.
Modify and develop educational curricula to promote a spirit of love and peace among people around the world.
Develop solutions to address unemployment and poverty among young people.
Work with teachers at all levels of study to teach young people the spirit of love, peace and acceptance of others. This will strengthen them against campaigns of sectarian violence by instilling the spirit of friendship and goodwill in all walks of life.
In schools and extracurricular activities, raise awareness among young people of the serious consequences of terrorism, as well as the means to combat it. Emphasize the peaceful and loving values of Islam.
“The people of Yemen have pledged to God and the nation to cut off the hand of terrorism,” Maj. Gen. Mohammed said. “The eradication of this epidemic requires the unity of all nations, organizations and societies. As President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi stressed:
‘The Yemeni government needs great support to restore the state and stabilize security. This aid will help Yemen overcome the major security and economic challenges it faces in postwar reconstruction efforts, which include removing the material, psychological and social effects of war. We will defeat the obscene terrorist forces and stand united against extremism to uproot its intellectual, cultural and material roots, eradicating all of its manifestations and symbols.’ ”
Maj. Gen. Mohammed concluded by saying: “I, like any devoted Yemeni citizen, believe that all peoples, with all their beliefs, sects and colors, must contribute to this battle to eradicate the dangerous virus of terrorism, whether it manifests itself as Daesh or al-Qaida. Yemen is one of the countries that faces the greatest threat from the vicious campaign of terrorist groups. To address this threat, Yemen needs Arab and international support. We therefore extend our thanks to all peace-loving nations and peoples, including the leadership and people of the United States of America.”