Abdo al-Janadi, Yemeni Deputy Minister of Information and government spokesman, called on the Yemeni army to eliminate al-Qaeda elements from Abyan province entirely at the same pace that it liberated the city of Zinjibar.
He noted that security forces were able to liberate Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan, three months after al-Qaeda seized control of the city.
In an interview with Al-Shorfa, al-Janadi said Yemen joined the group of nations involved in the war on terror primarily because it is essential to the country and because it is in the international community's interest.
Al-Janadi spoke about government efforts in the war on terrorism and providing services to citizens amid the political crisis, which began in February and has entered its eighth month.
Al-Shorfa met with al-Janadi at his house in Sanaa.
Al-Shorfa: How did the army achieve victory in Abyan?
Abdo al-Janadi: Al-Qaeda is the primary beneficiary of the political crisis and the difficult economic conditions, and it exploited those conditions. What transpired in Abyan, where al-Qaeda seized control of Jaar and then Zinjibar, the province's capital and several directorates, is one of the consequences.
Following the events of September 2001, Yemen joined the war on terrorism within the framework of international efforts. It is a partnership of necessity because it is primarily in Yemen's interest, and secondarily, it in the international community's interest.
When the state declared war on al-Qaeda and [affirmed] the need to liberate Abyan from their grip, it brought to bear all its military brigades, air and naval support, and anti-terrorism forces, in addition to logistical support provided by other states, and thus victory was achieved.
Al-Shorfa: What is the extent of al-Qaeda's strength and influence in Abyan?
Al-Janadi: Al-Qaeda mobilized its members and supporters, drawing them from all of Yemen's provinces, elements from outside Yemen and fighters from the [al-Shabab] mujahideen movement in Somalia.
The al-Qaeda elements are hardened fighters, and its grandiose goal of declaring an Islamic emirate in the south of Yemen requires it to mobilise its resources for that battle. When al-Qaeda brought this force to bear upon the region, security forces had no choice but to withdraw, which is what happened at the beginning of the battle in Jaar. Some of the encampments that al-Qaeda and its allies controlled handed over their weapons, which led to the fall of Jaar.
When [al-Qaeda elements] attacked Zinjibar, local security forces thought they would be fighting a losing battle, believing the Jaar scenario would be repeated in Zinjibar, and the army would surrender as it did in Jaar and in Saada previously when brigades handed over their weapons to the Houthis.
Security forces withdrew, and many believed, including al-Qaeda, that the 25th Mechanized Brigade would surrender as well. However, the commander of the brigade, Mohammad al-Sawmali and his comrades held out for three months until the government conducted its operation and succeeded in defeating al-Qaeda. Government forces are continuing to register successes.
Al-Shorfa: Tell us about the progress of the Jaar campaign.
Al-Janadi: The battle must continue using all weapons and military brigades, led by Vice President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi, the Minister of Defence and all the leaders of the southern region, all air and naval support forces, anti-terrorism forces, logistical support by friendly nations, and grass-roots efforts until Jaar and the rest of the directories are liberated.
We cannot kill all the al-Qaeda elements because they escape to the mountains and disperse. What's more important is the eradication of the Islamic emirate they want to establish in the Abyan-Lahj-Aden area to control the international waterways and maritime traffic.
Al-Shorfa: In your opinion, how can al-Qaeda be defeated?
Al-Janadi: Times of crisis are what made al-Qaeda powerful, as it is now in Abyan. Therefore, solving Yemen's political crisis is the way to get rid of al-Qaeda. One of the consequences of a political crisis is a severe economic crisis, which creates an environment that al-Qaeda uses to its advantage and exploits to recruit young people by taking advantage of their difficult economic situations.
The state becomes preoccupied with the political corollaries of crises and ends up neglecting the economic issues. Therefore, a resolution to the crisis and a restoration of normal life is important in the war on al-Qaeda so the state can focus on social and economic development.
Al-Shorfa: What government efforts have been made to provide services and oil derivatives to citizens?
Al-Janadi: The government has repaired the oil pipeline that was blown up multiple times and is repairing power stations and transmission lines on an almost continuous basis. They get blown up in one area and as soon as technical teams rush to repair them, they learn that the transmission lines were blown up in another area, and the suffering continues.
The state was finally able to make diesel, oil derivatives, and water available. As for power generation, there has been no increase in power supply, and the authorities are trying to roll the blackouts equally over all consumers because there isn’t enough to go around. Also, the bombing of the towers and transmission lines curtails the supply and reduces the life span of the plants themselves.
Al-Shorfa: Where does the government obtain the funding for the general budget amid this economic recession?
Al-Janadi: Some merchants refused to pay taxes, some because they sympathize with the opposition, some out of fear, and others because their commercial and economic enterprises have come to a halt. As a consequence, the state has very few remaining tax revenue sources and has resorted to selling unleaded fuel at subsidized prices to break the monopolies, shore up the general budget, and pay staff salaries.