Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi rejected any possibility of dialogue with terrorist groups and said he would pursue a military solution to eradicate them from Yemeni soil.
Hadi said there will be "no let up and no settlement with these terrorist groups who must be pursued until they are eradicated by any means possible", according to a statement posted on the Yemeni Ministry of Defence website on May 10th.
"The only language that will be used in dealing with terrorism and terrorists is the language of law, and military, security, and popular resolution because terrorist groups do not know dialogue and have never recognised it," Hadi said. "They are criminal groups that have committed and continue to commit the most heinous and unspeakable crimes against the armed forces and security personnel, citizens and guests of Yemen."
On Monday (May 14th), battles raged in Yemen's southern city of Zinjibar as the army intensified its drive to crush al-Qaeda militants, with reports of 37 militants killed in two days of fighting, AFP reported. Yemeni forces on Saturday launched a multi-pronged assault aimed at recapturing Zinjibar and Jaar, which have been held by militants for a year.
Abyan provincial elders and leaders met with Hadi last Monday to discuss the need to end the ongoing conflict between the army and al-Qaeda fighters, and enabling displaced residents to return home.
Hadi, however, rejected any possibility of dialogue with the militants.
The elders and leaders presented a memorandum to Hadi during the meeting, stating their full support for the government's efforts to restore security and peace in the country, according to Yemen's official news agency Saba.
"[We] will serve as conscript soldiers alongside the army and the popular committees and will throw [our] support behind all the people and youth in Abyan to eradicate al-Qaeda's terrorist groups," the memorandum said.
Widespread support for military solution
Political analysts supported the president's position that called for a military solution to the conflict with al-Qaeda.
"The president's stance calling for a military resolution is appropriate, given that al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia are fluid groups that are difficult to control and deal with and have no organisation or structure," said Dr. Fares al-Saqqaf, director of the Centre for Future Studies.
Al-Saqqaf told Al-Shorfa any opportunity for dialogue with Ansar al-Sharia could be used by the latter as an opportunity to regroup, prepare for another battle, and continue with their strategy of violence.
"Ansar al-Sharia must lay down its arms and declare voluntarily in a statement that they erred in the past and will surrender their weapons to the government and form a political party as a prelude to dialogue. To conduct dialogue with armed groups that target civilians, innocent people, soldiers and Western interests is not acceptable because there is no common ground between the two sides," al-Saqqaf said.
"Al-Qaeda is the source behind many tragedies, caused over 200,000 people to be displaced, and destroyed everything in Abyan, which is the basis for the president's position and why we support him regarding the necessity of imposing the rule of law and a military resolution," he said.
Dr. Saeed Abdul Momin, a researcher who studies Islamist groups, expressed support for Hadi's position.
"It is clear that the Abyan issue needs a resolution and the imposition of law," he said. "Abyan has been transformed into a haven for gun wielders and mass murderers," he said.
"It is irrational that anyone with a dissenting opinion would take up arms to impose his opinion on others by force, especially when Yemen is undergoing a youth revolution during which the youth proved that their bare chests are mightier than any weapon," Abdul Momin said. "Armed groups in Abyan must leave the country to its people, lay down their arms, return to their places of origin, and pursue dialogue and good counsel so Yemenis can re-build their country."
Al-Qaeda's 'management of savagery'
Nabil al-Bakiri, a researcher and president of the Arab Spring Forum on Intellectual and Political Development, emphasised the need for a military solution to al-Qaeda's presence in Abyan but added that it should be in tandem with an ideological war.
"Al-Qaeda elements are driven to these confrontations by ideology, and we must counter their extremist thinking with an ideological war in tandem with the military war until it is uprooted entirely," al-Bakiri said.
Al-Bakiri described al-Qaeda's strategy as what is known as the "management of savagery", which is based on exploiting a lack of government authority and law to impose its control and achieve its goals.
"The management of savagery must be countered with a strategy of construction in which a military solution is followed by re-construction efforts that allow the displaced to return [to their homes], treatment of the wounded and compensation for their losses and property, and the imposition of the rule of law," he said.