Saudi Arabia probes corruption, mismanagement in Yemen war

Saudi Arabia probes corruption, mismanagement in Yemen war
Saudi Arabia probes corruption, mismanagement in Yemen war

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - “It was found that 70% of the Yemeni army was fake and that the efforts of the Arab coalition and its funds are simply wasted,” said Saudi political researcher Ali Arishi.

A file picture shows Saudi forces taking part in military exercises in Yemen. (AFP)

ADEN – The Saudi leadership has just expanded its war on corruption and its beneficiaries to the file of the war in Yemen, as reflected in the decisions announced by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz on Monday evening, concerning the dismissal of high-level officials.

The royal decisions included terminating the service of Lieutenant General Fahd bin Turki bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Commander of the Joint Forces, and consequently the top military official in charge of the war in Yemen in the Arab coalition, and referring him to retirement and investigation. He was replaced temporarily by Lieutenant General Mutlaq bin Salim bin Mutlaq Al-Azima, Deputy Chief of the General Staff.

The Saudi monarch has also dismissed Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahd bin Turki bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Governor of Al-Jawf region and son of the commander of the Saudi Joint Forces. He too was referred for investigation, along with a number of military and civilian officials in the Saudi Ministry of Defence, on charges of corruption.

The royal decree stipulated that the Saudi Supervisory and Anti-Corruption Commission will investigate anyone having top do with the charges brought against the top officials mentioned in the investigation, take the necessary legal measures against them, and later report its conclusions. This in turn means that the circle of the investigation has been widened to include all those likely to have been involved in acts of corruption in the Yemen war file, among them some Yemeni officials who have a direct connection to the file and through whom the coalition’s support is conveyed.

King Salman took these decisions following conclusions and recommendations submitted by the Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prince Muhammad bin Salman, as stated in the preamble of the royal decree. The preliminary data regarding these decisions indicate their direct link to the internal reform campaign carried out by the Saudi crown prince and the measures aimed at dismantling certain power centres and corruption networks within the Saudi government.

The measures taken are directly related to the unsatisfactory results of the war in Yemen during the past few years, which included the path of military intervention being stalled, the fall of liberated Yemeni governorates and military areas, and the Houthi militias’ continued enhancement of their offensive capabilities through the acquisition of ballistic missiles and drones, all of which amounted to a situation that has come to harm the image of Saudi Arabia and its regional weight.

In addition to pointing fingers at some political agendas that caused the military file of the war in Yemen to falter, experts believe that mismanagement of the file and widespread financial corruption, especially on the Yemeni side, are at the top of the list of factors that have cast a shadow over the course of the Yemeni war, now in its sixth year.

Three Yemeni political sources revealed to The Arab Weekly that Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi was getting ready to issue similar executive decisions, including the dismissal of a number of Yemeni government officials responsible for managing the military file.

The sources indicated that these decisions will affect Yemeni Vice President Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar, the first person responsible for managing the military file since the outbreak of the war in March 2015. Al-Ahmar is usually accused of being directly responsible for the failure in managing the file and the fall of governorates and military regions in the hands of the Houthi militia. One or two other vice presidents will most likely will be appointed by consensus in his stead.

The sources also mentioned that the current Minister of Defence, Muhammad Ali Al-Maqdishi, is going to be dismissed as well, to be replaced by Chief of General Staff Saghir bin Aziz.

They said that the expected decisions in the Yemeni government camp came in the context of comprehensive reviews conducted by the Arab coalition on the reasons for the faltering military path in recent years, and which concluded that it was necessary to make drastic and comprehensive changes in the military leadership of the Arab coalition and the government camp alike.

The same sources confirmed that the coming period will witness a qualitative shift in the way the military file is managed, whether by the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia or within the new Yemeni government that will be formed according to the Riyadh agreement signed between the government and the Southern Transitional Council.

The implementation of the Riyadh Agreement is expected to be accompanied by widespread changes in the the military establishment’s structure that will lead to drastically reducing the Muslim Brotherhood’s control over this file, in light of signs indicating the complicity of Yemeni military leaders with the Qatari project in Yemen. This project seeks to hand over the northern governorates to the Houthis and transfer the conflict to the liberated areas in the south.

In an indication of the nature of the new changes, the Arab coalition has, in recent days, carried out military actions described as strategic, such as securing the border crossing point with the Sultanate of Oman and equipping it with an X–ray scanner for shipping trucks, in addition to securing the port of Midi on the Red Sea and a number of small Yemeni islands opposite the port, and this following intelligence reports received by the coalition denouncing a plan by some elements in the Fifth Military Zone, which is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, to hand over these strategic areas to the Houthi militia, in response to any expected decisions aimed at dismissing military officers and officials affiliated with the group.

The Arab Coalition to Support Yemeni Legitimacy had previously tasked General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar with establishing a Yemeni army to lead operations on the ground. During the past six years, everyone pinned their hopes on this army to restore the Yemeni governorates occupied by the militias or to establish security in the liberated provinces; but none of that has happened.

Saudi political researcher Ali Arishi said that despite the generous financial support and modern weaponry provided by the coalition, “it was found that 70% of the Yemeni army was fake and that the efforts of the Arab coalition and its funds are simply wasted.”

Arishi added in a statement to The Arab Weekly that “the widespread corruption in the army and the obvious partisan loyalty among its leadership were indeed reflected in the reality of the battle on the ground, especially as this army’s hostility turned towards the UAE, the Kingdom’s strategic ally in Yemen, and its rifles became aimed at the south.”

He pointed out that the dismissal of the commander of the joint forces, Prince Fahd bin Turki, had thrown a large stone in the stagnant waters of the reality of complacent corruption in the joint forces and came within the context of correcting the mistakes that undoubtedly were the main reason for delaying military victory, and to announce a new stage that suggests a complete overhaul of the Arab coalition’s military strategy and methods of managing the war in Yemen.

“This change at the top of the hierarchy of the joint forces opens the door to a wide range of changes in the leadership of the Yemeni government army which is mired in corruption and favouritism, and replacing them with qualified military leaders. The changes are also expected to touch a number of officials responsible for relief work in Yemen,” he added.

The developments at the military level come with parallel developments at the political level The Arab Weekly sources revealed the imminence of expected shifts in the map of alliances and influence in the next few days, consistent with the state of compatibility of the political and military visionsand the method of managing the file of the conflict with the Houthis that exists between the Southern Transitional Council and the Arab Alliance.

This orientation may be reflected in the way the coalition leadership will be dealing with the excesses of some Yemeni components that have been working during the previous period from within the legitimate Yemini institutions to confuse the war efforts and plans and ignite internal struggle inside the camp opposing the Iranian and Qatari project in Yemen.

According to the available data, the figures of what has become known as the Doha current inside the Yemeni government are set to lose, during the next stage, many of the cards they have been using to blackmail and pressure the Arab coalition camp, as a direct consequence of them losing many of their tools and proxies, as well as losing the factors of their strength after surrendering the areas of their influence in Al-Jawf and Nehm to the Houthis.

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