Fatik al-Rodaini | 27 March 2012
SANA’A: Sources close to western diplomats in Sana’a, the Yemeni capital, revealed this Tuesday to Bikyamasr.com that Germany was categorically refusing to have defected General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar as new Yemeni ambassador to Germany.
Moreover, the General would have been refused his request to move his family to Germany, as privy to the matter expressed Berlin’s reticence towards harboring a man who has been accused of war crimes and whose character had been seriously put in question after 3 decades in power beside former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
But even more preoccupying to Germany is the fact that Mohsen has been in more than one occasion somewhat tied up to al-Qaeda militants in Yemen.
According to US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in 2005, the Yemeni general who last year influenced the revolutionary ring, backing up revolutionaries in their bid to oust Saleh, amassed an absolute fortune by dealing weapons and fuel as well as running racketeering operations.
Major General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar “is generally perceived to be the second most powerful man in Yemen, but leans closer to radical political Islam than Saleh,” read a cable sent by Thomas Krajeski in 2005 when he was then US ambassador to Sana’a.
“Ali Mohsen’s questionable dealings with terrorists and extremists, however, would make his accession unwelcome to the US and others in the international community,” Krajeski wrote.
“He is known to have Salafi leanings and to support a more radical Islamic political agenda than Saleh. He has powerful Wahhabi supporters in Saudi Arabia and has reportedly aided the [Saudis] in establishing Wahhabi institutions in northern Yemen.
He is also believed to have been behind the formation of the Aden-Abyan army, and is a close associate of noted arms dealer Faris Manna.
For years, he acted as Saleh’s iron fist, building a reputation at home that lies somewhere between fear and revulsion,” reported Krajeski.
“Ali Mohsen’s name is mentioned in hushed tones among most Yemenis, and he rarely appears in public. Those who know him say he is charming and gregarious.
The cable noted that the general had little support from the public as most viewed him as a cynical and self-interested person. The ambassador said that at the time the general was more likely to try to play kingmaker than take the top job for himself.
“Ali Mohsen would likely face domestic as well as international opposition if he sought the presidency,” he said.
“Mohsen’s reputation may have been damaged in some circles by his role in the al-Houthi rebellions,” he added, referring to the suppression of an uprising by Shia Zaidis in the north of the country. “Although ultimately successful in quashing the insurgency, the campaign resulted in hundreds of fatalities, months of clashes, and earned the enmity of the northern tribes and traditional Zaydis.”
Krajeski said the general had enriched himself through numerous smuggling rackets. “A major beneficiary of diesel smuggling in recent years, he also appears to have amassed a fortune in the smuggling of arms, food staples and consumer products.”
In another 2005 cable, a well-placed Yemeni insider told the ambassador that Ali Mohsen was involved in smuggling diesel, “using military vehicles and … staff to move fuel to markets in Yemen and Saudi Arabia”.