Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar


Major General Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar

Person

Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar

As commander of the North-Western District Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar was actively involved in the six rounds of Houthi wars, and is considered as one of the major regime supporters of Salafi operations in the area.

Major General Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar comes from the Sanhan village of the Hashid tribal confederation, and is a kinsman of President Ali Abdullah Salih (but not of the al-Ahmar sheikhly family). As a commander of the 1st Armoured Division he was considered the second most powerful man of the regime after President Salih. During the 1980s he was instrumental in recruiting Yemeni fundamentalists to fight in Afghanistan. As commander of the North-Western District he was actively involved in the six rounds of Houthi wars, and is considered as one of the major regime supporters of Salafi operations in the area. During the 2011 youth uprising he defected from the regime taking with him his soldiers under the pretext of protecting the demonstrators at the Sana'a "Change Square", which was seen by some as an attempt to influence the outcome of the protests. After President Hadi attempted to shake up the army structures, al-Ahmar was appointed presidential advisor and his Brigade, which had hitherto functioned as his personal army, was going to be absorbed into the Defence Ministry.

Thanos Petouris, SOAS, University of London