Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar

Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar
علي محسن صالح الأحمر
3rd Vice President of Yemen
Assumed office
4 April 2016
President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi
Preceded by Khaled Bahah
Personal details
Born (1945-06-20) June 20, 1945
Sanhan, Sana'a Governorate, Yemen
Political party General People's Congress
Relations Ali Abdullah Saleh (Distant cousin)[1]
Religion Islam
Military service
Allegiance  Yemen
Service/branch Yemen Army
Years of service 1966–present

Lieutenant general

Commands North-Western Military District 2011-2012
1st Armoured Division 1987-2011[2]

Ali Mohsen Saleh al-Ahmar (Arabic: علي محسن صالح الأحمر), sometimes spelled "Muhsin", (born 20 June 1945) is a general of the Yemeni army and was the commander of the northwestern military district and the 1st Armoured Division. He played a leading role in the creation of the General People's Congress.[3][4] Mohsen has a good relationship with Saudi Arabia as well as Arab Gulf states.

He was appointed as a Deputy Supreme Commander of Yemeni Armed Forces on February 22, 2016. "Yemen's Hadi appoints top general in bid to rally tribes". After that president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi has appointed him a Vice President of Yemen on April 3, 2016.[5] This assignment made a big controversy between objectors and supporters, but most of them considered it a strong message from President Hadi and the Arab Coalition Forces for the intention to use the Military option to regain control of the Capital because of the flexible and strong relation between Mohsen with figures from the tribes surrounding the Capital Sana'a as well as some military commander who will be loyal to the side of legitimacy because of this assignment.

Personal life

Early life

Born in Sanhan, a southeastern suburb of Sana'a, and he got his primary and secondary education there, he is not a member of the al-Ahmar family of the Hashid tribe.[6] He joined the army to the 4th Military company in 1961. He was promoted as a 1st Lieutenant in the Mechanized forces of the Republican Guard in 1968, and participated in the North Yemen Civil War, fighting on the Republican side. Then he joined Yemen Military Academy in 1971, and got his bachelor degree in 1974. After his graduation from Yemen Military Academy he got promoted as a Captain. He joined Al-Tholaya Institute in Taiz and got a certificate of Battalions Leadership. He got his PhD from Nasser Military Academy-Cairoin 1986. He continued to get promotions until he became a Major General in 2007,[7] before the presidential decree issued by Abd Rabbuh Mansur Had to promote him as Lieutenant Colonel and appoint him a Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces on February 22, 2016 .

al-Ahmar as a colonel in the Yemeni military.

Mohsen is known to have Salafi leanings and to support a more radical Islamic political agenda than Ali Abdullah Saleh. He has powerful supporters in Saudi Arabia and has aided the Saudis in establishing Wahhabi institutions in the Zaydi heartland,[8] creating internal tension.[9]

Political and military career

He started his military career in Al-Maghawir Brigade, as a leader of an infantry company in 1970, then he joined the 1st Armored Brigade and became a commander of a Tank company in 1975 , he was a commander of an independent 4th Tank battalion in 1977 .

He was close to Saleh since 1973, and when the latter seized power in 1978, Mohsen was promoted to full Colonel in 1979 and given command of an Armoured Brigade. In 1983 he became Chief of Staff of the 1st Armoured Division, as well as the command of the 1st Brigade of the1stArmored Division. He became a commander of North-Western Military District on 8 Jan 1995 . On 22 Jan 2001 he was appointed as a Commander of 1st Armoured Division and North-Western Military District. Then he became a President's Advisor for Defence and Security Affairs on 10 April 2013.

In 2004 the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh assigned him to lead the military operations against the Houthi militia.[10] He served as a Chief of the Local Council for Cooperative Development of Sanhan Directorate – Sana'a Governorate in 1975, for three sessions each one was a period of three years. In 1980 he was a member of the committee of National Dialogue that drafted the National Covenant which was considered the universal document for all political components that subject to General People's Congress party.

In 1980 Al-Ahmar participated in establishing the General People's Congress party, chaired by the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, and he was a member of the Standing Committee of GPC for three consecutive sessions from 1980 to 1989 , then he became a member of the Defense Committee of GPC party.

Mohsen was a primary and effective member of the preparing committee for the unity during the negotiation process, then he participated in the integration and restructuring the Armed Forces of Yemen after the unity. He was assigned as a Deputy Chief of joint Yemeni-Saudi Military Committee for addressing the security and militarism balances between the two countries, and resolving the border issues.

Business ventures

According to ambassador Thomas C. Krajeski, Mohsen was a major beneficiary of diesel smuggling, and amassed a fortune in the smuggling of arms, food staples and consumer products. Together with Sheikh Abdullah al Ahmar's sons and Ali Abdullah Saleh, were making millions working the diesel smuggling and black market, using military vehicles and National Security Bureau and Central Security Organization staff to move the fuel to markets in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.[11] This accusations are absolutely denied by Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar "the favoritism and the smugglings operations was a common defect in the army units and the decision to fight that was under the authority of President Saleh" Al-Ahmar pointed out.[12]

2011 uprising

The massacre of (Friday of Dignity) occurred in the Square of Change in Sana'a which was the Square for the protesters against Ali Abdullah Saleh . After the demonstrators had finished Juma prayer, masked gunmen began shooting at them for more than three hours. They killed about 45 demonstrator and wounded about 200, according to Human Rights watch the number of death toll may reach54 by adding dead on the following days under the injury effects.[13] According to statement of the accusation from the Public Prosecution "43 protester were killed and about 127 injured". All dead and about 40 from the injuries have been shot on the heads, chest and other parts of upper body by semi-automatic weapons which were described by medical officials, lawyers and protesters as a job of skilled snipers.[14]

Relations between Saleh and Mohsen had reportedly soured years before the uprising due to his rivalries with two of the president's sons. This souring of relations led to an apparent attempt by President Saleh to kill Mohsen by asking Saudi Arabian military commanders to bomb an alleged rebel base which was in fact Mohsen's HQ.[15] On March 21, 2011, al-Ahmar said he would protect the anti-government Yemeni protesters, along with other top Yemeni army commanders, in a move that was later condemned as 'mutinous' by President Saleh.[16] On December 19, 2012, al-Ahmar was effectively fired from his position by President Hadi as part of Hadi's efforts to restructure the military and remove the political and military elite remnant from former President Ali Abdullah Saleh's rule. The forces previously under al-Ahmar's command, most notably the First Armoured Division, will be absorbed into the Defence Ministry.[17]

2014 Sana'a coup d'état

On September 16, armed clashes broke out in northwest Sana'a between the Houthi militia and some army units loyal to al-Ahmar. After four days of fighting, al-Ahmar moved toward the headquarters of Military Region VI (the previous First Armored Division, which Ahmar used to lead before he was dismissed and appointed to be adviser to the president for defense and security affairs in 2012). He did not comply with the president's and defense minister's directives and he led the battles against the Houthis himself, in what was seen as a possible coup attempt. Al-Ahmar did not achieve any victories, and in two days the Houthis were in control of most major government buildings in Sana'a, including the buildings of state television, state radio, the prime minister's office, the armed forces general command, the Ministry of Defense, the Central Bank of Yemen and Military Region VI.[18]

Rumored exile

Following the Houthi takeover of the Yemeni capital Sana'a, it was rumored that Sadiq al-Ahmar, members of the al-Ahmar family and Hashid tribal elders fled Yemen to Saudi Arabia or Qatar.[19] Al-Ahmar was also believed to have sought refuge in either Saudi Arabia or Qatar but recently noticed that Saudi Embassy in Sana'a prepared a helicopter and coordinated for his departure to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia following the Houthi ascension to power [20][21] His absence has seen his homes in the Hadda neighborhood of Sana'a seized by Houthi fighters.

2015 Yemeni Civil War

After he left Yemen as a result of the Houthi takeover, Al-Ahmar returned to Yemen to lead the military operation in Yemen's northern province of Hajja in December 2015.[22] Since he was appointed Vice President, he played an important role in activating the fighting fronts against the Houthi & Saleh, as well as supervising many battles including Marib, Midi, Taiz and Shabwah.

He also played an effective role in the battle of expelling Al-Qaeda from Hadramout province.[23]

Mohsen focused on intensive meetings with a large number of Ambassadors led by the ambassadors of USA, UK and the ten sponsor countries of the Gulf Initiative, followed by his successive statements that support the peace talks held in Kuwait, April 2016.[24]

See also


  1. Sarah Phillips (2008). Yemen's Democracy Experiment in Regional Perspective. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 52. ISBN 9780230616486.
  2. Yemen Order of Battle | American Enterprise Institute Critical Threats Project
  3. "Who is Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, and why he was appointed Deputy Yemeni President". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  4. Sarah Phillips (2008). Yemen's Democracy Experiment in Regional Perspective. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 137. ISBN 9780230616486.
  5. "Yemeni president sacks prime minister, appoints new senior team: State Media". Reuters. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  6. Gerges, Fawaz (2013). The New Middle East: Protest and Revolution in the Arab World. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 1107470579.
  7. "Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar". Aljazeera. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  8. Barak A. Salmoni; Bryce Loidolt; Madeleine Wells (2010). Regime and Periphery in Northern Yemen The Huthi Phenomenon. RAND Corporation. p. 93. ISBN 9780833049339.
  9. Fawaz A. Gerges (2013). The New Middle East: Protest and Revolution in the Arab World. Cambridge University Press. p. 374. ISBN 9781107470576.
  10. "The armed forces and security for Atstahedv only rebel". 26sep. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  11. Mark Rice-Oxley (21 March 2011). "WikiLeaks cable links defecting Yemeni general to smuggling rackets". the Guardian. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  12. "Jish and Alhyzh Alhabt in pain" (PDF). Doha Institute. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  13. "Yemen's Failed Response to the "Friday of Dignity" Killings". Hrw. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  14. "Acknowledgments of Yemens". Hrw. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  15. "WikiLeaks: Yemen tricked Saudis into nearly bombing president's rival". The Guardian. 8 April 2011.
  16. "Top Yemeni general, Ali Mohsen, backs opposition". BBC News. 21 March 2011.
  17. Jamjoom, Mohammed; Almasmari, Hakim. "Yemen's president restructures armed forces". CNN. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  18. "Houthi victory is defeat for Yemen's Islah". 5 September 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  19. al Shrhabi, Adel Moujahed (24 September 2014). "Houthi victory is defeat for Yemen's Islah". Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  20. "Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen leave Yemen and information talks about his arrival in Saudi Arabia on board a helicopter Killings". Almasdar Online. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  21. "Houthis take Sanaa but refrain from coup". 22 September 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  22. "Former Saleh ally leading operations against him". Gulf New. 11 December 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  23. "General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar bless wins the support of the military alliance in Hadramout". Almasdar Online. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  24. "Yemeni government agrees to return to participate in the consultations Kuwait". Alaraby. Retrieved 16 July 2016.
Political offices
Preceded by
Khaled Bahah
Vice President of Yemen
Succeeded by
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