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Hadramawt Civil Council fights Al-Qaeda | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Sanaa, Asharq Al-Awsat- Several governorates in southern Yemen have embarked on the formation of civil councils in order to defend their territories from the spread of terrorism, Al-Qaeda, and other armed groups. The Hadramawt Governorate spearheaded this initiative by forming a civil council to serve its interests and the interests of its people.

In the city of Al-Mukalla, the capital of Hadramawt, Asharq Al-Awsat met with Dr Muhammad Saleh al-Awwadi, head of the Hadramawt Civil Council, and discussed with him a number of issues, foremost among them was Al-Qaeda organization and the fear that it might take over some cities, as is the case in the Abyan Governorate, in addition to the goals of the council and the forthcoming steps regarding the situation in Hadramawt, the important oil-rich governorate.

The following is the text of the interview.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What exactly are your fears regarding Al-Qaeda’s invasion of Hadramawt, especially now that a significant number of intelligence officers have been assassinated here?

[Al-Awwadi] In general and basically, the sons of Hadramawt are afraid of any security collapse that might take place in the governorate. Therefore, from the beginning, we have sought to send messages to all parties in this regard. The Hadramawt Civil Council was originally established based on two issues. The first is ensuring that Hadramawt is protected against any security collapse and also ensuring the provision of services in the governorate should a collapse occur in these services, in addition to the efforts we are making in this direction through addressing everyone, whether the authority or the opposition, because we must protect our governorate from sliding into a political conflict.

Regarding Al-Qaeda and other armed organizations, our message in Hadramawt has been to work toward maintaining coherence in order to preserve security in the governorate and the safety of humans, land, and all installations in Hadramawt. The Hadramawt Civil Council adopts this message and seeks to convey it to all parties. Therefore, we stress the need that the [security] services preserve security and safety in Hadramawt, because this is an important part of the tasks that fall within their jurisdiction, and also the Hadrami street with all its shades is determined to protect Hadramawt from any slide in this respect.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Is the Hadramawt Civil Council a substitute for the local authority?

[Al-Awwadi] No, no, the council is not a substitute for the local authority. When it first started, the council represented a popular rise under extraordinary circumstances to preserve security in our governorate. We went through a bitter experience in 1994 (the civil war) and we absolutely do not want this experience to be repeated; that is, the looting and plundering to which Hadramawt was subjected after the war and all that was very serious at that stage. Now, Hadramawt has united in this regard, its voice has been heard, and we have all sought to preserve the governorate. We are no substitute for the authority. The authority has to carry out its duties and we support it. The council is a Hadrami authority for all the Hadrami shades, whether the tribal, political, or social components within the framework of the council to serve as a house for all the Hadrami people.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Is there joint coordination between the Hadramawt Civil Council and the other civil councils established in some southern governorates?

[Al-Awwadi] There is no official coordination. However, there is individual communication in this regard. There has been no official coordination, because some councils are newly established and some others are dominated by specific parties, unlike the Hadramawt Civil Council, which represents all the groups and political orientations that are included within the framework of the council.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is the council’s plan at present?

[Al-Awwadi] The council’s plan is to convey Hadramawt’s message, which is a clear message that we seek to convey. This message has crystallized through the “Hadramawt: Vision and Path” document. This document determines what we want as Hadrami people and the terms that Hadramawt has set for the forthcoming stage. We consider that the conclusion to which we came on 18 January is that Hadramawt has spoken and all the parties must listen to the voice of Hadramawt now. Hadramawt has spoken in a civilized and methodological way to convey its message. This document represents all the political, ideological, social, and youth shades as well as the elite in Hadramawt. The document is the product of the discussion of about 18 working papers in a workshop that was held in June 2011 and in which we discussed three main points. The first point is Hadramawt under any forthcoming system, the second point is Hadramawt’s public and private rights, and the third point is establishing a mechanism of alignment for this vision that is presented by this or that party. After the discussions, we ended up with the aforementioned document; namely, “Hadramawt: Vision and Path,” in which we established that as a minimum requirement, Hadramawt must become a federal regional under any forthcoming regime. It is time that Hadramawt comes out of the melting pot that causes it to remain an insignificant part of the equation as was the case in previous equations, whether during the 1967 stage (after South Yemen gained independence from the United Kingdom) and up to this moment. It is necessary that Hadramawt makes its own decisions and determines its vision far from any party. The Hadrami people have drawn the features of their future course through this document and we hope that everyone embraces it. Otherwise, the Hadrami street will impose this document on the ground.