Arms traffickers named

The Yemeni government has taken the unusual step of publishing the names of several illegal arms dealers. Most prominent among them is Faris Mana’a, who headed the committee mediating with the Houthi rebels and is also brother of the governor of Saada.

Others named are mostly well-known tribal figures:

Sheikh Ahmed Bin Muili (from Marib)
Juma’n Mohammed Juma’n (from Saada)
Ahmed Awadh Abo Miskah
Hussein Ahmed al-Huthili
Abdullah Mubarak al-Zaghir
Ali Dhaifalla al-Sawadi

“The authorities warned all who were importing of any weapons or ammunition that it is against the law and they will expose transgressors to legal accountability,” the Yemen Observersays

The move seems to be connected with an announcement that the authorities have foiled an attempt by a group of arms dealers (possibly those named in the list) to import a large amount of ammunition from China, using “forged official documents”. Writing on the Armies of Liberation blog, Jane Novak says:

While it may seem odd that Faris Mana’a is also the head of the Yemeni goverment committee in the Saada war mediations, the biggest criminals in Yemen are normally very well connected. Likely he has sold weapons to rebels (a more plausible story than they were shipped from Iran) and gains his credibility there. The war economy benefits a variety of influential persons from sheikhs and lawmakers to soldiers, smugglers and arms dealers.

Meanwhile, the Yemeni military have lost another warplane involved in the Saada conflict – the second in the space of three days. Government media said the aircraft, a Sukhoi, crashed in al-Anad area “as a result of a technical failure while carrying out a military task”. 

Last Friday, a MiG21 fighter crashed over Saada province – which the government also blamed on a technical fault. The Houthi rebels say both planes were shot down.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 6 October 2009.