Saudi Arabia Demands Yemen Group Free Diplomat Immediately


By Ghazanfar Ali Khan

The Saudi Arabia Foreign Ministry yesterday warned the armed group which kidnapped Saudi diplomat Abdullah bin Muhammad Al-Khalidi in front of his house in Aden, Yemen.

Saudi Arabia’s deputy consul Abdullah Al-Khalidi, was seized in Mansoora district of Aden as he was about to enter his car.

A ministry source said the group would be held responsible for the captive’s safety and demanded his immediate release.

“The kidnappers will achieve nothing out of this act,” the official said, adding that the Kingdom would take all necessary measures to protect its diplomats and employees.

Saudi Ambassador in Sanaa Ali Al-Hamdan said: “Some signs of a fight were visible in the car owned by the kidnapped diplomat, who apparently showed resistance.”

He said his glasses, found in the diplomatic car, were broken. Al-Hamdan added the deputy consul was believed to be abducted at 9 a.m. yesterday morning near his house.

“So far, no information is available, and nobody has contacted us,” said the Saudi diplomat, adding that the Saudi Embassy is in continuous contact with top Yemeni authorities who have intensified investigations into the case.

No one has claimed responsibility so far. A security operation is now under way to find any clue or to locate the diplomat, said Al-Hamdan.

Al-Khalidi was forced to board another vehicle that sped off with him to an unknown location, according to the Yemeni police.

Al-Khalidi was forced to board another vehicle that sped off with him to an unknown location, according to the Yemeni police, who released a statement on Wednesday afternoon. It was not clear whether the abduction had any political or financial motives. Aden is the city closest to Yemen’s Abyan province, where government forces have been struggling to contain militant groups linked to Al-Qaeda.

Security in the country’s second city Aden, and in southern Yemen generally, has deteriorated during the political turmoil that began with mass protests against then-president Ali Abdullah Saleh in early 2011, and saw fighting among pro and anti-Saleh factions of the military as well as tribal militias. This new abduction case involving a senior Saudi diplomat has left Saudi and Yemeni people in great shock.

“The incident is aimed at spoiling the historic relations between the Kingdom and Yemen,” said Mahdi Al-Nahari, a Yemeni community leader in Jeddah, while condemning the kidnapping. He said the incident was carefully planned to coincide with a visit by the new Yemeni President Abdu Mansour Hadi to the Kingdom.

“The incident comes to serve the interests and ill intentions of those who stand against good relations between the two countries and who want to sour the ties,” said Al-Nahari.

He said the Yemeni community, who have been living and working with their Saudi brothers in the Kingdom for years, condemned the incident. “This incident runs against Yemeni values and ethics as well as Arab tradition, which does not teach hatred, crime and treachery,” said Al-Nahari. In the past year, some of the groups and militant tribesmen in Yemen have consolidated their control over several towns and villages in the region, including Abyan’s capital Zinjibar in Yemen.

These groups are involved in criminal activities, while their complicity with terror groups are also evident. Kidnappings have also become very common in Yemen, with captives often being held as negotiating tools in disputes between rival tribes or armed groups. This is the third time that a Saudi diplomat has been abducted or targeted in Yemen in one year.

Two months ago, unknown gunmen seized the car and some personal belongings of Al-Khalidi at the same place in Aden. In April last year, another Saudi diplomat was kidnapped and held hostage for 10 months before he was finally released. Saeed Al-Maliki, a second secretary at the Saudi embassy in Sanaa, was kidnapped last year by three gunmen of Yemen’s Beni Dhabian tribe when he was passing Hada Street in Sanaa on his way to the embassy.

Al-Maliki was taken to a mountainous area, 80 kilometers southeast of the Yemeni capital. This is not the only case of abduction involving Saudi citizens and officials in the country despite the massive aid and support provided by the Kingdom. In November 2010, armed tribesmen kidnapped a Saudi official in Yemen and later released him after receiving assurances about the release of detained kinsmen.

In another case, the Saudi embassy managed to free four Saudi citizens abducted by gunmen in the Yemeni capital. In yet another highly-publicized case, Saudi security officials secured the release of two German girls who were part of a group of foreigners kidnapped in Yemen some time ago. The girls were found during a joint Saudi-Yemeni operation. More than 200 foreigners have been kidnapped in Yemen over the past few years.

Foreigners are frequently kidnapped in the country. Kidnappers try to pressure authorities into making concessions or securing the released of their detained accomplices and tribesmen. Earlier on Wednesday Saudi Arabia announced it would provide Yemen with all its petroleum needs for two months following talks between Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Yemeni president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia and its GCC partner countries have been heavily involved in a power-transfer deal that forced Yemen’s longtime president Saleh to relinquish power after a yearlong turmoil and mass protests against his rule. Saleh stepped down last month and handed power to his deputy. Yemen’s turmoil has caused a security vacuum, which Al-Qaeda has used to seize large swathes of territory across the restive south.

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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