Saudi envoy still untraceable

The fate of Saudi deputy consul Abdullah Al- Khalidi is still unclear following his kidnapping in Yemen due to the silence of Yemeni authorities and various rumors circulating in the country’s media.

More then two weeks have passed since Al-Khalidi’s abduction by unidentified gunmen from the southern port city of Aden, but security agencies in Yemen have failed to secure his release.

Alauddin Alaskari, deputy foreign minister for protocol affairs, said in Riyadh yesterday that he was not awere of the new developments in the case.

He could not provide more details either about negotiations involving tribal chiegs in Yemen or joint efforts led by the Saudi and yemeni sides to secure an early release. However, a local diplomatic source said negotiations have been under way for the last several days with hopes of success.

He said the incident was possibly related to a civil marriage and he is hopeful that talks with the abductors will succeed. However, Saudi ambassador to Sanaa Ali Al-Hamdan had denied media reports claiming the incident has to do with a secret civil marriage to a loval Adeni girl, saying these reports are baseless. “Unfortunately, Al- Khalididid not have any escort escort when he was kidnapped,” said Al-Hamdan in a statement released by the Sanaa-based Saudi embassy.

Al-Hamdan, however, said there seems to be no political motive behind the kidnapping. “Hence, I am hopeful that he will be released without any harm,” said the Saudi envoy.Its the second time within a year that Al-Khalidi has endured such a terifying ordeal, having been abducted and released in May last year. In fact, southern Yemen has slipped into a state of relative lawlessness, with armed criminal gangs becoming more brazen in their acts of kidnapping for a ransom.

In addition, Al- Qaeda continues to have cells operating in the country despite the presence of drones and actions of US security forces.”Whether the kidnapping of Al Khalidi was for political or financial gain remains to be seen, but the incident underlines how much the situation there has deteriorated,” said the diplomatic source.This has led the Saudi diplomatic mission to Yemen to remain vigilant and not to go out without an escort.

A Saudi team of experts that arrived in Aden in the wake of the kidnapping is examining the incedent in an attempt to find the deplomat’s whereabouts. According to local media, which cited residents from Aden, the kidnappers are asking for legal marriage documents as well as a sum of money. Security official in Aden has refused to comment on the initial investigation, but the security source told the Yemen Times that Al- Khalidi is believed to have been moved to a mountainous ares between Aden and Lahj.

The Aden-based Al- Tareeq newspaper quoted a local official as saying that “the  kidnapping of the deputy council is really weird and mysterious”, calling on media outlets to ckeck the accuracy of reports, as the situation is sensitave. In late February this year, unidentified gunmen also intercepted and seized Al- Khalifi’s car as well as all of his personal belongings, after they forced him out of the vehicle. In a similar incident recently, Sylvia Abrahat, a 32- year-old Swiss, was abducted in Yemen.

The abduction of Abrahat in Hodeida, on Yemen’s Red Sea coast, is still unresolved.A local source from Shabwa told the Yemen Times that tribal mediators headed by Mullah Ali Abdullah Zabarah in the Al-Saeed area of Shabwa failed to secure Abrahat’s release, due to the unkorkable conditions put forth by Ansar Al- Sharia, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated militant came after Ansar Al- Sharia demanded the release of the widow of Osama Bin Laden and a number of others being detained in Aden. 

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