Popular Committees (Yemen (formerly: Yemen Arab Republic))

Country: Yemen (formerly: Yemen Arab Republic)
Details of Formation: The Popular Committees were first established in 2010 (Wikipedia). The warlord Al-Sayed founded the Popular Committees in Khanfar and Zinjibar (Middle East Institute), but many Popular Committees were created by youth and other citizens in the background of an absence of state security. The Popular Committees are organized in local groups and some of those groups started an alliance with the military against Ansar al-sharia which is linked to al-Qaida (first evidence of those operations in July 2011).
Details of Termination: --
Purpose: Popular Committees were originally created to provide security for communities in the absence of the state. Their main purpose for the government became to assist the army in the fight against AQAP militants (Wikipedia) and Ansar al-Shariah. The government benefits from using the Popular Committees because the army and police forces are understaffed and underequipped or simply not present in some regions. The Popular Committes take over the provision of public security in these areas, and locals have credited the Committees for the relative improvement of security (Middle East Institute)
Organisation: The Popular Committees have a functional relationship with local authorities and the national government. As they are very independent and decentralized, they can barely be held accountable and their authority sometimes goes unchecked. In Khanfar and Zinjibar, the Popular Committees are led by the warlord Al-Sayed. Popular Committees do not receive sufficient support, training, protection or oversight from the government relative to their task. Members receive, however, a monthly salary from the government (Middle East Institute). In 2014, the Defense Ministry emphasized that the registered and paid PGM members do not count as official government employees.
Weapons and Training: Popular Committees have guns.
Size: A news source form 2012 speaks of thousands of men who joined the Popular Committee in Lawdar. In 2013, a news source estimates that there might be as much as 6,000 members throughout Abyan’s eleven districts. The Middle East Institute, which focuses on Popular Committes in Lawder, Khanfar and Zinjibar districts, estimates a membership of about 3,000 armed men.
Reason for Membership: Some members joined because they were outraged at the destruction of Ansar al-Shariah caused and wanted to provide security and service to their communities. Other members use their influence for rent-seeking activities and extortion. Popular Committee receive a monthly salary of YR 30,000 (about $150) from the Yemeni government. (Middle East Institute)
Treatment of Civilians: The group tried to protect civilians against the militants. However, their largely decentralized nature implied that their authority sometimes goes unchecked. There are reports that members of Al-Sayed’s Popular Committees abused their power by using excessive force and extra judicially executing individuals which they suspected to be involved in terrorist attacks against the Committees. Al-Sayed acknowledged that such incidences took place and indicated that members who were engaged in these crimes were punished by imprisonment and sometimes discharged. (Middle East Institute)
Other Information: The Popular Committees include tribesmen, but do not represent any tribes in particular. Their mandate and function are inspired by the tribal tradition of collective responsibility in which local men volunteer to provide security in their communities. Their structure is very local and each district has their own version of Popular Committees (Middle East Institute). Therefore, they are not a homogenous group and there is a chance that some minor groups are called poplar committees but actually do not fulfill the requirements of a PGM. The popular committees described here refer especially to the groups in Southern Yemen (region of Abyan) that fight against terrorist groups.
References: Middle East Institute. 2014. “The Popular Committees of Abyan, Yemen: A Necessary Evil or an Opportunity for Security Reform?“ https://www.mei.edu/publications/popular-committees-abyan-yemen-necessary-evil-or-opportunity-security-reform

Wikipedia. “Popular Committees (Yemen)”. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Popular_Committees_(Yemen)&oldid=823855628

Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD