Information Battlefield – Brig. Gen. Ali Ghaleb Ali al-Harazi, Yemeni
Yemeni general emphasizes the importance of connecting with the public
In essence, the pen is the weapon of choice for Yemeni Brig. Gen. Ali Ghaleb Ali al-Harazi. As deputy director of the Moral Guidance Department, the media arm of Yemen’s Defense Ministry, al-Harazi has spent the bulk of his career in public affairs, which he describes as a vital role for any military. “In order for any Army to be victorious in battle, it must be closely linked with its people, because the people are the main source from which the Army obtains its strength and power,” al-Harazi told Unipath.
Through communication — whether a news article or a text message — the Yemeni Ministry of Defense is committed to reaching the military and the public to achieve its security goals. The Moral Guidance Department is leading this effort.
One of al-Harazi’s proudest achievements has been to modernize the department, improving its efficiency and effectiveness. “We are accomplishing a lot with great success,” he said.
Al-Harazi’s path to leadership began when he was just a boy. He loved to play soccer, and his skills as a player earned him a university scholarship. As he chose a specialty area in college, al-Harazi knew he liked writing, especially about soccer and other sports. This led him to study journalism, and ultimately military journalism. Eventually, al-Harazi earned a master’s degree in journalism and political and military sciences from a Soviet university in 1990. He also studied international law in Yemen and in San Remo, Italy.
In the military, he worked his way up through the ranks, serving as the director of journalism and publishing departments, and the chief of journalism and the publishing sector in the Moral Guidance Department. As deputy director of his department, he also serves as editor-in-chief of the Army’s magazine.
Al-Harazi is married and the proud father of three young daughters. The oldest has an interest in writing, like her father.
In March 2013, al-Harazi and a team from the Yemeni Ministry of Defense traveled to the United States for a communication integration seminar hosted by U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base. The topic is an important one for militaries, which need to build relationships with forces from other countries and the public. During the seminar, the two countries shared best practices and established contacts among military public affairs professionals.
“This seminar was an important first step in building an enduring relationship with our Yemeni military partners,” said Col. John Robinson, director of U.S. Central Command’s Communication Integration Directorate. “I think this was an extremely productive and fruitful first meeting. We learned about each other’s capabilities and organizational structure, which will assist us in anticipating how we can assist one another in future engagements. In fact, this was so successful that we hope to hold future seminars with our Yemeni military public affairs counterparts.”
Inviting participants with public affairs and journalistic backgrounds was key to meaningful dialogue and a deeper understanding during the seminar.
“Having the opportunity to learn from other military members who come from a background similar to mine was a great experience because of their knowledge in journalism and operations,” al-Harazi said. “I now have more information and knowledge to take back to my shop and share with my workers.”
Yemen’s Moral Guidance Department engages in other military-to-military exchanges as well, networking with their counterparts in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Jordan, Bahrain, Egypt and, previously, Syria. “They benefit from us, and we benefit from them,” al-Harazi said.
With a staff of 3,000 — including 170 women — the Moral Guidance Department performs a wide variety of functions on behalf of the Ministry of Defense. “All its efforts are directed toward building the fighter physically, spiritually and academically to enable him to perform his tasks and duties during peace and war,” al-Harazi said. “The department, with all its various media components — print, visual and audio — impacts society and links the Army with the people.”
One of the department’s functions is to monitor societal issues so that they can provide military leadership and the government with information from which to make decisions. “We try to thwart the influence of these problems as they come up,” al-Harazi said.
His department is aware that extremists and political parties attempt to influence members of the military and the public. That’s why the Moral Guidance Department reaches out to Yemen’s military forces and the public on a variety of fronts. The department disseminates messages through newspapers, pamphlets and magazines, such as Al-Eman magazine, a monthly religious publication that helps members of the military protect themselves from the arguments of religious extremists and others who seek to distort Islam. The department also produces three weekly television programs and plans to launch a satellite channel.
To reach an even broader audience, the department has leveraged various technologies. In 2004, it launched the online newspaper 26 September (www.26sep.net). The site is named for the country’s northern revolution that ended on September 26, 1962. In 2006, it added an English version of the Arabic website at the same address. The site boasts about 225,000 visitors a day and includes local, national and world news, as well as sports, women’s issues and feature stories. Al-Harazi said it is important to have a variety of interesting topics to keep people coming back to the website.
“The site has also proved its credibility among many, particularly the foreign press correspondents who depend on it for providing news and press reports for global news channels,” al-Harazi said.
The department also provides news via text messages to about 80,000 subscribers and uses social media sites such as Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/26septembernet) to reach the public, especially younger generations. “Internet use is growing exponentially in Yemen — especially with the youth,” he said.
Al-Harazi describes tech tools such as these as some of the most important at his disposal. “Our experience has demonstrated a need for more work in this field, and what is happening today is just the beginning for this activity’s future.”
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Military news website advances missions
COL. NADIM AL-GAMALI/YEMEN ARMED FORCES MORAL GUIDANCE DEPARTMENT
Due to great and vast advances in information technology, the Internet has become a worldwide means of exchanging culture and news between nations and people, turning the world into a “global village” in some ways.
The Moral Guidance Department of the Yemeni Armed Forces has paid great attention to this aspect and has endeavored to use developments in online media to carry out its mission, deliver its message and make an effective contribution to overall development in the Republic of Yemen.
For that reason, the unique Internet site www.26sep.net was established in 2004 as an online magazine that exhibits great transparency, credibility, accuracy and clarity, and presents a shining image of the Yemeni scene at large. The site also provides up-to-date information on prominent regional and international events.
As part of our mission, through the site we can:
- Seek accuracy, clarity and objectivity in news gathering and broadcasting.
- Obtain information from reliable firsthand sources.
- Publish an unlimited number of photos.
- Automatically archive all published media and have the capability to house a vast electronic library.
- Broadcast live and recorded voice and video.
The main objective for launching this site is to offer a unique news and information service that adheres to strict standards of neutrality, objectivity, credibility and transparency. Our site aims to win the trust of its readers within the country and abroad by maintaining professionalism in the unique news and information services offered. Although we always put our national interest first, we also strive to present a realistic picture of national developments, including those on political, democratic and economic fronts. This way, we can represent what’s truly happening on the ground.
Some keys to the website’s success include:
- A network of official and nonofficial correspondents in all provinces, ministries and government departments.
- A solid process for archiving and retrieving past information and media.
- Use of subject-matter experts outside the media.
Clear editorial guidelines and a strong editorial board ensure that information is presented in accordance with the official objectives and information policy of Yemen, showcasing the achievements of Yemenis in all walks of life.