Young revolutionaries said they are going to carry on with the revolution’s peaceful goals, confirming their firm support through slogans and their continuous rallies and marches.
However, they demand first and foremost that the army be restructured before any dialogue. In this context, all political factions recognize the importance of unifying the army under one command, in order to establish security and stability and pave the way for a fruitful national dialogue.
Similarly, the reconciliation government stresses the need for a unified army to safeguard security and stability and boost the national economy through foreign investment and tourism.
However, while there is consensus among the different national forces on the importance of restructuring the army, the most surprising thing is that decisions to unify the army have yet to be issued.
In this poll, journalists and writers speak of the obstacles that are delaying the army restructuring, despite unanimity among political factions.
Moreover, some crucial questions were raised: Will the division in the army affect the dialogue outcome? Will the national reconciliation process pave the way for army restructuring and what will be the implications of such a step on the nation’s security and peace?
Any dialogue before restructuring the army will be doomed to failure
According to Nabil al-Bakiri, a researcher on Islamic groups, any dialogue that takes place without considering clear steps towards restructuring the army will be doomed to failure, adding that the Coalition Agreement of 1993 is further proof of that.
Bakiri provides a number of reasons proving that restructuring the army is crucial to the success of dialogue.
First, the army is the actual protector and guarantor of the success of any national dialogue and the implementation of its provisions and mechanisms. Such a national dialogue will not be possible in light of a divided army.
Second, restructuring the army is a long process with multiple stages. However, the first very step in this process lies in the replacement of the current military leaders with professional and national officials that are not affiliated with any of the conflicting parties.
Third, the dialogue ought to produce clear and executive mechanisms and goals that cannot be achieved without a consolidated, national, unified army able to achieve these objectives.
Bakiri concluded that any steps towards dialogue were inevitably doomed to failure unless the current army commanders — especially those who are still associated with the former regime and the ruling family — are changed
Restructuring the army is the most pressing issue
Author Fatihi Abou-Nasr wrote on his Facebook page that a divided and exhausted army, placed under a corrupt management and without any national loyalty, but rather linked and loyal to the mood of individuals and to a very traditional and primitive administration, increases Yemen’s concerns, in light of premeditated intentions to empty and blow up the army rather than preserving it and repairing the damage. This means that restructuring the army must be the most pressing issue, he argued.
Abou-Nasr said the dangerous division within the army was a lesson that everybody should benefit from, adding that inflexibility and deceit — which some leaders resort to in an attempt to disrupt the restructuring process — should no doubt stop.
Abou-Nasr called for the disclosure of a clear restructuring plan that the people are waiting for. He added that restructuring the army should push forward some important national variables, most notably a new, greater and less vulnerable army.
However, this basic requirement [of restructuring the army] is not reflected in a speedy and hasty restructuring process, he said. The September revolution’s priority was to build a strong army and the youth revolution’s priority was to achieve a strong economy, Abou-Nasr argued.
The importance of unifying the military and security forces under a single command remains the predominant feeling of the various political forces, for it is directly linked to the homeland’s security and stability.
Author Faisal Ali said that good intentions were not enough in this regard, especially while revolutionary youth remain committed to the need to bring the presidential guard unit back to the Yemeni army.
Ali disclosed the identity of the presidential guard by saying that this unit was initially formed as a family guard [for former President Ali Abdullah Saleh]. The ruling family that created this unit was pushed by the peaceful revolution to leave power. Therefore, there is no more need for a unit that the former president imposed on the army, he argued.
Ali added that the former regime’s plan included splitting the military institution into five axes — or military zones — that are not directly associated with the defense ministry, but rather to the supreme command of the armed forces. This has allowed these axes to abuse civilians’ lives, properties and areas, he said.
The journalist asserted that the peaceful revolution ended the military rule and everybody understood this situation, adding that military rule has been proven to be a failure on both an Arab and a Yemeni level.
Ali explained that what is needed at the moment is to unify the army under the command of the defense ministry and staff unit, definitively end the powers of military zones and turn the military institution into a democratic one.
This means allowing soldiers and officers to elect their leaders, according to Ali. He added that this would prevent a single faction from controlling another and would resolve many problems.
Ali said that the obstacle of unifying military and security forces is reflected in the anxieties of the former president, his son and family. They believe that keeping the presidential guard at their service would give them strength, he said. Ali stressed that this was misguided and would weaken them. He called for an end to these illogical worries and to obey to the directives of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the defense ministry.
Ali noted that removing military rule from the equation was the right way to build a civil state. He compared the September revolution, whose priority was to build a strong national army, to the youth revolution, whose priority was to achieve a strong national economy, he said.
Ali concluded that the main dilemma in Yemen is the 10 year-old economic problem, adding that restructuring and unifying the army would allow decision makers to work for a strong economy that would bring good effects on everyone.