Deposed President Saleh Still Pulling Strings in Yemen

Ali Abdullah Saleh has vacated Yemen’s presidential palace, but his influence over the country’s military and security forces gives him considerable power to meddle in the affairs of state, writes Aidarous Nasr al Nakib. Recent victories by Al-Qaeda militants in south Yemen are just one example of the former president’s influence, he warns.

The head of the Yemeni regime has long threatened successors with moving to the opposition. He once said, “I will move into the ranks of the opposition and teach them how the opposition works, " which is also a disparaging remark about the Yemeni opposition, suggesting that it does not know how to function. The former president meant that it was never a real opponent, which is not far from the truth. The Yemeni opposition has worked in good faith and addressed problems by consensus. There is rarely a place for the supreme national interest in such circumstances.

Now the former president has started his new role in the opposition. This was apparent in the provinces of Abyan, Al Baydaa' and others. However, this man is not operating as an opponent with issues he feels strongly about, nor with superior values that compete with his rivals. He is not operating in accordance with the rule of law, nor the constitution, nor a project that he claims to promote, in order to defeat his political rivals. The former president is using the power and services of the state, which are still controlled by his relatives; he is using state funds, from which he has stolen for more than 30 years. He has even obtained legal guarantees that he will not be held accountable for any of his actions during his rule. More importantly, he is playing the terrorism card, which he has long used to deceive the entire world, claiming that he was working alongside the international community to fight it.

The increasing rate of terrorist attacks in the provinces of Abyan, Hadramout and Al Baydaa’ show that the former president has indeed moved to the opposition. He is in fact showing us an opposition that we are not familiar with — one based on partnership with an invisible and permanent “friend,” and his loyal family and entourage.

We have repeatedly said that we cannot understand how two cities in the province of Abyan fell into the hands of Al-Qaeda so fast. The way to understand this is with reference to the secretive, permanent partnership between Ali Abdullah Saleh and Al-Qaeda. This man ordered the withdrawal of central security forces, the police, the political security, general security and the Republican Guards, a force of over 5,000 men. This enabled 200 armed men to take over two cities with a population of a quarter-million people. These inhabitants were displaced, which means that Saleh was training for his “work” in the opposition while he was still in his palace in Sab’ine.

The recent incidents in Abyan, and the events that coincided with them and preceded them, are all part of a consistent pattern of  failure on the parts of those who are supposed to be responsible for the security of the country and the protection of its citizens; their real interests, however, were known by everybody. Those responsible for the southern region, for example, act as the right arm of the former head of the regime and still receive instructions from him, wherever he may be. As any success on the part of the new president in fighting terrorism would expose his predecessor's lack of dedication to that same task, Saleh and his family seek to thwart any serious effort to fight terrorism and terrorist organizations. That is exactly what happened when Mehdi Makoula instructed his troops to withdraw from Dofus hours before the arrival of Sharia supporters (Islamic fundamentalists), allowing them to seize the apparatus of an entire army, including medium to heavyweight artillery. The fundamentalists were thus transformed into a real army, resisting the new president’s attempts to carry out any tasks that Saleh, who has supposedly retired from politics and the military, does not support.

Like others before him, Mehdi Makoula is at a loss to explain to anyone familiar with the most basic military knowledge, or who knows Abyan’s geography, how a whole brigade, battalion and their military apparatus fell with very little resistance into the hands of a few thousand, hundred, or even dozen armed men with limited capabilities.

Yemen, and in particular the south, will not know any stability or tranquility anytime soon. Thus the fight against terrorism and the development and the construction of a civil state are not possible while the security services and the military are thus compromised. Terrorism has become an investment project that makes tens of millions of dollars; why would those who benefit fom it destroy their livelihoods and infinite wealth? It will always be hopeless for Saleh’s successor to achieve anything, for terrorism has become a means to prove his failure to manage Yemen’s various elements. Any serious desire to achieve even some limited stability and security in the country remains subject to the whims of the vestiges of the Saleh family’s influence in the security and defense departments. Only when this influence ends can we talk about a serious war against terrorism. This war may not happen any time soon, but success will then be possible.

The Yemeni leadership is not only fighting Al-Qaeda, but also another qaeda (base),  beginning with the presidential palace in Sab’ine and the Al Sawad camp (a key position of the elite Republican Guard), and reaching wherever it is directed by His Excellency — as he continues to teach us the principles of the opposition, as he promised.

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נמצא ב: yemeni opposition, yemeni government, war on terrorism, war, transitional government, south yemen, security & intelligence, security, military affairs, military, ali abdullah saleh, al-qaeda

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