Yemen’s Transition Under Threat

Article Summary
Yemen’s President Saleh has repeatedly sidestepped efforts to ease him out of office. Today, once more, he and his allies are trying to back out of their commitments under the Gulf Initiative and obstruct the peaceful transfer of power prior to February elections. To this end, Saleh has maintained his grip on Yemen’s security forces and has entered into coalitions with terrorist groups, writes Dr. Aidarous Nasr al-Nakib

As the days pass and events unfold [in Yemen], Ali Abdullah Saleh and his gang of strongmen continue to create unpleasant surprises for the rest of the government’s officials. It has turned out that Saleh and his allies are highly qualified in deception and skilled in hatching plots, not only against their political opponents but against the  entire country, including their own party and those who are still loyal to the [ousted] regime. They have abandoned their supporters to implement deceptive conventions which they themselves have signed. They believe they can still pull the wool over the people's eyes, unaware that they have been exposed.

When Saleh signed the Gulf Initiative, he was betting on the three months following the deal, and on early elections. The [figurehead] president was planning to backtrack on his promises, rejecting the items mentioned in the Gulf deal. This did not happen. Saleh also bet on the failure of the power-sharing government led by his longtime deputy, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, to whom he owes everything that he has achieved up to this day.

As both scenarios have so far failed to materialize and are not likely in the offing, Saleh and his allies are left with only one choice: To use military and security institutions to thwart all efforts towards elections on February 21, with the least possible damage.

In this context, the ousted regime has openly entered into a coalition with terrorist organizations, making way for them to control certain Yemeni cities in an attempt to confuse the acting president and the power-sharing government and shake the stability of the country before election day. Not only does Saleh plan to thwart the Gulf Initiative; he is also trying to stifle the youth revolution and any attempt to establish civil [political] life in Yemen. He is seeking destructive chaos, which he mentioned repeatedly when speaking of the popular revolution and the peaceful movement in the south.

Placing districts under the control of terrorist groups is further proof of the profane coalition between Saleh's regime and terrorists. This alliance was established in the mid-eighties but has remained clandestine [until now].

As long as military and security institutions are left in the hands of Ali Abdullah and his relatives, he is still in control of the power. Thus any move to peacefully transfer power to the government is futile, unless these institutions are also handed over [to the people]. Saleh is well aware that guns are the pillar of authority. Today, he has proven the validity of this argument by accepting to relinquish his powers to the vice-president, and by approving the appointment of one of his opponents to the post of prime minister. Nevertheless, he remains the decision maker, for he still controls the military and security institutions, which he can put to use whenever he wishes.

The security and military institutions must be urgently transferred to the civilian government. They should be operated in compliance with national policy as determined by the acting president and the national reconciliation government, in which Saleh's supporters hold half the seats. [In this case], any suspicious alliances with criminal and terrorist organizations will be prevented.

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