Yemeni parliament members tackled on Sunday [Dec. 16] the repercussions of the Scud missile crisis. The missiles are owned by the Republican Guard troops led by Brig. Gen. Ahmed Saleh, the elder son of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The House of Representatives, which is dominated by Saleh's Popular Congress Party, witnessed a split over this issue.
Both Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the transitional government are demanding that the Scud missile system be under the supervision of the Ministry of Defense, especially given the continued divisions within the army's ranks. Meanwhile, the United States is demanding that these missiles be entirely withdrawn from Yemen out of fear that they could reach al-Qaeda militants.
Popular Congress Party MP Azzam Salah raised yesterday [Dec. 16] a debate about this issue and said that the claims made by some MPs "are not in the interest of the nation and are merely made out of political spite." He denounced the demands made by MPs urging the government to withdraw the missile system from the Republican Guard forces, and stressed that these missiles are part of the Yemeni defense system and that there is no harm in keeping them under the leadership of the Republican Guard."
These statements raised the ire of certain MPs, who stressed their right to voice concern over issues related to the fate of the nation and its people. MP Abdul Razak al-Hejri said that the armed forces are a military institution belonging to Yemen, not to the son of the former president or to the pro-revolution military commander Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar. He stressed the need for the Republican Guard and the first armored division — led by Ahmar — to be led by the state, not by "a family that keeps threatening us with war every now and then."
Salah, an MP from the Popular Congress Party, revealed extensive recruitment operations carried out without any respect for the laws of military service. Salah accused the Interior Ministry of recruiting 16,000 soldiers and disrespecting the constitution and the law of military service. Salah said that the recruitment process was carried out in accordance with calculated partisan standards, and demanded that the interior minister be questioned on this issue before the house of representatives.
On the other hand, disagreements between military leaders at the Defense Ministry and others loyal to the former regime started to emerge amid mounting disputes over the plans adopted by the transitional government regarding the army's restructuring. Moreover, the war of data and leaks between the parties to this plan intensified.
For its part, the Yemeni Ministry of Defense fiercely attacked yesterday what it called "the tabloid newspapers and some private and partisan satellite channels," which — according to the ministry — are trying to drag the armed forces and security services into partisan conflicts and wrangles. In a statement that was the first of its kind, the ministry said that targeting leading military figures such as the defense minister and the chief of general staff, "is cheap work that only aims at undermining our acclaimed positions. It also aims at disrespecting the heroic roles of these two figures in restoring security and stability and preserving the cohesion and unity of the armed forces. In addition, it affects their strenuous quest to enforce military laws, rules and regulations to purge the armed forces of corruption."