Yemen President Disengages Saleh Remnants from Military

Article Summary
As part of Yemen’s transition to democracy following former president Ali Abdullah Saleh's departure, a decision to reduce the military influence of members of the old regime has been welcomed by many. Abu-Bakr Abdallah writes that the transition comes at a time when al-Qaeda is still being rooted out in the country.

Initial decisions issued by Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to reduce the size of the military forces under Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar – commander of the northwestern military region – and Gen. Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh – commander of the Republican Guard, and son of former President Ali Abdallah Saleh – were widely welcomed. The step coincided with the completion of the first stages of the army restructuring plan, which were carried out by Yemeni-US technical committees under the supervision of the military commission formed under the Gulf Initiative.

The presidential decisions disengaged 12 military brigades from the command of the 1st Armored Division and the Republican Guard, ordering the formation of a presidential protection force comprised of four military brigades. The decisions also called for the deployment of eight brigades to the central and southern military regions.

Presidential decision No. 32 called for the formation of a presidential protection force comprised of the 314th Armored Brigade-1st Division, the 1st Brigade-Special Guard, the 2nd Brigade-Protection [Forces] and the 3rd Armored Brigade-Republican Guard. These brigades will be named the Presidential Protection Forces. Their operations will be under the jurisdiction of the Presidency of the Republic, and they are to have financial and administrative independence.

In related news, decision No. 33 called for the 119th and 135th Infantry Brigades-1st Armored Division to be placed under the command of the southern military zone – comprising the strategic locations of Abyan and Al-Anad – and the 22nd Armored Brigade-Republican Guard and 33rd Armored Brigade-1st Armored Division to be under the command of the southern military zone, in the location of Taiz. The decisions also called for the 2nd and 3rd Mountain Infantry Brigades-Presidential Guards, and the 14th and 312th Armored Brigades-1st Armored Division to be placed under the command of the central military region.

The decisions put the Presidential Protection Force under the jurisdiction of the presidency, granting it financial and administrative independence, and separating its property – including weapons, equipment and allegiance – from the 1st Division and the Republican Guard. These changes represent an effort to end the influence of Maj. Gen. Ahmar and the former president’s son over these striking forces.

While the former president’s son has so far chosen to remain silent over these decisions, Maj. Gen. Ahmar released a statement announcing his support for the decisions, describing them as bold and patriotic and affirming his readiness to implement them.

Commanders in the Yemeni army noted the importance of President Hadi’s decisions, stressing that "the gradual restructuring of the army on a national basis, particularly with regard to restructuring positions of power, would spare the country conflicts that likely would occur if change was implemented in an uncalculated manner."

In the meantime, pro-revolution sources close to the army said that during President Hadi’s recent trip to Doha, he and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, discussed the possibility of Qatar hosting former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. This would ensure the completion of the second phase of the GCC [power transfer] agreement.

According to the sources, President Hadi arranged for the vice-president of the general people's congress, Abdul Karim al-Iryani, to discuss the matter with Saleh, noting that the Qatari offer also included an open invitation to the former president and his family to stay in Doha.

"Al Qaeda" Organization

On the ground, Yemeni warplanes, as well as US drones, have resumed their bombing of fixed and mobile targets of militants belonging to the Yemeni arm of al-Qaeda. Two of these militants were killed in al-Bayda Governorate by US drone rockets yesterday [Aug. 7] while driving a motorcycle in the area of al-Hamma in the city of Rada. 

Found in: gcc initiative, gcc, army, al-qaeda

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