Bold decisions, drones and suicide bombings
President Hadi in Yemen consolidates power as the fight against Al-Qaeda continues, writes Nasser Arrabyee
Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi has taken the long awaited step to strengthen his hold on a split army as an upper commander.
He has reduced the influence of two military commanders who divided the army into two hostile to each other groups since March last year.
The two commanders themselves remain in their positions but their powers will become less until they become like any two commanders in the army that is being restructured and reunified.
President Hadi took two decisions on Monday, 6 August, to take military powers from these two commanders. Hadi took three brigades (about 5,000 soldiers each) from the Republican Guards, and one brigade from the First Armored Division to form what is called "the Presidential Protection". These units will be completely independent of the two commanders.
The second decision was to take four brigades from the Republican Guards and four from the First Armoured Division and put them under other commanders in two different regions, which means these two commanders will lose more than 60 per cent of their forces.
The two decisions reduce the military powers of defected General Ali Mohsen, commander of the First Armored Division, and the elder son of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Ahmed, commander of the Republican Guards. The two formed the most powerful military centres of influence during the political crisis over Saleh's presidency.
It would be extremely difficult for President Hadi to sack Ahmed and Mohsen who constituted an equilibrium of forces during the crisis. After Hadi was elected president in February this year, he needed this equilibrium to protect himself as a new president from any possible military coup.
President Hadi's bold decisions came amid the continued implementation of a Saudi-sponsored and US-backed deal that resolved the Yemeni political crisis on a basis of consensus rule between Saleh's party and opposition parties.
Meanwhile, the deputy chairman of Saleh's party, Abdel-Karim Al-Eriani, was elected Monday as chairman of the 25-member preparatory committee for the national dialogue that will be held in November. The woman lawyer Rakia Humaidan, from the Socialist Party was elected as first vice president, and secretary general of the Nasserite Party Sultan Al-Atwani was elected a second vice president. The human rights activist Amal Basha was elected spokesperson.
Ahmed Awadh was elected a reporter. The 25 members of the preparatory committee represent all different groups that will be involved in the dialogue, which is due to reach agreement on a new constitution according to which presidential and parliamentary elections will be held in 2014.
Meanwhile, US drones killed six Al-Qaeda operatives and a suicide bomber killed or injured 95.
The war between the US-backed government and Al-Qaeda continues. The US drone killed an Al-Qaeda leader and his friend while riding their motorcycle early Tuesday, 7 August, in Kaifa area, Radaa, in Al-Baidha province, southeast of the country.
Security forces identified the killed leader as Osama Al-Marebi. His friend was not identified. This was the first drone attack on a motorcycle since Al-Qaeda urged its members to use motorcycles to avoid the air strikes two months ago.
On Monday, a US drone killed four Al-Qaeda operatives while driving in their car in the area of Qutan west of Sayoun town in Hudhrmout, east of Yemen. The four operatives were driving a model 87 Land Cruiser, which was completely destroyed.
Eleven terrorists -- mostly foreigners -- were arrested on Monday in Jaar of the southern province of Abyan after a suicide bomber killed and injured around 90 people.
A young man in his 20s infiltrated Sunday night a large tribal gathering for expressing condolences and blew himself up, killing at least 50 and injuring 40 more.
The suicide bombing was in the house of Abdel-Latif Al-Sayed, chairman of the anti-Al-Qaeda popular committees. Al-Sayed defected from Al-Qaeda before it was driven out of Jaar last May. Al-Sayed survived, but three of his brothers were killed.
Al-Qaeda has been trying to re-take the town of Jaar for the last two weeks.