Monday,16 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1128, 27 December 2012 - 2 January 2013
Monday,16 July, 2018
Issue 1128, 27 December 2012 - 2 January 2013

Ahram Weekly

Deaf ears in Yemen

A decree on the army and a national dialogue starring Saleh are not convincing signs that Yemen has turned a new leaf, concludes Nasser Arrabyee

Al-Ahram Weekly

Former president Ali Abdallah Saleh has decided to participate in the national dialogue as a head of representatives of his party. Saleh was supposed to go abroad for further treatments, but he delayed that until the national dialogue is finished in about six months from now.

“President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi will chair the conference of the national dialogue as president of the republic, and the delegation of every party must be chaired by the leader of the party, so that decisions can be taken quickly during sessions of discussions,” said a statement from Saleh’s office Monday. Saleh is the leader in the People General Congress (PGC). President Hadi is second in line in the PGC.

Saleh’s opponents might refuse to have him attending sessions of the dialogue as they always hint to that, but Saleh is still the legitimate president of the PGC and in this capacity he signed the Saudi-sponsored and American-backed Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) transition deal which did not stipulate that Saleh stop presiding over his party or give up politics in general.

These developments came after President Hadi issued a decree for restructuring and unifying the army and security, the long-awaited and most difficult decree that supposedly removed all Saleh’s cronies including his sons and nephews from the army and security.

Saleh and his son and nephews highly welcomed the decrees as wise and brave for building national army. Commenting on the decrees, Saleh said these decrees will return all conflicting parties to the spirit of the transition deal. No one inside or outside Yemen refused the decrees of President Hadi to unify and restructure the army and security agencies.

Yet, the most difficult part of this long process is the implementation of these decrees in reality to have a professional and neutral army. Everybody is asking about the fate of the two powerful men in the now fractured army after these decrees. People everywhere wonder whether or not Ahmed Ali (son of Saleh) and Ali Mohsen (the rebel general) will be sacked after these decrees. There was explicit mention of these two men.

“I wish the decrees will return us all to the spirit of the political settlement which was based on the GCC Initiative,” said Saleh commenting on Hadi’s decrees. The UN envoy to Yemen, Gamal Bin Omar, described the decrees and what has been achieved so far as a “miracle”, and he expected that everybody will participate in the national dialogue after these decrees.

The decrees changed the names of all army units including the defected and loyal units, dividing the whole army into four main components: land, air, sea and border forces, which means cancellation of all previous names including the republican guards (Saleh’s son) and the first armoured division (Mohsen) which were forming the two main rival factions.

The republican guards and first armoured division will be in the land forces. And the land forces will be divided into seven military regions. “Dividing the army into four main groups, land, air, sea, border forces, means cancellation of all previous names,” said Nasr Mustafa, director of the presidential office. “ Which means there is no republican guards or first armoured division.”

However, Mustafa said generals Ahmed Ali and Ali Mohsen were not sacked as commanders of the republican guards and first armoured division. “The cancellation of the republican guards and first armoured division does not mean sacking their commanders because these two units no longer exist from the legal view point,” said Mustafa.

The implementation of the decrees may take about five years, and modifications can happen at any time, as it was understood from the decrees. Almost all those who were included in the decrees welcomed and supported the decrees as a strategic plan for building a professional army to protect the nation’s interests. Both generals Ali Mohsen and Ahmed Ali welcomed the decrees too.

The political analyst, author of three books on Yemeni crisis, Naguib Ghallab commented on the decrees by saying: “These decrees, if translated into reality, will unify the army, and make it strong for protecting the state from rebellions and chaos.”

But, the restructure should lead to a neutralised and institutionalised army. The army should stay away from conflicts, it should not be used for settling accounts. If the restructure is used for settling accounts this may lead to retaliation acts that will affect on the whole political settlement.

One of the decrees was to sack the most controversial security commander of the Central Security, General Yehia Saleh (Saleh’s nephew) who also congratulated the president for issuing the decrees. General Yehia Saleh was also active in civil society and politics, and asked for more steps to reform the army and security and clean them what called “extremists and terrorists”.

General Yehia Saleh, who is now establishing a secular and progressive political party, said that assassinations of security and military officers over the last two years were implemented by extremists and terrorists inside the army and security agencies. “There should be bolder steps to clean the army and security from extremists and terrorist who were behind the assassinations of some officers including the massacre of Al-Sabeen in which 85 soldiers and officers were killed from the central security,” said Yehia Saleh in a press statement from Beirut where he is spending his vacation now.

However, as Yemenis now get ready for the national dialogue, expected next January, the security situation is worsening. US drone attacks are continuing on hideouts of Al-Qaeda that has been exploiting the chaos and political conflicts. A total of 6 Al-Qaeda operatives were killed in two drone attacks late Monday in two different hideouts. Al-Qaeda recruits and expands more and more with every drone attack.

A motorcycle riding gunman shot dead a military officer in the middle of Sanaa late afternoon Sunday. Later in the day, the Ministry of Defence identified the victim as Sergeant Bashir Al-Odaini. The ministry said Al-Odaini was “martyred” by terrorists without any further details.

Al-Qaeda is believed to be behind such assassinations. Police Academy Street, in the heart of the capital, was the place of the assassination. Two days earlier, three Westerners (two Finns, and one Austrian) were kidnapped almost from the same area of the city. Al-Qaeda is believed to be behind the kidnapping of the Westerners who were studying Arabic language in the old city.

The country’s biggest electricity station was attacked early on Sunday for the second time within hours almost in the same area of Damashekah in Abeidah in the eastern province of Mareb. One day earlier, a tribal leader and contractor from Mareb said that he damaged the electricity and vowed to do that again and again if his rights are ignored. “It is me who damaged the electricity station and I would do it again if my rights are ignored,” said the contractor Hassan Huwaik from Mareb in a press interview published by Yemen on Saturday. “I fired at the towers of electricity in our area in Damashkah, Abeidah, damaging the first damaging parts of the station. I swear by Allah that what I have done has nothing to do with any politics. I want only the law to be applied to everyone,” he said.

Huwaik said that the tribal leader of Hashid and famous businessman Hamid Al-Ahmar chose the contractor Mesar Al-Hashidi for the $40 million electricity project in Mareb without any tenders or any respect for the law. “I am a well-known contractor from Mareb, and I offered my bids like any contractor but someone else was chosen for the project, without any bids or any procedures,” he said. “If it is allowed to choose the contractors without tenders and without laws, then, we the local contractors from Mareb, should be chosen first. I would damage the whole station if the Indian company can not prove that Al-Hashidi was legally chosen,” he concluded.

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