Monday,20 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1130, 10 - 16 January 2013
Monday,20 August, 2018
Issue 1130, 10 - 16 January 2013

Ahram Weekly

Army watches over national dialogue

The army is deployed in Yemen’s streets as parliament debates national reconciliation, writes Nasser Arrabyee

Al-Ahram Weekly

The army was deployed in the main cities of Yemen and security forces were pulled back to their barracks. The process started early Monday morning in the capital Sanaa.

President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi ordered the deployment of the army after 66 officers of different ranks from security forces and the military were assassinated by motorcyclists in these cities including 17 in the capital Sanaa during 2012.

The step was understood as recognition from President Hadi that the security forces under the minister of interior had failed completely to maintain security everywhere in the country including the capital.

However, deployment of army in the streets has not and will not reassure the Yemenis who feel the insecurity every day and realise the failure of the Ministry of Interior to protect itself let alone the whole country.

“The people want stability, and stability comes from functioning institutions not from deployment of troops in the streets,” said political analyst Nabil Al-Sufi. “What did the army do in Abyan, or Mareb or Al-Baidha,” Al-Sufi wondered in an obvious reference to the places where the troops failed to defeat Al-Qaeda.

To add insult to injury, religious and tribal militants were still visible in Sanaa even after the troops were deployed on Monday, which means it is not only the hidden forces, like Al-Qaeda, that make a lot of Yemenis feel frustrated and pessimistic about deployment of troops in the streets.

“If militants are still openly operating here in Sanaa as we can see today after this deployment, then what are the troops doing in the streets,” wondered journalist Mohamed Al-Kadi, referring to militants of influential tribal and religious leaders who are always “red lines” for any security or military measures. These militants seem to be not under any regulations or laws.

For example, the army can replace any check point of security forces but they can not replace a check point of tribesmen like those in Al-Hasaba or Sufan areas in Sanaa. And even more, the troops can not even tell the armed tribesmen in these check points around the houses of tribal leaders to stop their activities and go home.

These security and military developments came weeks after President Hadi issued decrees to unify and restructure the army split between the ex-president’s son, Ahmed Ali, and the rebel General Ali Mohsen. Mohsen, the main supporter of the religious and tribal militants inside and outside Sanaa, seems to be in disagreement with President Hadi about the position he might hold after dissolution of his units.

General Ahmed Ali arrived in Sanaa on Monday, after he spent a vacation in Italy. Sources told Al-Ahram Weekly that President Hadi ordered Ahmed Ali to cut his vacation short and come back immediately. The two rival generals were always making a problem for President Hadi during the whole crisis especially after Saleh handed power to the elected President Hadi in February 2012. Ahmed Ali was on vacation when Hadi issued the long-awaited decrees asserting his authority.

Meanwhile, the army is still in confrontation with Al-Qaeda in many places. At least three Al-Qaeda operatives were killed in confrontations with government troops and loyal tribesmen in the mountainous stronghold of Al-Mahfad of the southern province of Abyan, said local sources Sunday. The troops and loyal tribesmen forced about 200 Al-Qaeda fighters to leave their positions in Thaykah area, Al-Basham, Helwah and Wadi Omair after more than 10 hours of clashes, the sources said.

Meanwhile, the leader of anti-Al-Qaeda popular committees, Abdel-Latif Al-Sayed, said in a press interview Sunday that about 7,000 operatives are fighting now with Al-Qaeda including 1,000 of different nationalities all over the country.

Al-Sayed, who was himself Al-Qaeda leader before he defected last year, said that the majority of Al-Qaeda fighters were under 18 and had training in two schools in his home town of Jaar, which was announced as an Islamic emirate before Al-Qaeda was driven out from it in June last year. Al-Sayed survived a number of Al-Qaeda-planned assassination attempts, the last of which was in September in Aden when he was very seriously injured and taken to Saudi Arabia for treatments.

In Radaa, Al-Baidha province, south east of the country, a tribal mediation convinced hundreds of Al-Qaeda members and their supporters to stop demonstrations and disappear from the streets, said sources Sunday.

Last Thursday and Friday, Al-Qaeda and their supporters took to the streets of Radaa city with guns and Al-Qaeda flags to condemn the increasing US drone attacks on their areas. The drone attack last week killed three operatives including a middle level leader in Al-Masaneh area, the stronghold of Al-Qaeda in Radaa.

During 2012, Al-Qaeda killed 596 military and security officers and soldiers during different terrorist operations. The army and security forces killed 460 in different operations including the 56 US drone attacks all over the country.

Earlier in the week, Al-Qaeda asked the army in Hudhrmout to leave their camps and go home or they would be attacked, after US drone attacks in the area.

In the district of Al-Sheher US drone attacks killed seven operatives last week, as Al-Qaeda distributed leaflets warning the troops from staying in their camps or positions or they will be killed because their “government is a traitor”. Al-Qaeda also criticised the clerics of Hudhrmout and Yemen in their leaflets for being silent after the attacks of US drones.

President Hadi referred to parliament this week a draft of the controversial law of transitional justice and national reconciliation for debate and vote.

However, the socialist Minister of Legal Affairs Mohamed Al-Mekhlafi criticised the president for the period of transitional justice, which is the most controversial point for the conflicting parties who form the transitional government of the national unity. “I can not believe that President Hadi referred the draft to parliament,” he said. “The draft ignored the conflicts from 1994,” said Al-Mekhlafi referring to the civil war of 1994 when secessionists of the socialist party were defeated.

President Hadi wants the period of transitional justice to include only 2011, which is the year of uprising and crisis. The current draft can be passed with this period because the final decision will be up to President Hadi according to the transitional agreement if the parliament fails to approve the draft.

It seems that each of the conflicting parties wants to make the law in their favour. “The socialist minister focuses on the 1994 conflicts because the victims were from his party,” said Hafez Al-Bukari, political activist.

Many people ask why only the 1994 conflicts, why not the 1979 and 1986 conflicts. All those were big conflicts in which hundreds and thousands of Yemenis died. “President Hadi does not want the transitional period to include the 1994 conflicts because this period will include Saleh’s partners, and Hadi was one of Saleh’s partners,” said Al-Bukari.

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