Yemen military reshuffle weakens Saleh son
Published Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Yemen's president ordered the restructuring of some military units on Monday, aiming to curb the powers of a son of former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh and stabilize a country where Saleh's legacy still looms large.
State-owned news agency Saba said late on Monday that President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi issued decrees transferring the command of some Republican Guards' units to a newly formed force called the Presidential Protective Forces under his authority.
Other units from the elite Republican Guards, which is led by Brigadier General Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, the ex-president's son, were placed under different regional command.
Lawlessness in Yemen has alarmed the United States and top world oil exporter Saudi Arabia, with al-Qaeda-linked rebels present in much of the south.
The president's decrees also incorporated some army units led by dissident General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who broke away from Saleh's forces after the protests began last year, into the new presidential force or under regional command.
Ahmar welcomed the decrees and called them "brave and patriotic decisions," Saba said, adding that the moves restore unity to the armed forces and improve discipline.
Hadi, who had served as Saleh's deputy, took power in February after standing as the only candidate in a presidential election. His election came as part of a deal brokered by Yemen's Gulf neighbors to end the political upheaval.
Restructuring the armed forces was a major element of the power transfer deal signed last year in Saudi Arabia.
Hadi has promised to unify the army, which is divided between Saleh's allies and foes. In April, he removed about 20 top commanders, including a half brother of Saleh and other relatives.
Yemen's northern neighbor, Saudi Arabia, and the United States both backed the power transition deal, partly due to concerns over the expansion of al-Qaeda's regional wing in a country next to major oil shipping lanes.
Washington, which has pursued a campaign of assassination by drone and missile against alleged al-Qaeda targets in Yemen, has backed a military offensive in May to recapture swaths of land seized by insurgents in the southern Abyan province last year.