Yemeni opposition parties have formed yet another umbrella council as the military stakes rise, reports Nasser Arrabyee
Sana'a, August 19, 2011
This is not the first time -- similar councils were previously declared by opposition groups but failed to do anything or have any kind of recognition.
The new feature in this council is that it has relatively big support from former military commanders and tribal leaders, in addition to a key politically ambitious and wealthy businessman.
This man is Hamid Al-Ahmar, who has been grooming himself for the presidency since 2006, and has been orchestrating and financing the anti-Saleh protests since early this year.
Hamid Al-Ahmar is accused of playing an essential role in the failed assassination attempt against President Ali Abdullah Saleh and several other senior officials in June. Hamid Al-Ahmar and his brother Sadeq have been in military confrontation with President Saleh's forces since last May.
Hamid and a senior official from Saleh's regime exchanged accusations just two days before the council was declared. Hamid said Saleh's sons were behind the failed assassination to justify their inheritance of the power after their father.
However, Sultan Al-Barakani, assistant secretary-general of the ruling party, said it was Hamid. "There is no longer room for doubt that Hamid Al-Ahmar is the prime suspect in the sinful assassination attempt to which the president of the republic and a number of officials were subjected," said Al-Barakani. The results of the investigations, in which American specialists are participating, are not yet in.
The majority of Al-Ahmar's fighters come from Hashed tribe, the country's most powerful tribe. President Saleh belongs to Hashed tribe. Earlier this month, Sadeq Al-Ahmar, who is one of Hashed's leaders, threatened that Saleh would not rule any more as long as he is still alive.
And with support from ex-general Ali Mohsen, Sadeq claimed that all the tribes of Yemen are with him. General Mohsen, Saleh's cousin, belongs to Hashed tribe as well.
To respond to Al-Ahmar brothers and the so-called national council, tribal leaders loyal to President Saleh from Hashed and all other tribes in Yemen held a meeting in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Monday.
About 5000 tribal leaders from all over the country rejected violence and all attempts to overthrow the constitutional legitimacy. They declared their stand with Saleh. Like Sadeq Al-Ahmar, they claimed that they represent all tribesmen of Yemen.
Al-Shayef is the leader of the Bakil tribe, the second largest tribe after Hashed.
Earlier this week, Yemeni TV showed President Saleh carrying out various political activities in the Saudi capital Riyadh after he was released from hospital. In an extensive meeting with his top aides, Saleh said he was ready to implement a US-backed and Saudi-led GCC deal to solve the crisis if a mechanism for implementing is found.
The meeting brought together the prime minister, Ali Mujawar, and speaker of parliament Yehia Al-Rayee, who both were recovering from injuries they sustained in the failed assassination attempt 3 June. Other senior officials came from Sanaa to attend the consultative meeting.
Meanwhile, tensions remain high in Sanaa and many other places where clashes happen from time to time despite all efforts exerted by the vice president, Abdu Rabu Mansor Hadi, to pacify the situation.
The government called on the protesters camping out at University of Sanaa to go home like those in other cities. "We call on these protesters camping out at the gate of Sanaa University to return to the right path and go hone like their colleagues in other cities who left squares and went home, Only those wanted for security reasons remained," said the Ministry of Interior on Tuesday.
Some of the protesters have either joined Al-Ahmar fighters or the army rebels after they lost hope that peaceful means would achieve their goals.
Earlier this week, the Yemeni Ministry of Defence warned jobless young people not to join army units led by ex-general Ali Mohsen. The ministry said that those recruited in the first armored division (FAD) will be breaking the law.
About 25 per cent of the young protesters camped out at the gate of Sanaa University since February this year have already joined the first armored division of ex-general Ali Mohsen said sources inside FAD. FAD headquarters are located in the area of Sanaa University.
The majority of those already recruited were students in the religious University of Al-Eman which is also located in the same area. Al-Eman university is funded and run by the cleric Abdel-Majid Al-Zandani, who is wanted by UN and US as a global terrorist.
Mohsen and Sheikh Al-Zandani have been allies since the late 1980s when they worked together to send young people to Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union. "We accepted every willing student from Al-Eman University first, and then we accepted other young people," said an officer working in the personnel department of FAD. The officer confirmed that all those newly recruited are already working and participating in defending their colleagues, the anti-government protesters.
And they get paid monthly but not from the budget of the Ministry of Defence. "The salaries come from the budget of FAD," said the officer. The salary they get is 50 per cent less than their counterparts in the army. Furthermore, FAD cannot pay those individuals who defected from central security and the republican guards and are now without income.
To encourage detections from FAD, the Saleh government has declared that personal weapons of those who defect become their own possession and their salary is immediately transferred from the payroll of FAD to the republican guards, the highly qualified and trained units led by President Saleh's son, Ahmed.