Monday, March 12, 2012

Yemen national dialogue on shaky ground

Chiara Onassis | 12 March 2012
SANA’A: Just as Yemen is gearing up for a military confrontation with al-Qaeda in its southern provinces with daily security reports emphasizing the growing danger the terror is representing, the Joint Meeting Parties, an umbrella of political factions which united to oppose former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule, announced that they would not engage in any dialogue with the regime until President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi resumed the armed forces restructuring.
According to the GCC brokered power transfer agreement signed in November last year in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, all parties present, the regime and the opposition, agreed that upon the election of a new President of the Republic, the latter would oversee through a military committee the appointment of new military leaders as to re-balance the country’s power plates.
Although President Hadi did indeed appoint a new commander to the South and operate a few changes here and there, members of the opposition are waiting for him to tackle the main issue, that of President Saleh’s relatives.
However, the task is proven harder than first anticipated since, Ahmed Ali Saleh, Saleh’s eldest son and Head of the powerful Republican guards and Special Forces, and Yehia Mohamed Saleh, Saleh’s nephew and Head of the Central Security Forces are both holding within their hold the nation most potent and well-trained troops, which Yemen in its current fight against al-Qaeda cannot afford to jeopardize.
The US which said was keen to keep on the two men since they were long standing allies of the American anti-terrorism policy in the region and therefore important assets has thrown its weight into the argument, urging Hadi to postpone the restructuring until after the terror threat is lifted.
The JMP though is arguing against, saying that the ruling party is breaching the power-transfer terms, threatening to reconsider President Saleh’s immunity blanket if nothing is done soon to oust the 2 military chiefs.
 “We cannot engage in an inclusive national dialogue until the way is paved for it. The main thing that would lay the ground for the national dialogue is restructuring the army,” said Abdu Galal al-Adini, the opposition official spokesman.
He further added: “Combating terrorism is a corporate responsibility of the political leadership and the armed forces and that it’s not stipulated to a certain person or a military commander.”
Interestingly, revolutionaries are divided on the matter with many recognizing the necessity to maintain a sense of continuity within the armed forces as Yemen is literally at war with al-Qaeda in several southern provinces.
 “I don’t think we need to change our military leaders at present, we are at war. Politics and the military should not mix right now, not when we are facing the biggest threat against our nation in decades. The JMP should really refrain from urging soldiers to rebel against their commanders; it is anti-patriotic and could be considered an act of treason even. We need to stand behind our army and show soldiers the nation is supporting them. Before being members of a political party we are Yemenis and today we need to put that before everything,” said Abdel-Aleem Bugheti.

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