Fatik Al-Rodaini | 21 March 2012
SANA’A: Thousands of Yemeni officers and soldiers in both the security and army apparatuses defected last year in the revolution in protest against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. General Ali Mohsen, the Commander of the 1st Armored Division, critic of the regime, set in motion another wave of defections as more military men saw an opportunity to change alliances and put themselves at the service of the nation rather than the ruling family.
Most defectors complained of ill treatment from their superiors, talking of stolen rights and abuses, corruption and thievery.
”You don’t have the right to oppose your commander, instead you have to follow and obey the rule,” one soldier told Bikyamasr.com.
When officers and soldiers realize that the uprising was gaining momentum and was starting to gain some serious ground against the regime, many decided it was time to make the move towards the revolution, following in the footsteps of their Egyptian and Tunisian counterparts.
“When the chance to defect came, we followed our brothers and sisters in their opposition of the regime. We rose up against bad treatments, abuse, oppression, corruption and lies. We want our rights back! We were born free and we are to remain so. We want to build a civil state where all Yemenis will be treated equally and fairly regardless of their social status,” said a defected soldier.
Bikyamasr.com interviewed several officers and soldiers who defected to the opposition, asking them the reasons behind their move.
”I refused the order of the officer, I told him, I’m free and I have the right to oppose” said Mahadi Soeleh, a soldier with the Central Security forces in Aden.
He added, ”My officer was a very bad person – he didn’t respect us as a human beings he treated us like animals. For that reasons I protested against him along with my colleagues at the camp.”
An officer of the Republican Guard, noted that his job in the corps was to mainly protect the people of Yemen from foreign threats, not to steal his country because his position allowed him to.
”I opposed my commander, and I decided to participate in the rebuilding of our country,” he said.
Mohammed Al-Shehari, a soldier in a security station, talked about the many abuses of power he witnessed while serving, how officers squeezed money out of civilians for they were trying to get their rights. “Officers were exploiting others’ misery, using their position to gain financially.
In March last year after the Friday of Dignity, I decided to join my friends.”
Another soldier in “Change Square” said: “We will stand with the will of the people and we will not kill unarmed youth. We are here to defend the people and we will do that.”
2 months ago, thousands of Yemeni low-ranking airmen went on strike demanding the immediate departure from his position of Major General Mohammed Saleh, President Saleh’s half-brother.
The mutiny against the air force commander, who has held his post for more than 20 years spread throughout 4 different provinces and a number of bases across the country, putting serious question marks over the unity of the army and its cohesion.
Despite the election of President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi, many men in the military are still unhappy warning that if nothing is done towards demoting their current commanders they will step up their protests and take matters in their owns hands.