Chiara Onassis | 22 March 2012
SANA’A: Yemeni soldiers based in Abyan a southern province of the country currently battling al-Qaeda militants as they try to regain control of the region, told Bikyamasr.com that their living conditions were so appalling that they were now considering defecting in favor to the terror group.
Soldiers actually wrote a letter to the Deputy Defense Minister and President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi, in which they accused the Commander-in-Chief of allowing high ranking officers to carry on their abuses of power, retaining salaries and food rations for their own personal financial benefit.
Soldiers painted a very grim reality, saying that they were lacking everything: fuel, food stuffs and basic commodities, making their posting that much more difficult and overall disheartening.
“How can they [the government] expect us to fight for them and lay down our lives when they treat us like slaves? We are at the bottom of the food chain here; thrown in hell to fight the terror militants. Al-Qaeda has said to be fighting to restore the rightful rights of the people of Yemen. Maybe we owe to listen to them. At least they feed their men properly,” said a disenchanted lieutenant who for security reasons refused to reveal his identity.
Although not all soldiers are threatening to defect to al-Qaeda, many troops across the country are warning that unless their commanders are replaced anew they would refuse to obey the Defense Minister command, underscoring the men’s deep resentment for the current apparatus.
“We need real change, not some cosmetic patch that equates to nothing,” said an air force pilot of al-Dalaimi military base in Sana’a, the capital.
With al-Qaeda seemingly gaining more ground as its men are spreading to all provinces, the armed forces cannot really afford a new wave of defections or even protests as unity is of the essence if the country is to stand a chance at fighting the terror enemy.