Chiara Onassis | 17 March 2012
SANA’A: In March last year, Yemen’s General Mohsen al-Ahmar decided to side with the revolution, declaring himself the “Protector of the People” joining tens of thousands in their calls for President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s ouster.
The move to the opposition, which was perceived as a defection by both the regime and the revolutionaries was not however officially sealed by a resignation or even a declaration.
To this very day, General Ali Mohsen remains de facto under the command of the Commander in Chief of the armed forces, the president, receiving his salary and that of his men directly from the defense ministry.
Despite his obvious acts of rebellion and his armed opposition against the regime, President Saleh never demoted him, or even disowned him, maintaining a strange dynamic. The matter actually raised a few questions amongst soldiers who did defect to the revolution and whose salaries were suspended.
A spokesperson for the government, Mohamed al-Basha noted that the matter of defected soldiers would be ”dealt with in good time and after careful consideration from President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi.”
Amid fresh tensions in “Change Square,” the main rallying point of the revolution in Sana’a, the capital, soldiers have begun to demand the immediate departure from his post of General Mohsen al-Ahmar, as they say he is as much part of the regime as Saleh and his loyalists.
A day after demonstrators paraded in 60 Street, the general announced that he was willing to step down if indeed it was what President Hadi wished for, stressing that he would accept whatever “mission” the state would entrust him with.
Meanwhile, former President Saleh continues to call on his foes to depart from Yemen, accusing them of being in breach of a “secret agreement” negotiated by all warring factions last year, in which all parties agreed that upon Saleh’s resignation they would all abandon their positions within the state and retire abroad.