Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Colonel Yahya Mohamed Saleh, nephew of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, announced his support for the president’s decision to restructure the army, which has seen many Saleh loyalists being distanced from power.
Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, the former commander of the Central Security Forces, said that he “supports the military restructuring, which includes the disbandment of military units that played a role in Yemeni military history.”
He emphasized that this support “comes for the sake of the success of the Gulf Initiative, the operational mechanism and the comprehensive National Dialogue.”
He said that Yemen must wait to see the implementation of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s decision to restructure the army, including the headquarters of the 1st Armored Division being transformed into a public park. Ahmed Saleh, the former president’s son, had previously been removed from his post as head of the powerful Republican Guard, while Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar was removed as commander of the 1st Armored Division. The latest decision has seen the two being appointed to diplomatic positions.
Colonel Yahya Mohamed Saleh said, “We must wait to see an end to the sit-ins, which harm the people of Yemen. Those participating in these sit-ins must leave, particularly following the most recent decisions and the beginning of the comprehensive National Dialogue.”
Colonel Yahya Mohamed Saleh previously served as commander of the Central Security Forces and is one of the most prominent Saleh family figures in Yemen. A Yemeni court took the decision to freeze Saleh’s assets after he failed to appear before the court to testify in a case relating to last year’s suicide bombing at Al-Sabaen Square, which saw more than one hundred members of the Central Security Forces being killed.
Yemen’s president, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, ordered a major shake-up in the security and military services earlier this week, resulting in the removal of a number of key Saleh affiliates.
Hadi removed Brigadier General Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh as head of the elite Republican Guard, appointing him as ambassador to the United Arab Emirates earlier this week. Meanwhile, General Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar, commander of the 1st Armored Division, was named the presidential adviser for military affairs.
In addition to this, Brigadier Tariq Mohammed Abdullah Saleh was reportedly named defense attaché to Germany, while Colonel Ammar Mohamed Abdullah Saleh was appointed as defense attaché to Ethiopia.
The Yemeni military restructuring garnered widespread support, being viewed as a strengthening of the government’s position. The National Alliance Council, led by the General People’s Congress (GPC), welcomed the presidential decrees and reiterated its support for President Hadi.
Tareq Al-Shami, head of the GPC’s press office, said: “These decisions reflect how much the president is keen on making the National Dialogue a success and completing the stages of a peaceful political settlement based on the Arab Gulf initiative, paving the way to lead Yemen towards the future.”
The opposition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) also welcomed the decree. JMP official Mohammed Qahtan was quoted as saying, “It is important to rebuild the army on national and professional foundations after it was based previously on party, family and regional grounds.”