News / Middle East

President Sacks Generals, Renews National Dialogue in Divided Yemen

President Hadi could boost national constitutional debate if he manages to end military careers of family who ruled for Yemen for three decades.

President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi opened a six-month National Dialogue on March 18, 2013 and invited 565 Yemenis to chart a new future for their troubled nation. (AP)
President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi opened a six-month National Dialogue on March 18, 2013 and invited 565 Yemenis to chart a new future for their troubled nation. (AP)
David Arnold
Interim President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi of Yemen hopes to rebuild his government by purging remnants of the Saleh family that ruled the country more than 30 years.
 
Among those remnants of Saleh family are high-ranking army generals who have refused to step down.  
 
Hadi's move against the generals comes as he is trying to recruit 565 leaders from all of Yemen's political, tribal and social factions to join in a six-month National Dialogue designed to produce a new constitution.
 
Hadi became transitional president more than a year ago when the Gulf Cooperation Council forced President Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign under threat of being charged in the 2011 shooting deaths of 45 demonstrators protesting his 33-year rule.
 
The GCC-brokered presidential resignation had strong support from neighboring Saudi Arabia and the United States, which – with Hadi's agreement – has been using drones to go after al-Qaida suspects in Yemen.
 
Can Hadi declare presidential independence?
 
After becoming interim president, Hadi bided his time before making his first moves to weed out elements of the Saleh government. As his first move, Hadi announced the removal of Ahmed Ali Saleh, the ex-president’s eldest son, ex-head of the powerful Republican Guard and former heir-apparent to rule Yemen. He was appointed ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.
 
Many of these decrees only exist on paper and they have to be implemented, which in Yemen is always a trick.
A Saleh nephew who was deputy chief of intelligence became military attaché in Yemen’s embassy in Ethiopia. Another Saleh nephew who headed of the Presidential Guard was named military attaché in Germany.
 
Yet another Saleh military man to get removed was Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who commanded 50,000 troops of Yemen’s First Armored Division in Sana’a. The general was effectively neutralized by being appointed presidential adviser.
 
Can Hadi make good on his word?
 
“Many of these decrees only exist on paper and they have to be implemented, which in Yemen is always a trick,” said Greg Johnsen, a Yemen scholar at Princeton University.
 
“I see it as one of the best moves in Yemen following the departure of former President Saleh,” said Khaled Fattah, Yemen specialist from the University of Lund. “There is a trust now in the transitional government and that he is capable of achieving. So, it’s really a catalyst for the National Dialogue.”
 
No Kalashnikovs allowed in the Movenpick
 
That dialogue to draw up a new constitution started in March and Danya Greenfield of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East wrote that it has been dealing with Yemen’s thorniest issues.
 
I see it as one of the best moves in Yemen following the departure of former President Saleh.
Among those issues are calls for independence by southern Yemen, an ongoing uprising in the north waged by the large al-Houthi tribe, the need for strengthened federal governance in a country dominated by traditional tribes, and a voice for women and youth who were big factors in the Arab Spring protests that helped topple the Saleh regime.
 
The constitutional talks are being held at Sana’a’s Movenpick hotel and security around the complex is tight. Yemen is a nation where it’s not unusual to see civilian men carrying submachine guns in public. But all those taking part in the talks must check their weapons with the military before entering the Movenpick area.
 
Facing Yemen’s political future
 
Despite the desire for a new constitution, not all of Yemen’s major players are taking part in the conference.
 
Among those staying away were Tawakkol Karman, whose charismatic voice for political reform earned her a Nobel Peace Prize, and Ali Salim al-Beidh, a former president of South Yemen.
 
Beidh was Saleh’s vice president during Yemen’s short north-south unification. He now leads the Hirak movement and is pressing for South Yemen’s independence, a demand that analysts say is a major issue in the constitutional talks.
 
Princeton’s Greg Johnsen cites another obstacle that needs to be overcome in the constitutional negotiations.
 
“One of the shortcomings of the National Dialogue is that it is seen largely as something that the international community - both the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) as well as the U.S. and the U.N. - really pushed on Yemen,” said Johnsen.
 
“The idea is to bring a lot of Yemenis together, put them all in a room and hope they come up with a solution,” he said, adding that most delegates are there only to protect their own interests.
 
The plan is that Yemen will hold new elections sometime next year – if the National Dialogue talks can come up with a new constitution.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gudrun from: UK
April 30, 2013 5:06 PM
The Huthis are not a tribe but a large extended family with branches all over the Yemen. As for the "ongoing uprising", since they have taken over Sa'dah province in 2011 it has been largely peaceful. Huthi representatives constitute the second largest group at the National Dialogue Conference.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More