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

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid