Written By: Abdul-Aziz Oudah and Mohamamed Kalfood
Article Date: Aug 11, 2012 - 3:14:38 AM
A Republican Guards official said a number of Republican Guards members, whose units were restructured recently, showed resentment against Yemen’s president orders of restructuring some military units, regarding the move as a bid to limit powers of their commander, son of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Defected General Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar, Commander of Northwestern Military Zone and a Sana’a based unit called 1st Armored Division
President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi issued on July 6 a decree transferring the command of three Republican Guards to a newly force called the “Presidential Protective Force” to be under Hadi’s authority.
The other decrees ordered placing four Republican Guards under two regional commands.
Brigadier Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, Commander of Republican Guards
Restructuring the armed forces came as Republican Guards and a defected military engaged in fierce battles amid last year protest against former president Saleh’s rule.
Since anti-Saleh protest broke out in early 2011, Yemen’s armed forces suffered a defection by an arch-rival for former president Saleh who handed over power in November 2011 to his deputy, Hadi, after a year of protest against Saleh’s 33-year rule in power.
Commander of Northwestern Military Zone and a Sana’a based unit called 1st Armored Division, defected to the opposition side in March 2011. Some units under al-Ahmar’s command did not follow suit, however.
Hadi’s decrees also named five units of the defected military to be transferred and placed under regional command.
Republican Guards officials said only al-Ahmar’s units which remained neutral were restructured, which will not affect al-Ahmar’s power.
Colonel Abdul-Hakim al-Safwani, the Assistant Commander of Moral Guidance at the Republican Guards, said members of Republican Guards criticized Hadi’s orders arguing their affected rival units were already outside control of the defected military.
He said: “I was in a field visit to the units in concern whose members believed it was unfair to merge their highly trained, well equipped forces with those yet lacking basic combat skills.”
The Republican Guards, a U.S.-trained elite run by Brigadier Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, are considered the most powerful army whose units are distributed across Yemen.
International powers, which backed a GCC brokered power transfer deal to end Yemen’s political turmoil, welcomed Hadi’s move.
Jamal Benomar, the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Yemen, said Hadi’s orders was an “important step” and “essential to promoting peace and stability”.
“[Hadi’s] move is an important step in implementing Yemen’s November 2011 Transition Agreement to create conditions and take steps to integrate the armed forces under a unified national and professional leadership,” a UN statement issued on July 8 read, quoting Benomar as saying.
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