x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 September 2017

Yemen cuts power of ex-president's son

Yemen's president has ordered the restructuring of some military units, aiming to curb the powers of a son of former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Yemeni soldiers stand guard outside the Al Saleh mosque during a memorial service to commemorate the victims of a suicide bombing in Abyan province on August 5, in Sanaa.
Yemeni soldiers stand guard outside the Al Saleh mosque during a memorial service to commemorate the victims of a suicide bombing in Abyan province on August 5, in Sanaa.

SANAA // Yemen's president ordered the restructuring of some military units, aiming to curb the powers of a son of former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The move coincided with an air strike that killed two suspected militants linked to Al Qaeda, still a major threat to Yemen despite being driven out of its main southern strongholds by a US-backed military offensive in June.

State-owned news agency Saba reported late on Monday that President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi issued decrees transferring the command of some Republican Guards' units to a newly-formed force called the Presidential Protective Forces under his authority. Other units from the elite Republican Guards, which is led by Brigadier General Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, the ex-president's son, were placed under different regional command.

Lawlessness in Yemen has alarmed the United States and Saudi Arabia, which increasingly view the impoverished state as a frontline in their war on Al Qaeda and its affiliates. The president's decrees also incorporated some army units led by dissident General Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar, who broke away from Mr Saleh's forces after the protests began last year, into the new presidential force or under regional command.

Mr Hadi, who had served as Mr Saleh's deputy, took power in February after standing as the only candidate in a presidential election. His election came as part of a deal brokered by the GCC to end the political upheaval.

The president has vowed to unify the army, which is divided between Mr Saleh's allies and foes. In April, he removed about 20 top commanders, including a half brother of Saleh and other relatives.

Saudi Arabia and the United States both backed the power transition deal, partly because of concerns over the expansion of Al Qaeda' s regional wing in a country next to major oil shipping lanes.