By Mohammed Mohammed Al-Maqaleh
Defected General Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar gave an interview recently discussing the upcoming National Dialogue Conference. First, he declared that he plans on maintaining his military position indefinitely. Al-Ahmar accused President Hadi of using the military decrees and restructure to shore-up his power. Al-Ahmar has long ties to Hadi, their relations span well-over two-decades – since 1986. Hadi was given advanced knowledge of Al-Ahmar’s defection, and Al-Ahmar has enjoyed daily access to Hadi and other components of the transitional government.
In the interview, Al-Ahmar sent several messages to political powers and observers of the National Dialogue and the GCC initiative, including regional and international powers, particularly Iran. Al-Ahmar presented his case for keeping his position during the transitional process.
Al-Ahmar’s interview seemed to address the current debate raging amongst the youth revolution movement and other powers that have called for the elimination of divisions in the armed forces. The steps include removing the major centers of corruption prior to holding the national dialogue. “Doing so is a condition for a successful dialogue and ensuring results. I will hold onto my position despite any objections,” Al-Ahmar said. His message is that he is powerful political actor, not to be taken lightly.
Islah also had some political messages to send out, specifically, to the southern movement, calling on the movement to reevaluate its role in the southern issue. Al-Ahmar rearticulated Islah’s message to southerners and Change Square revolutionaries.
As the start date of the National Dialogue approaches, Yemen’s current political scene is similar to last year’s. Little seems to have changed; the country is ruled by a weak president who is seemingly allied to stronger figures; it has a weak central government trying to confront military and tribal powers vying for influence, just as they managed with the former regime.
This new/old coalition is seeking to grab political power before any dialogue begins.
Al-Ahmar was simply a tool of the Saleh regime and he has not changed, no matter what he pretends to the public. The only difference is that Islah is no longer the party of the ruling regime, but don’t mistaken, it is still a party of that same regime.
It’s quite bold of Al-Ahmar to threaten violence in order to ‘resolve’ issues like expanding Iranian influence in the south and north when his aim is to accumulate power so he can control the country’s most important state institutions.
We shouldn’t consider Al-Ahmar’s heated words as a positive sign for the National Dialogue, rather, we should recognize them as a way to apply pressure on dialogue
participants in order to reduce their demands.
Additionally, giving Al-Ahmar attention during these important and trying times in Yemen’s history will result in nothing less than the inciting of conflicts and internal wars. By conceding him this power, we are one step closer to devastating wars – not only within the armed forces – but against political parties that Al-Ahmar considers his enemies.
How can we tolerate the silence of the supreme commander of the armed forces in regards to a military leader playing political and partisan roles?
Is this not more evidence that, with his silence, Hadi is part of the problem? He is suppose to be part of the solution, assigned the responsibility of carrying out a successful National Dialogue and sacking a defected military commander who overnight became a political force that further incites conflicts.