SANA’A — After weeks of intense shuttle diplomacy, Yemen’s new President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi has taken firm control of two key military units, seen as a bold step towards asserting his authority on a divided nation.
Earlier this week, a nephew of ex-strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, who commanded the presidential guard, finally stepped down after refusing a presidential order to do so for one month, the United Nations envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, announced on Thursday.
General Tariq Mohammed Saleh will no longer control the best-equipped and best-trained unit in Yemen’s demoralized and deeply divided military, with an ally of the new president running it instead.
The announcement came just over a week after Yemen’s air force commander quit his post after also refusing to go for weeks.
Hadi’s assertiveness has caught Saleh and many in his camp by surprise.
According to one top diplomat in the country, few among Yemen’s political and military elite believed the new leader was strong enough to take over the reigns.
“They all thought they could influence him and get what they want,” said the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. “But he doesn’t want to be swallowed by any one side. He has started asserting himself.”
The battle to restructure Yemen’s military, however, a condition stipulated in the Gulf-sponsored and UN-backed transition plan that forced Saleh out of power in February after 33-years, is not over. — AFP