Yemen’s Hadi: 'I'm a boss'
Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. (Getty Images)
April 16th, 2012
09:00 AM ET

Yemen’s Hadi: 'I'm a boss'

Editor's Note: Daniel R. DePetris is the Senior Associate Editor of the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis.

By Daniel R. DePetris - Special to CNN

In one of the most far-reaching and dramatic decisions in the post-Ali Abdullah Saleh era, Yemen’s newly elected president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, has ordered the dismissal of several high-ranking loyalists of the previous government.

A total of four governors and three military commanders - two of whom happen to be family members of Ali Abdullah Saleh himself - were asked to leave their posts by the former Vice President, who is attempting to steer Yemen on the path of a successful transition while at the same time protecting his young administration from internal sabotage.

Both of these tasks will be enormously difficult to carry out in full, but with a fresh popular mandate from the Yemeni people last February, President Hadi is using the support to his advantage.

Friday’s dismissals would not have been such a big deal if Saleh decided to take a page out of the handbook of the ousted Tunisian President Zine el Abedine Ben Ali; staying out of the limelight and tucking himself away in exile.

But due to the former president’s frustrating yet effective negotiation tactics, Saleh managed to grab major concessions from his adversaries (both in the Yemeni opposition and in the Gulf Cooperation Council) before stepping down, assuring that he and his family are taken care of before giving what the international community wanted most.

One of those concessions, in addition to immunity from prosecution over the killing of unarmed protesters throughout the uprising, was the right for Saleh to lead his General People’s Congress Party (GPC) from inside Yemen.

The arrangement is akin to allowing a criminal membership on the early-release prison committee, but for the United States and the Saudis, providing Saleh with a face-saving graceful exit was the only way that the country could begin its long and difficult journey of moving on from the turmoil.

Predictably, all of the agreement’s stipulations have essentially permitted the former president to use the loyalists in his party - as well as his relatives in the security ministries - to thwart decisions that Saleh himself does not approve of.

Last March, members of the GPC walked out of an interim parliament session after disagreeing with some of the views of the other representatives.  At around the same time, Saleh personally telephoned the newly-installed Yemeni Prime Minister, Mohammed Basindwa, and threatened to ruin his government if opposition parliamentarians did not change their behavior.  Basindwa reacted by telling Hadi that his orders were either being ignored by some his subordinates or struck down by Saleh loyalists who remained embedded in the ministries.

The situation was so troubling and potentially explosive that the White House released a statement expressing its disappointment and concern that some Yemeni actors were deliberately stalling the transition process.

If Friday’s decisions are anything to go by, it appears that Hadi is now feeling his political oats and ready to take bold moves in order to eliminate some of the deadlock that Saleh’s friends and family are generating within the unity government.

Firing Gen. Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar - the unpopular head of the Air Force who has been resisting calls from his airmen to quit - and Gen. Tariq Saleh, the commander of the Presidential Guard, is a signal to the world that he is willing to exploit the very short political honeymoon period he has been given by the Yemeni electorate to take that step.  More importantly, Hadi’s tough-stick approach will demonstrate to the Yemeni public that the change they have risked their lives for is slowly becoming a reality.

Of course, canning two Saleh relatives will not usher in a renaissance overnight.  Saleh’s son, Ahmed Ali, and his nephew, Yahia, are still in positions of considerable authority.  Leaving both of them in power is not necessarily a bad thing in the short-term, for Hadi clearly recognizes that removing all of Saleh’s relatives at the same time would likely result in a significant amount of bloodshed from tribes and military units still solidly in the former president’s camp (the dismissal of Gen. Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar has already provoked just this response, but at a much smaller-scale).  Time and patience is clearly a factor, and Hadi would be wise to continue his gradual approach in reforming the Yemeni military.

Hadi, Basindwa, and the new unity government are confronting a number of people inside Yemen that are dedicated to their downfalls - some of whom are inside that very same government.  Yet what the new Yemeni leadership needs to realize is that they also have allies and friends in the international community rooting for their success.  The support of millions of Yemenis who are already applauding the president’s personnel changes does not hurt either.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Daniel R. DePetris.

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Topics: Yemen

soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Taha

    change has begun no one can stop. all Ali saleh relatives will be removed from power soon or later.

    April 16, 2012 at 9:49 am | Reply
  2. Dr.Ehab Al Omary

    Authorities in Sana'a use these Terrorist groups whenever they want and stops all activity whenever they want,have been recognized by each party during the crisis of Yemen that the other party supports Al-Qaeda,and that was the charges are real and not a matter of haggling political, many of the elements of leadership accused of terrorism receive their salary from the armored first band's and some of the Republican Guard and the national security and political security and the Ministry of Interior
    The biggest proof of this that the ruling authorities entered with those elements in the dialogue several times,most recently the parties' agreement to a truce for ten days during the presidential elections in February..

    April 16, 2012 at 11:43 am | Reply
  3. Dr.Ehab Al Omary

    Southern Movement:

    Is a peaceful movement launched South Yemen, or what was formerly known as South Yemen Arab Republic or Democratic Republic. Before uniting the northern and southern halves

    The first Southern movement was launched in 2007where some of the brass held demonstrations demanding their return to their military duties in the army after they were retired by the government of Yemen as a direct punishment because of their participation in the war of secession which President Ali Abdullahrejected the disengagement processrequested by President Ali Salem white former President of South Yemen.

    Since the start of military demonstrations there were many demonstrations in severalsouthern provinces and sporadically and without any regulation or coordination or specificleaders, but was mostly an expression of policy of rejection, exclusion and marginalizationpracticed by the regime and the Yemeni government against the people of the south.

    In the twenty-fourth of March 2007the Southern Movement have been officially launched by the associations of retired military personnel and their demands confined in the settlement of salary and rank, like their colleagues in the Yemeni army and claiming that they are working under the umbrella of a single state and there must be equality between everyone, but what happened was quite the opposite where the Yemeni government insisted on themarginalization of their demands and not pay them, forcing them to go out ondemonstrations demanding to return to the pre-unity and to demand the return of State of the South ..

    When the government chose to ignore some people and ignored their legitimate demandsthey also tried to stop the demonstrations by force and arrested some demonstrators in an attempt to stop the demonstrations by force and ending them, committing a terrible mistakeas pouring fuel on a weak fire which could have easily been put out but instead they increased the suffering of thedemonstrators instead of achieving their demands so their demands rose, instead ofequality in the salary their demands are to split the state and return to the pre-unity which is the total demandthat demonstrators want to achieve now in the south

    April 16, 2012 at 11:44 am | Reply
  4. saleh jaber

    The majority of Yemeni population would agree with you. The US media don't see the real picture of what has been going on in yemen. All they see is that there are "supposed" terrorists whom their country is fighting in Yemen; but why are these terrorists especially breeding in the South? where they came from? why is supporting them with money and advanced weaponry? why do not the yemeni authorities provide NAMES of those terrorists they claim to have killed or captured? why are all victims of fighting from South Yemen? The plot is TOO obvious: the South is under two occupations – that of Al-Qaeda and of the Sanaa military force. Hence, the Southern issue and the demand of Southerners to restore their pre-unification state will be borted, and at the same time the money from the USA will continue to pour upon Yemeni authorities in the name of fighting terrorism.

    April 16, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Reply
  5. ashekalganoob

    we are suffering in south of yemen since7-7-1994 when the south had been invaded by the northern military forces and tribal gangs that stole every thing in south,we live in a triad of poverty,illness and ignorance while the south is rich in raw materials like petrol,gas and many other metals,what we see in north is out of our concern its nothing but an internal issue of northern people,we seek our freedom and independence,we have our civil struggle among the peaceful southern movement to gain our dignity,we are refusing the unity because of injustice,and hadi is too weak to reform because the tribal leaders are stronger than the him,and negotiations will fail without southern peaceful movements,finally we donot believe that there is strong intentions to reform

    April 16, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Reply
  6. yassensharhi

    the rights organizations all over the world to the world's pearls of utter on behalf of the truth pearls of demands for human rights that we are the sons of the occupied South Arabia in the summer war 94 war that has no mercy categorize the sons of the south without any mercy and continued crimes of the occupation pearls today are killing our people without any fault, we have to demand our right of liberation and victory and bring the people of the State of South-South, we Machon forward Ani victory and liberate the land from the northern occupation

    April 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Reply
  7. اسد الجنوب

    نحن ابناء الجنوب لا تعنينا اي تسويات سياسيه يقوم بها زعيم الاحتلال الجديد عبدربه منصور هادي نحن لنا دوله ذات سياده وقانون ومعترف بها دولينا ان الحل الوحيد للازم التي تحدث في جنوب اليمن وشماله لا يوجد لها اي حلول سوى فك الارتباط بين الدولتين واعاده دوله الجنوب الى اصحابها او ان ثوره ابناء الجنوب لن تتحمل الاحتلال اكثر فسيتفجر بركان الغضب الجنوبي في اي لحضه وهذا سيسبب اكبر حطر على المنطقه وعلى دول الجوار لذالك نريد الاسراع لاستفتاء شعب الجنوب وتقرير مصيره بنفسه

    April 16, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Reply
  8. George Patton

    Here goes another U.S. backed tyrant in the Middle East! This guy is at least ten times worse than Bashar al-Assad ever thought of being. In spite of this, the U.S. will continue to fight to keep this bozo in power no matter what!!!

    April 16, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Reply
  9. بنت الجنوب

    الصراعات في صنعاء لن تنتهي إلا بأنتهاء أحد الأطراف المتصارعه على السياده اليمنيه التي يستميتون من أجلها وما تفعله الدول الصديقه لأنهاء هذه الصراعات بصوره سلميه حضاريه لهي جهود منثوره سيضرب بها الحائط في نهاية الأمر والكل يعلم ذلك ,أما ما يخص الجنوب فهناك شعب لن يرضى بأنصاف الحلول ولن يرتضي لنفسه بأقل من أستعادة سيادة دولته من حكم القبيله الأحمريه ..,,وان ما يحدث في اليمن ابعد ما يكون عن الحريه والدومقراطيه التي تتغنى بها الولايات المتحده

    April 17, 2012 at 12:39 am | Reply
  10. ضياء حسن

    نحن شعب الجنوب لا تعنينا هذه التسويه التي عملت على تجديد النظام بمبادره هزيله لا تلبي مطالب الشعب فمن الذي رحل ومن الذي سقط وما الذي تغير على الواقع السياسي تم استبدال الاوجه فقط وهي كما هي م كانت بالسلطه لا تغيير يذكر على الاطلاق نحن من عام 2007 نطالب باستعادة دولتنا المحتله بقوة السلاح من عام 94 نضالنا سلمي ان مايحدث على ارض الواقع ابشع مما يصفه اللسان شعب يبد بحجة مكافحة الارهاب والقاعده تعددت الاوجه باسماء مختلفه شريعه وقاعده وهي نفسها تنتمي للنظام تقصف منازلنا بالسلاح الثقيل والمتوسط والطائرات شرد اهلنا بابين والان بلودر لازلنا مهما كانت التضحيات ماضون نحو تحرير ارضنا وليخسىء الخاسئون الله اكبر العزه لله والمجد والخلود لشهداءنا وعاش شعب الجنوب حرا مستقلا

    April 17, 2012 at 3:54 am | Reply
  11. emad

    the respectful messrs
    our best greetings
    We aspire to help us reconquest our country
    revolution in the South is began in 2007
    and it has been the birth of the Arab revolutions
    Revolution in the South aimed at liberation from the occupation of Yemen
    Convention on the unity between the North and SouthSignedin 1990
    the North turned to the Convention
    War exploded in 1994 between the north and the south population ended by the victory of the north due to high population over the south.
    the North use Al-Qaeda and the Islamic groups returning from Afghanistan to kill the South.
    Was the occupation of the south after a religious edict launched by Islamic groups
    International resolutions ruled to return to pre-1990
    so,
    We aspire to help us reconquest our country
    Federal South Arbian

    April 17, 2012 at 4:08 am | Reply
  12. ALHAMIMI

    ان مايجري من صراعات بين قبائل صنعاء ماهو الا مسرحية للسيطرة على الجنوب .. وهذا الريئس المزعوم هو دمية يحركها مشائخ الشمال كيفما شاءو ومايجري على ارض الجنوب باسم القاعدة هي ايضا مسرحية هزيلة للسيطرة وتمزيق اوصال الجنوب وتفكيك الحراك الشعبي السلمي . ونحن شعب الجنوب نهيب بالعالم بان يمد يد العون للشعب الجنوبي لتخليصة من الاحتلا الظالم ووقف حرب الابادة التي فرضت على ابين والجنوب عموما باسم القاعدة . والحل والمخرج الوحيد لكل هذا هو فك الارتباط

    April 17, 2012 at 4:19 am | Reply
  13. j. von hettlingen

    Hadi rose through the ranks of the army of South Yemen and that of unified Yemen after 1990. He become Saleh's defence minister and vice-president in 1994, leading a military campaign against southern secessionists in the brief civil war in 1994. Hadi – a southerner – is trusted enough by the pro-Saleh military and tribal factions, pro-democracy protesters, southerners and Yemen's powerful Saudi neighbour to transition Yemen to free elections in 2014. He faces a monumental task: holding the various groups together, handling the abysmal poverty and fighting the al-Qaeda insurgents. The dangers of southern separatism and Houthi Shia insurrection supported by Iran in the north are also not far away.

    April 17, 2012 at 4:28 am | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      What the Yemenis need to do j.von hettlingen, is to throw this charlatan Hadi out of office and replace him with Communist Party leaders who will work to build Yemen up into a modern prosperous state similar to Vietnam today!

      April 17, 2012 at 11:39 am | Reply
      • Nader

        Agreed Dr No'man would be a better choice but he lacks the guts for the job and or a strong tribal affiliation to survive in Sanaa. Hadi at least has that.

        October 1, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  14. سر الخلود

    لا تكون الدول عظمى الا بدورها الايجابي في نصرة الشعوب اما الادوار السلبيه التي تلعبها الدول الكبرى في حياة الشعوب فهي بداية الطريق الى نهاية هذه الدول الكبرى وسقوطها وامريكا كدوله كبرى ان ارادت الاحتفاظ بمكانتها في العالم الحر عليها ان تعيد النظر في سياساتها وتحالفاتها ونحن في الجنوب العربي انطلاقا من اهمية موقعنا الاستراتيجي الذي بات مطمعا دوليا واقليميا للمتصارعين على مدخل البحر الاحمرندعو الجميع لأعادة حساباته المغلوطه عن شعب الجنوب وقدرته على فرض ارادته واستعادة سيادته على كل ارضه المحتله بقوة السلاح وتطهيرها من ما تسمى القاعده وانصار الشريعه التي اثبتت الاحداث الاخيره في لودر محافظة ابين انهم من القادة وضباط الجيش الذين يحاولون اعادة احتلال الجنوب بأسم القاعده ولم نعد نثق بعبدربه منصور ولا وزير دفاعه ولا في قراراتهم التي يتكشف لنا يوما بعد يوم مدى ارتباطها بالنظام الفاسد وتبعيتها للوصايه ودول الجوار برغم التمويه المفتعل الذي يمارسونه على الشعب والثوار في اليمن الشماليه ..الجنوب لديه وعي وثقافه سياسيه مختلفه كليا عن شعب الجمهوريه اليمنيه وعلى دول الجوار وامريكا التعامل معها بخصوصيه بعيدا عن تجربتهم مع قبائل الشمال والحكم الزيدي فيها..

    April 17, 2012 at 5:07 am | Reply
  15. سر الخلود

    No states are great, but turn positive in support of the people either turns negative, which play the major countries in the lives of people they are beginning the road to the end of the great powers and the fall and the U.S. status as a major that wants to retain its position in the free world has to reconsider its policies and its alliances, and we in South Arabia Given the importance of our strategic location, which is coveted for regional and international Mtsaraein at the entrance to the sea Crndau everyone to re-calculations faulty for the people of the South and its ability to impose his will and the restoration of sovereignty over all their territory occupied by force of arms, and cleared of the so-called Al-Qaeda and supporters of Sharia, which has shown recent events in the loader for the province of Abyan, they leaders and military officers who are trying to re-occupation of the south the name of the base and we no longer trust Babdrih Mansour and his defense minister, nor in their decisions, which is revealed to us day after day how it relates to the corrupt regime and subordination to the guardianship and the neighboring countries despite the camouflage artificial they perform on the people and the rebels in North Yemen .. South has a consciousness and a political culture that is entirely different from the people of Yemen and the neighboring countries and the U.S. to deal with privacy away from their experience with the tribes of the north and government-Zaidi them ..

    April 17, 2012 at 5:09 am | Reply
  16. Benedict

    If Gadi wants to get anything done in Yemen,he'll definately have to contend with Saleh's family members and loyalist that haven't left the country. Saleh's behaviour just goes to show how hard it was for him to leave power when he always stated that he would go for the good of the people!

    April 17, 2012 at 9:14 am | Reply
  17. FK BASHAR AL ASAD AL KALB

    اغلقو سفارات روسيا واطردو دبلماسييهم ومواطنيهم من بلداننا فروسيا مشاركه بقتل الشعب السوري اريد ان اسئل سؤال اين تنظيم القاعده الذي صرعونا به من ما يجري في سوريا

    April 17, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Reply
  18. FK BASHAR AL ASAD AL KALB

    YA BASHAR AL KALB EBN AL SHARMOOTA MANYOOK KOS OMAHATKUM AND KOS OMAHAT HIZBOALLAH AND KUL AL SHIIE3A AL KELAB AL KHAWANA , LA3ANKUM ALLAH AND AL SESTANI WAL KHOMINI WELD AL MOTAA

    April 17, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Reply
  19. Nader

    Good for the North. They finally got a southerner to lead them out of the dark ages. As for us South Arabians we united with you and sacraficed everything for the sake of unity. Made your capitol ours and kept ur president. We even kept ur currency when it was agreed upon the signing of the unity that both currencies would be replaced by a new one to be called a yemeni dirham. Merged our 100 percent southern airlines with yours which half is owned by the saudi government. No problem. Invaded us in 94 unjustifiably and still no problem we were patient. But then when we realized that it wasn't just the government but the people of the North as a whole who looks at us this way. The unity which we entered with hope has turned into a nightmare. An occupation and when people of the south took to the streets not a single voice came from the streets in Sanaa, Taiz, Hodiadah or any other city, town, or village in the north in favor with their brothers in South. So i say this to the northerners that read this post. "Save face and let us be"

    October 1, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Reply
  20. Nader

    IT IS NOT IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES TO SUPPORT THE OCCUPATION OF SOUTH YEMEN AS THEIR WILL NEVER BE STABILITY IN THE REGION AS A WHOLE UNLESS OUR STATE IS REINSTATED AND REJOINS THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY AS IT WAS PRIOR TO MAY 22, 1990. I HOPE THAT BOTH OBAMA AND ROMNEY LOOK AT THE SOUTHERN ISSUE WITH A CLOSER EYE AND I WILL BET THE RENT MONEY THAT THEIR WILL NO LONGER BE AQAP OR ANY SUCH GROUPS IN THE SOUTH.

    October 1, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Reply
  21. Janobia wali alfakher

    To know full truth you Should look at the full picture ! Why you conceal the rest of the picture from American public opinion??Just Tell your people that the Yemeni people have failed to complete their revolution because of the conflict between the Northern occupiers on wealth of the South
    beside no one can deny the fact of "is no existence of the militias of "alkaida" there is Just some people who working for the government and get there salary and support from the nourth ,, . and the most important purpose of existence of is to legitimize the occupation of the northern to South! continued since 1994 in the killing and the destruction of all aspects of civil and modernity and progress there

    April 16, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Reply

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