400 troops abandon Saleh

Published on 13 February 2012 in News
Shatha Al-Harazi (author), Ali Saeed (author)

Shatha Al-Harazi


Ali Saeed

Defected troops gathered in Change Square shouting ‘the butcher must stand trial’.

Defected troops gathered in Change Square shouting ‘the butcher must stand trial’.

SANA’A, Nov 20 — More than 400 troops marched through Change Square on Saturday evening shouting “the butcher must stand trial” after defecting from the Yemeni military.

They said they would no longer attack unarmed protesters, it was reported, vowing to support the revolution with their lives.

This latest development came after embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh declared that he was happy to transfer power to the Republican Guards, under the command of his son Ahmed.

”You will be there even if I leave power. You are the power and you are the safety valve of the revolution and you have immunity against lying propaganda by the apostasy elements…” Saleh said during a field visit speech to the Republican Guard troops on Saturday.

At the same time, an envoy of political opposition parties was supposed to fly to Riyadh to continue talks on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) power transfer initiative that President Saleh has three times rejected.

The president’s information secretary, Ahmed Al-Sofi told the Yemen Times that GCC talks have made no progress and will remain static until the opposition is ready to guarantee completion of the initiative.

“The opposition rejects to sign on the parts related to the mechanism of the initiative and on its timetable,“ said Al-Sofi, adding that the ruling party welcomed anything the US, EU or Gulf Country mediators suggest towards ending the crises in Yemen.

To date there are no new indications of agreement between Saleh and the opposition and some believe that Saleh is manipulating the process to make use of any time until the end of his term in 2013.

Youth activists on Twitter started  a new #NotoGCCdeal hash tag to express the youth rejection of the political deal that has failed to bring an end to conflict in Yemen.  A group on Facebook has also been started for the same reason.

His son, Ahmed Saleh, who is chief commander of the Republican Guards and the Special Forces received his father, the highest chief commander of the armed forces. Saleh also inspected the military training capacity of the center, made a speech to the armed forces and described the defected army troops as “traitors and little groups led by some mafias”.

He accused those who had defected of being “bandits, arms dealers and mercenaries sabotaging the nation” stating for the first time his intention to hand over power to his loyal army.

However, Yemeni political analyst Abdulghani Al-Eryani played down the significance of the speech and the visit. “He just used the same words as usual and it is no different from what he was saying some time ago,” Al-Eryani said.

Saleh’s speech was delivered at this time to assure his supporters in the ruling General People Congress (GPC) and his loyal army that if he stepped down they would still enjoy power sources, added Al-Eryani.

“It is significant that he has become ready to hand over power and started using his last cards against defected General Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar,” he said.

Last week, Saleh chose new leaders for the military brigades under the command of defected General Al-Ahmar in the north of the country despite the fact his previous designations to similar posts were ignored.

It is worth mentioning that the number of soldiers who appeared on Saleh speech at the fourth brigade was obviously small.