Military committee: between Saleh’s control and opposition ambition

Published on 6 February 2012 in News
Mohammed bin Sallam (author)

Mohammed bin Sallam


SANA’A Dec. 14 — Many people from Taiz and Sana'a have indicated that quiet is gradually coming back to the two cities. Both were subjected to the most violent clashes in the past months between pro-Saleh troops and tribesmen coming from rural areas, and defected soldiers who have committed themselves to defending the revolution youths.

Sources said that as soon as the national government was announced and sworn in, calm returned; shelling was relatively much lighter and life started to go back to normal in the cities and their suburbs that had been almost paralyzed due to the heavy shelling by Saleh’s forces in the past weeks.

Sana'a in particular saw relative quietness and the bombing by Saleh’s forces stopped except for limited attacks occurring early on Sunday in the Sufan area that contains houses belonging the tribal sheikh Sadiq Abdullah Al-Ahmar and his brothers. Al-Ahmar denounced such actions and considered them “a stark violation of the declared truce and an attempt to hinder the work of the military committee”.

He called upon vice-president Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi to step up the implementation of article 16 of the Gulf initiative implementation mechanism and the prompt return of armed forces and other military formations to their barracks.   

Yemenis started to see the fruits of the peace agreement as fragile calm hovered over the city that is divided into three portions by the pro and anti-Saleh factions.

Sana'a University also opened last Saturday for the first time since mass protests began in February. However, students say that many professors have not showed up even after defecting soldiers left the campus.

A student at the engineering college said that most students are back after the unity government was set up, “but,” she added, “many teachers weren’t present because some of them had obtained contracts in Saudi Arabia while others are just malingering.”

In Riyadh Street, the main commercial hub in western Sana'a, many shops have opened after being closed since clashes erupted between Saleh’s and dissident General Ali Mohsen’s forces three months ago.

Shop owners expressed their worry at the absence of activity in the city despite their relief at the brittle peace situation. “We’ve opened despite our worries that fighting may be resumed. But customers have no money to buy our commodities,” said a shopkeeper.

The military committee, headed by Hadi and set up in accordance with the implementation mechanism of the Gulf initiative to settle the current crisis in Yemen, was considered by observers as a positive step that would surely lead to a ceasefire in Sana'a, Taiz and other areas in Yemen.

The acting president gave his strict instructions for a ceasefire last week in Taiz and ordered the setup of a security committee to follow up such directions. 

The opposition indicated that the initiative demanded the formation of a military committee to establish security and stability and restructure the military and security forces “which haven’t happened so far and may not in the near future,” sources said.

They further said that the military committee has a hard mission and that it would succeed only by means of the continuity of international support.

They warned against intervention by honorary president Saleh into the actions of the committee.

The revolution youths in Taiz rallied, denouncing the violent attacks and destruction during the few past months. They demanded the regime be ousted and its members be prosecuted.

The military committee has been formed on 50/50 basis between the ruling party and the opposition, with seven military men from each side. Its responsibilities include ending all armed conflicts, returning the military to their camps, removing roadblocks and checkpoints and take any necessary measures to prevent further conflict.