Dismissed general Al-Ahmar finally leaves office
SANA’A, April 25 — General Mohammed Saleh Al-Ahmar, who was dismissed as command of the Air Force on April 6th, has finally left his office on Tuesday after defying President Abd Rabo Mansour Hadi’s decree for 19 days.
Al-Ahmar, who is also former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s half brother, has implemented the decree ordering his removal from office in the presence of the UN Secretary General Special Advisor to Yemen, Jamal Benomer and members of the Military Committee.
“I will remain a solider for the sake of this homeland,” said Al-Ahmar in a meeting ceremony with Benomer and the Military Committee. He denied that he had rebelled against President Hadi saying, “It is untrue that I’m disobedient. The Air Force is the possession of Yemen.”
However, a source at the Yemeni Air Defense said that Al-Ahmar gave up his defiance from being removed after finding his actions shunned both locally and internationally.
“Al-Ahmar has left office after international pressure exercised by the UN and other witnesses of the GCC power transfer deal,” said Captain Bilal Al-Sofi of the Yemeni Air Forces in Sana’a.
Al-Sofi explained that “Al-Ahmar wanted to keep some prestige for himself by leaving the office in the attendance of Benomer, so Saleh’s aides and supporters feel undefeated.”
The UAE-based Khaleej newspaper quoted Yemeni Military sources on Wednesday saying that the former president Saleh called his half brother late Monday night, telling him to end his rebellion and leave the headquarters of the Air Forces in Al-Dailami Military Airbase, near Sana’a International Airport.
Following President Hadi’s decree calling for Al-Ahmar to step down, the former chief of the Air Forces closed Sana’a International Airport for 24 hours. On April 7th he threatened to shoot down any planes attempting to land or take off.
Saleh told his half brother that Benomer had warned him that any one who defied President Hadi’s decisions could have sanctions imposed against them by the UN Security Council, according to the Khaleej Newspaper.
The paper added that Saleh has also asked his son, Ahmed who heads the Republican Guards, to withdraw his forces that were protecting Al-Ahmar at the air base.
After the decree calling for Al-Ahmar to step down he refused to do so unless the Minister of Defense and other top military commanders were also dismissed.
An estimated 40,000 Yemeni Air Force personnel had been protesting and on strike from January until early April, demanding the resignation of their chief, Al-Ahmar.
On April 6th, President Hadi appointed General Rashid Al-Janad as the new commander of the Air Force and Air Defense.
An officer at the Ministry of Defense who requested anonymity, told the Yemen Times on Tuesday morning that four trucks loaded with heavy and light weapons were seized while on their way out of the Air Defense military store in Sarif, north the capital Sana’a.
Units of the Air Force Police and the Republican Guards seized the smuggled weapons and transferred them to the headquarters of the defense ministry, according to the officer.
The officer accused the dismissed general Al-Ahmar of organizing the smuggling of weapons to be used against the political settlement.
The commander of the Al-Dailami Military Airbase, Colonel Abdalghani bin Awdl, told the local Akhbar Al-Youm daily newspaper on April 7th that three trucks loaded with different heavy weapons were smuggled from the base by armed tribesmen loyal to the former chief of the Air Forces.
He added that the guards of the base’s store had attempted to seize the trucks, but troops from the Republican Guards around the base protected the trucks until they were driven away to an unknown location.
“We are concerned that such weapons may reach terrorist groups who will be capable of occupying the capital Sana’a in one night with such advanced military equipment,” said bin Awdl.