Saleh relative quits Yemen army, fighting flares
9:59 a.m. CDT, May 5, 2012
0602011385.topic> SANAA (Reuters) - A nephew of former Yemeni leader
PEPLT00008114.topic> Ali Abdullah Saleh has resigned from his post as
commander of an elite military unit, officials said on Thursday, part of a
drive by the country's new U.S.-allied government to unite its army in order
-ORCIG000003751.topic> al Qaeda.
U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar told Reuters that Tariq Saleh, who earlier headed
the Presidential Guard, had relinquished his new post as head of the 3rd
Republican Guard brigade.
The unit is one of the strongest and best-equipped brigades in the military
and overlooks the capital Sanaa.
"General Abdulrahman al-Halili has taken over from Tariq and is now fully in
charge of the 3rd Brigade," a senior Yemeni official said, confirming the
Defence Ministry officials said Tariq Saleh had retired and would not be
taking other military posts.
His departure is a success for President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi who has been
trying to draw a line under more than a year of political turmoil in
by distancing his predecessor's relatives from power and restructuring the
A growing Islamist insurgency in Yemen is of serious concern to the United
States and oil exporter
Saudi Arabia, who both fear that political infighting could give al Qaeda's
regional wing a foothold near oil shipping routes through the Red Sea.
Hadi, who had been Saleh's vice-president, was elected president unopposed
in February under a U.S.-backed power transition plan brokered by Yemen's
Gulf neighbors to end a year of protests demanding Saleh's resignation.
However, his drive to remove Saleh's relatives and allies from power has
faced stiff resistance.
He replaced nearly 20 officers last month, including Air force Chief
Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar, the former president's half-brother. Ahmar had
initially refused to step down, besieging the capital's airport and
grounding all flights in protest at the decision to demote him. He later
accepted his new post as assistant to the defence minister.
Benomar, who helped push through the plan under which Saleh left office
after more than a year of popular unrest, persuaded the former president to
secure his half-brother's compliance with Hadi's directive, a government
official has said.
Saleh's son Ahmed and nephew Yahya remain in place as heads of other
important military units.
A stubborn Islamist insurgency is playing out on a daily basis, as the
impoverished Arab state tries to wrest back control of its restive south
At least 17 militants linked to al Qaeda were killed in air strikes and
clashes in the south on Thursday according to several officials.
Nazar Jaafar, a leader in an army-allied tribal force, said four militants
from Ansar al-Sharia, an al Qaeda-affiliated group, were killed during
clashes with tribesmen near the southern city of Lawder.
Five more militants were killed by a Yemeni airstrike outside the same city
on Thursday morning, a security official added.
Meanwhile, eight more militants were killed in clashes with the Yemeni army
in the southern city of Zinjibar, the Defence Ministry said in an online
Although government officials frequently issue such reports, it remains
difficult to judge how close the authorities are to defeating the
More than 250 people have been killed since government forces intensified a
crackdown on the militants who the authorities accused of attacking a
military camp near Lawdar last month.
Hadi, who took office promising to fight al Qaeda, is also facing challenges
from Shi'ite Muslim rebels in the north and secessionists in the south.
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Received on Sat May 05 2012 - 07:20:31 EDT