In a dramatic move this week, Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi struck at some of the old regime centers of power that have persisted since the removal of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Saleh’s influence has lived on through allies that retain command of key military and security units – in particular, his son Brigadier General Ahmed Ali Saleh, who heads the country’s Republican Guards, and his nephew Yehya Saleh, who leads the Central Security forces. But with a set of decrees reorganizing Yemen’s armed forces, Hadi moved to fold these units into a four-branch Yemeni army, with the president serving as commander-in-chief.
Hadi’s decrees aimed to end the low-intensity struggle that has ground on over the past year between Saleh’s allies and their rivals in the country’s political and military leadership. In so doing, however, Hadi has run the risk of destabilizing a country that the United States views as a front line on the war on al Qaeda. After all, Yemen is also adjacent to Saudi Arabia, and chaos in Yemen could disrupt oil supplies and upset world energy markets.
[The economy is] an issue where [Rouhani] has a greater chance of avoiding real gridlock within the system itself. It’s not nearly as dangerous as taking on issues of political prisoners or trying to open up the political space to those who feel marginalized.