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article imageYemen's conflicts complicated by Special Forces mutiny

By Ken Hanly     Nov 22, 2014 in World
Sanaa - As if Yemen did not have enough problems dealing with rebel Houthis and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula(AQAP) there has now been a mutiny within the elite Special Forces.
Gunfire was reported within the headquarters' building. The Yemen presidential guard has cordoned off the entire area. The mutineers are demanding their new commander Mohammed Mansour al-Ghadraa be removed from his post. Rumors abound that former president Ali Saleh is behind the mutiny. His relatives had led the forces until being ousted when the present president, Mansour Hadi, had purged many of them. However, Saleh still has considerable support in parts of the armed forces.
A later report claims that the mutiny has ended with the appointment of a new commander: Yemen's official SABA news agency reported on Friday that Interior Minister Galal al-Rowaishan has appointed Abdel-Razak al-Marouni as a new commander of the Special Forces. The SABA report made no mention of Mohammed Mansour al-Ghadraa, the commander who led the unit until Thursday's apparent rebellion against his authority.
Al-Gadraa had been appointed just in September. The mutineers shouted "leave, leave" and tried to storm al-Ghadraa's office. Saleh is alleged to be helping Houthis who have occupied considerable areas of Yemen including occupying the capital in September. Hadi agreed to a new government of technocrats but the Houthis objected to some of those appointed. The Houthis are also angry because the UN has sanctioned two of their commanders as well as Saleh. Ironically, during the presidency of Saleh the Houthi's often fought the Saleh government until a truce in 2010 after six years of battle.
In the deal that convinced Saleh to transfer power to his then vice-president Mansour Hadi, Saleh, and his relatives were granted immunity from any trial for crimes they might have committed when in power. His government killed many protesters. His party also kept a share of power.
The ruling party, the General People's Congress, is split between Hadi and Saleh supporters. The Congress moved to dump Hadi as party leader and replaced him with a senior aide. This action was in direct response to the UN action. Some party leaders in the south of Yemen have claimed that the party's dismissal of Hadi was "void." The government however has problems ruling in the south where separatists have used the Houthi advances as an opportunity to advance their own agenda of creating a separate state in the south such as had existed previously.
The Houthis and the Hadi government are also fighting against Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula(AQAP) fighters in central areas of Yemen. Local tribes in some areas are allied with the group in fighting off the Houthi advance. The US has continued bombing raids against the group which launches constant terror attacks against the Hadi government. AQAP itself is facing internal divisions as some of its units have sworn allegiance to the Islamic State a group that was ejected from Al Qaeda. A group in Egypt the Ansar Beit al-Magdis has also pledged allegiance and there is local support for IS in Libya as well. A video released by AQAP pledged continued allegiance to bin Laden's successor Ayman al-Zawahri rather than al-Baghdadi who is leader of the Islamic State and demands that all Muslims pledge allegiance to his new caliphate.
Meanwhile in light of the deteriorating security conditions in Yemen, the Philippine government is asking all Filipinos to leave the country as soon as they are able. The Philippine Embassy said: “A total ban has been imposed on all travels to Yemen,” The embassy has set up a Crisis Management Team in Sanaa to assist Filipinos in leaving the country.
More about Houthi rebels, President Mansour Hadi, Ali Abdulah Saleh
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