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Policy Analysis 07 May, 2013

Restructuring the Yemeni Army

​Adel al-Shorgabi

Adel al-Shorgabi is a professor of sociology at the University of Sanaa, Yemen, and has served as the head of a number of research teams and a consultative expert on various research projects. In 2005, Professor Al-Shorgabi was awarded the Prize for Academic Research by the Al-Afif Cultural Foundation. He is also a founding member of the Arab Network for the Study of Democracy, a trustee of the Yemeni Observatory of Human Rights, and oversees the Annual Report on Democracy and Human Rights in Yemen, published by the Yemeni Observatory of Human Rights since 2005. Professor Al-Shorgabi has contributed to a number of policy and academic reports, including the 1998 and 2001 Yemen Human Development Reports (published jointly by Yemen’s Ministry of Planning and Development and the UNDP), and three Strategy Reports, published by the Public Center for Research and Studies between 2000 and 2003. He contributed in the 2004 Report on the Status of Women, published by Yemen’s National Council for Women. Within academia, Professor Al-Shorgabi sits on a number of Yemen-wide committees that confer academic prizes and decide on the promotion of academics. He has also published widely in peer-reviewed journals.

On March 21, 2011, 40 days after the outbreak of the youth revolution in Yemen, General Ali Muhsin Saleh al-Ahmar, commander of the Northeastern region and the First Armored Division, Brigadier Muhammad Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar, commander of the Eastern region, and a number of other senior officers declared their support for the Yemeni Revolution. As a result, the Yemeni Army found itself divided into two armies, "the pro-revolution army" and "the family army," as labeled by the revolutionary forces, indicating the latter's link to Ali Abdullah Saleh's family. These developments exposed the hidden split within the army, spiraling these divisions to the point of no return. The capital Sanaa and a number of other Yemeni cities subsequently witnessed clashes between these two armies, and between their respective militias, leading the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative to include a specific article addressing the unification and restructuring of the army, putting an end to its division.

This paper seeks to explain the achievements behind the recent restructuring of the Yemeni Army, focusing on its approach, challenges posed, tasks that are yet to be fulfilled, and the effect each of these factors has on national unity, social cohesion, and the building of trust between the participating parties in Yemen's National Dialogue Conference[1]. Recommendations presented in the report are meant to help the representatives of the armed forces and security in the National Dialogue Conference in preparing a vision and a roadmap for the success of this restructuring.


[1] Yemen's National Dialogue Conference is an initiative calling for dialogue between Yemen's main stakeholders, with the aim of drafting a new constitution and preparing for full democratic elections in February 2014. More than 500 representatives of various political groups are taking part in the discussions in Sanaa as this paper goes to print, a process that is expected to last six months.

 

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