A new wave of military restructuring decrees in Yemen

Article Highlights

  • Can the Yemeni security forces become a truly reliable partner in the fight against AQAP?

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  • Will powerbrokers within the Yemeni security forces accept the changes aimed at unifying the weakened army?

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  • The Yemeni Armed Forces are hampered by corruption, disunity, and frequent mutinies.

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The United States relies on a partnership with the Yemeni government in conjunction with direct-action operations to combat the Yemen-based al Qaeda affiliate, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). What is worrying about this partnership is that the Yemeni Armed Forces are hampered by corruption, disunity, and frequent mutinies. AQAP and its insurgent arm, Ansar al Sharia, took advantage of a severe security vacuum created by the political turmoil of the Arab Spring in 2011, seizing territory in southern Yemen. The transition of power in Sana’a, the capital, also set in motion a broader restructuring of Yemen’s security forces, which are shot through with strong patronage networks. A unified and professional local military is vital to combating AQAP and to reducing its safe havens in Yemen. President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi issued a series of decrees over the past year that seek to restructure and professionalize Yemeni security forces, but the pronouncements have effected little change on the ground. The Yemeni National Transitional Government yesterday issued eight decrees that are aimed at restructuring and unifying this weakened Yemeni military. It will be important to watch whether powerbrokers within the security forces accept the new decisions and whether the Yemeni security forces become a truly reliable partner in the fight against AQAP.

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