Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi

Updated: Sept. 26, 2012
Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi is the president of Yemen. He previously served as the vice president under President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Mr. Hadi was sworn in as president on Feb. 25, 2012, after winning the country’s single-candidate election with 99.6 percent of the vote.
The election, held across Yemen on Feb. 21, was intended as an exit route for President Saleh, an autocrat who agreed to step down after more than three decades in power and a year of antigovernment demonstrations calling for his removal. Mr. Saleh agreed to an internationally brokered accord in November 2011 that stipulated how the presidency would be transferred to Mr. Hadi. The elections were the culmination of that accord, which also granted Mr. Saleh immunity from prosecution for such things as turning his security forces on unarmed protesters calling for democracy before he agreed to relinquish power. Dozens were killed, and some in the military sided with the opposition.
Mr. Hadi was an army officer who became vice president in 1994. However, he has never had a strong power base, and Yemen’s problems are overwhelming. It is a poor, deeply divided country that has been in turmoil since January 2011, when the example of the Tunisian revolution set off mass street demonstrations.
Mr. Hadi has been slowly shedding his government of officials from the old administration who are either members of the Saleh family or staunch Saleh loyalists. But this has not always gone smoothly, and the extent of Mr. Hadi’s authority to remake Yemen remains in doubt.
And while Mr. Hadi has been fending off Saleh loyalists, his fledgling government has found itself overwhelmed by a set of dangerous new challenges to the country’s stability, including a series of bold attacks by a resurgent militant movement in the south, where many are eager for secession and a security breach has allowed an Al Qaeda affiliate to grow strong. In addition, he has faced open defiance from the old guard, after he tried to dismiss or reassign officials loyal to his predecessor, Mr. Saleh.
Mr. Hadi’s first months in office have served as a reminder of Yemen’s persistent divisions and vulnerabilities, complicated by a year of political revolt against a generation of Mr. Saleh’s autocratic rule.
Financially struggling, Yemen is facing an increasingly brazen Qaeda franchise that controls large parts of its territory in the southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa. With the government and army remaining fractured, the militants take advantage of the power vacuum.

Turmoil Over Video Spreads to Yemen
On Sept. 13, 2012, unrest over an American-made video denigrating the Prophet Muhammad spread to Yemen, where hundreds of protesters attacked the United States Embassy in the capital of Sana. The attack came two days after assailants killed the American ambassador in Libya and crowds tried to overrun the embassy compound in Cairo.
Witnesses said Yemeni security forces had tried to disperse a crowd at the fortified embassy compound. But protesters broke through an outer perimeter protecting the embassy, clambering over a high wall and setting fire to a building. They were forced to retreat after trying to plunder furniture and computers.
The protests came hours after a Muslim cleric, Abdul Majid al-Zandani, urged followers to emulate the protests in Libya and Egypt, Sana residents said. Mr. Zandani, a onetime mentor to Osama bin Laden, was named a “specially designated global terrorist” by the United States Treasury Department in 2004.
On Sept. 26 at the United Nations, President Hadi, who was swept to power by an uprising demanding democratic rights, gave a speech that demanded curbs on freedom of expression that insults religion.
“These behaviors find people who defend them under the justification of the freedom of expression,” he said. “These people overlook the fact that there should be limits for the freedom of expression, especially if such freedom blasphemes the beliefs of nations and defames their figures.”
He did say, however, that expressions of opinion should be peaceful, denouncing “violence and incitement of hatred.”

In the South, Violence and Uncertainty
Of all the challenges that the new president faces, none may be more imperative than the unsettled state of the south, where many are eager for secession and a security breach has allowed an Al Qaeda affiliate to grow strong.
Mr. Hadi has moved quickly to try to shore up the south amid rising violence and political uncertainty. He appointed a new head of security and a new governor for the southern province of Aden, as well as a new commander of the southern military force. But residents of the south say that while shifting personnel may help in the long term, the crisis needs to be addressed more aggressively now.
Yemen is beginning to assess and deal with damage to the economy and social fabric after a nearly yearlong public uprising against Mr. Saleh, who governed for three decades before being ousted. That is especially true in the south, where the political transition has magnified longstanding complaints that southerners have been marginalized politically, economically and socially by the northern government since the unification of North and South Yemen in 1990. That sentiment, along with the growing strength of the Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Sharia, has created a volatile environment.
Although Mr. Hadi is from the southern province of Abyan, he fled to Sana in the 1980s and is seen as a traitor by many in the south.
The governing elite has come mainly from the Sunni majority, which makes up 55 percent of the population. A Shiite movement, based in the mountainous north, declared independence and its intermittent rebellion has left thousands of people dead since it began in 2004.
The government is deeply unpopular in the remote provinces where Al Qaeda militants have sought sanctuary. The tribes there tend to regularly switch sides, making it difficult to depend on them for information. “My state is anyone who fills my pocket with money,” goes one old tribal motto.

Partnering With the U.S. to Overhaul the Military
Mr. Hadi’s government has committed to partnering with the United States in an ambitious plan to overhaul its military to combat the Qaeda franchise that has exploited the political turmoil to seize control of large swaths of the country’s south.
The plan’s two-pronged strategy calls for the two countries to work together to kill or capture about two dozen of Al Qaeda’s  most dangerous operatives, who are focused on attacking America and its interests.
At the same time, the administration will work with Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf allies to train and equip Yemeni security forces to counter Al Qaeda’s wider threat to destabilize Yemen and its government.

No comments:

Post a Comment