U.S. Calls for Support of Yemeni President’s Military Changes

The U.S. called for support of new Yemeni President Abdurabu Mansur Hadi after forces loyal to ousted leader Ali Abdullah Saleh shelled an opposition general’s house in response to Hadi removing some military commanders.

The U.S. welcomes Hadi’s “civilian and military personnel transfers as part of the ongoing political transition in Yemen,” State Department acting spokesman Mark Toner said in an e-mailed statement released late yesterday in Washington. “In spite of those who seek to derail the transition, President Hadi has demonstrated strong leadership by steadfastly implementing the agreed-upon political settlement.”

Forces loyal to Saleh shelled the house of Major General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, commander of the First Armored Division, without causing injuries, Abdulghani al-Shameri, the spokesman for the general, said in a phone interview yesterday. Forces loyal to the air force commander closed Sana’a airport and threatened to shoot down any aircraft taking off, Al Arabiya television reported yesterday, citing its correspondent.

Hadi, who was elected president of the Arab world’s poorest country in February, is implementing the most sweeping changes to the armed forces after Saleh agreed in November to relinquish power under a Gulf-brokered peace plan.

The Gulf Cooperation Council called on all political parties in Yemen to support Hadi “in moving forward” with the Gulf plan, Abdullatif al-Zayani, secretary-general of the six-member group, said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. The GCC supports all measure taken by Hadi to get “out of the current crisis,” al- Zayani said.

Oil Production

Yemen, bordering Saudi Arabia and Oman at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, is struggling to recover from protests that have weakened the central government’s authority and reduced oil production to about half of its 250,000-barrel-a-day capacity.

Hadi ousted Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar on April 6 from his post as commander of the air force after more than two months of protests by soldiers and officers demanding his removal. He is the half-brother of the ousted president. Hadi also dismissed Tariq Mohammed Saleh, Saleh’s nephew, from his post as a commander of the presidential guards and Mohammed al-Maqdashi, a Saleh loyalist, from his position as commander of the central military region, state TV said.

The new president also removed Mohammed Ali Mohsen, commander of the eastern military region, who defected last year and joined the revolt against Saleh, as well as the commander of the maritime forces. Saleh’s son, Ahmed, remains the commander of the elite Republican Guard, and Saleh’s nephew, Yahia Saleh, retains his position as chief of the central security forces.

Omar al-Arhabi, the head of Yemen Petroleum Co., was also dismissed from his position, according to state TV.

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