About 5000 pro-government tribal leaders from all over Yemen held Tuesday a conference in the Yemeni capital Sanaa to support the President Ali Abdullah Saleh who is preparing himself to return from Saudi Arabia.
The tribal conference comes only one day before an opposition conference to force President Saleh to stay in Saudi Arabia where he had medical treatments from injuries he sustained in a failed assassination attempt on June 3rd, 2011. The Yemeni opposition parties have decided to make an umbrella council to escalate pressure on the defiant President Saleh to step down.
Similar councils were previously declared by opposition groups within these parties but failed to do anything or have any kind of recognition. The new thing in this council, which is supposed to be declared on Wednesday August 17th, 2011, is that it has relatively big support from defected military commanders and tribal leaders, in addition to a politically ambitious and wealthy businesses man.
This man is Hamid Al Ahmar, who has been grooming himself for presidency since 2006, and has been orchestrating and mainly financing the anti-Saleh protests since early this year. Hamid Al Ahmar is accused of playing an essential role in the failed assassination attempt against President Saleh and several other senior officials early last June. Hamid and a senior official from Saleh's regime exchanged accusations just two days before such a council is declared. Hamid said Saleh's sons were behind the failed assassination to justify their inheritance of the power after their father.
However, the official, Sultan Al Barakani, assistant secretary general of the ruling party, said Hamid was the main accused. „There is no longer room for doubt that Hamid Al Ahmar is the prime suspect in the sinful assassination attempt to which the president of the republic and a number of officials were subjected,“ said Al Barakani in press statements on Monday August 15th, 2011.
The results of the investigations, in which American investigators are participating, are not declared yet. Hamid Al Ahmar and his brother Sadeq have been in military confrontation with President Saleh's forces since last May. Some young protesters are participating in the fighting which is now in a fragile truce. The majority of Al Ahmar's fighters came from Hashed tribe, the country's most powerful tribe. President Saleh belongs to Hashed tribe. Earlier this month, Sadeq Al Ahmar, who is one of Hashed's leaders, threatened that Saleh would not rule any more as long as he is still alive. And with support from the defected general Ali Muhsen, Saded claimed that all the tribes of Yemen are with him.
General Muhsen, Saleh's cousin, belongs to Hashed tribe as well. To respond to Al Ahmar brothers who are mainly behind the so-called national council, tribal leaders loyal to President Saleh from Hashed and all other tribes in Yemen held a meeting in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Monday August 15th, 2011. About 5000 tribal leaders from all over the country refused all kinds of violence and all attempts to overthrow the constitutional legitimacy.
They declare their stand with Saleh. Like Sadeq Al Al Ahmar, they claimed that they represent all tribesmen of Yemen. „We are the tribal leaders of the whole Yemen, and we are here today to protect the constitutional legitimacy and to stand with the armed forces,“ said the chairman of the tribal conference, Mohammed Bin Naji Al Shayef. Al Shayef is the top leader of Bakil tribe, the second largest tribe after Hashed. „We'll stand against those who refuse dialogue,and those who dream of taking the power by force,“ said Al Shayef whose palace is not far from Al Ahmar's palace in Al Hasaba area north of Sanaa where fighting erupted last May between Saleh's forces and and Al Ahmar's tribesmen.
Nasser Arrabye is a yemeni journalist, based in Sana'a, writing mainly in the Cairo-based Al Ahram Weekly, and the Dubai-based Gulf News daily. He writes on his blog Nasser Arrabyee.