Months after he formally stepped down, former Yemeni ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh is continuing to issue demands, today warning against the ongoing purge of his supporters and insisting that key members of his party need to retain positions of power in the country for Yemen to see “stability.”
One would’ve thought any pretense of stability had vanished long ago, after over a year of ugly crackdowns on protests and multiple Yemeni provinces operating as de facto independent states at the end of Saleh’s regime. Indeed most of the new ruler’s (US-backed Major General Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi) initiatives have been aimed at proving himself distinct from Saleh, and removing Saleh loyalists from top military positions.
But while Saleh is nominally gone, even the recent purge has left a lot of his cronies in key positions, and over the weekend Saleh supporters attacked the Sanaa airport. Yemen’s Defense Minister Mohammed Ahmed warned that Saleh retains considerable sway in the country, and continues to issue “orders” to loyalists out of the Republican Guard commander’s office, a position still held by his son.
Saleh probably can’t physically stop Hadi from moving forward with the purge, but his influence is sufficient that he could make life very difficult for his successor.