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Friday, June 10, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Saleh's children, cousins said to be in control
of Yemen's military

CAIRO — Despite his departure, the family of President Ali Abdullah Saleh still controls the military in Yemen.


Western diplomatic sources said Saleh's family remains in control of key military units in Yemen. They said these units continued to attack anti-regime forces including the Al Ahmar tribe, whose members were part of the mutiny in the Yemen Army and security forces.

"Through his children and cousins, Saleh is still in control over a main portion of the military, and this could prove dangerous," a Western diplomatic source said.

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The sources said the Yemeni military has not come under control of the interim government led by Vice President Abdul Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Hadi was appointed interim president when Saleh left Yemen for surgery in Saudi Arabia on June 5, Middle East Newsline reported.

A key military commander has been identified as Saleh's son, Ahmed. Ahmed, the president's eldest son, was said to remain in contact with the U.S. government, which has ordered an intensification of air strikes against suspected targets of Al Qaida.

So far, Ahmed has not issued any statements or made any appearance since the flight of his father from Yemen. Ahmed has been commander of the Republican Guards as well as Yemen's counter-insurgency special forces trained by the United States.

Other members of Saleh's family have been commanders of top military units. They include Mohammed Saleh, the president's half-brother, who heads the air force. Over the last few weeks, the air force was used for strikes against rebel tribes.

Another half-brother of Saleh is Brig. Gen. Ali Saleh, the military chief of staff. Saleh's nephew, Yehya, has been commander of the Central Security Forces, while another nephew, Tareq, commands the Special Guards.

Not all of Saleh's relatives have remained loyal to the president. The sources said members of Saleh's tribe, particularly Brig. Gen. Ali Muhsin Al Ahmar, have taken their units to the opposition.

"Right now, we do not know where Ahmed [Saleh's son] is," Christopher Boucek, a researcher at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said. "We also do not know where his cousins are."

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