Sana’a: Tension is building up in Yemen’s de facto capital Aden as a security chief of Special Security Forces (SSF) refused to comply with the orders of president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi who recently dismissed him and replaced him with an army general.
Hadi, who fled the Al Houthi-controlled capital last month, took over Aden’s presidential palace and sacked some army officers who are thought to be still loyal to his predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh or the Al Houthis.
On Sunday, Abdul Hafez Al Saqqaf, the commander of Aden’s SSF, turned his back on the third presidential delegation which tried to persuade him to step down.
The latest delegation was led by minister of defence Mahmoud Al Soubaihi.
A source close to the delegation said that the mediators agreed with Al Saqqaf yesterday that his replacement would be an officer from the SSF not from the army.
Al Saqqaf was initially replaced by brigadier Thabet Jawas, an army-general who led some of Saleh’s wars against the Al Houthis from 2004 to 2010.
“When the delegation showed up in the morning to officially receive the SSF camp, he refused and asked his seniors to leave, giving no reason for his rejection.” the source said.
Al Houthi rebels placed Hadi and his prime minister, Khaled Bahah, and some ministries under house arrest following their complete seizure of the remaining key government institutes in the capital.
Hadi managed to break the siege and flee to Aden. However, despite vowing to put him on trial, the rebels have not chased him to the city.
Upon his arrival, Hadi deployed his armed popular committees in the strategic city. The committees were initially founded in 2011 to back the army in its fight against Al Qaida militants who control large swathes of land in the provinces of Abyan and Shabwa.
When tension escalated between Hadi and Al Houthis, he withdrew them from his hometown in Abyan and deployed them in Aden to foil any attempt by the advancing Al Houthis to gain control of the city.
Also, as Al Saqqaf rebuffed Hadi’s orders, a Hadi-allied army-general called Faisal Rajab sent hundreds of troops to Aden last week where they were stationed not far from SSF camps according to witnesses.
Days after the arrival of the troops, dozens of armed men from Bani Hilal tribe in Shabwa arrived in Aden to join the popular committees to defend the city.
The governor of Aden, Abdul Aziz Bin Habtoor said on Saturday that 1,650 people from Aden would be recruited in the security services in all Aden districts and 3,000 others would join the popular committees.