By Katherine Zimmerman November 20, 2011
Negotiations between ruling and opposition party officials may resolve the political crisis in Sana’a. Yemen’s unrest outside of the capital is unlikely to end after a transfer of power.
Yemeni troops defected Saturday in Tagheer (Change) Square. Over 400 soldiers, the majority of whom were from the Republican Guard or Central Security Forces, arrived in the military compound of the defected First Armored Division in Sana’a.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh spoke in front of the Republican Guards 4th Brigade in Sana’a. There, he warned defectors and opposition tribesmen against attacking Republican Guard military bases in Arhab, Samaa, Frijah, Beit Dahrah, Nihm and Naqeel bin Ghailan. Saleh said, “We tell them that’s enough . . . Our response will be harsh and decisive.” Last week, Saleh appointed new military commanders to positions held by defected officers. Opposition media reported that shelling in Arhab killed at least one person Sunday.
Yemen’s opposition reports that political negotiations are in the final stages. An opposition leader noted that the focus of the discussion has turned to control over the Yemeni military during the transition period. The opposition is seeking for military authorities to be transferred from the president to a committee. UN envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar said that a UN Security Council meeting on Yemen had been delayed one week until November 28 “at the request of the protagonists.”
Yemeni security forces in Taiz shelled the Islah (Reform) party’s headquarters in al Hasab neighborhood in Taiz Friday. Two people were killed and at least two others were injured.
The oil refinery in Aden stopped production after crude oil supplies ran out. Attacks on a supply pipeline running from Ma’rib to Ras Issa created crude shortages. It is likely that the closing of the Aden refinery will exacerbate current fuel shortages in Yemen. Separately, Yemen’s Supreme Economic Council approved the establishment of a new oil company, Masila Company for Petroleum Exploration and Production (PetroMasila) to take over the oil rights to the Masila reserves (Block 14), which had been up for renewal with Nexen.