Gen. Al Ahmar appointment to unite tribes

Yemen's president has appointed a veteran general as armed forces deputy commander in a bid to rally support from tribes and troops in the rebel-held Sanaa region, military sources said.

President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's decision to appoint Saudi-based General Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar, a northerner known for his close ties to Sunni Islamists, was published on the government's official sabanew.net website late Monday.

Hadi himself is supreme commander of the armed forces.

Ahmar's troops played a prominent role in the 2011 uprising that ousted strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, whose loyalists are now allied with Iran-backed Shiite rebels who control the capital.

In 2013, Hadi named the influential general his military and security affairs adviser after dramatically restructuring the military to curb the influence of those linked to Saleh.

Military sources explained Hadi's decision as an attempt to gain the confidence of tribal dignitaries and senior army commanders in the Sanaa region, where Ahmar wields much influence.

His Al Ahmar clan has historically led the influential Hashid confederation in northern Yemen.

Since the coalition intervened in support of Hadi last March, his loyalists have ousted the rebels from five southern provinces.

In the north the insurgents have been largely confined to Marib, east of Sanaa, and Jawf on the border with Saudi Arabia.

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