When former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his close associates realized that the Houthis were ready to tighten the noose around the General People’s Congress, its chief and leadership, his nephew Tarek Saleh established a military training camp in his hometown of Sinhan.
This provoked the militias and made it make up its mind on quickly eliminating the former president before he is able to regroup his forces. He was ultimately killed on December 4, 2017.
Tarek’s reappearance came amid questions among his uncle’s followers, Congress supporters and their rivals about the fate of Saleh’s political and military legacy that he accumulated over the decades.
The search has been on for the most suitable candidate to assume the mantle and avenge those murdered by the Houthis.
Military officials, who spoke to the Asharq Al-Awsat, said that Tarek was the best candidate to succeed his uncle at the moment due to his military experience and acquaintance with former commanders in the pro-Saleh forces. In addition, he is the only member of his family who is currently on the ground.
Other candidates include the late president’s son Ahmed Ali, the former commander of the elite forces in the Yemeni military. He has been residing in the United Arab Emirates since President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi removed him from his position of ambassador. He was expelled along with several members of his family, including his brother Khaled and cousin Ammar Saleh.
Khaled is a graduate of the military academy and his father had appointed him in 2010 as commander of one of the presidential guard branches. He however did not have enough time to establish himself because of his father’s departure from power. His cousin, Ammar, who is also Tarek’s brother, was the actual chief of the national security agency (the intelligence).
Close associates of the eldest Saleh son believe that he is not yet prepared to play a military role in the conflict because the United Nations Security Council had imposed sanctions on him that bar him from traveling and that have frozen his assets. Congress leaderships that were close to his father have been pushing for him to assume a leading role in the party because they believe that his calm character is more suited to civilian work than the military field.
Another nephew, Yehya Saleh is currently residing in the Lebanese capital Beirut. He has also traveled to several countries, including Russia, Egypt, Greece and Cyprus. Days ago, he was in Oman to visit his relatives there.
He has been active in the trade industry and was leader of a central security forces branch during Saleh’s years in power. Over a year ago, the former president appointed him as a member of the Congress politburo, but he departed Yemen in wake of the Houthi coup. His statements after his uncle’s murder had stirred controversy among his followers because they had lacked the needed severity against and condemnation of the militias. They instead reflected his commitment to continuing the opposition of the legitimate Yemeni government and rejection of foreign military intervention.
Another of Saleh’s sons are Salah and Madeen. They have been imprisoned by the Houthi militias since their father’s murder and they are not known to have played any military or political roles. Efforts have been exerted by Congress leaderships to release them.
Saleh’s youngest sons, Ridan and Sakhr, have been living outside of Yemen for at least the past two years. They are likely living in Oman. The former president also has ten daughters, nine of whom are married. They are all living outside of Yemen in various Arab Gulf countries.
Oman had announced that it received 22 of Saleh’s relatives in wake of his murder. Saudi authorities had also said that 19 other of his relatives, including his wife Ummat al-Salam al-Hajari, were received in the Kingdom.