Yemen defense minister appointed after 3-year vacancy

By Murad al-Arifi

SANAA (AA) – Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi has appointed a new defense minister, filling a post that had remained vacant for more than three years.

According to a presidential decree issued Wednesday evening and carried by Yemen’s SABA news agency, the position was given to Lieutenant-General Mohamed Ali al-Maqdashi.

The same decree also announced the appointment of Major-General Abdullah Salem al-Nakhei as army chief-of-staff and Major-General Taher al-Aqili as military adviser to the president.

The post of defense minister has remained vacant since March of 2015, when the last defense minister, Mahmoud al-Subaihi, was captured by Houthi rebels in Yemen’s southern Lahj province.

According to SABA, a second decree was issued late Wednesday appointing Ahmed Salem Rabie as governor of Aden (which has served as the government’s interim headquarters since 2015), replacing outgoing governor Abdulaziz al-Muflehi.

Al-Muflehi, who currently resides in Saudi Arabia, announced his resignation last year, blaming the Yemeni government for Aden’s deteriorating security situation.

Impoverished Yemen has remained wracked by violence since 2014, when Shia Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.

The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched a devastating air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.

The ongoing violence has destroyed much of Yemen’s infrastructure, including water and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe the situation as one of “the worst humanitarian disasters of modern times”.