Western nations have welcomed the dramatic military shake-up ordered by Yemeni President Aburabbu Mansour al-Hadi aimed at curbing the influence of those loyal to former head of state Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was removed from power after an uprising against him in late 2011.

In a meeting with Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa on 22 December, Frank Julie, the French ambassador to Yemen, expressed his country’s support for the reorganisation, according to Saba state news agency.

On 19 December, Al-Hadi issued a series of decisions restructuring of the country’s armed forces, including scrapping the elite Republican Guard, commanded by Saleh’s eldest son, General Ahmed Ali Saleh. According to local media, Al-Hadi also removed Saleh’s nephew, Yahia Mohammed Saleh, from his post as deputy chief of central security. He will be replaced by General Ahmed Ali al-Maqdasi.

“France strongly stands by President Al-Hadi’s decisions to reorganise the army forces. It is a real beginning of stability that would benefit Yemen, particularly at all economic and political levels,” said Julie.

As part of the restructuring, the Republican Guard and the first armoured division will now be merged into the country’s Defence Ministry. General Ali Mohsen, who split with Saleh in early 2011, headed the first armoured division. Yemen’s army will now include four main branches: ground forces, navy, air force and border guards.  Three new military units have been created and placed under the president’s direct control. This includes a presidential guard, special operations forces and a unit in charge of ballistic weapons.

The decisions have been also backed by the GCC and other Western nations. The secretary general of the GCC, Abdullatif al-Zayani, said the “Yemeni army forces reorganisation was an unavoidable process”, according to Saba state news agency.

US President Barack Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan also expressed support for Al-Hadi’s army reorganisation efforts, according to the state news agency.