Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Saleh's forces attack residence of rival tribal leader, Yemen on brink of civil war

Sadeq al-Ahmar
At least 18 people, (ten governmental security forces, six Ahmar tribesmen, and two Somali by passers) have been killed on Monday in clashes between Ahmar tribes and Central security forces and other forces belonging to the camp of president Ali Abdallah Saleh, according to eyewitnesses. More than 40 injured from both sides have been reported, in the clashes during which all kinds of weapons (also heavy weapons) were used.
On Tuesday the fighting continued. In the afternoon at least another six people had been killed in battles in several quaters of the city. The government accused Ahmar's men of igniting the clashes by firing on a school and the headquarters of state news agency Saba. Al-Ahmar's office said, howevere, that government forces opened fire when his guards prevented them from entering a school where Saleh loyalists were stockpiling weapons.
Early on Tuesday, tribal mediators were holding talks in the Ahmar house to try to bring an end to the clashes, a source in Sadeq al-Ahmar's office said. Saleh is also from the Hashed federation. He has chosen the side of the opposition. The clashes raged Monday for several hours. Armed gunmen backed by central security forces also attacked the Ahmar residence.
The Yemen Post Newspaper reported that local people said that they expetected this to happen after president Saleh had threatened the people the day before with a civil war if he was pushed to abdicate. 'And the members of the Ahmar family are his biggest rivals,' a store owner next to the Ahmar residence was quoted.
Headquarters for Yemenia airways in Sana’a caught on fire after tens of armed gunmen shot directly at the building, eyewitnesses said. In addition also Saba News Agency was beleagered.
 Eyewitnesses and confirmed sources said that Ahmar tribes have seized the Commerce and trade Ministry building in Sana’a.
The newspaper The Nation reported on Tuesday that the Yemeni capital yesterday bore all the hallmarks of a city careening towards more bloodshed. Thousands of armed pro-Saleh supporters set up road blocks to search cars and question drivers, and the main roads to the provinces were closed. Fearing looting, most shopowners shut their doors. Uniformed police and security forces were seen looking on as the fighting raged outside Sadeq al-Ahmar's home. Police had orders no to interfere. 'We have orders not to interfere when the gunmen are in the streets,' Mohammed Jameeli, a police officer assigned to the capital's central security forces said.
The opposition coalition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) condemned the attack.The armed men in civilian clothing were not loose rabble, said Ahmed Bahri of the JMP. 'The gunmen are under control, and this is a message from President Saleh: It's either him as ruler, or chaos and war,' Bahri said.
Ahmed Soufi, Saleh's media adviser, denied that the violence was choreographed by the government, saying supporters of the president have the right to express their support. Saleh, he said, faces a dilemma. "If he signs the GCC proposal, his millions of followers will reject it and use arms to insist he stays in power,' Soufi said. 'If he does not sign, he angers the international community. It's very difficult for the president.'
The GCC-backed deal signed by the JMP but spurned by Saleh on Sunday would have required him to leave office within 30 days, rather than in 2013 when his presidential term ends. It also would have given him immunity from prosecution. He refused to sign it after the opposition defied his call for them to be present at his palace to witness it.

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