Monday, March 21, 2011

Yemen leader loses more of his eroding power base - Yahoo! News

Yemen leader loses more of his eroding power base - Yahoo! News: "By AHMED AL-HAJ and HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press – 11 mins ago
SANAA, Yemen – A top military commander and at least 18 other senior officers defected Monday to the opposition movement demanding the ouster of Yemen's embattled president, depriving the U.S.-allied ruler of most of his power base.

The looming collapse of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime throws into doubt the American campaign against a major al-Qaida wing that plotted attacks in the United States.

Monday's defections led to rival tanks being deployed in the streets of Yemen's capital, Sanaa, creating a potentially explosive situation and prompting Saleh's defense minister, Mohammed Nasser Ahmed, to announce the military remained loyal to the longtime leader.

A Yemeni army officer reacts holding up his AK-47 as he and other officers join anti-government protestors demanding the resignation of Yemeni PresideThe armed forces will counter any plots against the government, Ahmed declared on state television, following a meeting of the National Defense Council, which is led by Saleh and includes Ahmed, the prime minister and the intelligence chief.

The defection of Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a longtime Saleh confidante and commander of the army's powerful 1st Armored Division, was seen by many as a turning point. It followed a major escalation in the regime's crackdown on demonstrators, when more than 40 people were killed in bloody clashes Friday."