News / Middle East

Dozens Dead, Wounded as Yemen on Brink of Civil War

Yemeni army soldiers man a security point near a square, the site of an anti-government protest to demand the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa May 25, 2011
Yemeni army soldiers man a security point near a square, the site of an anti-government protest to demand the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa May 25, 2011
Elizabeth Arrott

Dozens are dead or wounded as mounting violence in Yemen is taking on new dimensions. President Ali Abdullah Saleh is calling for the arrest of a powerful tribal chieftain whose clan has been battling government soldiers for days. Concerns are rising that the nation is facing all-out civil war.

The orders to arrest Sadiq al-Ahmar came on the fourth day that heavy fighting between members of the sheikh's Hashid tribe and government forces rocked the capital.

Government officials have accused al-Ahmar and his supporters of staging an armed rebellion. The sheikh's brother, Hussein al-Ahmar, says it's the government which has been doing the attacking.

Hussein al-Ahmar, speaking on U.S. government-funded al-Hurra television, says Mr. Saleh is no longer in a position to issue orders, nor is he capable of arresting any member of the Ahmar clan. He says the president has lost his legitimacy.

The street battles of recent days and the tribal nature of the clashes mark a sharp escalation in the unrest. Some Sana'a residents have been fleeing the capital, while the U.S. embassy has ordered all non-essential personnel to leave the country.

Dozens of people are reported to have been killed in overnight fighting, while dozens of others are said to have died in the clashes in previous days.

The al-Ahmars' Hashid tribe, of which Mr. Saleh is a member, is among the most influential in Yemen. Leaders early on in the four-month uprising sided with anti-government protesters, whose initial goal was to usher in reforms, but now want Mr. Saleh's more than three decades in power to end.

The president says the country will be dragged into civil war if he leaves, but even as battles raged, protesters Thursday continued to hold demonstrations.

Protesters kept a chant calling for Mr. Saleh to go. The president has said three times he is willing to transition away from the leadership, in a deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council. But he has each time backed out at the last minute, most recently on Sunday.

The protesters, who took their inspiration from the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, have remained out on the streets throughout, even as their movement, like those in Syria and Bahrain, has been thwarted.

Protester Abdullah Mohammad accuses the government of wanting a civil war.

He says the people don't want a conflict, just the end of what he calls the corrupt regime.

Fellow demonstrator Raja Saleh says Yemen is already on its way to civil war.

She says it could be avoided if President Saleh signs the GCC deal.

Mr.  Saleh went on Yemeni television Wednesday to say he is still ready to go along with the plan.  

But the president says the initiative first needs a framework in order to be implemented. Many of Mr. Saleh's opponents believe he is simply stalling, hoping the growing divisions will further his argument that only he can ensure stability.

Even his nominal supporters, including U.S. President Barack Obama, called on him this week to fulfill his commitment to a transfer of power. On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Mr. Saleh has repeatedly "reneged" on plans to step down. Clinton said the U.S. and its allies are working to get him out of office.

Hussein al-Ahmar, of the Hashid tribe, says that no matter what Mr. Saleh does, he ultimately will not dictate the fortunes of a nation run by tribal factions.

He says the president has tried several times in recent months to provoke a civil war and has been searching for a pretext.  Al-Ahmar says he won't be able to do so, as he has no control over anything outside the capital - where tribal allegiances dominate.

With street battles consuming some neighborhoods, and demonstrators camped out in others, it's not clear how much of even the capital Mr. Saleh controls.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime bombardment, VOA correspondent finds More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid