Arab Regimes Under Siege

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
By Paul Martin

Generals Revolt in Yemen


A contingent of Yemen’s key military commanders defected to the political opposition Monday, the most significant challenge yet to the ability of the country’s president, a U.S. ally against al Qaeda, to hold on to power.
The development followed a bloody weekend crackdown on pro-democracy protesters that left dozens dead, as other countries in the region tipped toward instability. In Syria, residents of a town south of the capital demonstrated against the government for a fourth straight day, undeterred by protester deaths and the authoritarian regime’s threats of crackdown.

In Yemen, the defections put President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the position of choosing between sending his elite units into battle to defend his authority or negotiating his own exit, officials from the government and the opposition said.

The president has the loyalty of the country’s best-equipped forces, including the U.S.-trained Republican Guard, which is led by his son Ahmad, a counterterrorism liaison with Washington.

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