Yemen’s Saleh Describes Nation as ‘Time Bomb’ Nearing Civil War
By Vivian Salama and Mohammed Hatem
Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh said he would offer no more concessions to his opponents and warned that his nation faces growing chaos, as a senior military official and former ally of the embattled president called for him to step down.
“Yemen is a time bomb,” Saleh said in an interview with Al Arabiya television, according to a transcript published by the state-run Saba news agency. “Everyone will side with his tribe, and we will then end up with a destructive civil war.” Saleh said the country may split into four sections if the unrest doesn’t end.
Dozens of lawmakers, as well as senior military officers, Cabinet ministers, diplomats and tribal leaders have abandoned Saleh’s ruling General People’s Congress since March 18, when police and snipers killed 46 protesters in the capital, Sana’a, in the worst violence since the unrest began two months ago. Saleh has been a key U.S. ally in the fight against Islamic militant groups in the region including al-Qaeda.
In a speech delivered yesterday via a spokesman to thousands of protesters in Sana’a, Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, the commander of Yemen’s First Armored Division, said Saleh should respect the demands of the people and “step down from the presidency peacefully.”