Injured Yemen leader Saleh flies to Saudi Arabia for care

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The brigade issued no official statement as other military groups have done when defecting to the opposition. But its returning to base is significant because it led a fierce crackdown on protesters earlier this week that killed at least 25 people, sparking international condemnation.

Late Saturday, the tribal leader whose fighters have been battling Saleh’s forces in the capital accused them of not observing the Saudi-brokered cease-fire. Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar, leader of the Hashid confederation, said Saleh’s forces were reinforcing their positions.

“We are respecting what we agreed upon under the guidance of the Saudi monarch to stop the bloodshed of innocents and bring safety for citizens based on our desire to bring security and quiet back to the capital, which is living through a terrible nightmare that Saleh’s regime has brought upon it,” al-Ahmar said in a statement.

Germany said Saturday it had closed its embassy in Yemen “because of current developments.”

Inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, protesters have been trying unsuccessfully since February to oust Saleh with a wave of peaceful protests that have brought out hundreds of thousands daily in cities across Yemen.

Now the crisis has transformed into a power struggle between two of Yemen’s most powerful families — Saleh‘s, which dominates the security forces, and the al-Ahmar clan, which leads Yemen’s strongest tribal confederation. The confederation groups around 10 northern tribes.

Al-Ahmar announced the Hashid’s support for the protest movement in March, and his fighters adhered to the movement’s nonviolence policy. But last week, Saleh’s forces moved against al-Ahmar’s fortress-like residence in Sanaa, and the tribe’s fighters rose up in fury.

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Associated Press writers Sarah El Deeb and Ben Hubbard in Cairo and Jim Kuhnhenn in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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