Yemen: Senior army commanders defect
In a serious blow to the regime of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh, senior military officers in the army, officials and diplomats announced Monday they joined the "Revolution of the Youth" in protest against the violence used by the regime. Major General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar Saleh, the commander of the northern region and half-brother of the President has backed the protestors in a move indicating rifts within the ruling family in Yemen.
In a taped declaration, aired by Al Jazeera TV, al-Ahmar said: "Following a request by my fellow commanders, non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the armed forces, which I am one of them, I announce our support for the peaceful revolution of the youth and their demands. Thus, we will fulfill our duties in maintaining security and stability in the capital, where our military units are deployed with the brave sons of the security forces. "
He added that his support for the youth revolution comes in fear of the outbreak of civil war in Yemen.
In the meantime, Major General Mohammad Ali Mohsen, commander of the East region, said: "In light of the national interest, and at the request of officers within the armed forces in the northern region, we declare our support for the young people whose blood was spilled in the Change Square. Thus we announce our support for the people and the revolution."
He told Al Jazeera that "our position is in response to developments in the field and our duty is to protect the country's security." Major General Mohsen refused to go into further details, saying "Long live free unified Yemen."