Saleh Threatens ‘Civil War’ if He Is Ousted

Insists Again He Will Not Leave

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh reiterated on Tuesday that he will not allow himself to be forced from office, insisting that the military defectors were plotting a “coup” against him and that he will only leave office through “constitutional means.”

Saleh likewise warned that if he is forced from office it will surely lead to civil war, though the threat is tempered by high violence which has many believing that Yemen is on a course for such a conflict (or a breakup) if he remains in power.

Saleh’s sudden interest in a “constitutional” change of power and aversion to the military taking charge is interesting, as he has been both president and de facto military commander for decades. Saleh assumed power in 1978 after the assassination of former President Ahmad al-Ghashmi.

As the military defectors and tribal groups join the protest movement, many of the (mostly student) protesters there from the beginning are also expressing concern that they will lose influence in the revolution they have started. This concern is likely fueled by the brief support they saw by political opposition faction, who made a “deal” with Saleh just days later, ostensibly on behalf of the protest movement.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.