Yemen Crisis Escalates as Leaders Desert President Ali Abdullah Saleh

Mar 21, 2011, 08:42 by David Hope

In Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh's grip slipped further Monday as five army commanders defected to the opposition.

Saleh, who fired his Cabinet Sunday, continued to lose ground as more officials quit his government, including the mayor of the southern port of Aden, a provincial governor and at least one ambassador, a Yemeni diplomat in Washington told The New York Times.

Al-Jazeera reported the resignations of Saleh's ambassadors to Syria, Saudi Arabia and Japan.

The officers who turned against the president included Gen. Mohamed Ali Mohsin al-Ahmar, commander in the east, Brig. Gen. Ali Mohsin Saleh, commander in the northwest, and three other brigadier generals.

They said the government's slaughter of protesters Friday pushed them over the edge. An estimated 45 people were killed and 200 wounded when security forces fired on protesters in Sanaa.

The Joint Meeting opposition alliance welcomed the generals' support and said it would not join any government as long as Saleh remains president.

Source: UPI