Yemen's senior military leadership has turned against the country's increasingly isolated president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, marking a turning point in the popular revolution that has gripped the Middle Eastern country. General Ali Mohsin al-Ahmar, the military's highest commander, joined many tribal leaders and Yemeni officials in voicing his support for the "youth revolution." This comes just days after the president's security forces opened fire on protesters, killing at least 40 civilians. Saleh called the general's defection an attempted coup, and vowed to defend himself. Will Saleh follow the example of Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and cede control to the military, or could civil war be in the cards? (Watch a Euronews report about Yemen's protests)
Saleh will likely resign: "The trajectory in Yemen is similar to what we saw in Egypt," says David Dayen at Firedoglake. With the military now turning their back on President Saleh, he has lost one of the "last strongholds" keeping him from being ousted. With almost zero support, and internal outrage at the civilian killings, Saleh's resignation is almost inevitable.
"Yemen and Bahrain uprisings appear to be on different trajectories"
Don't expect this coup to be bloodless: Unlike Egypt, Yemen has "experienced political turmoil for a thousand years," says Barak Barfi in Foreign Policy, which has left its population "largely inured to a level of violence that would be considered chaos in most countries." Forces loyal to the president — many of whom are led by his family members — are unlikely to allow a coup without a fight. "In Yemen, politics is a blood sport," and there will be plenty spilt before this ends.
"Bloody days in Sanaa"
Beware a government led by Yemen's military: General Ali Mohsin's defection "effectively means the end of the Saleh regime," says Brian Whitaker at The Guardian, one way or another. But don't rejoice too soon. The military leader is reportedly a former comrade of Osama bin Laden, and "almost no one has a good word to say about [him]." In Egypt, you could see the military as a "(comparatively) benign force." You can't say the same about Ali Mohsin's forces in Yemen.
"Yemen needs balance, not another strongman"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The Obama era is over. The presidency continues.
- America created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Meet the ISIS 'truthers'
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How American businessmen are ruining American business — and the U.S. economy
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- On ISIS, neocons and liberal hawks have a 'boy who cried wolf' problem
- How Harry Houdini escaped death
- Russia's giant spy ship was a high-tech disaster waiting to happen
- What is Molly? Everything you need to know about the party drug
- 10 things you need to know today: September 2, 2014
Subscribe to the Week