March 21, 2011
Three Yemen army commanders, including a top general, have defected to the opposition calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down, as tanks were deployed in the streets of the capital. The most senior of the three officers is Major General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a long-time confidant of Saleh and commander of the army’s powerful 1st Armoured Division. Units of the division were deployed on Monday in a major square in Sana’a, where protesters have been camping out to call for Saleh to step down. All three officers belong to Saleh’s Hashid tribe, which called on the president to step down on Sunday, delivering a serious blow to his attempts to cling on to power.