Yemeni military still split between pro and anti-Saleh forces

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CAIRO — Thousands of soldiers have demanded the dismissal of Yemen’s
Air Force commander and half-brother of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Soldiers have been protesting Yemen Air Force commander Maj. Gen.
Mohammed Saleh Al Ahmar, accused of corruption. Al Ahmar was meant to be
replaced by Gen. Abdullah Al Yadoumi but has not left his post.

Yemeni soldiers participate in an anti-regime protest in June 2011. /AFP/Getty Images

“He has transformed the Army into a private institution,” a spokesman for the protesters said.

The soldiers have conducted sit-ins at military bases in the provinces of Hadramaut and Lahji and Taiz. The soldiers want Al Ahmar formally dismissed by Saleh’s replacement, Vice President Abbed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The opposition has asserted that the Yemen Air Force was deployed to stop the protest movement against Saleh. The Air Force has been comprised of Russian-origin aircraft, including the MiG-29 fighter-jet.

A military committee was formed to restructure the armed forces and recommended Al Ahmar’s dismissal. But the opposition said Al Ahmar could return to another senior post.

So far, the military has arrested scores of soldiers who participated in
the protest. Over the last year, Yemen’s military has been divided between
pro- and anti-Saleh forces with the former president’s son and nephew still
in control of major units.

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