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Yemen's Capital in Blackout and Airport Shut Down!

Interesting Article: "Gunmen attack Yemen's main airport" by Hakim Almasmari / Sanaa published Saturday, April 7th, 2012

An interesting article mentioned that gunmen loyal to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh attacked the country's main airport with mortars Saturday, forcing authorities to cancel flights, witnesses and officials said. Two officials at Sanaa International Airport told CNN that the former commander of Yemen's air force had warned he would bring down any civil aircraft departing or arriving the airport unless his demands are met. Would you like to know more?

The commander, Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar, is one of several relatives of the former president who were replaced in a major military shakeup. Al-Ahmar refused to give up his post. Ali Saleh was forced to step down from power in February.

Ahmar, the half-brother of the former president, was given a new position as assistant to the minister of defense in Friday's presidential decree, but has refused to leave his air force post. The officials said he threatened to cause chaos if three opposition military officials are not removed from their military posts along with him. The airport was not allowing flights to arrive or depart the country due to the tension, according to security officials at the airport who wished to remain anonymous.
Yemen's main airport reopened on Sunday. The security officials said the attackers pulled out from the airport on Sunday. The ex-president's half brother, air force commander Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar, had been holed up in his office at the military wing of the airport despite being fired in Hadi's purge. Aides earlier said he would not give up his post until Hadi also fired some of the ex-president's opponents, but military officials said he left his office abruptly later Sunday.

In addition to the airport, darkness retuned again to Sana'a on Saturday after power lines linking between the Capital Sana'a and the remote governorate of Marib were subjected to six attacks, local sources affirmed. According to BBC correspondent in Yemen, the attacks were carried out by armed men affiliated to the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The disruption of power lines came after President Abdu-Rabo Mansour Hadi issued decrees that dismissed senior military commanders loyal to Saleh, including his half-brother Mohammad Saleh Al-Ahmar, and his nephew Tariq Mohammad Abdullah Saleh. Minister of Electricity Saleh Sumai'a has revealed last week that Saleh was behind the attacks against power lines, asking the witnesses of the GCC-brokered power transfer deal to put pressures on him to leave Yemen.

He pointed out that the electricity shortage had led to a widespread popular refusal to settle all related bills as people felt they were being cheated by the government and forced to allocate large sums of money towards alternative methods of power. Meanwhile, Director-General of the Public Electricity Corporation Khalid Rashid said in a press conference on Saturday that the attacks carried out against electricity lines in the past months cost YR 33 million.

He made it clear that the lines were subjected to 144 attacks in 2011, voicing concerns about the continuity of attacks. The Yemeni capital has been living in darkness for the last year due to the halt of the Marib gas-operated station that was subjected to sabotage acts.

Electricity crisis had led to the paralysis of factories, laboratories, workshops and many service sectors, pushing further Yemenis to unemployment.

Saleh was the fourth ruler to fall in the Arab Spring wave of revolts in the Middle East, stepping down in the face of protests under a U.S.-backed pact brokered by Gulf Arab states. Under the deal, Saleh handed over power to Hadi, who was his vice president. But the deal allowed Saleh to remain as head of his party and keep half of his cabinet ministers in place. It did not stipulate that he must leave the country, giving rise to fears that he may someday try to return to power.

Many Yemenis are also worried about Saleh loyalists who command military units. The army recently has suffered several defeats in its war against al-Qaida-linked militants in the south, and many believe that Saleh commanders may be actively sabotaging the government's campaign.



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