06/03/2011, 00.00
YEMEN

Sanaa: escape from a city at war, hopes for a political solution

Residents are fleeing the capital by the thousands as bloody clashes continue between President Saleh’s followers and tribesmen. More than 60 are dead. The Gulf countries are willing to resume mediation that was interrupted on 22 May by Saleh.

Sanaa (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Thousands of Sanaa residents are fleeing from the city that has become the battleground between forces loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh and his tribal opponents. Last night, Yemeni security forces opened fire on groups of protesters who took to the streets of Sanaa yet again to demand the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power for 33 years. Other witnesses reported that forces loyal to Saleh opened fire against the armored unit of General Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar who had been deployed near the university to protect a group of protesters who are pursuing a days-old peaceful sit-in.

Elsewhere in Sanaa, clashes continue between government forces and fighters of the Hashid tribe, led by the powerful leader Sadiq al-Ahmar who took up arms against Saleh after the Yemeni leader decided not to accept the mediation plan proposed by the Gulf countries. A ceasefire between Saleh and Hashid failed on 31 May, and the fighting resumed. It is estimated that at least 60 people have died between both sides. Many victims’ bodies are still on the streets in the Hasaba neighbourhood - where Sadiq al-Ahmar is based - and ambulances are unable to reach the area. Meanwhile, thousands of armed tribesmen are converging on Sanaa to fight.

Despite the violence that is driving the country to the brink of civil war, there are slight prospects for a political solution. The six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council are willing to continue mediation with Saleh – with was halted 22 May by Saleh himself. Yesterday, a Yemeni government spokesman said that Saleh may be willing to reach an agreement: "The date for the signing will be set soon based on consultation and coordination between Yemen and the Gulf Cooperation Council states.”

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