SANAA, Apr. 13th
— Clashes have occurred between the pro-government Republican Guards and the defected 1st Armored Division, which is loyal to Major General Ali Muhsin Al-Ahmar. Maj. Gen. Ali Muhsin recently announced his support for the pro-democracy protesters. The clashes happened in Amran near the capital city of Sana’a early Wednesday morning. Eyewitnesses told the Yemen Times that heavy machine guns were used. According to Major Colonel Abdasalam Al-Alyani, two people were wounded and one was killed.
“The Republican Guards started the clashes,” said Al-Alyani.
Tension is ongoing between the 1st Armored Division and the Republican Guards still occupying Amran Round. The Division has prepared itself to defend itself against any attack and the Republican Guards have stationed themselves just 200 meters away from Division forces.
“We hope that there will not be any more clashes between the Division and the Republican Guards, as we are all one people who belong to Yemen and we should never harm each other for any reason,” said Al-Alyani. “Yet we are committed to defending ourselves after all.”
“We heard heavy gunfire around 12 o’clock midnight,” said Abubakr, a resident within the area where the clashes took place. “We heard explosions that we thought were RPGs that continued for ten minutes and then stopped. In total, the clashes continued for an hour and a half. We didn’t go out of the house to check what was happening but we watched the Suhil television channel, which was reporting on the clashes at the time.”
Zyad Al-Jabri, a reporter for the opposition Suhil channel, said that the clashes started because the Central Security Forces and the Republican Guards were chasing officer Abdullah Al-Shara’bi, a staff member of an air force base that is under the control of the Division.
“They were trying to assassinate him and they eventually did, as he is the one that was reported killed, along with three others from the Division,” said Al-Jabri.
“The regime is using violence as a tool to escape from all initiatives. It’s already been a way to get out of any crisis. It’s a way to spread fear of civil war. But all of the presidents to spread such fear have failed thus far,” said political analyst Ahmed Al-Zurqa.
“The Division will not be led into a civil war,” continued Al-Zurqa, “and the president cannot afford such violence as well. He knows that it would cost him a lot, as he lives in the capital along with his closest and most powerful relatives. Because the 1st Armored Division is also in Sana’a, any possible conflict would take place in the capital and that would cost him a great deal.”
Maj. Gen. Ali Muhsin has assured the public on multiple occasions that he is not interested in seizing power. Rather, the main reason for his defection was to protect young protesters and their revolutionary objectives.
Meanwhile, on the protesters’ side, many coalitions and youth movements at the pro-democracy demonstrations have announced a new vision for a civil state, which they hope to inaugurate after the revolution taking place in Sana’a, Taiz, Aden, Hodeida and Al-Baida has succeeded.
As an alternative to the Gulf Cooperation Council mediation proposal – which was rejected by pro-democracy protesters – the steering committee for the youth demonstration in Sana’a republished the revolution’s aims, stating that President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s departure from power is non-negotiable.
The committee also listed four other goals for the revolution in Yemen, including the withdrawal of the dictatorial regime, the freezing of all of the president’s family bank accounts, the reclaiming of all that has been “looted” by the current government (whether public or private property) and the trying of key figures for the deaths of the country’s peaceful protesters. The period in which these goals must be met was cited as nine months.
Some of the revolution’s youth groups have begun diplomatic discussions with foreign embassies and international civil society organizations.
The US embassy expressed particular concern that the young protesters have not yet organized themselves into a single representative entity and that if such organization does not take place, nothing will change for young people if power is transferred to the opposition parties.