Yemeni forces kill 20 in protest camp attack
Yemeni forces opened fire on a protest camp yesterday, killing more than 20 demonstrators in the southern city of Taiz, while government warplanes launched airstrikes on another southern town seized by radical Islamists.
The new attempts to suppress the uprising against Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh with overwhelming force, following a weekend when high-level military defectors formed a united front in support of the protesters, pointed to the longtime leader's increasingly tenuous grip on power.
More than three months of mass street protests have posed an unprecedented threat to Saleh's 33-year rule, splintering his security forces and battering the country's already frail economy. America has moved away from its former ally despite fears that his fall could leave room in the rugged corner of the Arabian Peninsula for an active al Qa'ida franchise or other militant Islamist groups to take power.
Saleh, who has promised protesters concessions amidst bloody crackdowns, has long raised the spectre of an Islamist takeover of Yemen to solicit international funds and rebuff calls for his resignation.