03/22/2011, 00.00
YEMEN – BAHRAIN
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Yemen President Saleh warns of “Civil war” as ministers and generals abandon him

The situation of the Arabian Peninsula nation appears increasingly unstable as a growing number of military and political leaders join the pro-reform camp. In Bahrain, the government with the backing of its anti-Shia regional allies tightens the screws on the opposition. Kuwait sends warships to help the Sunni-led government.

Sanaa (AsiaNews/Agencies) –Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh told army commanders on Tuesday that the country could descend into civil war because of efforts to stage what he called a "coup" against his rule. The statement comes after senior army commanders on Monday said that they had switched support to pro-democracy activists who have been protesting for weeks, call for the removal of the veteran ruler.

"Those who want to climb up to power through coups should know that this is out of the question. The homeland will not be stable; there will be a civil war, a bloody war. They should carefully consider this," the embattled president said in a speech before commanders.

General Ali Mohsen, commander of the northwest military zone and a Saleh's kinsman from the al-Ahmar clan, said on Monday he was backing the protestors.

"I say clearly to the brother officers (who resigned) as a result of weakness and media intimidation: The media has terrorized them until they fell like autumn leaves and they shall regret it," Saleh said in the speech, later broadcast on Yemeni state television.

In a separate speech to tribal leaders in Sanaa, many of whom say they back the protesters, Saleh repeated his civil war warning.

However, the president’s camp continues to lose support. Yemen's representative to the Arab League, Abdel-Malik Mansour, and former water and environment minister, Abdul-Rahman al-Iryani, said they sided with anti-government protesters against Saleh

These latest defections came only one day after several top generals, ambassadors and tribes announced that they supported the revolution that threatens to drive Saleh from power.

In the meantime, street protests in Bahrain are growing as Kuwait orders some of its warships to the island to help local security forces, Kuwait News reported. The newspaper did not however say which and how many ships were involved, and for what purpose.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a political and economic union of the Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman, is already present in the island nation since 14 March with about 1,000 Saudi soldiers and 500 police agents from the UAE.

GCC Secretary General Abdul Rahman Al Attiyah did not say how long this “shield” would remain in Bahrain. Iran and regional Shia communities criticised the move.

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