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Hundreds Dead In Yemen Clashes As U.S. Support Wanes

Mary Slosson |
April 3, 2011 | 8:46 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Hundreds of opposition protesters were killed and 1,600 injured on Sunday in Yemen as police fired live ammunition and tear gas at citizens demanding democratic accountability and the resignation of longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh.  As the violence escalated, United States administration officials began signalling that they no longer supported Saleh, a longtime ally in the war on terror, and believe he should leave office.

The violence took place in cities Taiz and Hudaida.  Saleh has a presidential compound in Hudaida that protesters were marching towards when the violence broke out, according to local reports.

The U.S. is in talks with Saleh on transitioning power to his vice president and an interim council, according to the New York Times, which broke the story.  U.S. officials are primarily concerned with maintaining an ally in the counterterrorism operations that U.S. money and training supports in the region to combat Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  The terrorist group has training camps in Yemen, and was behind the U.S.S. Cole attack, Christmas Day "underwear bomber," and an attack in the U.S. embassy there in 2008.

“Saleh’s been very skillful over the years in being able to consolidate and maintain his power. The trends Yemen are not good," said former National Security Advisor Jim Jones on Sunday.  "This could be a major problem and where terror is concerned, this would be a safe haven that would be a very troubling turn of events."

The Saleh government has suffered numerous defections since serious violence agianst protesters began, including military generals and diplomats.



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