Yemen: air force chief, Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar, resigns


Yemeni air force soldiers march during a protest in the capital Sanaa, on March 4, 2012, demanding the ouster of military chiefs over accusations of corruption. MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images


Mohammed Huwais

Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar, half-brother of former Yemen president Ali Abdullah Saleh, has resigned as head of the Yemeni air force, according to Reuters. His resignation ends a standoff between him and Yemen's current president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. 

United Nations envoy Jamal Benomar said in Sanaa, "It was a smooth handover with no conditions whatsoever".

The ouster could quell months of protests against Ahmar. 

Ahmar was one of the remaining holdouts of Saleh family in Yemen's military and government apparatus. Saleh's successor, President Hadi, has been purging Saleh relatives from government posts. Yemen's air force mutinied over Ahmar's continued presence as commander.

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The National wrote that Hadi has fired 20 Saleh loyalists in the past month. The former president, who is still in Yemen, has been vocally criticizing Hadi for sacking Saleh loyalists. The paper said Yemen watchers thought Saleh "had drawn the wrong conclusion from the willingness of the international community to tolerate the former president's presence in Sanaa."

The fact that the government has not moved against Saleh and his agitations should not be misinterpreted, Abdulbaki Shamsan, a professor at Sanaa University, told the paper. Former government officials have "no more legitimacy," he said.

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"Any action they take will be considered a rebellion."

The Yemen Post reported that the government gave Ahmar a three week deadline, which expired today, to resign or face "sanctions."