SANAA, (AFP) – The airport in the Yemeni capital was closed on Saturday after threats by forces loyal to a general close to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh to attack aircraft landing or taking off, an airport source said.
The airport has been surrounded by forces loyal to air force chief General Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar, Saleh’s half brother, who has refused to quit after being sacked by President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, the source said.
“No aircraft has taken off or landed since these forces made their threat late on Friday,” the source said, adding that the troops surrounding the airport were backed by members of the Hamdan tribe that supports former strongman Saleh.
These men were led by Naji Jamaan, a Hamdan tribal chief, the source added.
Ahmar has refused to step aside unless several senior defence ministry officials, including the minister himself, also leave, a military source said on Saturday.
In a message to his troops, Ahmar said that Hadi’s presidential decree would not be “implemented” until Defence Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed, General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar and chief of staff Ali al-Ashwal left their posts.
He also demanded that several members of the powerful Hashed tribe be forced into exile. The tribe backed defectors such as General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar during last year’s anti-regime protests.