Yemeni tribes form alliance
Yemeni tribal leaders in the capital Sana'a (file photo)
Influential tribal leaders in Yemen have formed an alliance to support the country's revolution, which is seeking to depose Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The creation of the Alliance of Yemeni Tribes was announced during a ceremony on Saturday at the headquarters of Yemen's First Armored Division, whose leader, General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmad, joined the revolution in March, AFP reported.
In a statement, the coalition pledged to protect and defend the popular and peaceful revolution of youths, who have been pouring into the streets in their tens of thousands, calling for Saleh to step down.
The coalition's statement also said they would deliver a serious response to any action taken against the Yemeni people.
"Any aggression or threat against the (protest) venues… will be considered an attack against the tribes," the coalition said.
Between 500 and 600 leaders and tribal chiefs attended Saturday's ceremony, during which a 116-member consultative council was established.
One of the most powerful tribal leaders, Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar, has also vowed to prevent Saleh, who has been in power for the past 33 years, from staying in office.
Ahmar and his tribesmen have stepped up their efforts to protect anti-regime protesters in the capital, Sana'a -- which has led to sporadic clashes between tribal fighters and Saleh loyalists.
Meanwhile, regime forces reportedly opened fire on protesters in the Arhab district near Sana'a on Saturday, leaving a number of people dead or injured.
Yemeni demonstrators are calling for the prosecution of Ali Abdullah Saleh for the killing of hundreds of people in the regime's brutal crackdown on protesters since the country's popular uprising began in January.
Saleh left the country in early June to receive medical treatment in Saudi Arabia for injuries he received in an attack by tribal fighters on his palace in the capital.
The Yemeni dictator is reportedly planning to return to the impoverished Arab state. But the people have been holding daily demonstrations across Yemen, vowing to continue holding protest rallies until his regime falls.
They have also been calling for the establishment of a transitional council to prevent him from returning to power.