Dubai: Yemen will be safer without embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh in its fight against Al-Qaeda, General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar who has sided with anti-regime protests has said.

General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar accused the Yemeni president, who is being treated in the Saudi capital for bomb blast wounds, of nurturing the jihadist network in a ploy to "blackmail" foreign countries.

"I would like to stress that Yemen will be more secure and stable after the departure of Saleh, and will contribute to the security and stability of the whole region," the dissident general said.

"He claims to be the security valve for Yemen and neighbouring countries, but this is just a lie," Ahmar said of the veteran leader who has faced months of deadly protests demanding his ouster.

Saleh has long been considered a key ally in Washington's war on Al-Qaeda, as many of its militants have regrouped in lawless regions of the impoverished country under the banner of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

"Everybody will realise after the departure of Saleh that the myth of Al-Qaeda in Yemen is not as big," Ahmar said, adding it would disappear "when Yemen becomes a modern civil state."

Ahmar, whose forces have been guarding anti-regime protesters camped out in a Sanaa square since February, accused Saleh and members of his family of nourishing "terrorist groups".

"Everyone knows that some of these terrorist groups are present among his private guards," he said.


(Agencies)