Political Analysis

Tensions Multiply After Killings

By Saddam Alashmory

The Yemeni streets have been inflamed after weeks of pro- and anti-government protests in a number of Yemeni cities.

The confrontations between the two parties resulted in the deaths of scores and the injury of hundreds, including a few soldiers.

Despite the calls and initiatives presented by the president to the opposition parties, including the last initiative on preparing a new constitution and setting a new electoral system, the opposition rejected has rejected dialogue, saying that the initiatives came too late and are much lower than their expectations.

The opposition also called to expand the protests area into all regions of the country, based on the president’s refusal to leave the office.

It also pointed out that the time for negotiations with the government is over and the only choice is the street, where thousands of young protestors are demand the fall of the president whether in Sana’a or other directorates.

The Opposition worked on agitating the streets and gathering as many followers as possible in order to undermine the legitimacy of the president.

It was also insisted on using the street card as a solution, and committed to the people’s demands of overthrowing of the governance of president Saleh which lasted for three decades

This step was answered with a rival move in Sana’a and other cities, which witnessed other rallies and sit-ins supporting the president and his call for national dialogue.

This confirmed the popularity of the president which emboldened him to hold onto power as the opposition insists on overthrowing his regime.

Ali Abdullah Saleh is the first president of the Yemeni republic since the unification in 1990, and before president of the Arab Republic of Yemen, “North Yemen,” since 1978 up to 1990 and considered to have the longest period of governance of any president in Yemen’s history.

Yemen has passed through many changes; in the eighties it witnessed the war of the central regions by the national front that was backed by South Yemen.

Yemen then experienced the negotiations of unification achieved in 1990, four years later witnessing civil war against the separatists, which lasted 1,000 hours.

A period of relative calm prevailed until the summer of 2004 which was the beginning of six wars against Houthi rebels in Sa’ada, North Yemen, which lasted for six years, in addition to a war on Al Qaeda which continues until still exist until today then the establishment of what is called the southern Hirak which calls for separation, all that affected the economical and social status of Yemen in general

Possibilities of overcoming the crisis

Like many other Arab countries, Yemen is witnessing protests demanding reforms and fighting against poverty and unemployment, high prices and corruption as in Libya, Jordan, Algeria , Bahrain, Morocco, Iraq and Egypt and Tunisia, which led to the fall of the Egyptian and Tunisian presidents.

Despite the confusion and fear which hit the Yemeni regime after the fall of both presidents and the closeness of the fall of the Libyan president, there remains the possibility of overcoming the crisis through the Yemeni president’s initiatives and calls for a national dialogue.

Although the president’s regime has also witnessed a chain of resignations by the ruling party, including former minister, a current minister and party leaders where numbers of resigned members reached 21.

Still, even despite the sacking of the entire government, the ruling party’s parliamentary members have 230 seats out of 301, the Yemeni president didn’t show any sign of stepping down before his stated period.

Opposition leads the streets

Events in the sit in squares continued, and the opposition pretended that they were wholly “youth protests,” but partially revealed its control over the situation after being provoked by the regime’s steps.

The ruling party members’ resignations, or the soldiers joining to the protestors as well as the tribes’ attitude gave the opposition an incentive for achieving their demands that are legitimate, so they say.

Its seems that the national pressure might has not reached the level which makes the regime deal with the youth’s demands more seriously, and the official weakness has not reached that level which forces the regime to present any compromises that are commensurate with the peoples’ demands.

Yet the pressure is increasing and that weakness is continuously increasing.

And with the opposition’s insistence, the regime turned to suppress the demonstrators and intimidate them, and last week the streets witnessed the the heaviest clashes between the two parties, resulting in the murderer and injuries of hundreds in an attempt to break up the persistent sit-ins demanding the fall of the regime.

Turning to confrontations

The regime has attempted to break up the sit-ins, and lately they clamped down on the protestors with the aid of the inhabitants of neighboring districts.

The opposition realized the seriousness of this attempt and rushed into the fray, issuing a statement saying that the regime has lost its constitutional legitimacy and was to be replaced by a popular legitimacy.

It also called upon the international community to stop cooperating with them and to open an international investigation to monitor the war crimes committed by the President against the protestors and to call Yemenis to more resistance in the sit-in square.

This made some sheikhs of Bakil tribe, the second largest tribe in Yemen, join the demonstrators in the change square in Sana’a after having thousands of its members led by Sheikh Amin Al-Ukaimi come to Sana’a, last Tuesday.

According to some observers, they bypassed the security zone imposed at the entrances to the square and brought in weapons.

The Islah party, led by Hameed al-Ahmar, called upon his allies from all provinces and Sana’a’s neighboring directorates, especially from Amran North West of Sana’a, to join the protestors in the change square supported with weapons from inside Sana’a.

Protests from Peaceful to revolutionary

The opposition confirmed that the protests will keep being peaceful and that there is no way for violence from their side, no matter how much the authority turns to violence.

But apparently the Scenario changed and clashes erupted in various provinces and events are in a serious escalation and it is likely that the other option of armed confrontation is in the offing.

Angry protestors have been able to take control of government facilities in al-Jawf province northwest of the Sana’a after storming into the political security building and public security central building.

This escalatory step could be an incentive for demonstrators from the opposition in a number of directorates.

Also angry protestors from Alma’afer directorate in Taiz last Sunday seized the governmental complex in the directorate and controlled in solidarity with the martyrs and injured who fell in the change square last Saturday morning demanding the fall of the regime.

Yet they cleared the area after the mediation of notable persons from the area on condition that the security forces retaliate.

In Marib governorate, clashes also erupted between demonstrators and army forces in a wide area which extended up to a governmental complex and caused the injury of 36 peopl,e including the governor Naji Alziyadi.

Tribal groups have blocked the Sana’a-Marib main way protesting the suppression of the peaceful protests in Sana’a while other tribes attempted to blow up the oil pipeline in an area west of Marib.

A source from the ministry of interior threatened the JMP block in a statement to Saba channel and warned them of persisting in illegal acts against citizens and their threat to stability and their harm of private and public property, banditry and sabotage of public services and spreading violence and chaos.

Observes anticipate that the coming days are going to be the toughest for the ruling party, and the opposition is going to define the situation, so that their only option is to overthrow the regime.

This remains an unlikely option for the ruling party, which announces publicly that it will fight until the last drop of blood.