By NY Staff
The trip from Tahrir Square to south Hadda Street can be covered, on a good day, in 20 minutes. A traveler making that trip today would find themselves sitting in their car for almost two hours.
The combination of the Ramadan holiday and the terrorist threats associated with the recent foreign embassy closings has proved almost overwhelming for Sana’a’s beleaguered streets. Major street closings are taking place across the city, and military blockades on several streets are only further entangling Sana’a’s traffic situation. Cab drivers turn off their engines multiple times each block, unwilling to waste gasoline to sit in one place. Anxious drivers create even more traffic snarls in their attempts to reverse direction or find new routes. And even some motorcycle drivers give up their characteristic cutting and weaving, thwarted by the impenetrable mass of vehicles all awaiting the next few dozen meters of progress.
The root cause of the traffic situation is the holy month of Ramadan; Yemeni drivers have to complete all their errands and shopping before the evening call to prayer, which means that the streets are generally difficult to navigate all afternoon. These problems have been hugely exacerbated, however, by current military presence on the streets. This presence reflects the government’s desire to prevent or avoid any al-Qaeda offensive hinted at in the intelligence reports that prompted today and tomorrow’s embassy closings.