Are Yemen's protests going to bring another revolution?
Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Yemen's capital of Sanaa. But they appear to be pushing democratic reforms more than Tunisia-style revolution.
Two days after Yemen’s political opposition called for a national uprising against the leadership of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, thousands of protesters took to the streets in the capital city of Sanaa, calling for the removal of what they view as a persistently corrupt regime.Skip to next paragraph
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A crowd of men, wearing pink bandanas in support of Tunisia’s recent revolution, flooded the streets in four different locations in Sanaa. They waved Yemen’s red, white, and black flag and carried posters that read, “We’ve had enough suppression," "We’ve had enough corruption,” and “We are next” – written above a picture of the Tunisian flag.
“I am here today to express that we need a change in the president, that we refuse corruption, and that we are against constitutional changes that will allow the president to be president for life,” says Ali Al Hossany, an employee at Yemen’s education ministry.
But while protesters have drawn inspiration from Tunisia's revolution, the real effect of Yemen's protests is likely to be more modest than regime change. Rather, Yemen's coalition of opposition parties seeks to tap the post-Tunisia revolution energy in Yemen to pressure the ruling party to make reforms that they had sought months before the Tunisian uprising began.
“There is no reason for this protests to development into a movement that could bring trouble to the regime,” says Abdulghani Al-Iryani, an independent Yemeni political analyst. “The police have been very responsible and constrained. If they continue like that, that’s a good sign.”
“[T]o stop these demonstrations the ruling party needs to go back to the negotiating table,” he says. “The ruling party can give concessions that will satisfy the demands of JMP without even threatening its dominant position in parliament and political life. I think the positive result [of the protests] will be that the regime will call for national dialogue.”
Regime change is unlikely
Despite the fierce anti-Saleh rhetoric, today’s demonstrations in Sanaa were peaceful and lacked a heavy police presence – unlike Egypt's recent protests. One policeman relaxing inside his armed vehicle parked on the perimeter of one of today’s protests was preoccupied with reading the demonstrators' pro-opposition pamphlets.