As Mubarak resigns, Yemenis call for a revolution of their own
Thousands of secessionists protested in Yemen today in an example of how disparate movements across the Middle East are tapping the anti-regime fervor for their own disparate aims.
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In the southern port city of Yemen, protesters marched through the district of Mansoura, waving the old flag of South Arabia and chanting, "Revolution, revolution for the south."
Just hours before, security forces had fired live ammunition during a protest on the same street, according to eyewitnesses. Hundreds more staged ad hoc demonstrations throughout Aden, as well as in other cities across Yemen's south.
"After Hosni Mubarak, Yemen is going to be next. I know it," said Zahra Saleh, a prominent secession activist watching the scenes in Cairo on TV in a small Aden office.
"Now our revolution has to be stronger," declared Ali Jarallah, a leader in the southern separatist movement sitting with Ms. Saleh on the low cushions of a diwan.
Divergent aims of Yemeni protesters
The Yemeni southern secessionist movement is not calling for political reforms, an end to corruption or even for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down, as the political opposition is doing in the capital of Sanaa. They are pushing for the end of what they view is northern Yemeni occupation and the restoration of an independent southern Yemeni state.
Though both derive momentum from the recent revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, the divergent aims of the Yemeni protesters represent another example of how anti-regime factions across the Arab world our shaping revolutionary energy to serve their own agendas.
Exiled southern movement leader and former Vice President Ali Salim Al Beidh said that events in the Arab world, and especially what is happening in Tunisia and Egypt, reflect a new stage in history that can be likened to the end of the cold war. Speaking to local press on Thursday, he compared the southern Yemeni demonstrations to Egypt, where youths have also played a central role.
“The revolution of the south is a revolution of the youth and younger generation,” said Mr. Beidh.
'America supports oppressors'
In Sanaa, anti-government protests have focused on pressuring the ruling party to accept political reforms and are carried out in relative peace. However in Yemen’s south, the increased number of demonstrations since Tunisia's uprising have been more violent.
“Demonstrations are allowed to happen in Sanaa without weapons, why do they use weapons on us in the south?” asks secession activist Wagdy Al Shaaby, who had just returned to Aden Friday afternoon from a protest of about 1,000 held in Zinjibar in neighboring Abyan province.