Yemeni president tries to avert revolution as protests escalate
Rival protesters clashed in Yemen's capital today, with police firing live ammunition into the air.
(Page 2 of 3)
“Most Yemenis are frustrated with this situation and don’t want it to continue. They need a better government, more so than Tunisian and Egyptians,” says Hafez Albukari, president of the independent Yemen Polling Center. “These people are watching to see the developments – if the regime will make actual reforms or not.”Skip to next paragraph
Independent political analyst Abdul-Ghani al-Iryani says the intensity of the protests today show that the movement is "gaining momentum."
The US has cautiously supported pro-democracy protests across the region, despite its longstanding ties with autocratic regimes now under fire.
"Across the Middle East today we see people calling on governments to be more open, more accountable, more responsive," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington yesterday. "It is in the interests of governments to answer these demands, to reflect the will of their own people."
Hard line against protesters
Calls for Saleh to step down have increased since Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak relinquished power six days ago and protests in Sanaa shifted from party-driven political rallies to antigovernment protests. In Taiz, a city just south of Sanaa known for having a relatively educated, yet poor populace, hundreds of young people demanding regime change have been staging a sit-in since last Friday.
While the numbers are still relatively small compared to the mass uprisings that took place in Tunisia and Egypt, protesters have routinely been attacked by pro-government thugs in what some say is a sign of fear that the events in Cairo could be replicated here.
“They are using force in Sanaa and Taiz against people, and this is what ended up toppling the governments in Tunisia and Egypt because it makes the people very angry,” says activist Mohamed Mohsin, who has suffered blows from people he says are plain-clothed police twice in the past week.
“In Egypt they used to say that it is different form Tunisia, and that’s why revolution couldn’t happen," he adds. "And now here they are saying the same thing. It is using force against the people that took these systems down.”
However, Abdelraham Maazab, a parliamentarian from the ruling party, says that reports of clashes between anti and pro-government in the past week have been inflated in an attempt to create momentum for an Egypt-like uprising.
“These clashes are very limited. If there were actual clashes on the streets of Yemen they would be very big,” says Mr. Maazab, alluding to the common idea that violence in Yemen escalates very quickly. “[The opposition] just wants to step up the problems in Yemen and it will keep doing so until it becomes like the Egypt situation.”