Will Yemen's fierce fighting push protesters to take up arms?
After three days of rocket attacks, shelling, and shooting that have killed 60, some worry Yemen's protesters – who have so far used sticks and Molotov cocktails – may take up conventional arms.
• A daily summary of global reports on security issues.Skip to next paragraph
Israeli general hints at another Gaza campaign
Unclaimed attack on Islamic school raises tension in Nigeria
See no evil? Activists doubt credibility of Arab League mission to Syria.
Arab League observers head to Syria's war-ravaged Homs
Christmas church bombings put global spotlight on 'Nigerian Taliban' (VIDEO)
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
A third day of fierce fighting in Yemen's capital has pushed the death toll above 60, with protesters reportedly being killed and injured by rockets, heavy shelling, and machine-gun fire. The fighting, which has been largely contained to battles between government loyalists and defected soldiers, has raised concerns that Yemen's largely peaceful protesters could take up arms in self-defense and push the country into full-blown civil war.
“What has been remarkable is the peaceful nature of the demonstrators. But I am afraid that you will get a situation where people will start fighting back,” Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Doha Center, told The Washington Post.
Another group with the potential to wreak havoc is the large number of defected soldiers who have so far stayed out of the fighting. Should they join the soldiers already fighting government forces, the situation could quickly devolve into a Libya-like civil war, according to the Post. “It’s not two equal forces fighting it out to the end, but it could be,” said Robert Burrowes, emeritus professor at the University of Washington. “I think it could very easily develop into something like Libya.”
The fighting spread on Tuesday to the neighborhoods of Yemeni government officials, and rockets and shells rained down on the makeshift protest camp in Sanaa's Change Square. An unnamed Yemeni official told the Post that the civilians killed were caught in crossfire and not deliberately targeted. He also said that the protesters had been throwing Molotov cocktails.
On Monday, a UN envoy and a representative of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a regional bloc, arrived in Yemen to work out a transfer of power agreement, the BBC reports. Regional and international bodies have been trying since the spring to work out a deal in which Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is recuperating in Saudi Arabia from a June assassination attempt, steps down and gives his vice president the authority to form a national unity government. In exchange, Mr. Saleh and many of his former officials would receive immunity from prosecution.