Unrest Spreads to Yemen

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General Strike
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Jan 23 2011 07:58
Unrest Spreads to Yemen

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/01/201112314714887766.html

Quote:
Yemen protests urge leader's exit

Thousands of Yemeni students, activists and opposition groups have held protests at Sanaa University, demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh's ouster in what appeared to be the first large-scale challenge to the strongman.

Around 2,500 students, activists and opposition groups chanted slogans against the president, comparing him to Tunisia's ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, whose people were similarly enraged by economic woes and government corruption.

"Oh, Ali, join your friend Ben Ali," protesters chanted.

Police fired tear gas at the demonstrators, whose grievances include proposed constitutional changes that would allow the president to rule for a lifetime. Around 30 protesters were detained, a security official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press.

Since the Tunisian turmoil, Saleh has ordered income taxes slashed in half and has instructed his government to control prices.

He also ordered a heavy deployment of anti-riot police and soldiers to several key areas in the capital and its surroundings to prevent any riots.

Peoples' grievances

Nearly half of Yemen's population lives below the poverty line of $2 a day and doesn't have access to proper sanitation. Less than a tenth of the roads are paved. Tens of thousands have been displaced from their homes by conflict, flooding the cities.

The government is riddled with corruption, has little control outside the capital, and its main source of income - oil - could run dry in a decade.

Protests were also held in the southern port city of Aden, where calls for Saleh to step down were heard along with the more familiar slogans for southern secession. Police fired on demonstrators, injuring four, and detained 22 others in heavy clashes.

Musid Ali, executive director of the Yemeni-American anti-terrorism center, told Al Jazeera that protests in Yemen were natural given long years of suffering from dictatorship.

"It is natural for an uprising to come. This has come after 30 years of rule, people are hungry; there is no development for the people, people are fed up, people are saying Ali Saleh enough is enough.

"The Yemeni regime is the terror in Yemen, they are using al Qaeda to get more money from the west," he said.

While some students protested against Saleh, others affiliated with his General People's Congress demonstrated in his support, with banners calling for him to remain in office, and for parliamentary elections to be held in April.

Saleh said in December that parliamentary polls would take place in April with or without opposition parties, some of which have said they are considering boycotting the election.

Mark.
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Jan 23 2011 11:50

More protests in Yemen and Algeria (al-bab.com)

Quote:
In Yemen, about 2,500 students and opposition activists demonstrated at Sana'a University, calling for President Salih to go. Although recent demonstrations have increasingly focused on Salih's presidency, this seems to have been the first one aimed primarily at ending his 32-year rule. References to Tunisia were seen in some of the placards.

Police used tear gas and about 30 demonstrators were arrested, according to the Associated Press.

CNN says 1,500 members of the security forces were on hand and there was also a smaller counter-demonstration, presumably organised by the ruling party, calling for Salih to stay.

The website AlmasdarOnline has a series of pictures apparently taken during yesterday's protests. Separately, the website also reports that Karman Tawakkol, a human rights activist and chair of the Yemeni organisation, Women Journalists Without Chains, was abducted last week by men in military uniform. The authorities have not confirmed her arrest but it is thought she is being held in the central prison. Ms Tawakkol was also briefly detained for questioning last October...

Mark.
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Jan 23 2011 11:51

Photos

Mark.
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Jan 27 2011 12:03

Anti-government rallies hit Yemen (Al Jazeera)

Quote:
Tens of thousands of people in Yemen have taken to the streets in the country's capital, calling for an end to the government of Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president.

Inspired by recent events in Tunisia and Egypt, opposition members and youth activists are rallying at four different locations in Sanaa on Thursday, chanting for Saleh, who has been in power for 32 years, to step down.

"Enough being in power for [over] 30 years," protesters shouted during the demonstrations.

They also referred to the ouster of Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, saying he was "gone in just [over] 20 years".

"No to extending [presidential tenure]. No to bequeathing [the presidency]," they chanted.

An opposition activist said that the staging of the demonstration in four separate parts of the capital was aimed at distracting the security forces.

One area chosen for the protest was outside Sanaa University. Security measures at the demonstrations appeared relaxed, but were tight around the interior ministry and the central bank…

Mark.
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Jan 29 2011 14:58

New protests erupt in Yemen (Al Jazeera)

Quote:
Dozens of activists calling for the ouster of Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's president, have clashed with government supporters in Sanaa, the country's capital.

Plainclothes police also attacked the demonstrators, who marched to the Egyptian embassy in Sanaa on Saturday chanting "Ali, leave leave" and "Tunisia left, Egypt after it and Yemen in the coming future".

The chants were referring to the ouster of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia early this month and to continuing demonstrations against Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt.

No casualties have been reported in the Yemen clashes.

Tawakel Karman, a female activist who has led several protests in Sanaa during the past week, said that a member of the security forces in civilian clothes tried to attack her with a dagger and a shoe but was stopped by other protesters.

"We will continue until the fall of Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime," said Karman, who was granted parole on Monday after being held over her role in earlier protests calling for political change in Yemen.

"We have the Southern Movement in the south, the (Shia) Huthi rebels in the north, and parliamentary opposition," all of which are calling for political change, Karman said.

(…)

Karman also called for Thursday, February 3 to be a "Day of rage" throughout Yemen.

Protests have been taking place on a nearly daily basis in Sanaa since mid-January calling for an end to Saleh's rule which began in 1978. Saleh was re-elected in September 2006 for a seven-year mandate...

Mark.
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Feb 2 2011 11:53

Audio report

Quote:
Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh's announcement that he won't be standing for reelection is "a canny move", Tom Finn from the Yemen Times says
Mark.
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Feb 2 2011 11:58

Saleh braces for day of rage in Yemen

Quote:
Sana'a: Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has called for a joint meeting with the two chambers of the country's parliament tomorrow a day ahead of Thursday's Yemeni day of rage protest march called by the main opposition parties and young Yemenis through the social media.

Saleh's official invitation to members of Yemen's House of Representatives and Shura Council said he would raise important issues which would be in the interest of the homeland.

Emboldened by the ongoing popular uprising in Egypt and the one before that in Tunisia, Yemeni youth, cutting across party lines, have been calling through Facebook and Twitter for a big anti-regime rally in the capital Sana'a tomorrow.

Professor Fouad Al Salahi, an independent sociologist in Sana'a University, said he expected a bigger uprising in Yemen than in Egypt if serious political and economic reforms were not taken up.

"In Yemen, the explosion [of public anger] will be stronger if there are no serious and quick reforms," he said...

squaler
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Feb 3 2011 02:12

Dima_Khatib Security tightened in Sanaa. Ruling party loyalist place tents in Tahrir Av where mass protest is to take place in a few hours #yemen

squaler
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Feb 3 2011 08:27

SANAA Yemen: More than 20,000 Yemenis filled the streets of Sanaa on Thursday for a “Day of Rage” rally, demanding a change in government and saying President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s offer to step down in 2013 was not enough.

from my fb news feed, also guardian live blog:

8.01am: Thousands or anti-government demonstrators have gather in Yemeni capital Sanaa to take part in a "day of rage" against the

They claim that president Ali Abdullah Saleh's offer to step down in 2013 was not enough.

The Guardian's Tom Finn, says the protesters had planned to protest in Sanaa's Tahrir Square, but the pro-government supporters got their first.

squaler
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Feb 3 2011 11:13

g liveblog:

11.04am: An update on the protests in Yemen from Christoph Wilcke of Human Rights Watch.

On the eve of what the opposition promised would be the largest demonstration yet against the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, security forces sealed off Liberation Square in San'a, the capital, erecting tents they claimed were for "mass weddings" the next day, a source in San'a told Human Rights Watch.

When demonstration organizers discovered armed men in the tents, they moved the protest to San'a university, where thousands protested peacefully on Thursday morning, a participant told Human Rights Watch.

He said it was the biggest protest yet, attended by international and local media, and took place without incident and in the absence of security forces. Security forces had briefly detained a number of members of opposition parties the night before who were distributing leaflets and putting up posters for the protest. Several days ago, security forces beat protesters and journalists who were expressing solidarity with Egyptian demonstrators in front of the Egyptian embassy in San'a.

Mark.
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Feb 4 2011 12:13

Photos

petey
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Feb 4 2011 16:20
Mark. wrote:
Photos

che sad

Mark.
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Feb 4 2011 22:58

Che seems to crop up in photos from Tunisia as well.

Brian Whitaker on yesterday's protests

Quote:
Tens of thousands took part in Yemen's "day of rage" yesterday, and it looks like becoming a regular Thursday occurrence. The turnout was probably less than the organisers had been hoping and I doubt that it did much to frighten President Salih. Although he is increasingly unpopular, the opposition in Yemen is also very fragmented. This raises the question of what it would take to actually remove him, but I'll save that discussion for later. He isn't going this week. Or next...
Mark.
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Feb 12 2011 20:41

Report from Yemen yesterday. This was on the Arabist and Angry Arab blogs

Quote:
So today after Friday prayers there was a demonstration organized by students and activists, it started at about 1 pm in the new university and they marched chanting for an hour until the Egyptian martyr’s cemetery.

It was less than 200 people. Only two women. One of them was Tawakul Kamran, the activist who was arrested recently for one day.

All the chants were about Egypt and protestors carried many pictures of former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser.

The chants were “awaken, awaken oh youth”

“Long live Egypt”

“Down Hosni Mubarak”

“Egypt mother of the free! mother of the revolutionaries”

Something about dictatorships but I didn’t get it

And they sang the poem by the Tunisian poet abu qasim ashabi:

“If people ever wanted to have a life destiny and fate shall respond, darkness shall leave and chains shall be broken”

They walked by throngs of Yemenis buying qat and ignoring them or looking bemused.

One man asked another who the guy in the picture was. “Gamal Abdel Nasser,” said the other guy.

One traffic policeman called them sons of whores and nobodies

Some kid asked what the fuck Egypt has to do with him

"Fuck them they’re gay" said another guy

Some people watching shouted "long live hosni Mubarak."

A Yemeni red crescent car with about six people in it followed them the whole time, as did a lone policeman on a motorcycle and two sanitation trucks full of young men

When they got close to the Egyptian cemetery many more security forces arrived. A few cars and one bus, a total of at least 30 and some others in civilian clothes. Some had clubs. The two sanitation trucks full of at least 20 men also pulled up. They were obviously there to attack the demonstrators if it became necessary. But after a couple of minutes in front of the cemetery it ended and people walked home.

At the end, in front of the security forces, tawakul kamran smiled and shouted “down down Ali Saleh!”

Responding to former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s decision to step down, independent Yemeni activists in the capital city of San’a called for a candle light vigil to celebrate the events. By 8:30 in the evening hundreds of Yemeni students, academics, activists and citizens gathered in front of the new university. It was very spontaneous. One activist told another activist 'why dont you have a celebratory candle vigil for Egypt?" some phone calls were made and people gathered quickly. The timing was right in terms of the qat chewing cycle. People had been home chewing and talking and watching al Jazeera for hours. Soon their numbers grew to the thousands. People chanted in support of Egypt. Chants included:

“The Egyptian people brought down Mubarak”

“Long live the Egyptian people”

“Revolution until victory”

“One thousand greetings to al Jazeera”

and other chants for Egypt which soon became chants focusing on the Yemeni regime such as:

“yesterday Tunisia, today Egypt, tomorrow Yemen will open the prison”

“down with the regime”

“the people want the regime to collapse”

“revolution oh Yemen from San’a to Aden”

“the Yemeni people is fed up with Ali Abdallah Salih”

They decided to march to the Egyptian embassy. It took an hour and as they marched their numbers grew to the thousands. They marched past neighborhoods and were cheered by onlookers. They were eventually met by soldiers guarding the Yemeni embassy and they turned around and gathered in San’a’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square. By about 10:30 pm several trucks full of heavily armed soldiers began to arrive but until then the demonstration had been peaceful.

At least ten army trucks carrying dozens of men in civilian clothing who are likely members of the Yemeni security forces arrived as did many security force pick up trucks and jeeps. Hundreds and hundreds of men in civilian attire carrying sticks, knives as well as automatic weapons arrived carrying pictures of President Saleh. They attacked some demonstrators with knives and sticks and at this the majority of the anti-regime demonstrators dispersed. Hundreds of uniformed members of the Yemeni security forces were present facilitating the arrival of those chanting support for Saleh. The security forces also closed off the roads in the area of Tahrir square, allowing only pro regime demonstrators in who came running with signs, sticks, knives and automatic weapons. The remaining few hundred anti regime demonstrators lasted for a while with a few dozen of them sitting on the street. There was some pushing back and forth as the columns of pro and anti regime demonstrators met, and some water bottles thrown back and forth. But dozens of police in riot gear separated the two sides. Anti regime demonstrators burned pictures of Saleh. They shouted at the pro regime demonstrators “army wearing civilian clothes!”

Pro regime demonstrators shouted “with our spirits with our blood we sacrifice for you oh Ali!”

Anti regime demonstrators responded by chanting “oh oh leave oh Ali” and “oh god oh god down with Ali Abdallah”

Demonstrators on both sides danced and sang.

Then hundreds more pro regime demonstrators charged them and pushed them forcing them all to flee. This happened under the eyes of the chief of security for the area, hundreds of various security forces and the general secretary for San’a, Amin Jum’an. In the end thousands of pro regime demonstrators had occupied the square singing, banging on drums and dancing. At least ten anti regime demonstrators had been arrested.

Mark.
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Feb 12 2011 20:47

The other Tahrir Square

Brian Whitaker wrote:

Lest we forget that Yemen also has a place called Tahrir Square, here's an account from Human Rights Watch about the events there yesterday:

Quote:
Hundreds of men armed with knives, sticks, and assault rifles attacked anti-government protesters in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, as Yemeni security forces stood by ... Within an hour, the 1,000-plus protesters had been pushed from the square and at least 10 had been detained by security forces ...

Human Rights Watch witnessed at least 10 army trucks carrying men in civilian clothing to Sanaa's Tahrir Square, where a crowd of around 1,000 Yemenis had been demonstrating in support of the historic changes in Egypt and against the Yemeni government. Hundreds of men, their arrival coordinated by uniformed security agents, attacked the anti-government protesters with knives and sticks, prompting the majority to flee ...

A few dozen anti-government demonstrators remained in the square, sitting on the street, but they too fled after being charged by hundreds of armed government supporters. 

It isn't the first time this has happened and it won't be the last. The Tunisian and Egyptian regimes both deployed hired rabbles during the uprisings there – though it didn't save either of them.

President Salih, who already faces a lightly-armed rebellion in the south and a dormant but more heavily-armed one in the far north, not to mention the al-Qaeda insurgency, is well aware of the "Tunisia effect" and the dangers it might pose for him. Last night, shortly after President Mubarak resigned in Egypt, Yemen's National Defence Council held "an expanded meeting" where it discussed, among other things, "improving the wages of government staff and personnel of the armed and security forces".

Buying loyalty is a tactic favoured by the oil-rich Gulf monarchies but there's only so far that Salih, heavily dependent on foreign aid, can go in that direction.

There was also a protest in the central city of Taizz, where 15,000 demonstrators gathered outside the governor's office, according to a post on Twitter. A video (of rather poor quality) shows a crowd in Taizz reacting to Mubarak's resignation.

Secessionists held further protests in the south, where government forces reportedly used tanks and treargas and fired warning shots.

This is a fairly normal state of affairs for Yemen and it doesn't pose an immediate threat to Salih. As I have said before, the Yemeni opposition is very disunited. But, with parliamentary elections scheduled for April, the next couple of months are likely to bring a period of intensified activity on the streets.

Mark.
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Feb 12 2011 20:54

Protests today

EA liveblog

Quote:
1455 GMT: AFP say that, in Yemen, 4000 anti-Government demonstrators were confronted by 10,000 pro-Government protesters who have been holding Tahrir Square in Sanaa.
Mark.
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Feb 12 2011 21:00

Anti-government protesters inspired by Egypt's revolution call on Saleh to step down

Al Jazeera wrote:

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in the Yemeni capital, calling on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.

Clashes broke out in Sanaa between groups supporting and opposing the government after men armed with knives and sticks forced around 300 anti-government protesters to end a rally,  the Reuters news agency quoted witnesses as saying on Saturday.

The Associated Press news agency reported that troops beat some anti-government protesters.

Inspired by the Egyptian uprising which toppled Hosni Mubarak, protesters chanted "After Mubarak, it's Ali's turn" and "A Yemeni revolution after the Egyptian revolution."...

petey
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Feb 13 2011 18:09

just up at the NYT (nb last paragraph)

Quote:
Young protesters in Yemen squared off against security forces on Sunday, and some marched on the presidential palace in Sana, witnesses said, as a third day of demonstrations sought to emulate the revolution in Egypt.

The protests, organized largely via text message, were the largest yet by young Yemenis, with more than 1,000 marching. And it appeared to mark a rift with opposition groups who had organized previous demonstrations that wrested significant concessions from President Ali Abdullah Saleh, including the promise that he would give up power in 2013.

Those established opposition groups did not join the crowd on Sunday, who were calling for the immediate ouster of the president. After the initial demonstration, a smaller group of young protesters peeled off and marched towards the presidential palace, only to be violently beaten back by armed security forces, both uniformed and in plain-clothes, with some armed with stun guns, witnesses said. There were reports of several injuries but no deaths in the clashes.

Unlike the earlier protests in Yemen, which were highly organized and marked by color-coordinated clothing and signs, the spontaneity of the younger demonstrators appeared to have more in common with popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, where opposition groups watched from the sidelines as leaderless revolts grew into revolutions.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/14/world/middleeast/14yemen.html?_r=1&hp

Mark.
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Feb 14 2011 10:21

Guardian

Quote:
9.59am: More clashes have been reported in Yemen, on a fourth consecutive day of protests in the country. From Reuters:
Quote:
Hundreds of anti-government demonstrators clashed with supporters of Yemen's president on Monday south of the capital, with both sides hurling rocks as protests escalated in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state.
Witnesses said police had fired shots into the air but were unable to control the crowds in the industrial town of Taiz, while in Sanaa protesters inspired by an uprising in Egypt vowed to march to police intelligence headquarters.
"Hey Ali, get out, get out," anti-government protesters shouted at Sanaa University, referring to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a U.S. ally against al Qaeda's resurgent Yemen-based wing. "There is no solution except to leave."
Police stood between around 500 anti-government protesters and a rival group of around 100 supporters of Saleh at Sanaa University, a frequent launchpad for demonstrations, to prevent skirmishes.
Mark.
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Feb 14 2011 22:31
The Guardian wrote:

8.17pm GMT: More from Yemen, this time from Reuters, where Mohammed Ghobari and Khaled Abdullah report:

Quote:
Government loyalists armed with broken bottles, daggers and rocks chased down thousands of pro-reform demonstrators in Yemen's capital on Monday, turning unrest inspired by Egypt's uprising increasingly violent.

Police who had been trying to keep the sides apart locked several thousand fleeing protesters inside the Sanaa University campus near where they had been holding their rally. Five people were wounded in the melee, an opposition source said.

"Hey Ali, get out, get out!" anti-government protesters shouted, referring to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a US ally against al-Qaida's resurgent Yemen-based wing who has been in power for over 30 years. "There is no solution except to leave."

Meanwhile, a further 12 people were injured in Taiz, with police fired warning shots into the air while anti-government demonstrators clashed with President Saleh's supporters. Even in Aden, in a region where al-Qaida is active, hundreds marched in protest.

8.09pm GMT: In Yemen, the Associated press reports of violent clashes between pro-government forces and demonstrators throughout the day in Sanaa and Taiz. AP's Ahmen al-Haj reports from Sanaa:

Quote:
University students, rights activists and lawmakers marched Monday in the capital, Sanaa. Lawyers in black robes, led by their union chief, joined the demonstrators shouting slogans against the security forces and "the people want the regime to step down," a slogan mirroring those used in Egypt and Tunisia.

"A revolution of free opinion ... A revolution of freedom ... We should decide," shouted the protesters.

A counter-demonstration of at least a hundred government supporters holding up pictures of President Ali Abdullah Saleh confronted the protesters, shouting slogans against terrorism and supporting the government's call for dialogue.

The two groups scuffled in front of the university and three people were injured, two from stones and one was stabbed a traditional Yemeni dagger.

Mark.
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Feb 16 2011 20:43

EA liveblog

Quote:
1730 GMT: In Yemen, police have shot and killed two protesters in the southern city of Aden, while unrest in the capital Sanaa over the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president.

Police in Aden fired shots into the air to try to break up around 500 protesters. Demonstrators hurled stones at police, set tyres and vehicles on fire, and stormed a municipal building. At least four people were arrested.

Mark.
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Feb 19 2011 14:17

Washington Post

Quote:
Yemeni riot police in the capital shot dead a protester and injured five others on Saturday when they opened fire on thousands marching in the 10th day of unrest rocking the country.

Protesters began marching early in the morning from the University of Sanaa to the Ministry of Justice while chanting, "the people want the fall of the regime," until they were met by riot police and supporters of the president.

The president's supporters armed with clubs and knives attacked the crowd and engaged in a stone throwing battle while at one point police fired in the air to disperse the march.

A medical official said one man was shot in the neck and killed. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

The capital became quiet later in the afternoon…

Meanwhile residents of Yemen's port city Aden, where fierce riots have resulted in at least four deaths, said security forces have disappeared from the streets, threatening to plunge the city into chaos.

Residents say groups of men are looting and burning government buildings and there is no sign of police or armed forces...

Mark.
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Feb 19 2011 21:23

Waq al-waq

Saturday in Yemen: abandoning ship

Friday protests

Quote:
I don't think today was the tipping point in Yemen.  But I do think today was the first day that a number of people began to seriously believe that the unthinkable could happen, that Salih could be forced out.

Now, I'm not saying this will happen, this thing could still go a number of different ways, but I'm saying what I believe to be true: today, for the first time, people in Yemen began to believe that what happened in Egypt and what happened in Tunisia could also happen in Yemen…

aloeveraone
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Feb 23 2011 19:03

Seven Yemenis MPs quit the ruling party.
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/02/201122314112793183.html

aloeveraone
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Feb 24 2011 16:49

From the Guardian liveblog:

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10.15am - Yemen: In signs of growing unrest, a bomb exploded during a protest in the south, killing one person and wounding two, a local official said. The explosion occurred in the town of Lawdar, where secessionist sentiment is rife, in the southern province of Abyan.

The death brought to 16 the number of fatalities in a wave of nationwide protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 32-year rule in the past week. On Tuesday at least two protesters were shot dead during a street battle between pro- and anti-government demonstrators at the gates of Sana'a University.

The fatalities were the first in the capital after 12 days of anti-government protests that have swept across the country. Yesterday it emerged that seven members of the Yemeni parliament had resigned in protest at violence used to quell demonstrations and called on Saleh to quit.

aloeveraone
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Feb 27 2011 17:05

EA Liveblog:

Quote:
1343 GMT: More on the difficulties for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh (see 1025 GMT) from the apparent defection of two of Yemen's most important tribes to the anti-regime movement.

Powerful tribal leaders, including those of the Hashid and Baqil, pledged at a gathering north of the capital Sanaa to join protests against Saleh.

"I have announced my resignation from the General People's Congress in protest at the repression of peaceful demonstrators in Sanaa, Taez and Aden," Hashid tribal chief Sheikh Hussein bin Abdullah al-Ahmar was quoted as saying.

The Hashids are considered Yemen's most powerful tribal confederation and include nine clans, among them the Sanhan, long a bulwark of Saleh's regime.

Mark.
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Mar 4 2011 10:26

Yemen protesters claim attack by army forces

Quote:
North Yemen Shi'ite rebels claim military forces fired rockets at their anti-government protest killing two people and wounding seven.

A rebel at the scene is reported to have said: "A military site bombed a number of protesters and struck dozens".

More to follow...

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ocelot
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Mar 10 2011 10:36

BBC

Quote:
0729: In a live speech currently being televised, the Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has announced Yemen will move to a parliamentary system whereby a "government elected by the parliament will take control of the country's executive powers" and a new constitution will be adopted.

AJE: New constitution promised for Yemen

Mark.
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Mar 12 2011 11:21

Waq al-waq

Quote:
Early this morning Yemeni security forces stormed the tent city in front of Sanaa University, firing tear gas and live bullets in a desperate attempt to disperse the protesters.  According to al-Jazeera Arabic at least two people were killed and a number of others wounded (the estimates vary widely, and it will likely be sometime before we know the full extent of this morning's crackdown.)

...

(There are a number of rumors coming out of Sanaa at the moment, most of which I won't pass along, but I'm confident - based on triangulating a variety of sources - that at least two things happened this morning: 1. Snipers were posted on buildings and 2. some ambulances were, at least initially prevented from reaching the Square of Change, where the protesters have been camped out.)

There was also a report that the Journalist's Syndicate in Sanaa was attacked by "armed thug" looking to burn it and unconfirmed reports that journalists were targeted this morning (some reports claim that at least 8 were injured). All of this, of course, flies in the face of President Salih's statement on Thursday that he had "ordered the security forces to continue to provide protection for all the protesters, whether they are supporters of our legitimacy or from the opposition."

Following this morning's attack - it is hard to call it anything else - protesters flowed into the streets in Taizz and Aden, and al-Jazeera Arabic has since been interviewing local correspondents on the ground, who tell of shots being fired in both places and people being shot.

For me, this morning represents a significant escalation by Salih and one that will likely lead to the collapse of his regime...

Mark.
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Mar 21 2011 10:51

It looks like the army is ditching Saleh...

Waq al-waq

Quote:
At the end of my post on Saturday, I mentioned what I saw at the beginning moves of a potential break between Salih's immediate family and the rest of his supporters in the military. 

This morning in Sanna that break became official when Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar the head of the 1st Armored Division and the commander of the Northwest Military District (Yemen is divided into four military districts) announced his support for the peaceful revolution and said soldiers under his command would protect the protesters in the Square of Change. (Incidentally, the 1st Armored Division has a camp not far from the square.)

Ali Muhsin is by far the most powerful figure in the military and his announcement opened the floodgates, as officer after officer has now come out supporting the revolution.  Included in this is the Muhammad Ali Muhsin, commander of the Eastern Military district.  By day's end I expect a number of more announcements from the military.

Also, today Himyar al-Ahmar, the deputy speaker of parliament, announced his resignation.  This wasn't really a surprise, but he chose a politically astute time to get his name back in the news. 

Also, Yemen's ambassadors to Japan, Jordan, Syria, and the Czech Republic also resigned today.  All of this news follows yesterday's move by President Salih in which he sacked his entire cabinet in an apparent move to avoid the embarrassment of mass resignations. There will be more before the day is over...

AFP

Quote:
Tanks took up positions in key locations across Sanaa including at the presidential palace, the central bank and the ministry of defence, an AFP correspondent saw.

The deployment came as General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, an armoured infantry division commander, announced that he had joined the "revolution" along with other senior officers.

"The crisis is getting more complicated and it's pushing the country towards and violence and civil war," he said in a statement broadcast by Al-Jazeera television.

"According to what I'm feeling, and according to the feelings of my partner commanders and soldiers... I announce our support and our peaceful backing to the youth revolution.

"We are going to fulfil our duties in preserving security and stability."

Al-Ahmar is the most senior military officer to pledge support for the opposition, which has been agitating for weeks to end Saleh's 32-year rule over the impoverished, tribal country.

His pledge comes a day after Saleh sacked his cabinet in a bid to placate opposition calls for sweeping reforms.

The regime has already been weakened by the resignations of ministers, ambassadors and a host of ruling party MPs, but Saleh has refused to stand down until his term ends in 2013.

His regime was internationally condemned on Friday when more than 50 people were killed as loyalist gunmen opened fire on protesters in Sanaa's University Square, the centre of the pro-democracy movement.

The defection of top military officers to the opposition is likely to complicate Washington's support for Saleh, whom it sees as a pillar of stability in a volatile country and a partner in the war against Al-Qaeda.

AJE liveblog

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ocelot
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Mar 21 2011 11:43

Guardian: Yemen military commanders join opposition as tanks take to streets

Same story more or less, but with this detail:

Quote:
[...]
All three officers belong to Saleh's Hashid tribe, which called on the president to step down on Sunday, delivering a serious blow to his attempts to cling on to power.
[...]

from yesterday:
Global Post: In Yemen, a defiant day of mourning

Quote:
[...]
After prayers were held for the dead in front of Sana’a University, bodies were buried in a nearby cemetery or taken by their families. Many of those killed were tribesman from villages in Arhab and Amran, two very powerful tribes in northern Yemen. The men killed from those tribes will be taken back to the countryside and buried in their villages.

Sadeq al-Ahmar, one of Yemen’s most powerful tribal Sheikhs, joined protesters in the streets of Sanaa today, demanding that Saleh relinquish power. The Al Ahmar family is made up of nine brothers, all of whom have considerable power and influence in Yemen’s enormous Hashid tribal confederation. Sadeq is the oldest and most influential of these nine brothers.

No whether the tribal leaders are leading or following popular outrage at the killings would require someone with better knowledge of Yemeni society. But it appears to reflect some kind of tipping point. Possibly.

edit: Actually, the Wal al-Waq post linked in #28 above, continues on to give more background on the motivations of Ali Mohseen al-Amar and the tribal complications. Worth reading in full.