FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Future of Yemen

Will president Ali Abdulla Saleh leave this Friday or will Yemen become another Libya?

When Middle East historians look back on the twenty first century, they will recognize it as the century of the Arab revolution.  This political and cultural revolution will reverberate for years to come, as the youth who rose against dictatorial regimes build their nations according to their ideals of human and national rights as well as freedom of expression, speech, and religion.  As the youth driven uprisings in Tunis, Egypt, and Libya continued to create massive change in the way Arabs viewed themselves, Yemen’s long awaited revolution was brewing in the wings.  The uprisings in Bahrain and Oman along with protest movements in Kuwait suggest that even the regimes of the oil rich Gulf states may no longer be immune to the anger of their people.  Though we are not yet able to process the speed and logic of this revolutionary movement, we curiously ask: Which country will be next? Which dictator will be the next to fall?

Through telephone and Facebook communication, the head of Sanaa’s Shabab.net radio Mohammed Al-Selwi stated,  “The situation in the Arab world and the revolutionary youth movement is a wonderful creative phenomenon that I personally support and encourage.”

He describes how Yemen’s revolution came after the situation became unbearable in terms of decision makers ignoring the will of their people, especially the youth demographic which constitutes the largest majority in the Arab world. While many demonstrations were organized in Sanaa by Yemeni opposition factions, according to the New York Times, the youth revolution started as ad hoc protests partly organized via text messaging and, to a lesser extent, internet technologies.  Most likely, due to low internet penetration, word of mouth and traditional means of communication played the most important role.  Al-Selwi said “It all started with small demonstrations near the University of Sanaa in support of fellow Egyptians, but when the youth were faced with the violence of the authorities, they protested.”  Saleh’s government used tear gas and live ammunition against the peaceful demonstrators.  Since then the protests increased exponentially and reached millions in numbers in various parts of the nation last Friday.   Most recently, according to Aljazeera.net, as the death toll exceeded forty and hundreds were injured, many tribesmen and soldiers joined protesters in what came to be known as Change Square near the University of Sanaa.  In a promising move, many soldiers in Mareb handed their weapons to the tribes and joined in the protests as well.

So far the Yemeni revolution has followed a trajectory quite similar to the revolutions in Tunis and Egypt.  Every step of the way, the regime remains a few steps behind.  Throughout the past month, the demands of the revolutionaries escalated and the regime’s delayed concessions were continually rejected.  At this time, the demand of the youth is clear: President Saleh and his regime must go.  Yet, Yemen is different from Egypt and Tunis in its entrenched tribal social fabric, a historic phenomenon that values tribal kinship and alliances.  The tribes are armed and capable of protecting themselves.  Will tribal alliances protect Saleh from a certain downfall or will the situation quickly descend into a civil war?  With great faith in the people of the republic, Al-Selwi stated, “Many tribes said they will protect the youth.”

If the pattern of events in Yemen continues to follow the previous trajectories, the rising tide of the revolution will force the Yemeni president or the armed forces to make a decision on the Friday when the largest number of protests is expected. Tunis’ Ben Ali departed on Friday the 14th of January, while Mubarak resigned on Friday the 11th of February.  If last Friday’s protests are any indication, this week’s protests will escalate events to a new unprecedented level.  How soon will the breaking point come? AccordingAl-Selwi, “There is a dangerous escalation and events are accelerating quickly.  Every day, the gap keeps increasing between all the parties of this conflict, and I don’t believe there are signs of a solution to the crisis in the horizon.”

Several key events are setting the tone this week: many protesters were killed in Sanaa, Al-Jawf and Mareb, the governor of Mareb was stabbed, a police station was burned in Aden, foreign journalists were deported, and the University of Sanaa delayed the beginning of the new semester until further notice.  The official Yemeni news sources continue to operate as usual, claiming that the defecting soldiers were fired or retired and accusing the revolutionaries of vandalism.  As the ailing regime buys more time, the revolution’s power is rising, but the question remains, Will Saleh peacefully resign like Mubarak, shamefully flee like Ben Ali, or recklessly set his nation ablaze like Gaddafi?

On Friday the 18th of March, the youth of Yemen may get their answer.

SAMER AL-SABER is a PhD student at the University of Washington.  His academic work is concerned with the cultural and political history of the Middle East.  Currently, he is writing a dissertation on the cultural history of theatrical activities in Jerusalem.

 

 

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
February 24, 2020
Stephen Corry
New Deal for Nature: Paying the Emperor to Fence the Wind
M. K. Bhadrakumar
How India’s Modi is Playing on Trump’s Ego to His Advantage
Jennifer Matsui
Tycoon Battle-Bots Battle Bernie
Robert Fisk
There’s Little Chance for Change in Lebanon, Except for More Suffering
Rob Wallace
Connecting the Coronavirus to Agriculture
Bill Spence
Burning the Future: the Growing Anger of Young Australians
Eleanor Eagan
As the Primary Race Heats Up, Candidates Forget Principled Campaign Finance Stands
Binoy Kampmark
The Priorities of General Motors: Ditching Holden
George Wuerthner
Trojan Horse Timber Sales on the Bitterroot
Rick Meis
Public Lands “Collaboration” is Lousy Management
David Swanson
Bloomberg Has Spent Enough to Give a Nickel to Every Person Whose Life He’s Ever Damaged
Peter Cohen
What Tomorrow May Bring
Peter Harrison
Is It as Impossible to Build Jerusalem as It is to Escape Babylon?
Weekend Edition
February 21, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Election Con 2020: Exposing Trump’s Deception on the Opioid Epidemic
Joshua Frank
Bloomberg is a Climate Change Con Man
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Billion Dollar Babies
Paul Street
More Real-Time Reflections from Your Friendly South Loop Marxist
Jonathan Latham
Extensive Chemical Safety Fraud Uncovered at German Testing Laboratory
Ramzy Baroud
‘The Donald Trump I know’: Abbas’ UN Speech and the Breakdown of Palestinian Politics
Martha Rosenberg
A Trump Sentence Commutation Attorneys Generals Liked
Ted Rall
Bernie Should Own the Socialist Label
Louis Proyect
Encountering Malcolm X
Kathleen Wallace
The Debate Question That Really Mattered
Jonathan Cook
UN List of Firms Aiding Israel’s Settlements was Dead on Arrival
George Wuerthner
‘Extremists,’ Not Collaborators, Have Kept Wilderness Whole
Colin Todhunter
Apocalypse Now! Insects, Pesticide and a Public Health Crisis  
Stephen Reyna
A Paradoxical Colonel: He Doesn’t Know What He is Talking About, Because He Knows What He is Talking About.
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A New Solar Power Deal From California
Richard Moser
One Winning Way to Build the Peace Movement and One Losing Way
Laiken Jordahl
Trump’s Wall is Destroying the Environment We Worked to Protect
Walden Bello
Duterte Does the Right Thing for a Change
Jefferson Morley
On JFK, Tulsi Gabbard Keeps Very Respectable Company
Vijay Prashad
Standing Up for Left Literature: In India, It Can Cost You Your Life
Gary Leupp
Bloomberg Versus Bernie: The Upcoming Battle?
Ron Jacobs
The Young Lords: Luchadores Para La Gente
Richard Klin
Loss Leaders
Gaither Stewart
Roma: How Romans Differ From Europeans
Kerron Ó Luain
The Soviet Century
Mike Garrity
We Can Fireproof Homes But Not Forests
Fred Baumgarten
Gaslighting Bernie and His Supporters
Joseph Essertier
Our First Amendment or Our Empire, But Not Both
Peter Linebaugh
A Story for the Anthropocene
Danny Sjursen
Where Have You Gone Smedley Butler?
Jill Richardson
A Broken Promise to Teachers and Nonprofit Workers
Binoy Kampmark
“Leave Our Bloke Alone”: A Little Mission for Julian Assange
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail