Was there a Yemeni Revolution?

Aljazeera Arabic is reporting that later in the day Sunday, clashes between armed groups of pro-Saleh and anti-Saleh gunmen broke out in the capital, where the situation is “unstable,” after Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh flew to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment late Saturday.

The Yemeni press says that most shops in the capital were closed out of fear of insecurity and lack of electricity. Gold and silver shops had hidden their merchandise, and where they opened (not only in Sanaa but also in some other cities), their shelves were empty and they were only taking orders. Used car dealerships also appear to have warehoused their cars, and their lots are empty.

Some small crowds of joyous protesters had braved the otherwise deserted streets of Sanaa and other cities on Sunday morning. The protesters, most from the youth movement that has spearheaded the attempt to overthrow Saleh’s regime, chanted “Liberty, liberty, this is the festival of liberty!” and “A New Yemen!” and “The Regime has fallen!”

Yemen is the poorest of 22 Arab League states, and sits astride the mouth of the Red Sea, through which about ten percent of world trade flows. Its port of Aden is also important to Arabian Sea trade. Yemeni instability that spilled over onto neighboring Saudi Arabia could have a significant impact on petroleum prices. A small al-Qaeda cell operates in Yemen, and Muslim radicals are said to have taken advantage of the instability to take control of the small city of Zinjibar, where 10 Yemeni troops were killed on Sunday.

Saleh had been wounded by shrapnel on Friday in a rocket attack on the mosque in his presidential palace where he was praying. Several of Saleh’s officials, including the prime minister, have also fled to Saudi Arabia.

Initial reports had claimed that Saleh’s wounds were light. Aljazeera points out that if they were in fact been light, he could have been treated in Saleh; his flight to Saudi Arabia must in that case have been political rather than medical. If the wounds were more serious than admitted, forcing him genuinely to seek the better facilities in Riyadh, then likely he would take some time to recuperate. (Some reports speak of burns to his face and chest). Since Yemen cannot afford to be without a leader in these tumultuous times, likely Saleh will be replaced before he can return.

In order to avoid being seen to take sides, the Saudis also offered medical treatment to injured members of the opposition al-Ahmar clan.

Saleh left his vice president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, in charge, and the latter met with the US ambassador and top Yemeni military officials late Saturday. The regime maintains that Saleh will return in a few days, but many Yemenis are convinced that his rule is now over. If Saleh does not return within 60 days, according to the constitution, there must be new elections.

Hadi’s grip on power is likely insecure, and rebel forces are speaking of setting up a transitional council that would presumably include the ten-tribe coalition of Islah Party leader Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar, who emerged in the past two months as Saleh’s major rival.

In the major southwestern city of Taizz, an armed group attacked the local presidential palace. The guerrillas organized themselves, they say, to avenge the deliberate killing of protesters by Saleh’s security forces. Some reports say 4 were killed in Taizz fighting on Sunday.

In the major southern port city of Aden, security forces withdrew from checkpoints.

Aljazeera English has a video report:

Reuters reviews Saleh’s 33-year rule.

Posted in Yemen | 4 Responses | Print |

4 Responses

  1. I was in fact shocked by the title. The article makes no mention of the women and men who have conducted continuous sit-ins in millions in 18 out of 20 major Yemeni cities and towns. The popular peaceful revolution has withstood the regime’s brutality and held tenaciously to peaceful struggle despite the regime’s repeated and unending aggressions and provocations (the most notable of which was the holocaust in Taiz where the freedom square was set to fire) of the revolutionists to carry arms. These revolutionists are Yemeni women and men who have suffered the hell out of Saleh’s failed and repressive autocratic rule. They are not the Al-Ahmar’s clan who are fighting. As the regime failed in all attempts to put an end to the sit-ins, it targeted the strongman Al-Ahmar, who reacted as he put it “in self-defense”. The revolutionists, however, remained in their sit-in squares and stressed their peaceful option in achieving their demands. Though Saleh is virtually gone for good, the peaceful revolution continues.

  2. The point is that we still don’t know whether Saleh is in fact gone for good. Or his son and relatives.

  3. I’m a little ineffectual Johnny One-Note, I know, but here’s another clang of the bell, triggered by the monkey-business-as-usual highlighted above by Professor Cole (thanks for his constant attention and spotlight.)

    What makes for stability? One can’t hardly even say “meta-stability” any more, now that Netese makes “meta” something ugly, at the risk of misunderstanding and failed communication. But our bodies, 24/7, manage to keep in metastable equilibrium, link to answers.com, a system more complex by far than the human planetary political economy and ecology. We live as individuals (and eventually die) by the sensitivity and negative-feedback mechanisms and efficiency (and eventual failure) of the homeostatic and immune functions of our individual bodies’ 75 trillion little cells (and the 750 trillion bacteria and fungi and archaea that live in mostly symbiotic or indifferent tolerance on and within us,) all of which, unless they become cancerous or pathogenic, are wiser than all our power-seeking, wealth-grabbing “heads of state” and “state security apparatuses” put together. All these little details of Imperial American Proconsuls, and Long-View Chinese, meeting with their satraps in places like Sa’naa and Baghdad and Kabul to try to “manage” the unfortunate consequences of imperial diddling and kleptocracizing of all those national governments. So IMPORTANT and PORTENTIOUS and (if the proles don’t catch on) PROFITABLE!

    All this concern about “unrest spilling over into Saudi Arabia,” with the presumption, I guess, that the most important element in the whole complex not-even-meta-stable world is the price of oil. Everything’s about oil, and the force-feeding of unsustainable “growth” of pan-global consumption, with just a very few of the 7 billion and increasing number of us thinking about and working on what it might take to keep all of us from being a totally failed experiment in incorrectly and insufficiently specialized and generalized biology. And a whole lot more of us designing ever more deadly weapons and ever more hairy triggers for them, and ever-more-idiotic and divorced-from-stability Grand Strategies for warfighting in a Networked Battlespace that the War Managers are forcing all of us into and under at an accelerating pace, and cooking up ever more futile schemes for World Domination or at least some nugatory hegemony. And all this heated debate and “Yes, I’m right!” and “No, you’re not!” about tiny little elements of stratagems that lie (that word again) behind the simplistifrakulation that is The Narrative and the shallow little slogans and the flag pins that keep the tribal stupidities going, with the cynical Power Players picking their pockets and enslaving them while they screech and shoot at each other. Too bad there’s not any energy being put into figuring out the secret, the spiritual fix, to the most puzzling (though it shouldn’t be) of all questions: “Can’t we all just get along?”

    Too bad the only tools that our deep thinkers and geoploticians (yes, intended spelling) seem to be able to deploy are the ones that underlie (emphasis on “lie,” as the principal and operative mode of communication) the Game of Risk! tm, and not the ones that inform the various Sims, which at least are all, or mostly, about trying to create and maintain something healthy.

  4. Mmm. A trivial note, but nevertheless, technically Somalia is a member and it is clearly poorer than Yemen. An absurd and not really Arab member but…. It’s clearly the poorest proper member of course.

Comments are closed.