Thursday, January 27, 2011

Protests in Yemen

Today also saw anti-government protests in Yemen:
"In Sana, at least 10,000 protesters led by opposition members and youth activists gathered at Sana University, and around 6,000 more gathered elsewhere, participants, lawmakers and activists reached by telephone said. Many carried pink banners and wore pink headbands.

"The color was both a unifying symbol and an indication of the level of planning underlying the protests. Weeks ago, as the Tunisian protests were still escalating, a committee from an umbrella group of six opposition parties settled on an escalating scale of color to accompany their own plan of action, starting with purple for lawmakers to show their opposition and moving to pink for the street protests. Red, said Shawki al-Qadi, a lawmaker and opposition figure, would be the final color, though he said the opposition had not yet decided what actions would correspond with the move...

"Part of Mr. Allaw’s worries sprung from the inability of the opposition to forge a unified message. Some are calling for secession, he said, while others are looking to oust the president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, through popular protests. Yet others, he said, simply wanted Mr. Saleh to undertake a series of reforms before elections in April...

"The demonstrations on Thursday followed several days of smaller protests by students and opposition groups calling for the removal of President Ali Abdallah Saleh, a strongman who has ruled this fractured country for more than 30 years and is a key ally of the United States in the fight against the Yemeni branch of Al Qaeda."

As far as I can tell, this is nothing like the situation in Tunisia and Egypt. What you see instead is opposition leaders trying to incorporate Tunisia into their own narratives. It also sounds like these protests were concentrated in southern Yemen, where many people see themselves as having been "conquered" by the north in the country's 1990 unification. President Saleh was the leader of North Yemen prior to that unification, and many feel he and northern interests have been exploiting the south for the past two decades.



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