One of the major factors in the success so far of the “Jasmine Revolution” — the wave of pro-democracy revolts across the Middle East — has been the empowering international press coverage of the protests.
Yet in recent weeks this coverage in the United States has been overwhelmingly focused on just one country where these revolts are occurring — Libya. While the events in Libya, where rebels are battling the Qaddafi dictatorship, certainly merit coverage, the American press has unfortunately failed to provide the same detailed coverage to the events in Yemen and Bahrain, two U.S. allies where mostly nonviolent protesters are being brutally put down by the armed forces in those countries.
A ThinkProgress analysis utilizing the media search service Critical Mention of press coverage by the three major U.S. cable news networks — CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News — from March 14 to March 18 finds that Bahrain received only slightly more than ten percent as many mentions as Libya and that Yemen received only six percent as many mentions as Libya:
– Libya: Libya was mentioned 9,524 times by the major cable news networks.
– Bahrain: Bahrain was mentioned 1,587 times by the major cable news networks.
– Yemen: Yemen was only mentioned 599 times by the major cable news networks.
The lack of coverage of the situation in Bahrain and Yemen isn’t disturbing just because of the widespread atrocities being committed against demonstrators there by governments. It’s especially alarming because, unlike Libya, both are close U.S. allies and recipients of major U.S. military and economic assistance — meaning that the U.S. actually bears a responsibility to make sure its assistance is not being used in ways that are contrary to American values.
One network that has been paying close attention to the revolts in Bahrain and Yemen is Al Jazeera English. It filed a detailed video report yesterday from the scene of a government attack on peaceful protesters in the capital of Sana’a. Watch it:
Al Jazeera English is currently running a campaign where it is petitioning U.S. cable and satellite providers to bring the channel into more American homes. Join that campaign here.
If that wasn’t enough for you, the Middle Eastern state of Yemen just went critical today as protesters were gunned down by rooftop snipers in the capital of Sanaa.
Gunmen on rooftops shot dead up to 42 protesters at an anti-government rally in Sanaa after Muslim prayers on Friday, enraging the opposition and prompting President Ali Abdullah Saleh to declare a state of emergency.
Medical sources and witnesses told Reuters that Yemeni security forces and plainclothes snipers, who protesters said were government security men, had opened fire on the crowds. The Interior Ministry put the death toll at 25, but doctors said 42 people had died and at least 300 were injured.
Saleh, struggling to maintain his 32-year grip on power in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state, said the deaths had occurred in clashes between demonstrators and other citizens at a protest encampment at Sanaa University.
“I express my extreme sorrow for what happened today after Friday prayers in the university district,” Saleh told a news conference in Sanaa, blaming gunmen among the protesters for the violence.
“The police were not present and did not open fire,” he said. “It is clear there are armed elements inside these tents and they are the ones who opened fire.”
He declared a 30-day state of emergency that gives wider powers to security forces and bars citizens from bearing arms in public. A curfew was being discussed.
Bahrain, now Yemen. Saudi Arabia is probably pretty damn nervous about right now, as is, oh, pretty much everyone else on the planet. Something’s got to give soon on the Arabian Peninsula, however. When it does, it’s not going to be pleasant.
Does the international community have a “responsibility to protect” civilians in pariah-state Libya but not counterterrorism partner Yemen?
President Obama issued a statement saying he “strongly condemn[s]” today’s violence and says those responsible for it “must be held accountable.” Huh? He’s giving those very people cash and weaponry in the name of fighting terrorism. It’s doubtful that the helicopters and night-vision goggles the U.S. supplies Yemen was used on the demonstrators. But in the case of Yemen, the least the U.S. could do would be to threaten to turn off the money spigot. Obama stopped well short of that.
But the government of Ali Abdullah Saleh is disinclined to show similar restraint. Saleh declared a state of emergency, the typical regional prelude to mass detentions, torture and killing. Unless the Obama administration does something to stop Saleh, al-Qaida’s Yemeni branch will have its next wave of propaganda footage written for it. If Egypt demonstrated that nonviolent revolution can undercut al-Qaida by rendering it irrelevant to social change, Saleh is all but inviting the terrorists back into the game.
Al Jazeera reports on the worst violence to come out of that country since the Arab 1848 began:
At least 41 people were killed and scores wounded after the Yemeni security forces opened fire on protesters at University square, in the capital Sanaa. Security forces opened fire in attempts to prevent protesters from marching out of the square where they were gathered, sources said. Medical sources said the death toll was likely to rise. Pro-government "thugs" also opened fire on protesters from houses close to University square, witnesses told the AFP news agency. Muttahar al-Masri, the country's interior minister, put the death toll at 25, and said that a curfew was being imposed as part of the state of emergency.
Shooters in plain clothes fired down on the demonstration from rooftops and windows straight after the protesters rose from their noon prayers. … Xinhua reported that children were among the casualties. "The child was hit by a bullet in his head," an eyewitness named Twific al-Yaziday told Xinhua, adding that there were more than 20 others were wounded in heads and necks.
A graphic image of one of those victims after the jump:
(Photo: Wounded Yemeni anti-government protesters rush a wounded youth to get medical treatment during a demonstration in Sanaa on March 18, 2011 as more than 30 anti-regime protesters were shot dead and over 100 wounded, medics and witnesses said. By Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)
Saturday’s massive attack by Yemen’s security forces on unarmed protesters in Sanaa (see “13-Mar-11 News — Police in Yemen fire live bullets on protesters, killing three”), killing two protesters and injuring over 100, is having repercussions in the form of increased violent clashes, with an increasing danger of civil or tribal war.
Riots in Yemen (Reuters)
The purpose of the protests is to force President Ali Abdullah Salih to step down, but many tribal leaders fear the chaos that would result if Salih stepped down too quickly, according to Jamestown. As a result, tribal leaders are splitting along pro-government and pro-opposition lines, and fighting between the tribes is escalating.
Saturday’s attack used live ammunition and teargas. The attack was sufficiently brutal that protesters claimed that security forces had used poison gas, forcing US ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein to express disbelief in those accusations, in an interview appearing in Yemen Observer:
“The second point is we don’t have the expertise to make any decisions about what kind of chemical agents were used the other day in the demonstrations. We are reasonably confident that the allegations that there was sarin or mustard gas used are not correct. First of all, if sarin were used, it’s a highly lethal nerve gas, there would have been five hundred people dead, not one person dead. Secondly, mustard gas is a blistering agent that is very obvious if it’s been used.
Nobody has presented any evidence, nobody has presented anybody who demonstrated any of the symptoms of exposure to mustard gas or also of course to sarin. Based on our own best guess, we believe that probably what was used was tear gas and smoke.”
That there’s public discussion of the use of sarin gas against unarmed protesters illustrates how hyperbolic the accusations on both sides have become.
On Tuesday, gunfights between pro-regime loyalists and opposition forces resulted in the death of a major opposition leader, according to Arab News. In other tribal violence on Tuesday, armed men attacked an oil pipeline carrying 120,000 barrels of oil per day to the Red Sea, forcing two oil fields to be shut down, according to Bloomberg.
The increased level of violence is devastating Yemen’s economy, especially the local banks, according to the Islamic Globe. Investors and savers are withdrawing large amounts of cash in US dollars from the Yemeni banking system and ceasing contributions, creating “chronic instability” which is “paralyzing the local banks.”
Bahrain declares three month state of emergency and martial law
Violence also escalated on the streets of Bahrain on Tuesday, causing two more deaths, and over 200 new injuries, according to AFP.
The three-month state of emergence will hand wholesale power to Bahrain’s security forces, and this will undoubtedly stoke further conflicts.
The world has changed very rapidly in the last couple of months. Japan is melting down, countries on the Arabian Peninsula, including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen, are facing anything from protests to sectarian violence, and global stock markets have become extremely volatile.
From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, these are the kinds of breakdowns that occur in generational Crisis eras. Earthquakes, tsunamis and protests can occur in any era, and in non-crisis eras, countries and societiets can take them in their stride. But in a Crisis era, with the survivors of the previous crisis war (WW II) almost completely gone, countries and societies cannot take these events in stride, but allow them to turn into greater crises. That’s what happening today, and what’s expected to continue to happen in the months to come.
Written by Afef Abrougui
This post is part of our Yemen Protests 2011 special coverage.
When protests first started in Yemen in January, President Ali Abdullah Saleh promised not to run for re-election in 2013 as an attempt to quiet angry protesters. However, this concession did not please anti-government protestors who have been asking for the immediate resignation of Ali-Abdullah Saleh and the fall of his 32-year regime. The government then turned to force, deploying thugs, live bullets, and possibly nerve gas to bring an end to a series of mass protests that have swept the country.
Yemeni blogger, Afrah Nasser, lives near the anti-government protest area in the capital Sana’a and has been uploading photos and posts calling for revolution. Nasser is also a journalist at the Yemen Observer Newspaper.
She received the following life-threatening message on Facebook on March 13 and decided to post it on her blog the next day, “so the entire world reads it“. The original message was in Arabic and she translated to English:
يبدوبان بانالكلام والتعامل معك بالطيب لا ينفع , رغم الجلسات التي تمت بينك وبين الــــ ؟؟؟؟!! كانت توحي بطيبه واحترام وذوق الطرف الاخر لكن مايتضح هو بانك لاترغبين بالعيش في امن وامان مع امك المسكينه التي تعبت وضحت من اجلكي انتي واختكي المغتربه ,قدمت كل التنازلات الشخصيه من اجل الحفاظ على ابنتيها الوحيدتان وتربيتهن وتعليمهن حتى اصبح كل من حولها يحسدونها على هذا الشي ,لكن يبدو بان المقوله المشهوره لاتريد ان تفارقكي(العرق دساس “نـ….. ر” ) اتمني بان تكون الاستاذه القديرة/ @#$ % هي قدوتكي في الحياه فلا تخالفيها واسمعي كل كلامها فهيا اعلم منكي بالتعامل مع الاخرين ولااضن بان هناك شخص اخر يعرف مصلحتك ويخاف عليكي اكثر من امك… كم اتمنى بان تكون هذة الام هي امي فسوف احاول اسعادها ولو بعمري …….
على العموم سيتم تجاهل كل الماضي ليس لاجل شي وانما لاجل تلك الام المسكينه المناظله التي لايتم مكافاتها بمثل هذة المكافه وهي حرمانها من احد افراد اسرتها بكل هذة السهوله مقابل طيشكي لانريد ان نفقدها كل تعب السنين الماضيه.
اتمنى بان رسالتي قد وصلت اليكي يابنت اليمن …..
اصحي اصحييييييييييييييييييييييييي فلا تكوني وامكي واختكي ضحيت طيشكي يامتعلمه
Anyways, the past will be forgotten, not for the sake of anything but only for the sake of your poor mother who fought a lot for you and you awarded her with this award; that’s to deprive her easily of one of her family member because of your irresponsibility and recklessness. We don’t want her to lose all what she earned for the past years.
I wish you receive my message…..
Wake up, waaaaaaaaaaake up! Don’t make your mother and your sister pay the price of your recklessness, you educated lady!
Afrah's followers on both twitter and her blog were shocked and they expressed their support and solidarity.
@Afrahnasser oh my God!!!! they are trying to use fear tactics to scare you. we are with you to support you.
Muna (@ArabsUnite) tweets:
@Afrahnasser OMG. We are with u, supporting u hope u stay safe, strong and make sure u keep proof as @WomanfromYemen said..
من انتم؟؟ من انتم ؟ يا من تهددون حاملي الاخبار !
هذا هو الجبن بعينه .. ومن ارسل هذه الرسالة سيجر خيبته ورائة عندما يسقط الطاغية وسيسقط اعوانه تباعاً!!
يالي فاكر نفسك رجال وبترسل هذه الرسالة .. شوف الرجال الحقيقيين في ساحات التغير !
Mohammed Al_Shaheri posted this comment on Afrah's blog:
الشعب كله مهدد لكن والله لن يزيدنا هذا إلا إصرار وأصبري يا أختي فما هي إلا أيام معدودة فالنظام يلفظ أنفاسه الأخيرة
He ends his comment with a piece of advice for Afrah:
ونصيحة يا أختي أبقي قريبة من مظمات المجتمع المدني حتى إذا ما حاول أي شخص أن يمسك بسوء فلن يستطيع وسيردعه الخوف فهم لن يقوموا بأي شيء يهيج الشارع في ظل الأوضاع الراهنة
Afrah (@Afrahnasser) tweets:
الحقيقة تزعج الكثير من المواليين .. سحقا لهم .. لن يسكت صوت الحق ابدا
This post is part of our Yemen Protests 2011 special coverage.
Written by John Liebhardt
Tweeps, reporters and netizens are investigating the possibility that Yemen's security forces may have used nerve gas when they attacked protesters on Tuesday, March 8. The attack, which government later said was to prohibit Yemeni tribesman from bringing weapons to the student sit-in protesters who have gathered near Sanaa University calling for the resignation of long-serving leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.
One protester reportedly died in that attack, and up to 70 were injured. Protesters say that security forces also used what they thought was tear gas to disperse the crowd. However, a few doctors treating the injured said they had never seen these symptoms with people affected by tear gas, including convulsions, loosing muscular control and even paralysis.
Here's a tweet from local reporter Jeb Boone:
@JebBoone: Tear gas said to be odorless. Gas used in #Yemen demos smelled of sulfur, similar when after a gun fires, what I initially thought it was.
And from reporter Iona Craig, who was present at the hospital with injured protesters.
@ionacraig: I'm no chemicals expert but symptoms last night did not inc. eye & skin irritation like teargas. Ppl just passed out after trouble breathing
The Chemical Weapons Convention outlaws the production, stockpoling and use of various chemical weapons, including nerve agents. Presently, 165 countries have signed the United Nation's convention including Yemen, which ratified it in 2000.
Oliver Holmes, a freelance reporter based in Yemen, provided a video of a grenade found at the scene:
He asked via Twitter:
@olireports: Can anyone confirm whether a green rubber Smith & Wesson gas grenade is illegal. Is it teargas or nerve gas? @YF @Yemen
Holmes then reported:
@olireports: The grenades I saw were not nerve gas. #YF #Yemen
Here's a video of more of the ammunition found after the March 8 attacks.
A Tweep responds:
@Dmangoman: @kasinof the round canister normally contains standard tear gas; CS or CN;unless the canisters have been manipulated or are counterfeit
This is not the first time Yemen's government has been accused of using nerve gas. In 2005, reporter Jane Novak published claims from people on the ground that the country's military may have used nerve gas to quash the Houthis rebellion in Sahdaa.
Highly respected religious scholar Mohamed Almansour wrote a letter to President Saleh in March 2005 which stated, “We condemn all things that happened in the previous months such as excessive use of force by the Government forces and the use of internationally prohibited weapons.” In May, Alquds Alarabia reported that rebel leader Abdelmalik al-Houthi said, “The government attacked us with internationally prohibited weapons like chlorine gas that caused an inability to breathe.” He also referred to “colored gas.” An article in the opposition newspaper al-Shoura in June listed the names of imprisoned children, including Bader Aldeen Abdula Moslih who was described as “12 years old, very ill from nervous system and skin damage as a result of chlorine gas used by the army in the first war last year.” In an internet interview the same month, a Houthi partisan and purported eye witness described “some special missile which turns into many particles, yellow and then red. The cloud goes up slowly. When it explodes it is yellow, when the particles come down they are red.” The cloud caused an inability to breathe, he reported.
Yahya al-Houthi, former Member of Parliament in the ruling party and brother of slain rebel leader Hussain al-Houthi, wrote in an email: “Most of the injured persons have died especially those who were hiding in Suleiman Cave. They were exposed to chemical gasâ€¦The area surrounding Suleiman Cave is still closed by the Army to prevent any one from taking samples to be analyzed by chemical weapon experts. The Army also burned all bodies in that area so they donâ€™t leave any evidence for the international community.
Some Tweeps continue the claim of government use of some gas agent on Tuesday night.
@alguneid: @WomanfromYemen #saleh ,son&nephew troops used low level nerve gas.Causes cerebral oedema (water inside brain cells).Coma->death #War crime
Other Tweeps find it difficult to sort out the facts.
@JebBoone: Gas used in #Yemen also may have been CR gas, riot control gas stronger than tear gas. Has a pepper odor.
@ionacraig: Four people ended up in ICU with brain edema from the gas last night, according to doctor. #yemen #yf #sanaa
@CarvajalF: #Yemen – friend frm SciTech Univ in Sanaa still didnt confirm use of nerve gas @ Sanaa Univ – getting mixed comments frm ppl –
@prince640: @CarvajalF There might be other agents with some of the same effects? #Yemen
@Dirk2112: RT @joshuafoust: http://t.co/Ct40njU “nerve gas” thing reeks of rumor and exaggeration. I suggest deep caution before believing. #yf #Yemen
@theriverfed: I hope the ICC is paying attention. RT @leloveluck Doctors in #Yemen say nerve gas used on protesters: http://t.co/Ct40njU
@CFKlebergTT: Source in #Yemen told me about use of nerve gas. HRW can't confirm or deny. More in a bit…
Written by John Liebhardt
This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.
Yemeni police and security agents fired at protesters at the University of Sanaa on Tuesday, March 8, killing three and wounding an estimated 50 people, five of them seriously.
The shooting apparently started when security forces attempted to stop a group of “thousands” of protesters from entering the area of the University of Sanaa where students have continued a three-week sit in. However, one local journalist says the Yemeni government claims the security forces were attempting to stop tribesman from smuggling in weapons to the sit-in.
The protesters have been calling for the dismissal of Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power for 32 years, and leads an ineffective government in an oil producing country with little economic development. Since protests began in early February, an estimated 27 people have been killed and many more wounded. Both Pro- and Anti-Saleh peotesters have continued to gather mostly peacefully throughout much of the country. However, violence towards anti-government protests has been escalating at an alarming rate.
Tuesday's protests were especially large because many women and children had joined to celebrate international women's day. Jane Novak reported soldiers attempted to stop medical professionals from helping the wounded. BBC reported government agents also used stun guns and tear gas to dismiss the protesters. One Tweep, @Leemtee, said the gas has harmful effects.
Medics in Sana'a say that the gas used on protesters has been banned internationally. Causes nerve paralysis and breathing problems.
Warning Some graphic content: Here is a video uploaded by journalist Iona Craig of a hospital where some of the shooting victims were brought. People at the hospital placed the number of wounded between 23 to 50, and said the wounds came from gunshots.
During and immediately following the shootings, Tweeps attempted to cover the events.
@kasinof: clashes at sana univ right now. live bullets being used on protesters
@YERevolutions: #Yemen #sanaa attacks still taking place by thugs and security forces to the moment, and lack of blood and medical… http://fb.me/Xiq0VmXJ
@tm464: Sources from sana'a Security forces and Republican Guard firing live bullets at demonstrators in the change… http://fb.me/ROglelqr
@Leemtee: Ambulances transporting those critically injured from Square of Change
@Leemtee: Medical team in Square of Change has also been targeted by security forces. Live bullets shot.
@alguneid: #SANAA SOURCE EARLIER EVNNG REPBLCN GUARDS DRESSED AS CENTRAL SECURITY WERE POSITIONED.CENTRAL SECURTY WERE NOT KEEN THUMBING DOWN PROTESTRS
@yemen4change: many injuries are critical near Sanaa university #Yemen
@WomanfromYemen: doctors needed in #sanaa university square right now.. #yemen #yf
@WomanfromYemen: most protesters being treated in the “room turned hospital” inside the square, some critically injured taken to the hospital #yemen #sanaa
@ArabsUnite: I REPEAT BLOOD SHORTAGE IN #SANAA ESP A- BLOOD GROUP.. DOCTORS ALSO URGENTLY NEEDED AT THE SQUARE OF CHANGE IN #SANAA
@kasinof: tonight was the first time soldiers (in uniform) shot live ammunition at protesters in sanaa
In the aftermath, Tweeps worried about another assault and started to piece the story together.
@listeningseeing: Yemenite state tv outlet songs and dancing while gvt forces kill and hit protesters in Change square in #sanaa #yemen
@Malanesi: Groups of armed security men dresses as civilians enters the gates of sanaa uni from the back Gates and prepares now for another assault.
@Leemtee: Thousands head to Square for Change in Sana'a after security forces shot at protesters.
@Malanesi: Four thugs were caught and they admitted that they were ordered by officers to attack protesters mentioning the officers names. #yemen
@YERevolutions: #Yemen #sanaa Breaking news: more young citizens joins the their injured brothers bringing their shrouds with them… http://fb.me/TsBr5GEB
@spatialshak: Not only has #Ali Saleh refused to adhere to the ppl & peacefully reconcile;BUT DECLARES WAR ON #Yemen PPL using CSF,specialFORCES,RepGUARDs
@yemen4change: I thought #AliSaleh would be more wiser than #Gaddafi, using force against peaceful protesters only puts him in bad situation #Yemen
@Leemtee: Breaking news from Sana'a: Tribes in Sana'a have joined the protesters and injured asking for fall of Saleh's regim
@WomanfromYemen: protesters in #sanaa chanting against regime, and shouting “we wont leave” #yemen #yf
Many agree the attack will affect the country's political situation and will enrage other protesters. First, the group Saleh was to meet with to help form a government of national unity:
@alguneid: DIALOGUE COMMITTEE(JMPs &ASSOCIATES) CONDEMNS CONDEMNS ASSAULT OF SALEH FORCES ON PEACEFUL PROTESTERS
Now, the protesters:
@alguneid: #YOUTH ACTIVIST-ALJAZEERAH TV, THIS ATTACK FROM #SALEH WILL MAKE US MORE STUBBORN . WE SAY IT AGAIN, NEVER TO DIALOGUE, ONLY GO
@spatialshak: The outrage in #Sanaa #Yemen will trigger armed retaliation and gr8 rage against army&police 4 their inimical acts.
@alguneid: #SANAA PROTESTERS PLEDGE WILL NOT LEAVE THE SQUARE TILL SALEH LEAVE. LOUDLY CHANTING FALL UPON #SALEH
@dia_assada: After receiving the news from #Sanaa, people pour in2 Freedom Sq in #Taiz, & “security” forces multiply its presence #Yemen #yf
Some worry about how the outside world will view these fresh killings.
@Leemtee: International community SILENT about killings in YEMEN!!
@WomanfromYemen: Stop military aid to #yemen NOW. Any govt that supports this regime is contributing to the killing & oppression of the people of Yemen. #yf
The blogger leloveluck criticizes governments who continue to prop up the Saleh regime even after its forces attacked protesters in such a public place, in a city where much of the international media is forced to congregate.
One would hope that such a public act of regime brutality will provoke international condemnation. Sadly, this remains unlikely. The past week has seen the initiative slip away from the protesters and back into the hands of the regime; where American and European responses were previously emphasising a need for restraint and reform, the narrative of the previous decade has reemerged, suggesting that Yemen must be viewed through the suspicious lens of counterterrorism. On Sunday, Hillary Clinton alleged Iranian involvement in the protests (unlikely), and shootings in Marib province allowed President Saleh to play the Al Qaeda card. Both events have served as reminders that Yemen remains a place where US foreign policy is defined in terms of geopolitical fear. Despite all this, one hopes that tonight’s events will attract condemnation from the donor community who continue to prop up Saleh’s ageing regime, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.
Written by Afef Abrougui
Protests demanding the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh continue for a successive fourth week in Yemen. Protesters are not showing any sign of backing down and the Yemeni President is still immune to the idea of leaving office before presidential elections in 2013.
Saleh has invited all political forces to talk. The invitation was refused by the opposition. At the same time, attacks carried out by security forces and loyalists to Saleh on peaceful demonstrators continued.
“Yemeni officials and security forces have facilitated attacks by armed gangs on peaceful anti-government protesters in places away from the capital of Sanaa, or stood by while such attacks occurred,” says Human Rights Watch.
On Sunday, Ibb witnessed a massive anti-government demonstration which turned into violent clashes when government thugs, attacked the protesters causing the death of one person and injuring dozens.
Jane Novak writes:
Today’s protest in Ibb is estimated at 200,000 and there’s new violence in Aden. Other estimates of injuries in Ibb go as high as 70.
Government supporters wielding knives and handguns attacked protesters in southern Yemen on Sunday, leaving one dead in the latest in weeks of demonstrations demanding the president step down.
Noha Zaki(@Izbella) tweets:
Regime-deployed thugs attack protesters, wounding 52, 6 critically wounded, in the “Gulf of Freedom” Ibb, #yemen.
Protesters in Ibb #yemen arrest thugs who confess that they were paid by government officials – very similar to the experience in #Egypt
On March 5, a video was uploaded on YouTube in which a Yemeni businessman named Wahb Eddine Al-Sururi claims that he was attacked by thugs because he resigned from the ruling party and participated in peaceful protests in Al Hodeidah.
On the Facebook page, Yemen Rights Monitors, Ahmed reports:
URGENT | Security forces assault the protesters with electric sticks and confiscate tents at the sit-in #Sanaa #yemen #ArabRev
Aden To Freedom also reports the use of live bullets to disperse young protesters on Monday morning:
Written by John Liebhardt
This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.
While Yemen's security forces once again fired live weapons and killed opposition demonstrators, politicians and protesters are attempting behind-the-scenes political manoeuvres to solve a growing stalemate after nearly a month of demonstrations aimed at ousting the country's government.
In Harf Sufyan, at least four protesters were killed when soldiers fired heavy weapons upon the thousands of anti-government demonstrators who gathered for Friday prayers. The area is known to support the Houthi rebels, who signed a peace treaty with the government in 2009 after fighting a five-year war. The Houthi leader, Abdel Malek al Houthi, supports protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh that have taken place throughout the country. Amnesty International says before Friday, March 4, an estimated 27 protesters had been killed since the beginning of demonstrations in mid-February.
A photo of a protester in Taiz District with the word “Leave” shaved into his head, from @AlaaIsam.
As word of the new deaths circulated, Tweeps responded:
@maguiremc: Is the #UN also going 2 do something about #Yemen?? Cannot keep quiet after gvmt bombs protesters in northern region.
@noora888: Pressures mounting on #Yemen President Ali Abdualla Saleh as over 100,000 people, incl. 2 major tribal chiefs join call 4 his resignation
@ArabsUnite: 22 Dead and 122 injured so far in #aden alone and #alisaleh still has the nerve to talk..#yemen #yf #aden #south
Protesters complain Saleh has lost touch with the people — especially in the southern part of the country — while the economy is falling in this oil producing nation. Thousands of protesters also routinely gather in Sanaa to support the president, whose ouster they say could lead Yemen back to instability, increase attacks by Al Qaeda and perhaps lead to succession by the country's once independent southern provinces.
Friday protests took place in other parts of the country, but no violence has been reported.
Here is a video of a protester cutting a large photo of President Saleh in Mansoorah district in Yemen.
Here is a video of Friday's demonstration in Maalla.
Dueling peace plans
To meet some opposition demands, Saleh said he would step down after the 2013 presidential elections. And this week the President announced a plan for dialog with protesters and opposition parties. The proposal calls for (among other things) ending all public forms of dissent, creating a national government of reconciliation and forcing Parliament to approve a new set of election laws. Yemeni opposition groups rejected the president's proposal, which they claim is just a stalling tactic by the government.
The President also rejected a plan put forward by some opposition groups that call for a guaranteed right to protest, investigations into violence against demonstrators and a timetable set in place this year for a transfer of power.
The Yemen Peace Project published an analysis on the protesters' plan from an “anonymous scholar” based in Sanaa:
There are two issues that are most interesting about the five points. One, what is missing. None of the points demand the removal of Saleh’s family members from government positions. This has been a primary demand from protesters from Sana’a to Taiz and Aden. Second, the group mentions political actors inside and outside Yemen, clearly referring to southern exile leaders. While president Saleh has often mentioned they would be welcomed in Yemen and included in the National Dialogue process, not many people in Yemen really see a role for al-Attas, al-Baidh or Ali Nasser, never mind can they assure their safety.
Tweeps also responded to the dueling political plans and the mood of the country.
Al-Zindani's new 8 point plan asks for unity goverment, end to public protests. Total non-starter for youth. http://bit.ly/hvyJk2 #Yemen #yf
@JNovak_Yemen: Saada, Amran, al Jawf organization affirms solidarity in move to overthrow #Saleh | Armies of Liberation: http://bit.ly/gSlaVo #Yemen
@peteskelley: No mention of Saleh stepping down, or elections just a Unity Govt – not sure this takes matters any further forward http://is.gd/uv49di
@snuraddin: I am Thrilled to see #people of #yemen write & comment about what's happening in a sense of #creativity #responsibility & #identity
@haroonmihtar: I have a feeling that something is going to erupt in #Yemen, there are no more dollars at any exchange.
@Abou_3ali: whatever happens after this revolution, 1big thing already changed: people are not afraid any more to speak out!! #yemen #yf
This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.
“Uprisings have been seen as secular and inspired by democratic goals.” Whether that will continue is an open question. “Powerful Cleric Joins Protest to Urge Islamic Rule in Yemen,” by Laura Kasinof in the New York Times, March 1:
SANA, Yemen — As thousands of demonstrators for and against President Ali Abdullah Saleh took to the streets on Tuesday, a cleric who is a former mentor of Osama bin Laden joined them to call for the replacement of the government with an Islamic state.
The cleric, Sheik Abdul Majid al-Zindani, has been on the United States Treasury Department’s list of “specially designated global terrorists” since 2004, suspected of fund-raising for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. His call was a marked contrast to the message of the rebellions that brought down the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt and now threaten the rulers of Libya, Bahrain, Oman and, to this point, Yemen, where uprisings have been seen as secular and inspired by democratic goals.
In the past, he has publicly opposed terrorism, if not jihad, or holy war, and his word as a spiritual leader carries considerable political and moral weight in Yemen….
Mr. Zindani spoke on an open-air stage before several thousand anti-government protesters, guarded by his own private security force of 10 men carrying AK-47’s and shielded from the scorching sun by two umbrellas wielded by aides. He called for Mr. Saleh to step down and described the fervor for reform as an opportunity. “An Islamic state is coming,” he said, drawing cries of “God is great” from some in the crowd.
He said Mr. Saleh “came to power by force, and stayed in power by force, and the only way to get rid of him is through the force of the people.”
For many years, he maintained ties with Mr. Saleh even though he was a founder of the Islamic opposition Islah Party….
Samir Ali, a 35-year-old mobile phone company worker, said that Tuesday was his first day joining the pro-government side. “Yes, we have corruption. Yes, there is oppression. But the government is trying to fix these things,” he said.
He also referred to a meeting on Monday between Mr. Saleh and Yemeni religious scholars. “People like me, independents, we know that the opposition has a point, “ Mr. Ali said. “But when the religious scholars say something, then we follow.”…
in a speech to about 500 students and academics at Sanaa University, [Yemeni President Ali Abdullah] Saleh appeared to be turning on his ally, claiming the U.S., along with Israel, is behind the protest movement.
"I am going to reveal a secret," he said. "There is an operations room in Tel Aviv with the aim of destabilizing the Arab world. The operations room is in Tel Aviv and run by the White House," he said….
The wave of political unrest sweeping across the Arab world is a "conspiracy that serves Israel and the Zionists," he added.
While some of their American friends have been frantically trying to convince the Israelis to join that particular conspiracy, their place in the region has in fact given them an attachment to stability above all else.
Written by Amira Al Hussaini
This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.
Thousands of protesters are marching across Yemen, in a Day of Wrath, to condemn Friday's attacks on protests in Aden and call for the end of the Ali Abdullah Saleh regime. According to Amnesty International, clashes on the day claimed the lives of four Yemenis, and left 26 wounded.
Saleh's call for national dialogue to end the protests, that have been taking place for weeks, have been snubbed by the opposition, who only want him and his regime out of power.
In the capital Sana'a, protests by both anti and pro-Saleh groups took place, while Saleh, who has been in power since 1978, accused both Israel and the US for standing behind the latest wave of protests across the Arab world.
On Twitter, the world continues to watch and react to developments in Yemen. Following are some reactions from Yemenis and tweeple paying close attention to developments on the ground:
This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.
Written by John Liebhardt
Weeks of pro- and anti-government protests in Yemen are beginning to change the country's political atmosphere.
Wednesday, February 23, President Ali Abdullah Saleh demanded security forces take action against violence among demonstrators. Saleh ordered the forces to physically separate pro- and anti-government groups to reduce the chance of fighting.
This came after pro-government “thugs” used knives and guns to attack students holding a sit-in against the government at the University of Sanaa, killing at least one person wounding up to 20 more. The violence prompted seven members of Parliament to resign.
On YouTube, belaquood uploaded a video on February 23, showing police separating protesters from different political factions. It's titled: “Thanks to the policemen for keeping away the thugs.”
The goodwill will certainly be tested. Protests took place on Thursday, February 24 in Sanaa, Aden and Hodeidah, the country's fourth-largest city. A bomb exploded in the southern town of Lawdar, killing at least one person.
Finally, 11 more MPs from the ruling party reportedly resigned.
@shephardm: Reuters reports that bomb during demonstration in Aden kills one, injuries two. City is heart of southern separation movement. #yemen. #yf.
@JNovak_Yemen: Bomb kills 1 in #Yemen (2 words- deniable proxies) #YF #Saleh http://bikyamasr.com/wordpress/?p=28451
In more Tweets from Thursday's events:
@alnitak250: Protests in all major cities in #Yemen today – In Sana'a anti-govt at university, pro-govt at Tharir sq – fears the two groups may clash #YF
@c0ri: Wow, #Yemen is at the boiling point. Today is more protesters that I've seen yet. I think they are where #Egypt was 2 weeks ago.
@ThomasFan2010 Power to the People!!! #Yemen!
@shephardm: Mood in anti-Saleh camp peaceful just before sunset. Just watched a wedding in fact. Tents, people chewing qat, shouting “Ali out.” #yemen.
Also, an unemployed man reportedly committed suicide Thursday by setting himself on fire.
Protesters in Yemen have called for political reforms and the resignation of Saleh, who they claim looks the other way regarding corruption, poverty and the violence in the country.
After the fall of Egypt's Honsi Mubarek, Saleh is the second-longest serving leader with strong ties to the United States to be targeted by protesters. The US is extremely worried about the number of Al Qaida members operating in the country, and Saleh has benefited from the United State's war on terrorism. The Associated Press reports that the US sent $ 155 million to Yemen in military aid in 2010.
On Friday, February 25 it looks like things may heat up again. Pro-government groups are planning a million-man march in Sanaa. A reporter from Yemen told the Guardian of worries the atmosphere could create hostility between the marchers and the students sitting-in on the outskirts of town. Unions also announced they would continue marching against the government, demanding more help for basic goods and to improve the security situation.
In other moves to try to placate the opposition, Saleh also suggested forming a government of national unity to form until the upcoming elections in 2013. Saleh has been in power since 1979, and he recently promised not to run in the 2013 Presidential election.
Commentator Jane Novak dismissed the rumors of a new government of national unity:
@JNovak_Yemen: #Yemen #AliSaleh's latest ploy to retain power, co-opt #protests is a “national unity gov't” http://yemenonline.info/news-1965.html #YF
Written by John Liebhardt
Breaking reports from Yemen's capital Sanaa claim that at least one university student has been killed and many others wounded in late-night fights with pro-government forces.
Witnesses say that pro-government “thugs” attacked the students with knives and rocks. Local media report that attackers fired weapons from buildings at the student protesters, who have been staging a sit-in near the university of Saana since Sunday, February 20. University students and other young people have been leading protests for nearly two weeks against the political and economic problems facing the country.
Yemen currently ranks 133 out of 169 countries on the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Index, lodged between Myannar and Benin. According to Transparency International, Yemen is tied with Libya as the second to last in an index on how people judge the level of corruption in Middle Eastern and North African countries.
As one commentator, Ibrahim Sharqieh of the Brookings Center in Doha put it:
“The unemployment rate and other economic indicators suggest that Yemen is near its breaking point.”
At the heart of some of the protesters' anger lies the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power since 1978. Saleh recently reiterated he would not leave until elections are held in 2013.
Tuesday night's violence came at the end of a day that saw thousands of protesters demonstrate in the city of Aden and and Sanaa, where five protesters were injured.
In an occasionally choppy film, uploaded by EBNSHAMS, student demonstrators are shown clashing with attacking “bullies.” Gunshots can clearly be heard.
Here is how the news was reported on Twitter:
@carlconradi: What's this about pro-government trying to erect tents near the University? Information? #Yemen #Sanaa
@Yemen_2011: #Sanaa shooting -pro-gov planted tents near Univ, students & qabilis tried 2 kick pro-gov out & shooting started – still chking on it #Yemen
@ReemQatar:Just Now : Two killed many others wounded amongst protest against the gov't in #Yemen. #MiddleEast #Libya
@Yemen_2011: URGENT NEWS: The number of protesters outside #sanaa uni injured by the pro-govt (thugs) has now risen to 10 one in a critical condition #yf
@tomfinn__: students were attacked by men carrying pistols, knives and guns, over 20 injured #Sanaa #Yemen #yf
@Yemen_2011: wow…jst getting info frm friend here- Hashid joined students at 5pm – involved in Univ shooting 30misn ago, shooting back @ gov suporters
@tomfinn__: I confirm 2 people were killed (shot dead) and at least 20 people injured at #Sanaa university #yf I just saw the 5th ambulance leaving
@tomfinn__: Spoke 2 another doctor at #Sanaa uni:1 student shot dead on the spot another shot in the head, at hospital in critical condition. #yf”
< ahref=”http://twitter.com/#!/ArabsUnite/status/40149183197487104″>@Yemen_2011: The 2cars driven by thugs that attacked the protesters in #sanaa number plates: mazda (2/6462) and the second mercedes (1/4121) #yf #sanaa
@shephardm:The first deaths in Sanaa. Witnesses saying two student protestors killed and many injured in late night clash with pro-Saleh forces. #yemen
@JebBoone:Just returned from #Sana'a Uni. After rock throwing exchange, Pro-Saleh thugs fire on rival demo. 1 dead, 1 critical, 20 injured.#Yemen #YF
@gregorydjohnsen: @prince640 I think it is unfair to blame this on the tribes – yes, temps rose, but reports suggest this was thugs not tribes
@Yemen_2011: What the flip goes on these dictators heads?! Any logical person would understand that if u kill ur ppl they are going to h8 u even more #yf