For months, thousands of demonstrators have been waging a campaign to usurp the long-standing regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Envoys from the United Nations and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ave arrived in Yemen on Monday, following the recent spike in violence on Sunday in which 26 people were killed and hundreds injured. Sunday saw the worst violence in the country since March, but protest leaders have issued rallying cries urging more demonstrations on Monday. The officials from the UN and GCC have flown to Sanaa, Yemen to hopefully help organize the peaceful transfer of power from President Saleh to Vice President Abd Rabo Mansou Hadi. The arrangement was initially indicated to be accepted by Saleh but recent events have led ot his refusal to sign, stating that he will return and finish his term.
President Saleh is recuperating in Saudi Arabia from a June bombing on his palace. With thousands of protesters conducting a 7-month sit-in to call for his resignation, many suggest that his removal from Yemen has actually ensured his Presidency and has also led to the impasse of the demonstrations. Without the injuries suffered from the bombing, Saleh would not have been evacuated to Saudi Arabia, miles away from the threat of protesters and further attacks. So saying, without such pressure and miles away from any threat, there seems to be no reason for Saleh to resign or implement any reforms to appease demonstrators.
“Protestors were interecepted on Zubairy Street and in Al Qa’a district where the forces show no mercy.” – Saleem Munasar, anti-Saleh demonstrator
As in Libya, where Qaddafi had essentially promised to commit a Holocaust of his own people, the events of Yemen have demonstrated the ruthless hunt by security forces, as well as the human rights violations being committed. Many witnesses have said that they have seen .50-caliber machine guns being used against unarmed, peaceful demonstrators. The opposition National Council has condemned the attacks and are calling on the international community to take action against Saleh’s regime. With the only evidence of foreign involvement being limited to Libya, where rebels are still being pushed back by loyalist forces in some locales, the Yemenis protests will be on their own for the foreseeable future.
“This revolution is peaceful, peaceful! We are here for our beloved martyrs. We will not back down!” – Demonstrators at Zubairy Street
Moreover, the UK-based charity organization known as Oxfam has warned that Yemen is at a breaking point and faces a food crisis. Oxfam has warned that 7.5 million Yemenis, approximately 1/3 of the population, are going hungry. The political stalemate of Yemen has left the government in paralysis, which has prompted a fuel crisis that has brought the economy on the verge of collapse. With the demonstrations leading to chronic violence, the number of wounded and needy will increase, further damaging the already fragile country.
“We were just in the car on Hayel Street (near the fighting). I stepped out to get some food and left my two boys in the car and I heard the older one scream. The litle one was shot through the head.”– Father
In retrospect, Yemen is politically paralyzed as Saleh clings to power from a hospital bed in Saudi Arabia, allowing the turmoil to breed widespread violence and bloodshed. Many agencies have suggested that the chaotic state of Yemen could strengthen the Yemen branch of al Qaeda and heighten the risk of militant attacks on US and Saudi targets abroad, which will be a high risk factor if the international community ever plans on taking direct action within the borders of Yemen. Clearly, the situation in Yemen is igniting much conflict that could soon involve the international community. With such chaos looming, the UN and GCC will not be able to implement a peaceful transition of power and the international community will be forced to decide whether further actions must be taken.