It was a blindside to many in both Yemen and the international community who were anticipating a break of peace, a winding down from the tension left over from the older and more recently renewed protests against Yemen’s government and its head, the manipulative President Ali Abdullah Saleh who has been in office for over 32 years. Violence again ruled the streets incessantly as dozens of unarmed protesters turned up dead due to gunshot wounds or artillery strikes.
More corpses are still turning up with both confirmed and unconfirmed reports of violence, threatening the very fragile, if not already broken, stability in Yemen’s society that could potentially lead to a civil war.
What just happened?
President Saleh, who is still recovering in Saudi Arabia’s capital of Riyadh from injuries sustained from an explosion at his presidential palace, had bowed to the opposing side that has been demanding political and economic reforms including Saleh’s resignation by authorizing his Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi to negotiate the transfer of power under the current constitution and the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative.
When all seemed “alright” and only minor scuffles between security forces and peaceful demonstrators were reported to be the only ‘casualties’, violence again broke loose.
This spate of violence has effectively cut off any further negotiations between the Yemeni government and its people, once again raising tension and a iron barrier.
The lack of negotiations also ultimately leads to President Saleh’s failure to procure immunity in exchange for the early presidential elections under the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative.
It all seemed to have started on Sunday when protesters suddenly began throwing rocks at security forces, though if it was in response to government troops or not is still unclear, which led to a fierce and brutal response by the soldiers.
The military response included utilizing snipers and mortars which has killed a fair number of people and injured many more.
Many are pointing the finger of blame to a political war being fought between the most powerful factions in Yemen that include the Saleh faction, defected general Ali Mohsin al-Ahmar who sided with the protesters and existing tribes in Yemen.
With the absence of Saleh and the presence of protesters, the balance of power has begun to change radically.
The protesters who threw rocks may have most likely been a fraction of the protesters who were confined to camps by advice of General al-Ahmar and his backers for their own safety as a head-on collision with security forces would have most likely led to violence.
The capital of Sana’a is riddled with checkpoints, barriers and posts run by both the Saleh faction and the defector al-Ahmar’s soldiers which makes the sudden movement of protesters seem altogether even more suspicious and sickening once one considers that the protesters were used as pawns in a political play by exploiting the local society’s general view of martyrdom being glorious.
Some analysts believe that General al-Ahmar, or others involved, used the protesters to disrupt proceedings as the negotiations may not have been favorable for their futures in a new Yemen created by the negotiations.
However others are blaming the Saleh faction for the recent violence saying that the government’s soldiers shot first.
(Cover Photo: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters)