Contagious Unrest Reaches YemenMarch 18, 2011
Over 50 people have been declared dead and more than 200 have been reported wounded following a March 18 government crackdown on protesters in Sanaa, Yemen. President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Yemeni National Defense Council have consequently declared a state of emergency, further fanning the flames of the protests nation-wide.
Similar to the recent uprisings in neighboring countries, the driving force behind these Yemen protests was the conspicuous corruption of those in power. The resignation of President Saleh and his politically empowered relatives is the objective. Another parallel between the Yemeni rebellion and those in Northern Africa is the apparent lack of unifying factors or collective goals among the protestors beyond the resignation of the government; citizens of all ages, incomes, and levels of political awareness are working together to dismantle the regime. This may result in obstacles similar to those that Egypt is currently facing—what direction does the country go together after these immediate goals are achieved?
Yemen’s government will use the protests as an opportunity to impose curfews and restrict media access, but these undertakings won’t be any easier than they’ve been elsewhere in the region. Saleh’s family is so entrenched in all branches of the country’s political structure that a route of civil cooperation or opposition-regime communication doesn’t seem plausible. The Yemen armed forces also fall under the umbrella of the Saleh family influence, which is already resulting in major factions within the army. The protests will likely only inflate until Saleh announces his departure.