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Contagious Unrest Reaches Yemen

March 18, 2011

Girls shout slogans during a rally demanding the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa March 18, 2011. Yemen's beleaguered president declared a state of emergency on Friday after gunmen including snipers shot dead at least 25 protesters at an anti-government rally, but denied his police forces were behind the violence. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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.

 

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