21 March 2011

Writing on the wall for Yemeni president?

I will freely admit that I know little about Yemen so I won’t insult anyone’s intelligence by trying to sound authoritative about events in that country.

Protests in Yemen have not received the same level of coverage as those in North Africa. There has been major protests against the regime of president, , who has been in power for 32 years. Ali Abdullah Saleh has responded to protests with extreme violence.

Now according to the Guardian and elsewhere it looks like Saleh will be consigned to the dustbin of history more quickly than Ghaddafi. Eleven military commanders, including a former confidante of the president have defected from the regime, promising to protect anti-government protesters in the capital.

Major General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a long-time confidant of the president, announced he would support "the peaceful revolution" by sending soldiers under his command to protect the thousands gathered in the capital demanding for Saleh to step down.

"According to what I'm feeling, and according to the feelings of my partner commanders and soldiers … I announce our support and our peaceful backing to the youth revolution," Ali Mohsen said via a video statement released before noon.

Ali Mohsen's pledge seems to have led to a stream of defections from the regime as ambassadors, regional governors, editors of government newspapers, prominent businessmen and senior members of the ruling party have either resigned or joined the protestors

"The regime is crumbling, there is very little support left for the president now," said Mohammed al-Naqeeb, head of the ruling party in Aden who resigned this afternoon.

Abdallah al-Qahdi, a senior commander from Aden who was fired from his position last week for refusing to put down a peaceful demonstration said that many regime insiders had been waiting for someone like Ali Mohsen to lead the way, and he expected most of the army will defect.

What does this all mean? To this keyboard pundit it sounds like Saleh will be history soon… but I said that about Ghaddafi a few weeks ago so what do I know? I have no idea how determined the president and those around him are to hang on to power or what military strength they have to call on.

I had not heard of Ali Mohsen before today. From what I can glean from the press he is not exactly a savoury character, having crushed previous rebellions in the country with extreme prejudice. Is his defection a cynical power play? Perhaps so. Would Yemen be a better place with him in charge? Perhaps not.

All I can predict is that there will be more bloodshed before all of this is over.


Prasad said...

I think this revolution will spread throughout the gulf countries

jams o donnell said...

It will give other protests impetus

Atlanta Roofing said...

He was a corrupt and repressive ruler who started gunning down his own people, so don’t think we should do anything to save him. Let him go down, although in this case not at all sure if there will be any kind of democratic tradition.

jams o donnell said...

He certainly deserves an end. I hope he does not decide on the "Gotterdamerung" that Ghaddafi has chosen for himself and thousands of his people