WILL THE VIOLENT RESPONSE SPREAD?
Posted by Chris on March 9, 2011
After the fall of Egypt and Tunisia, the world and particularly the Arab world was ecstatic at the possibility of a region-wide peaceful democratic solution that would sweep unpopular dictators out of power. Both Ben Ali and Mubarak fell rather peacefully; any violence by protesters or the government was relatively isolated in a sea of peaceful chanting and unique displays of unity. Indeed, as Marc Lynch notes, the revolutions brought a sense of unity to the entire region: “Yemenis don’t watch Tunisia as spectators but as participants.” Unfortunately, just as popular unrest was starting to grow in many Arab states, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi stuck back against his people. The violence employed by Qaddafi against the Libyan public has been brutal and shocking. Videos of murder have swept the internet while Al Jazeera has nearly nonstop coverage of what has turned into basically a civil war. Qaddafi will not all as easily as Ben Ali and Mubarak and it remains to be seen how the Libyan crisis will affect other demonstrations.
Outside of Libya, one might begin to feel concern about the situation in Yemen, where President Ali Abdullah Saleh is perhaps leaning towards the Qaddafi model of demonstration resistance. Although the President recently told soldiers to protect the demonstrators, more violence seems just around the corner for Yemen. While the capital of Sana’a has been generally quiet recently, the sea port of Aden has been very tense for weeks. Yet recently, a prison riot demanding the resignation of the President broke out in Sana’a, leaving one dead and 60 injured. Hours later, the army attacked demonstrators who had taken over Sana’a University, shooting rubber bullets and tear gas, leaving 98 people wounded. Soldiers also attacked a peaceful protest in Yemen’s version of Tahrir Square – Taghyeer Sqaure – leaving at leave 75 protesters wounded. Furthermore, protests have reached President Saleh’s home region of Dhamar – a development that could leave Saleh rather isolated.