Winds of Arab revolt reach Yemen

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of the Yemeni capital yesterday to demand the end of the three-decade rule of its President in the latest sign of rebellion sweeping the Arab world.

With satin pink sashes around their shoulders and carrying pink placards to mirror the so-called "jasmine revolution" of Tunisia, demonstrators called for an "end to the regime" of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"Game over," read one banner, carried by a 20-year-old protester from the University of Sanaa, who shouted "We want change like Tunisia."

Despite the size of the crowds, believed to be the largest political demonstration since Mr Saleh came to power in the Arab Peninsula's poorest country in 1978, riot police and soldiers kept a low profile.

"No major clashes or arrests occurred, and police presence was minimal. The government strongly respects the democratic right for a peaceful assembly," a government spokesman said.

Even before the outbreak of popular anger, Mr Saleh faced more challenges than most: a secessionist movement in the south, an on-off rebellion in the north, and a resurgent branch of al-Qa'ida that has entrenched itself in remote parts of Yemen.

But analysts suggest that it is precisely the disparate and chaotic nature of the opposition that will prevent a Tunisian-style revolution from sweeping Mr Saleh from power.

The President, whom many accuse of overseeing a corrupt regime that has failed to tackle economic grievances, has reacted to the unrest by backtracking on plans to seek another term in 2013, and fending off accusations that he will try to hand power to his son.

He has also promised to slash taxes and cap food prices, while raising salaries of civil servants and the military – probably to ensure the army's loyalty. In a speech on Sunday, the President asked for "the pardon of Yemeni people, if I have made a mistake or failed in my duty," according to state news agency Saba.

Yemen remains desperately poor, and its oil reserves, which make up 70 per cent of the government's revenue, are dwindling, denting the government's ability to dispense patronage and quell dissent. Nearly half of all Yemenis live in poverty, and unemployment is at least 35 per cent. Flooding and conflict have made thousands homeless.

In Tunisia, an educated but disaffected middle class called for change. Social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, were crucial in galvanising people to join the uprising.

Yemen is still largely a tribal society, its middle class is much weaker and less politically savvy than its more prosperous regional peers, and the internet has a much more limited reach.

Washington has thrown money at Yemen – making up in part for lost oil revenues – and is keen for the government to remain stable to avoid leaving a vacuum that al-Qa'ida could fill.

The main challenge to Mr Saleh, analysts say, would come if the various opposition groups were to look beyond their own grievances to mount a broader challenge. Until then, it looks as if it could take more than mass protests to remove Mr Saleh from his 32-year rule.

Suggested Topics
News
people
News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
people
Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes