"Let nothing human be alien to me"- Terence

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fearing a Crackdown

Will at the Yemen Peace Project, who has been blogging throughout the day, fears a crackdown in cities outside of the capital.

Ta’iz especially is home to strong anti-regime and anti-northern sentiments. New tweets are claiming much larger crowds there than in the capital, perhaps as many as 200,000. If that’s the case, we might still expect a response from security forces.
For that matter, what about demos in the south? In ‘Aden, Abyan, and Hadhramawt, state violence is almost commonplace. I’ll still be surprised if those places avoid a crackdown today.
I think he is right to be leery, especially when it comes to the south.  Salih has shown little tolerance for the Southern Movement, and even if the protests are in union with the ones in the capital, it will be easy for him to dismiss them as people trying to tear apart the state.  The protestors asking for political reforms are something he can deal with; not so those asking to split the Yemen state in two. 
What will be interesting is if he manages to conflate the two, which is something that he surely sees as an option.  If these protests do continue on a weekly basis, or more, and if this happens in conjunction with his cutting deals with opposition politicians (as opposed to regular people), he can paint them as dangerous agents of chaos, and keep the status quo largely unchanged.  
I would also imagine he feels less constrained in the south, as well as in Ta'iz and Ibb.  San'a is a strange enough place for foreign journalists and analysts; these cities with Star Wars' names might as well be on the moon.  Explaining regional dynamics in a country such as Egypt, which everyone knows, has been a bewildering and almost unmade journey.  Salih is probably pretty sure it won't happen in Yemen, so he might feel he has more of a free hand.  

No comments:

Post a Comment