"Let nothing human be alien to me"- Terence

Thursday, February 17, 2011

More updates from the Ground

I just found this blog, which is kind of embarrassing*- An American Southerner in the Imam's Mafraj.   It is run by Jeb Boone, managing editor at the Yemen Times.  The Times, by the way, is decidedly not government-run, or even quasi-regime friendly, like The Observer.

In the current post, Boone talks about what is happening in San'a vs. what the media is reporting, and sees some differences.

Wednesday, Feb. 16: A few colleagues went to both old and new campuses of Sana’a University today and all of them said there were nothing but pro-government demos. Somehow, we end up with this gem form the AP. They claim that THOUSANDS of policemen blocked THOUSANDS of student protesters from Sana’a University from joining THOUSANDS of OTHER student protesters somewhere else in Sana’a. That’s rich…and impossible. This AP article firmly establishes the Yemeni alternate universe, somewhere in a galaxy far, far away. Maybe in that Yemen the Russian Club has reasonably priced drinks? No, impossible.
Keep in mind that this is only in Sana’a. I can confidently say that demonstrations in Taiz and Aden are quite large and the government is probably trying to contain them more violently. What is actually going on in Taiz is a mystery, I don’t know of any journalists at all working in that city. From the pictures I’ve seen and the things I’ve read earlier in the week, I can confidently say that if a revolution is going to take place in Yemen (its still probably won’t) its going to start in Taiz. By all (credible) accounts, the protests in Sana’a are winding down. There are plans for more protests next week. Look to those demonstrations to see if the grassroots movement is really going to take hold in Sana’a.
Now, in his twitter feed today, he says "Thousands riot in Sana'a. Things have changed in the capital." and that the "largest" demo turned into a "riot/all-out battle with Saleh supporters". 
 So it does look like things are changing, and maybe speeding up.   I don't know if Salih really thinks that repression is the way to go, but it is looking like this.  I know the spin can be that the counter-demonstrations are just a manifestation of the passion the people have for him, but these are always manipulated (which isn't to say he has zero support, of course).  
I would reckon that the lesson Salih took from Egypt is that you can't let these things gain a critical mass; that they have to be broken early.   Sadly, from his perspective, at least, this was the correct lesson.  But the "fighting back" is the interesting thing here.  The demonstrators aren't showing fear, and that could encourage more people to support them.  No matter where you are, there are very few who really root for the favorite.  
As a side note, something I've been struggling with the last couple of weeks is nomenclature.  "Demonstrators" or "protestors" sound weak and awkward.  "Revolutionaries" might be a bit huge, and is annoying to type.  "Revolters" is right out the window.  Anyone have any ideas? 


  1. American history is found of using "rebels" for discussions about the Revolution...

  2. What's happening with the US drone attacks in the north? Have the revelations that it was US, not Yemen, behind the drone attacks fueled any part of the uprisings?

  3. Amanda: it would certainly be interesting if it did...I've heard a lot of people say that one of the tipping points for Egypt's unrest is that not only was the government dictatorial, oppressive, etc. but that they were also seen as collaborators with Israel and the US, and it was that particular divergence from public opinion that really did it for them. I don't know if that might be overstating it a little, but it will certainly be interesting to see if because of the drone attack revelations, the Saleh administration starts to gain a reputation for being a collaborator, despite its unfriendly stance on Israel.

  4. My comrades have been calling them the antis and the pros (especially as the pros are being paid for their demonstrating).

  5. But I know lots of people who are half a world away.

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