Islamists and tribesmen happy with army support and young protesters sad for “stealing” their revolution.
By Nasser Arrabyee/22/03/2011
The Yemen crisis has become very close to the end, after the popular revolution, against the 33-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, has gained an unprecedented support from powerful army generals and influential tribal leaders.
But a safe and honored exit for Saleh, and peaceful and smooth transfer of power from him to a national council for running the country until elections are held, is still the most important thing that a lot of effective people including those who defected, want to do.
Although none of them has any control on the hundreds of thousands simmering with rage in the streets and demanding only one thing . Saleh must go now.
It’s extremely difficult to guess what’s going to happen in the flowing day let alone next Friday after rival tanks and armored vehicles were deployed in the streets of the capital and around the presidential palace.
The protesters are determined to march to the presidential place next Friday, which is called “the Friday of Creeping”, according to a statement attributed to the young people of revolution on Tuesday March 22nd ,2011.
The spokesman of the Islamist-led opposition coalition which include the Islamists, Socialist, and Nasserites, Mohammed Qhtan said “ We would creep to the presidential palace, with open chests, and you (Saleh) can kill whatever you like to kill.”
Qahtan, a moderate Islamist leader, was commenting Tuesday on a Saudi-led gulf mediation that suggests President Saleh should step down at the end of this year when presidential elections must be held without him participating.
“The young people in the street can not wait minutes let alone days,” Qahtan said.
The President Saleh in a meeting with the remaining military commanders on Tuesday warned from a civil war after general Ali Muhsen, the second powerful military commander after Saleh himself, declared his support for the revolution on Monday March 21st, 2011.
Many military commanders, and tribal leaders declared their support on the same day after Ali Muhsen who is very influential among military and tribal people all over Yemen not only his tribe Hashed, the same tribe of President, and the most power tribe in Yemen.
The top leader of Hashed, Sadek Al Ahmar, declared his support for the revolution after general Ali Muhsen.
Sadeq Al Ahmar was the last to declare his support for the popular revolution of the 10 sons of the departed Abdullah Al Ahmar, who was always helping President Saleh in similar difficult situations, but not “revolutions.”
Trying to copy his father in helping Saleh, Sadeq said on Tuesday after declaring his support for the revolution “I’m ready to mediate between Saleh and the opposition to a find a safe and honored exit for president Saleh.”
On contrary, his brother Hamid Al Al Ahmar, the billionaire Islamist leader who grooms himself for presidency after Saleh said “ Saleh must surrender to justice” after the bloody Friday March 18th, 2011, on which about 50 protesters were killed by armed men believed to be loyal to Saleh.
Regardless of all officials and diplomats who resigned, there was a special celebration last Monday among the protesters especially the Islamists and the tribesmen after a general like Ali Muhsen and a tribal leader like Sadeq declared support for the revolution.
And before these two symbols: the protesters gained a similar support from the most famous religious leader, Abdul Majid Al Zandani, who left the capital Sana’a earlier this month to his tribe Arhab after he lost protection from his ally Ali Abdullah Saleh who has been always defending him from United Sates who wants him as a global terrorist.
Despite all that gladness and happiness among the Islamists and tribesmen, a lot of young people who dream of a good future under modern and secular state, were very sad and shocked.
“Ali Muhsen is the general who ignited the war of 1994, and he is the main partner of Abdul Majid Al Zandani who established the Al Qaeda in Yemen.” Muhsen Aydh, one of the young protesters, said.
“The tank of Ali Muhsen, and the beard of Al Zandani, and the Jambya (traditional dagger) of Al Ahmar, are not at all a revolution but only competition for the loyalty to the Saudi royal family.”
“The president Ali Abdullah Saleh has succeeded in marketing these three men, Ali Muhsen, Abdul Majid Al Zandani, and Hamid Al Ahmar with their blood-stained hands, to tell the world: these are the leaders of Yemen’s revolution against freedom and democracy.” Ayadh added.
Two young women : Iman and Reem also refused these three men totally. Iman said in her face “Please tell me where can I find Afghan-style Abaya (clothes covering all the body) so that I can go out from now on?”.
And Reem answered “Do not worry, they will distribute to everyone with beards also to our men, and barbers’ shops will be closed.”
Fuad Al Salahi, sociologist professor at Sana’a university said “ There must have been a coordination between leaders of the Islamist party Islah, and Hashid tribe and the Saudi officials, this is a tragedy and it’s worse than killing the protesters.”
“Even the resignations were only a play to pave the way for that deal.” The professor added.
Arwa Othman, a writer and feminist activist said, “ We must continue the sit-in until the regime and all its members and aides collapse even if they were prophets.”
The protester Mohammed Al Makaleh, who is a writer and socialist leader said , “ Before the coalition of opposition was proclaimed more than 6 years ago, the Islamist party, Islah, was in an alliance with the same military and tribal leaders.”
“After they (military and tribal) stayed in a vacation during about 6 years, now the old allies are coming back for the harvest,” he said in a clear reference to the return of Ali Muhsen and Al Ahmar and Al Zandani.
The Islamists and Socialists and Nasserites proclaimed their coalition about six years ago amid objections from these tribal and military leaders for ideological reasons.
The protester Khalid Saeed, sai “ I left the sit-in and returned home when I saw protesters celebrate the joining of military and tribal leaders whom we have been complaining from.”
Fekri Qasem, editor-in-chief of Hadith Al Madina independent weekly newspaper ironically commenting on joining of these three men, said, “ What’s left now is Muamar Al Gaddafi,to join the Yemeni youth peaceful revolution.”
The declared support of the second most powerful military commander for the “Yemen’s popular revolution” was likely coordinated to find out a solution for a peaceful transfer of power and a secured and honored exit for the President Saleh. And it does not necessarily mean confrontations between the republican guards and armored forces.
The Yemeni supreme council of defense said Monday it is against any coup or overthrow on the constitutional legitimacy represented by President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The foreign minister Abu Bakr Al Querbi flew late Monday to the Saudi king in Riyadh where Saudi-led regional mediation is going on.
Chaired by President Saleh, the council said it would be in a permanent meeting to follow up the military and security developments after important military commanders declared their support for the popular revolution against the President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule.
Before this meeting, a military statement published by the state-run media said, the armed forces would remain with the constitutional legitimacy and its president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Earlier in the day, the president Saleh addressed a gathering of tribesmen from Safan and Mankha west of the capital by saying “ We are as steadfast as the mountains of Nukum and Ayban and the majority of the people is with the security and stability.” Nukum and Ayban the highest two mountains around the capital Sana’a from the east and west respectively.
Troops with tanks and armored vehicles from the republican guards which are led by President Saleh’s son, Ahmed, were deployed late Monday, after the troops of the armored forces which are led by general Ali Muhsen were deployed around the anti-Saleh protesters earlier Monday and Sunday.
Earlier in the day, in an big turning point in the Yemeni crisis, the military commander of the northern region, Ali Muhsen, declared his support for the peaceful revolution against the 33-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The step came after the general Muhsen’s army (armored division1) was deployed around the sit-in camps nearby the university from Sunday 20 March 2011.
The troops of the armored division1 replaced the central security forces of the general Yahya Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, President’s Saleh’s nephew.
“On my behalf and on behalf of my colleagues in the armed forces, We are declaring our peaceful support for the peaceful revolution of the young people and their demands, and we will perform our duties fully in maintaining the security and stability in the capital and wherever our military units are, beside our brothers from the security forces,” The general said.
General Muhsen, one of the President Saleh's relatives (cousin not half brother as misreported by western media ) is considered the second most powerful military commander after Saleh. He was the main pillar of Saleh’s rule since Saleh took power in 1978.
General Muhsen has good reputation and good relations with most of Yemen’s tribal and religious leaders (he is religious himself).
His support to the popular revolution today, does not necessarily mean he has become an enemy of his longstanding commander and relative and does not mean armed confrontation between the two army divisions: armored forces of Ali Muhsen and republican guards of Saleh’s son Ahmed. At the same time, it does not mean conspiracy between the two powerful men against the protesters but it likely means, coordination for peaceful transfer of power and secure exist of Saleh.