Friday, 11 March 2011

New escalation in Yemen’s protests, fears of confrontations

By Nasser Arrabyee/12/03/2011

At least three people were injured in clashes with hands and sticks and firing to air between anti-regime protesters and owners of houses close to the sit-in tents at the neighborhood of the university in the Yemeni capital Sana’a, said local residents and protestors late Friday.

In an unprecedented escalation, the number of the sit-in tents of anti-regime protestors notably increased and extended beyond the concrete barriers put a few days ago by the police to prevent any increase of tents.

Some local residents have successfully built walls to prevent protestors from extending to their neighborhoods. With the sentence “ closed for the sake of calm” written on one of the walls such as the one close to Al Qadisyah traffic circle.

Some local residents were relatively successful to convince the protestors not to install tents close to their houses like those in Al Rebat street.

“We agreed with the local residents not to install tents but in return they will not build walls,” said the 28-yearl old protestor, Najeeb Abdul Rehman “They were telling us: we do not want our women to be searched when they come and go and we agreed with because we now the Yemeni society and it’s social sensitivities.”

The sit-in tents increased today while tens of thousands of worshipers (about 50,000) who wanted to show their support, were attending the Friday sermons in the neighborhood of university, or Change Square, as it is dubbed by the protestors.

Surprisingly, the sit-in tents of the supporters of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the town’s main square, also notably increased over the last few days in Tahrir where many roads were blocked because of the new tents like the blocking of Jamal street.

Also, tens of thousands of Saleh’s supporters attended the Friday sermons in Tahrir to support those who stay in their tents day and night, and who started even before the anti-protestors.

This Friday was different from almost all the previous ones in terms of numbers of those in the streets whether anti or pro protestors, and also in terms of the general atmosphere of tensions, fears and worries.

It came only one day after President Saleh offered his third initiative since the protests that demand his ouster started more than one month ago.

Opposition figures said it’s too late for initiatives now, and protestors in the streets completely refused it and insisted on Saleh’s ouster.

When Saleh announced his third initiative Thursday, March 9th, which called for a referendum on a new constitution during 2011, he said, “I’m sure the opposition will refuse this initiative as they did with the previous ones, but I’m announcing it to the people instead just for the discharge of my responsibility.”

It was understood by a lot of Yemenis and observers that Saleh was saying this is the last attempt and this is what all he has.

More than 40,000 people including tribal and religious leaders came on Thursday from all over the country to support Saleh and listen to his last initiative. Many of those tribesmen joined the pro-Saleh protestors and installed new tents in Tahrir.

And with more tribesmen from outside Sana’a joining both rival protests, and with more incitement and hatred against each other and even sometimes by religious fatws as each side has its own clerics and religious leaders who ultimately decide what’s wrong and what’s right, the people in Sana’a have started to fear of any possible armed confrontations.

Some people started to buy more food stuff from the market and store them, and some others have left Sana’a to the their villages and some are packing their belongings.

“My village is much better than here, it’s our safe haven for my kids,” said the 50-year old shopkeeper Saeed Murshid, the father of 8 girls and one boy.

“I always remember my grandfather, who advised me not to live in Sana’a, he would always tell me Sana’a is very dangerous: people there are always conflicting over the power and the money,” said Murshid who was planning to return to his village with his family.

No comments:

Post a Comment