Yemen protests 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer)
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh urged his opponents Tuesday to join talks to
end a two-monthold political crisis as fresh clashes erupted between his troops
and protesters seeking to finish his 32-year rule.
'At least 12 killed in protest in Yemen's Taiz'
400 wounded in Yemen as protesters, police clash
Three people died and
15 were wounded in the capital Sanaa Tuesday when Saleh supporters clashed with
protesters and an army unit defending them, the Defense Ministry said.
Saleh opponent said Tuesday’s clashes between Saleh supporters and an army unit
defending protesters demanding his ouster was a government attempt to
assassinate Ali Mohsen, a key general who turned against the president last
“The issue appeared to be a trick to assassinate Ali Mohsen,
intermediaries and a group of tribal sheikhs,” a statement from Mohsen’s office
said, referring to tribal chiefs the government sent to mediate with the
Tuesday’s clashes came a day after 21 people were killed by
security forces and armed men in civilian clothes fired on protesters in Taiz,
south of Sanaa, and the Red Sea port of Hudaida.
With pressure mounting
on Saleh to negotiate his exit, the president accepted an invitation by Gulf
Arab states to talks with opposition representatives in Saudi Arabia, at a date
yet to be set.
“I promise that we will make every effort to return things
to normal through talks with rational people from the Joint Meetings Party
[Yemen’s main opposition coalition],” he told supporters in his hometown of
Sanhan. “We repeat our invitation to them to sit at the table of dialogue, and
we call for a restraint from violence.”
Leaders from core political
opposition groups have yet to give a response to the talks plan, saying they
would only answer when they received details.
“The United States has come
to the conclusion that Saleh can’t deliver,” said Uzi Rabi, director of the
Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University and author of the forthcoming book
Yemen The Anatomy of a Failed State
. Rabi was referring to a New York Times
report on Sunday that the US had quietly shifted its position on Saleh and
concluded the president was must be eased out of office.
with Yemen is that it’s basically a series of mini-states combined into one,”
Rabi said, noting that the impoverished Red Sea country is plagued in the north
by Iran-backed Shi’ite rebels, and in the south by secessionists and resurgent
Rabi said that, similar to another volatile Arabian
Peninsula state, Bahrain, Yemen could turn into the battleground for a proxy war
between Iranian and Saudi interests.
In his blog on The Atlantic website
on Monday, journalist Jeffrey Goldberg took issue with the view that “the Obama
administration’s decision to give up on Yemen’s president-for-life, a
superannuated autocrat who was our ally in the war against al-Qaida, means that
America is moving into a post-9/11 phase of foreign- policy-making.”
tend to see Obama’s decision to quietly pull the plug on Ali Abdullah Saleh as
the pragmatic, self-interested response of an American president who knows his
putative friend is done for,” Goldberg wrote.
“Obama paid the price for
backing Mubarak when most Egyptians had already realized their president was
kaput. The administration wasn’t going to make that same mistake
More than 100 people have been killed since anti-government
protests began in Yemen, including the March 18 killings of 52 anti-government
protesters by rooftop snipers in Sanaa.
On Tuesday, hundreds of security
troops and armed men again attacked a crowd of tens of thousands of protesters
in Taiz, residents said, and protesters responded by hurling rocks.
diplomats in Saudi Arabia have suggested Riyadh wants Mohsen to replace Saleh,
though the general has said he is not interested in taking power.
society opposition groups say Mohsen, 70, an Islamist, is tainted by his kinship
and long-time association with the veteran ruler.
A 2005 US diplomatic
cable published by Wikileaks said: “Ali Mohsen would likely face domestic as
well as international opposition if he sought the presidency... Yemenis
generally view him as cynical and self-interested.”
One of Washington’s
fears has been that Yemen could fragment along tribal and regional lines – a
specter Saleh has raised in speeches – allowing al-Qaida’s aggressive regional
wing based in the impoverished country to stage more attacks abroad.
think Saleh will fall within a week,” Yemeni analyst Ali Seif Hassan told
Reuters. “Especially after what happened in Taiz. The people cannot stand it any
more. They are not going to wait in their tents after they saw so many of their
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