Observed by: Mr. Alaa Isam
Well its on. Yemen's next protest is scheduled for February 3 and is expected to draw hundreds of thousands nationally, if not millions. This protest was called by Yemen's political party alliance, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP). The JMP decided on a gradation of colors, from pink to red, if demands are not met as protests progress; so Thursday's should be fuchsia, maybe mauve. Other colors already carry too much significance.
The opposition parties include the Yemeni Socialist Party, which formerly ruled south Yemen, and the Islah party, an Islamist reform party that ranges from hard-line Islamists to hard-line democrats and a strong tribal wing. Certainly elements of Islah (notably the Abdulmajid al Zindani wing) advocate the al Qaeda world view including jihad and child marriage. However it is those elements of the party that are in fact close allies of President Saleh and an essential component of his power. For more on this complicated relationship, see my 14 page report at the Gloria Center here.
Others in the JMP grouping include a small Zaidi (Shiite) party and, yes, Baathist and Nassirite parties. Individually their ideologies are stale but the JMP's unified platform since its inception in 2002 calls for social reform, corruption controls and the establishment of a proportional electoral system. The state reneged on promises of electoral reform following the 2006 presidential election, triggering a delay in Parliamentary elections scheduled for 2009, but there's been no progress since. The Saleh regime is going forward unilaterally with Parliamentary elections scheduled for April.
In typical fashion, the state announced pay raises for civil servants today, the desperate scrambling of desperate men. But its likely that the tactics that worked before to tamp down unrest won't work again; a new wages strategy promised during the 2005 fuel riots never was fully implemented, triggering teachers strikes in subsequent years.
In another typical move, Yemeni President Saleh made a major announcement inviting the opposition to a national dialog, but didn't actually invite them. Saleh has no credibility, being a habitual liar and all. And the only question about the planned protest is whether the security forces are going to open fire on the protesters, as they have done over the last three years, killing hundreds, in response to peaceful demonstrations by the southern independence movement.
AQAP (al Qaeda in the Arabian Penninsula) for its part responded to the events unfolding globally by declaring holy war on the Houthi rebels. Saleh has been in power since 1978, and like Mubarek was hoping to pass the throne to his son Ahmed, who is also head of Yemen's CT forces. Follow unfolding events on twitter @JaneNovak_Yemen or my (banned in Yemen) site Armies of Liberation.
Yemen Times: SANA’A, Jan. 30 – Yemen’s coalition of opposition parties, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), confirmed that this Thursday will be Yemen’s ‘Day of Anger’ after National Dialogue Committee talks failed to materialize. Mohammed Saleh, spokesman for the JMP, told the Yemen Times that the opposition has planned for protests around the country. “It will be huge, all over the country,” he said...Yaseen Saeed No’man, general-secretary of the opposition Socialist Party and a member of the National Dialogue Committee, said that the ruling party called for talks but that was to “waste time”. He told the Yemen Times that the JMP did not receive any official invitation to resume talks.
“The dialogue has stopped. It was only media talk and GPC talk and nothing official,” No’man told The Yemen Times. “Everything is getting more complicated now since the GPC repelled the National Dialogue talks. They formed the electoral committee and made constitutional amendments on their own.”