"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt


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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Protests in Yemen



Protests have spread to Yemen.


"Authorities flooded the streets of Yemen's capital with 2,000 police Wednesday to try to halt six days of Egypt-style demonstrations against the president of 32 years, a key U.S. ally in battling al-Qaida. One person was killed when police and protesters clashed in the southern port of Aden in the first known death during Yemen's political unrest.

"The police, including plainclothes officers, fired in the air and blocked thousands of students at Sanaa University from joining thousands of other protesters in the capital of the Arab world's most impoverished nation.

"A call spread via Facebook and Twitter urging Yemenis to join a series of 'One Million People' rallies on a so-called 'Friday of Rage' in all Yemeni cities, seeking the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"'We will remain in the streets until the regime departure,' according to a statement posted on Facebook. Copies signed by a group named the Feb. 24 Movement were distributed among youth via e-mail. The group is taking that name because organizers hope to have their biggest protest on that day next week.

"Taking inspiration from the toppling of autocratic leaders in Egypt and Tunisia, the protesters are demanding political reforms and Saleh's resignation, complaining of poverty, unemployment and corruption.

"Saleh has tried to defuse protesters' anger amid the unprecedented street demonstrations by saying he will not run for another term in 2013 and that he will not seek to set up his son, Ahmed, to succeed him in the conflict-ridden and impoverished nation.

[...]

"Saleh has become a key U.S. partner in battling al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist network's offshoot in Yemen. The group's several hundred fighters have battled Saleh's U.S.-backed forces and have been linked to attacks beyond Yemen's borders, including the failed attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner in December 2009. The U.S. military plans a $75 million training program with Yemen's counterterrorism unit to expand its size and capabilities in the nation's mountainous terrain.

"It's a difficult balancing act for Saleh, who has been criticized as being too close to the United States.

"Yemeni state TV reported that Saleh has been holding meetings since Sunday with heads of tribes to prevent them from joining the anti-government protests.

[...]

"About 120 judges held a protest in front of the Ministry of Justice in Sanaa, calling for an independent judiciary and better salaries. It was the first demonstration by judges in Yemen.

"Saleh's government is weak — its control barely extends beyond the capital and is dependent on fragile alliances with powerful tribes — and it faces other serious challenges."

These challenges include both north and south Yemen threatening to secede.

This is why ingratiating speeches from the president is not really an American foreign policy. I have posted before about Obama weakening American allies with his apologies and promises to not unilaterally...

The collapse of Yemen's current government would pretty much put an end to any resistance to the Islamic terrorists in the country. Following a collapse, the terrorist groups will undoubtedly involve themselves in the tribal conflicts, but if they don't become an active threat against the tribal leaders as a whole, then they will be quite secure. None of the local tribes could dislodge the terrorist groups by themselves should they have the desire. If the terrorist groups back the right tribal coalitions (not unlike what bin Laden did in Afghanistan), then Yemen could as safe and secure for al Qaeda and their ilk as Taliban-ruled Afghanistan was.

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