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More street protests in Yemen - is this the next 'Egypt'?

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Dave Griffith
Dave Griffith
Yemen Protests.jpg

Unrest continues to simmer in Yemen with hundreds of protesters attempting to march on the presidential palace getting blocked by lines of police.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been making concessions in recent weeks in an attempt to stave off a peoples revolution similar to Egypt’s and Tunisia.

The protesters decided to up the ante and march on the palace in the capital Sana’a, in the most direct challenge yet to President Saleh’s rule. It is understandable that the police had to block it off. The day the protestors get let through by police the world will know that another authoritarian leader has fallen.

For now President Saleh is holding on and holding talks with opposition leaders in the hope of clinging to power.

In his favour is that he is strongly backed by the United States of America and Saudi Arabia. They will be doing everything they can behind the scenes to prop up the Saleh regime.

The reason that Saleh has such powerful allies is the strategic location of his country on the horn of Africa at the entrance of the Red Sea and the shipping lanes that lead to the Suez Canal. President Saleh has also been active in combating the threat of islamic freedom fighters.

Usually the West labels all such fighters as terrorists and usually like to throw in that they are al Qaeda or at best al Qaeda linked. Many of these fighters have noble intentions but history has shown to date that when they get in charge the result for the ordinary people is just a different brand of oppression.

President Saleh was due to visit the United States later in February but has postponed the visit “due to the current circumstances in the region,” according to the state news agency Saba.

Saleh will have read the Dictators Survival Guide and knows that the only time a dictator should leave the country is when all hope of power is gone and it is time to cash in his billions and retire somewhere hot and sunny. Junkets to America are not a priority at the moment.

We have to wonder though if the United States is glad for his ‘no show’ or even if they secretly pushed for it. Dictators in Africa and the Middle East are an endangered species at the moment.

Having President Obama doing photo opportunities with a chap who has made an art form out of oppressing opposition would not be a good look for the US government.

It is a tad ironic that these regimes in North Africa and the Middle East have been key allies of the West for years and their crimes swept under the carpet and overlooked because of greater strategic issues.

Now the victims of this oppression have risen up, harnessing the power of the internet to stay united and strong and put the world spotlight onto what has actually gone on in coutries like Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen over recent decades.

No longer is it just Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch trying to speak about what is really happening, and getting little coverage for their message in the mainstream media. It is thousands of ordinary citizens who cannot be ignored, who for the first time in their lives have a voice.

After decades of oppression their unity has brough them the power to change their world without guns or violence.

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