The muzzies are restless.
Tens of thousands of Yemenis demanded the president step down in nationwide protests Thursday, taking inspiration from the popular revolt in Tunisia and vowing to continue until their U.S.-backed government falls.
Yemen is the latest Arab state to be hit by mass anti-government protests, joining Tunisia and Egypt in calls for revolutionary change. The demonstrations pose a new threat to the stability of Yemen, the Arab world’s most impoverished nation, which has become a haven for Al Qaeda militants.
“No delays, no delays, the time for departure has come!” shouted protesters, calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled for nearly 32 years. Saleh’s government is riddled with corruption, has little control outside the capital, and its main source of income — oil — could run dry in a decade.
The protesters were led by opposition members and youth activists in four parts of the capital, Sanaa. In the southern provinces of Dali and Shabwa, riot police used batons to disperse people, while thousands took to the streets in al-Hudaydah province, an Al Qaeda stronghold along the Red Sea coast.
……(Hillary) Clinton said the U.S. supports efforts to address the underlying causes of extremism: poverty, corruption, social inequality and political divisions that have boiled into an insurgency. She said Yemen must stop the practice of child marriage and enact reforms.
In the past five years, U.S. military assistance to Yemen has totaled about $250 million. In 2010, military and civilian aid was almost evenly split and combined for about $300 million.
Military aid to Yemen would reach $250 million in 2011 alone, U.S. officials said, and Clinton said there will be additional development aid.
Yemen has been the site of numerous anti-U.S. attacks dating back to the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Aden harbor, which killed 17 American sailors
Last month, several CIA operatives were the targets of a failed bombing at a restaurant in a Sanaa suburb, and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was thought to be behind the attempted bombing of an American airliner landing in Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.
Giving foreign aid to Islamic terrorist havens. What a great idea. Jesustapdancingchrist. When will Washington ever figure out that feeding the maws of an Islamic nation-state will not transform it into an ally or a freer society.
Let’s fund the overthrow of these regimes, but be prepared to deal with the aftermath. The biggest mistake we made in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion, was training and helping the Taliban, and walking away; leaving the power vacuum wide open for the hardline assholes to come in and subjugate the country. The same mistake was made in Iran. Carter refused to back the Shah; the Ayatollahs came in and installed a violent Islamic theocracy.
The Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other terrorist organizations are going to take advantage of all this chaos. You can bet on it.
Tunisia has issued an international arrest warrant for ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, accusing him of taking money out of the North African nation illegally.
Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia after being driven from power this month by violent protests, is also being charged with illegally acquiring real estate and other assets abroad, Justice Minister Lazhar Karoui Chebbi said Wednesday.
Tunisia is also seeking the arrest of Ben Ali’s wife, Leila, as well as other family members. French media have reported that Leila left the country with millions in gold bullion.
Ben Ali, his wife and their clan have been widely accused of abusing their power to enrich themselves: In France, where family members are believed to have assets ranging from apartments to racehorses, the Paris prosecutors’ office has opened a preliminary investigation into their holdings.
The former president fled Jan. 14 after 23 years in power, pushed out by weeks of protests driven by anger over joblessness, repression and corruption. His swift departure was followed by riots, looting and unrest.
……The caretaker government includes some former opposition leaders, but many top posts — including prime minister and the ministers of defense, foreign affairs and the interior — were retained by Ben Ali cronies.
Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, who took that post in 1999 under Ben Ali and has kept it through the upheaval, has vowed to quit politics after elections in the coming months. But he insists he needs to stay on for now to guide Tunisia through a transition to democracy.
Tunisia’s so-called “Jasmine Revolution” has sparked scattered protests and civil disobedience in the Middle East and North Africa.
Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, Egypt’s top democracy advocate and a key challenger to President Hosni Mubarak, returned to the country Thursday night after declaring he was ready to lead the grass-roots protest movement to a regime change.
Violence escalated outside the capital Cairo. In the flashpoint city of Suez, east of Cairo, rioters — some wearing surgical masks or scarves over their faces to ward off tear gas — attacked the main fire station in downtown and looted it before torching it with firebombs.
Firefighters jumped out windows to escape the flames, as heavy black smoke billowed from the burning building. In the northern Sinai area of Sheik Zuweid, several hundred bedouins and police exchanged live gunfire, killing a 17-year-old man.
Social networking sites were abuzz with talk that Friday’s rallies could be some of the biggest so far calling for the ouster of Mubarak after 30 years in power. Millions gather at mosques across the city for Friday prayers, providing organizers with a huge number of people already out on the streets to tap into.
By Thursday evening, Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry Messenger services were interrupted, possibly a move by authorities to hamper protesters from organizing.
Egypt’s ruling party said it was ready for a dialogue with the public but offered no concessions to address demands for a solution to rampant poverty and political change heard in the country’s largest anti-government protests in years. Safwat El-Sherif, the secretary general of the National Democratic Party and a longtime confidant of Mubarak, was dismissive of the protesters at the first news conference by a senior ruling party figure since the protests began.
“We are confident of our ability to listen. The NDP is ready for a dialogue with the public, youth and legal parties,” he said. “But democracy has its rules and process. The minority does not force its will on the majority.”
The 82-year-old Mubarak has not been seen in public or heard from since the protests began Tuesday with tens of thousands marching in Cairo and a string of other cities.
In a region of the world saturated with hard-core muslim zealots, I’m wondering just what kind of a “change” they want to make. When it comes to rights in Arab countries, women, Christians, and Jews aren’t usually included.
These revolutions may produce a worse regime than the last. Besides, it’s not in the nature of muslims to encourage democracy over an a theocracy run by clerics who preach hate, terrorism, and Sharia law in the name of allah.