Socialist Worker

Yemen's dictator is on the ropes

by Tim Nelson
Issue No. 2240

The Yemeni people have taken to the streets, calling for the resignation of the dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In response, Saleh, who has been in power for three decades, has announced he will step down in 2013 and that his son, who many expected to take over, will not seek office.

However, while Saleh is publicly calling for talks with opposition leaders, his security forces and hired thugs are suppressing demonstrations.

In the southern city of Aden on Sunday, police shot a 17-year old man dead. He is the 9th protester to be killed since the protests began.

On the mouth of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, Yemen is strategically vital for access to the Suez Canal. The US considers Saleh a key ally in the Middle East.

While the latest wave of protests were inspired by the mass movements across the Middle East, Saleh’s regime has been embattled for some time.

Last year millions of people in the south took to the streets, demanding succession from the north. These protests were violently suppressed. Before 1990, the north and south were separate countries.

The US backed the north while the south was in the Russian sphere of influence. After the Cold War they unified, but a civil war broke out in 1994.

This saw the imposition of the dominance of the northern government based in Sana’a.

What is significant about the current uprising is that resistance has not been restricted to the south.

Protests have also taken place in Sann’a, meaning that Saleh’s corrupt and brutal dictatorship has never seemed weaker.

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