On the Friday Day of Rage in Yemen protesters turned out in record numbers. Almost 100,000 turned out at Sanaa university alone. This has been the site of daily protests and also violent crackdowns for some time now.
But there were large rallies in other cities as well including Taiz and the port city of Aden. Protesters have been demanding electoral reforms and that president Ali Saleh step down.
Saleh himself has promised a series of reform, including a pledge not to run for reelection and, yesterday, a promise of a new constitution and referendum by the end of the year. But the next election is in 2014 and protesters want him to leave now.
After some violent crackdowns protesters want nothing but the regime to leave. Saleh is a firm ally of the U.S. Not a peep from the U.S. about him stepping down. However, pressure from protesters may eventually prevail but it is certainly not a certainty.
The revolutionary changes seem to have stalled in the Arab world. As the case of Libya shows, protests can turn into civil war. One wonders what the U.S. and other western nations will do if this type of scenario should happen in Saudi Arabia or Yemen or Jordan. Gadaffi is disliked by the west and also by the Arab league. The Arab league dislikes him because Gadaffi continually criticized lack of action by the league to advance Palesinian rights among other things. Of course Gadaffi himself abandoned his support for radical Palesinian groups in order to woo the west and market his oil.
But what if Saudi Arabia had to put down mass protests or part of the country became rebel held as has happened in Libya. Perhaps the U.S. and others would offer the Saudi King some sort of golden parachute. However, would the king prefer that to the black gold he already has! Agencies