Thousands of Yemeni police confront protesters
Yemen sent 2,000 policemen into the streets of the capital to try to put down days of protests against the President of 32 years, a key US ally in battling al Qaeda.
Sanaa: Yemen sent 2,000 policemen
into the streets of the capital today to try to put down days
of protests against the president of 32 years, a key US ally
in battling al Qaeda.
The policemen, including plainclothes officers, fired
in the air and blocked thousands of students at Sanaa
University from joining thousands of other protesters
elsewhere in the capital who were holding a sixth straight day
Taking inspiration from the toppling of autocratic
leaders in Egypt and Tunisia, Yemen`s protesters are demanding
political reforms and the ouster of President Ali Abdullah
Saleh. Their central complaints are poverty, unemployment and
Yemen is a conflict-ridden and impoverished nation.
Its president has become a crucial US partner in battling
al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terror network`s
offshoot in Yemen.
The group`s several hundred fighters have battled
Saleh`s US-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 US military plans a USD 75 million training
program with Yemen`s counter terrorism unit to expand its size
and capabilities in the nation`s difficult mountain terrain.
It`s a difficult balancing act for Saleh, who has been
criticised as being too close to the US.
Now facing unprecedented street demonstrations, Saleh
has tried to defuse protesters` anger by saying he will not
run for another term in elections in 2013 and that he will not
seek to set up his son to succeed him.
Nonetheless, protesters chanted slogans against the
president`s son, Ahmed today.
Witnesses said police chained the university`s iron
gates in order to prevent students from pouring into adjacent
They said at least four protesters were wounded in
scuffles with police.
Demonstrations are also taking place in the port city
of Aden and in Taaz, where thousands of protesters shouted,
"Down ... down with Ali Abdullah Saleh."
Saleh`s weak government whose control barely extends
beyond the capital and is dependent on fragile alliances with
powerful tribes faces other serious challenges.