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Current Affairs Updates
December 4, 2011– Clashes between loyalist and opposition forces have continued over the past weeks in both Sanaa and Taiz despite the signing of the GCC power transfer deal. Taiz has seen extensive violence over the past week, which threatened to dissolve the power transfer deal over questions as to Saleh’s commitment to the framework. Prime Minister Basindwa is expected to announce the members of the transitional unity cabinet within the next couple of days, which will hopefully create some positive momentum for the transition process and not be another point of contention that could fuel further conflict.
December 2, 2011– An article discussing the main opposition group within the JMP, al-Islah, and their prospects for maintaining influence. Al-Islah has a highly diverse membership and have spent years opposing Saleh while also participating within Saleh’s system. This strategy allowed the group to maintain influence through the years yet have also cast doubt as to their true political intentions. There are a number of influential members that appear to be just as dangerous to the democratic future of Yemen as Saleh’s continued presence. I suspect Islah will gain seats in the next parliamentary elections despite the negative feelings that many in the protest movement have towards their party. Ultimately, the way things are shaping up, the GPC will remain dominant with Islah in second. This is precisely how it is right now. How much the internal workings of these parties is altered by the occurrences of the past year and what types of reforms they will feel compelled to pursue remains to be seen.
October 15, 2011– A video of the violence that unfolded as forces loyal to President Saleh opened fire on protesters marching in Sana’a. At least 12 individuals were killed with several others injured. The security situation in Yemen continues to deteriorate despite claims from President Saleh that he will step down as soon as a transition of power agreement is brokered. Saleh has a history of saying one thing and doing another. In 2005, Saleh claimed he would not seek reelection in the name of training Yemeni’s leaders in the practice of peaceful succession. He then reversed course, stating that he would “bow to the popular pressure and appeals of the Yemeni people” and accept his GPC party’s nomination. In addition, Saleh already refused to stand down in May of this year after the Gulf Cooperation Council mediated a transition agreement that provided him amnesty in return for his removal. The proposal remains on the table yet Saleh continues to stall with doublespeak.
October 13, 2011– This article focuses on the precarious situation Saudi Arabia finds itself in with regards to Yemen. Saudi Arabia has called for Saleh to remove himself from office yet allowed the President to return to Yemen after receiving medical care in Riyadh. A failed assassination attempt in June left him severely injured with burns over much of his body. He returned to Yemen in September after 3 months in Saudi Arabia in recovery, a move that surprised many in the opposition. It seems that Riyadh is involved in a delicate balancing act, both calling for Saleh’s removal while also not wanting the popular sentiments for reform to take hold in their own country. From that perspective, it seems that the quicker Saleh leaves office, the better. Though with the opposition movement as fragmented as it is in Yemen, Riyadh is also worried that chaos could ensue upon Saleh’s departure exacerbating the humanitarian situation and increasing the number of refugees spilling over the border.