There are signs that some Arab authorities have caught their breath and are preparing to pounce once again.
In the last few days Yemen has joined the bandwagon of countries exporting bloody, horrific scenes and images, as a result of a dangerous escalation carried out by the forces of President Ali Abdullah Saleh against the protestors. There have been widespread assaults, deaths and sniper attacks, not sparing even children. Websites are full of tragic images, comparable in their horror to those we have seen and continue to see from Syria and Libya.
The Yemeni peaceful protest movement has been ongoing for nine months, but during the past few months both the movement’s momentum and the interest in it has faded considerably, especially after President Ali Abdullah Saleh went for treatment in Saudi Arabia. Subsequently, Yemeni news went down in priority for those following the protests currently taking place in the Arab arena, or at least it did not gain the attention it deserves. Equal in their neglect of Yemen were journalists and politicians, each with the knowledge that thousands of Yemenis would not give up on their demonstrations and would continue to take to the squares, trying to achieve their freedom peacefully. Indeed, the discourse surrounding the situation in Yemen has been narrowed down to the danger that al-Qaeda could pose there, and measuring the strength of the Muslim Brotherhood in the movements on the street.
During the months in which the situation in Yemen was deadlocked, no party, international or regional, pushed towards an escape from this impasse. Instead they opted for a position of disregard, and perhaps this was the most appropriate stance amidst the outbreak of other revolutions and political and security fronts, the events of which were sufficient to preoccupy many parties with other pressing issues.
The limited debates taking place today, either through traditional media or even more sharply and effectively through means of social networking, indicate the extent of the bitterness and frustration felt by Yemeni protestors and activists, regarding the lack of concern for their plight and experiences, which deserve great admiration and support.
The blame here lies with everyone.
There has not been enough attention placed on Yemen, and the result of this was the horrific bloody strike carried out by the regime’s forces over two days, in an attempt to regain dominance and control once again. The regime understands what is happening in the Arab arena, the intersection of interests which tie President Ali Abdullah Saleh to some regional powers, and most importantly the extent of [international] disregard to what is happening in Yemen, and thus it was easy to achieve a fatal blow against the demonstrators.
Just as in Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Bahrain, Yemen will need genuine political and media support, along with pressure, to ensure that Yemeni officials are held accountable for exercising this much violence against the demonstrators and against the Yemenis, whether in the pre-demonstration phase or as the situation stands today.
The new round of violence that has claimed the lives of Yemenis in the squares and in the streets will continue to escalate unless members of the regime and their leader feel that greater political pressure will be enacted against them.
Furthermore, if this pressure does not appear in the media, then it will remain futile.