News / Middle East

Yemen Unrest Deepens, Downward Spiral Spreads

Medics and other men carry an injured tribesman loyal to tribal leader Shiekh Sadiq al-Ahmar after clashes with police forces outside al-Ahmar's house in Sanaa, May 31, 2011
Medics and other men carry an injured tribesman loyal to tribal leader Shiekh Sadiq al-Ahmar after clashes with police forces outside al-Ahmar's house in Sanaa, May 31, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Elizabeth Arrott

Yemeni government troops in Sana'a are again fighting members of the Hashid tribe, just one of several forces, including militants and anti-government protesters, seeking to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh.



The street battles followed a brief truce between the government and forces loyal to Sheikh Sadek al-Ahmar, and threatened once again to push Yemen toward civil war.

The two sides had tentatively achieved a cease-fire Sunday, but al-Ahmar loyalists accused the government of breaking the deal with renewed attacks on the sheikh's Sana'a compound. The government countered that fault lay with Hashid fighters who retook key government buildings in Sana'a.

Meanwhile, officials and medics say suspected militants have killed at least five soldiers near the southern town of Zinjibar, which was seized by fighters described as Islamist militants in recent days.  Government forces have carried out air strikes over the town.

The underlying opposition demand - that President Saleh step down as outlined in a deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council - remains unchanged. Saleh has three times rejected the plan.

Tom Finn, a journalist in Sana'a, described the fighting in the past days as the heaviest since protests began against Saleh four months ago.

"There was continuous machine gun fire and very loud, heavy explosions which were rattling the windows of houses across Sana'a," recalled Finn.

He says both sides are firing shells and anti-aircraft missiles at the other, ravaging part of the capital.

"The east of the capital has pretty much been evacuated. It's an area called Hasaba. It's a heavily, densely populated residential area which is now a ghost town," Finn said.  "The houses are empty, the streets are filled with smashed up walls and concrete and bullet holes.  It's essentially a battle zone in this neighborhood."

More residents were reported trying to leave the capital, after others fled during fighting between the two sides last week.

"What I'm seeing and hearing on the streets of Sana'a is sort of widespread panic and fear of what's coming in Yemen," said Finn.

The clashes in Sana'a and Zinjibar are but two of the fronts in the effort to force President Saleh from power.  Witnesses in the southwestern city Taiz say more anti-government protesters were killed by troops Tuesday.

The government's deadly push to clear the city's central square began Sunday.  The United Nations refugee agency says it has reports that more than 50 people have been killed in the crackdown in Taiz.

While the pressure on Saleh is clearly growing, whether his disparate opponents can, or even want to unite, is less apparent.   

Tom Finn says the matter is dividing political protesters in Sana'a, who, inspired by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, have been seeking a democratic alternative to more than three decades of Saleh's authoritarian rule.

"There's mixed opinion of whether they want the support of these tribes, whether or not they want to see armed groups with them because generally speaking, one of the main mottos of their urban movement is that it is peaceful," Finn said.

He says a big worry for the political protesters now is that their movement is going to be "completely eclipsed" by the violence.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter

and discuss them on our Facebook page.

 

You May Like

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid