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YEMEN: Expert says 'regulated escalation' expected Friday

May 12, 2011 |  3:32 pm


Protests that began in January to unseat longtime president President Ali Abdullah Saleh were expected to continue Friday as Saleh remained resistant to a deal brokered by gulf leaders that would allow him to step down with immunity.

Ibrahim Sharqieh, deputy director of the Brookings Doha Centre,  has written extensively about the conflict in Yemen and talked Thursday about what he expected to see Friday.

Sharqieh_Portrait Q: How will tomorrow be different from past protests in Yemen?

A: Tomorrow is going to be particularly important. Today we have seen a new development in the crisis in Yemen, what I call "regulated escalation." The youth for the first time have announced that they are going to go next to the government offices in Sana and the rest of the country.

Q: Do you think the protests will be peaceful?

A: There is a risk here that once they march toward the government offices in Taiz and Sana and Hudaydah this might develop into a crisis. Security forces might respond by shooting

Q: The Gulf Cooperation Council has tried to broker an agreement between Saleh and opposition leaders -- will they succeed?

A: We’re seeing missed chances. So far it doesn’t look like it.

Q: Why -- because Saleh will not accept the deal?

A: He backed off. He knows where this will lead, that he will have to face the protesters because they will continue.

Q: What about the GCC -- don't they want a deal?

A: I expect the GCC countries to come up with a new agreement or to pressure Saleh. The stability of Yemen is also important for the rest of the Gulf countries. Withdrawing for the GCC countries is not an option. Oman borders Yemen in some of the areas where we have seen protests, and spillover of the Yemen crisis will reach the rest of the countries, UAE and others. The GCC and Saudi Arabia are the only players that are able to intervene in this conflict


Timeline: Conflict in Yemen

 -- Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Cairo

Top photo: Yemeni anti-government protesters shout slogans Thursday in Sana during a demonstration calling for the ouster of longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Credit: Mohammed Huwais / AFP/Getty Images