Yemen's protesters have expressed their hope that Muammar Qadhafi's demise will breathe new life into their uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, amid fears that the movement — now in its ninth month — is losing momentum.
“Oh Saleh, oh Saleh, you're trembling in your sleep!” roared a crowd of young men in Change Square, as they watched footage from al-Jazeera on a projector of Qadhafi's blood-soaked corpse being dragged through the streets of Sirte.
Protest leader Fuad al-Himiyari said: “I say to Saleh: ‘What comes next?' Qadhafi fought like you fought, he was arrogant like you are arrogant, he lied like you lied, and he killed like you killed. If he knew this would be his ending he would never have started it. What is left for you Saleh?” Others remain fearful that the sight of another toppled dictator will only serve to harden the resolve of their own. “These are dark times for Yemen. Saleh will fight harder now. We do not want to endure what the Libyans went through,” said Mabkhoot al-Fuaysi, a pharmacist volunteering in the camp's makeshift hospital.
Those fears seemed to be well-founded. On Saturday, celebrations in Change Square were quickly drowned out by the sound of explosions from the Republican Guard — an elite force headed by Saleh's son Ahmed — as it bombarded the nearby base of the 1st armoured division, which is led by Major General Ali Mohsin al-Ahmar who sided with the opposition in March.Protesters are getting caught in the crossfire as the two sides attack each other's bases with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and Katyusha rockets.
The U.N. Security Council will vote on a British—drafted resolution on Yemen that will condemn the government crackdown against pro—democracy protesters and say those responsible should be held accountable.
A draft, falls short of the demands made by the Yemeni activist and journalist Tawakul Karman, who won the Nobel peace prize earlier this month. For the past three days she has been demonstrating with other Yemenis outside the UN headquarters in New York calling on the security council to retract a Gulf Arab plan that would grant immunity to Saleh and his family. She has also called for his assets to be frozen and his case to be referred to the international criminal court in The Hague.
“We reject and refuse any immunity for the criminals,” Karman said in a speech on Wednesday.
“Immunity is against what the UN was founded upon.” UN efforts to try to ease Saleh from power have coincided with a fresh outbreak of bloodshed, with regime gunmen opening fire on protestors for four days in a row. More than 35 people have died in the latest violence, further dimming the prospect of a diplomatic solution to Yemen's ongoing political turmoil. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2011