Protestors and political analysts in Sanaa warn of an escalating opposition campaign likely to pitch Yemen into further chaos in the wake of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s return to the capital, blaming the US and its top regional ally Saudi Arabia for supporting the 33-year ruler over the will of the people.
“Saudi Arabia is working against the will of the Yemeni people,” Ali Jaradi, editor of Ahale newspaper and a leading Yemeni analyst told Global Post.
“One of the main reasons why Saleh is still in power is because of King Abdullah’s continuous support for him. The Yemeni people expected more for its neighbors. Saudi is putting immense pressure on the world to stick by Saleh.”
Saleh returned to Yemen last Friday from Saudi Arabia where he had been recuperating for three months after suffering severe burns in an assassination attempt.
In a televised speech on Sunday following a week in which around 100 people were killed by security forces and in clashes between Saleh loyalists and armed opposition members, the president called for a "peaceful exchange of power."
But his failure to promise to step down, as demanded by a Gulf-brokered power transition plan which Saleh has repeatedly agreed to and then backed out of signing, fueled more anger on Monday on the streets of Sanaa, where protests have raged since January.
"His speech was about creating chaos, not solutions. There was nothing there to solve this crisis," Abdullah Magany, a high school biology teacher sitting in Change Square, the street encampment at the center of the protest movement, told Reuters."We need to keep escalating our protests."
Ali Abdul Jabbar, director of Sanaa’s Dar al-Ashraf Research Center said Saleh's return to Yemen was “not a good sign. More than 100 have been killed by his forces this week and now he comes seeking peace and calling for a ceasefire. It will only get worse if the international community does not intervene and save Yemen from becoming another Somalia."
Jaradi blamed the US for supporting Saleh with tens of millions of dollars pumped into Yemen’s security forces in an attempt to contain the growing threat of Al Qaeda in Yemen.
“Saleh still has the US support, though they know that al-Qaeda is not a threat. The international community will pay a price for not standing with the will of the people,” said Jaradi.
Read GlobalPost: Yemen's Saleh warns US: It's me or Al Qaeda