Yemen’s protest uses national drug for energy

Published March 30th, 2011 - 13:50 GMT

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Father and sons have an expiry date. Hopes of keeping the Yemen ruling dynasty in the family have been dashed for Saleh as protests forced him to commit to not extending his term beyond 2013, Sana’a.
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Image 1 of 15: Father and sons have an expiry date. Hopes of keeping the Yemen ruling dynasty in the family have been dashed for Saleh as protests forced him to commit to not extending his term beyond 2013, Sana’a.

Ahmed Ali Abdulla Saleh, Eldest Son, Head of Special Forces and Republican Guards Commander, primed once for taking over from father, now forced to find other career plans since father announced conceded 2013 end of reign.
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Image 1 of 15: Ahmed Ali Abdulla Saleh, Eldest Son, Head of Special Forces and Republican Guards Commander, primed once for taking over from father, now forced to find other career plans since father announced conceded 2013 end of reign.

Sons of Saleh, partners in crime: or rather partners in jobs from Daddy. When father realized he couldn’t inherit his sons his job, he set them up with the next best thing: diplomatic  positions in embassies abroad.
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Image 1 of 15: Sons of Saleh, partners in crime: or rather partners in jobs from Daddy. When father realized he couldn’t inherit his sons his job, he set them up with the next best thing: diplomatic positions in embassies abroad.

Growing public anger at elitist decadence of the Salah family: Cushioned from the surrounding poverty, even when living the traditional tribal ceremony, it is done with a dash of extravagance that is resented in the poorest country of the Mid-East.
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Image 1 of 15: Growing public anger at elitist decadence of the Salah family: Cushioned from the surrounding poverty, even when living the traditional tribal ceremony, it is done with a dash of extravagance that is resented in the poorest country of the Mid-East.

He practices elite activity as horse racing (the pedigree horses come from Arabia after all) and he tries to keep involved in extravagant football hosting activity to keep up with his Gulf neighbours rich in resources. Holds his head up high.
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Image 1 of 15: He practices elite activity as horse racing (the pedigree horses come from Arabia after all) and he tries to keep involved in extravagant football hosting activity to keep up with his Gulf neighbours rich in resources. Holds his head up high.

Ahmed AAS – Hoping to succeed Father, the military President did once inspire confidence from his people when he united the country and promoted the Arab national project so potent when he first came to power 30 years ago.
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Image 1 of 15: Ahmed AAS – Hoping to succeed Father, the military President did once inspire confidence from his people when he united the country and promoted the Arab national project so potent when he first came to power 30 years ago.

Daddy’s Daughter: In a country more conservative for women than even neighbor Saudi, his family does gallivant quite openly, including his daughter, Ezz Allah. Still, her education far more basic than her brothers. Acting in line with his conservative culture.
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Image 1 of 15: Daddy’s Daughter: In a country more conservative for women than even neighbor Saudi, his family does gallivant quite openly, including his daughter, Ezz Allah. Still, her education far more basic than her brothers. Acting in line with his conservative culture.

Qat is a small evergreen shrub, widely cultivated in Yemen and generally used for chewing, with stimulant drug effect. Chewing also part of the Yemeni business culture to promote decision-making.
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Image 1 of 15: Qat is a small evergreen shrub, widely cultivated in Yemen and generally used for chewing, with stimulant drug effect. Chewing also part of the Yemeni business culture to promote decision-making.

Ali Abdullah living the high life and finding time to unwind (without Qat!), he can tune out of his country’s diverse issues: al-Qaeda, Huathi, Sunni/ Shiite, extreme poverty, youth unemployment, and now protests and demands that he leave. He looks like he’s staying put.
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Image 1 of 15: Ali Abdullah living the high life and finding time to unwind (without Qat!), he can tune out of his country’s diverse issues: al-Qaeda, Huathi, Sunni/ Shiite, extreme poverty, youth unemployment, and now protests and demands that he leave. He looks like he’s staying put.

Yehya Muhammed Ismail: son-in-law of President, pilot, defected to join the protesting masses. As seen here, protesting Qat-friendly. In fact since Qat juice, swallowed, has an amphetamine-like effect, it can incite protest fever, sustaining them overnight.
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Image 1 of 15: Yehya Muhammed Ismail: son-in-law of President, pilot, defected to join the protesting masses. As seen here, protesting Qat-friendly. In fact since Qat juice, swallowed, has an amphetamine-like effect, it can incite protest fever, sustaining them overnight.

Khalid Ali Abdullah Saleh: all sons were being primed for power in the next round of Saleh remgime. Now Father needs a plan B. A host of ministers and ambassadors resigned following the 18 March shootings and Mr Saleh announced he was sacking the entire cabinet.
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Image 1 of 15: Khalid Ali Abdullah Saleh: all sons were being primed for power in the next round of Saleh remgime. Now Father needs a plan B. A host of ministers and ambassadors resigned following the 18 March shootings and Mr Saleh announced he was sacking the entire cabinet.

Uday of Yemen: Ali Abdullah Saleh’s nephew , Yehya with Saddam’s daughter, Raghad. His reputation specifically linked to Sadam’s son, but Yemen ruling family clan also compared to the Hussein’s of Iraq in their villainy to people.
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Image 1 of 15: Uday of Yemen: Ali Abdullah Saleh’s nephew , Yehya with Saddam’s daughter, Raghad. His reputation specifically linked to Sadam’s son, but Yemen ruling family clan also compared to the Hussein’s of Iraq in their villainy to people.

Published this clearly photoshopped photo to show Saleh has supporters. This during a rival rally staged by the President for his Friday of Forgiveness, 26 March, otherwise called Friday of Departure and Friday of Uncertainty by opponents.
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Image 1 of 15: Published this clearly photoshopped photo to show Saleh has supporters. This during a rival rally staged by the President for his Friday of Forgiveness, 26 March, otherwise called Friday of Departure and Friday of Uncertainty by opponents.

Music artist,  Muhammed Adroou’ay –outspoken in his lyrics since 2007, appears now on stage performing for the people in  Sana’a ‘igleh’ (get out!), dedicated once again to a leader who overstayed his welcome. Not getting the message.
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Image 1 of 15: Music artist, Muhammed Adroou’ay –outspoken in his lyrics since 2007, appears now on stage performing for the people in Sana’a ‘igleh’ (get out!), dedicated once again to a leader who overstayed his welcome. Not getting the message.

Woman of the Year by US magazine Glamour/ top 100 most powerful Arab women, Arabian Business. Nujood Ali, escaped forced child marriage aged ten.This is the conservative staid Yemen Saleh presides over. Hilary Clinton commends emancipated young girl as her ‘hero’.
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Image 1 of 15: Woman of the Year by US magazine Glamour/ top 100 most powerful Arab women, Arabian Business. Nujood Ali, escaped forced child marriage aged ten.This is the conservative staid Yemen Saleh presides over. Hilary Clinton commends emancipated young girl as her ‘hero’.

What's the deal in Yemen?

Yemen has a favourable climate for protests: widespread corruption and unemployment, a declining economy, rising living costs, and a nepotistic regime with an ageing president who rules over a young, frustrated and politically excluded majority. Elaborate networks of patronage and corruption that are tied in with Mr Saleh's regime are coming into open view.

Why has this leader not followed in the path of Ben Ali of Tunis and Mubarak of Egypt?

There are important differences in Yemen that challenge the emergence of a popular cohesive democratic movement. Firstly, Yemen’s socio-economic make-up differs significantly. Both Egypt and Tunisia have a mobilised and well-connected middle-class that does not exist in Yemen. While approximately five million Egyptian youth are on Facebook, only 180,000 Yemeni youth are – less than one percent of the population.

How are they coping and sustaining such long-standing protests?

Possibly through habitually used national drug, Qat: used in governmental sittings and taken by youth and elders alike.  This small shrub, chewed and kept stored in the cheek, is the palliative of Yemen, and in this case the stimulant and source of endurance.

Leader of 30 plus years, Ali Abdullah Saleh, hasn’t always been unpopular as the mounting protests and public anger reveal. He was hailed for uniting Yemen and rode the wave of that triumph for a while in his first decade of power. He was one of those Arab national project leaders, a cause very much lost and diluted in the ever fragmented and dispersed nation of conflicting agendas and needs.

 

The opposition movement 

Fragmented, poorly organised, and no longer represents the interests of ordinary Yemenis. There is sparse national unity to mobilise Yemenis under a common national agenda. National identity is not a primary affiliation for many Yemenis. Tribal identity remains significantly a primary affiliation for 35 percent of the population. President Saleh oversees a highly complex patronage network of tribal, religious and political linkages, which remain an important part of the political landscape in Yemen


North South Divide

In the south, mostly Sunni stronghold, up to tens of thousands of protestors have been demonstrating nearly weekly since 2007, calling for independence from the north and an end to the ‘occupation’. Nearly seventy percent of southerners support dissolving the 1990 unity agreement with the north, and feel no identification with the protests happening in northern cities. Not to mention the most serious threat of all Al-Qaeda’s franchises, from the Houthi rebellion in the north.  The only common platform for all of Yemen is possibly much needed reform.

 

Yemen is the Arab world's most impoverished nation and, even before the current protests, it was becoming increasingly chaotic, with both al-Qaeda and separatist challenges to the government's authority.

 But now, concessions from a leader to a people braying for his blood

In face of growing public anger, the increasingly embattled leader did announced a package of economic concessions in January of this year, including pay raises, tax cuts, and an increase in price controls and subsidies.

Economic measures, and limited political concessions, failed to quell the growing discontent.

February 2, the eve of Yemen’s own ‘Day of Rage’

He refuses to live the life more in accordance with a ruler of a country devoid of resources and a staggering degree of poverty such that Yemen ranks in the top 10 for world poverty. His family lives a life far removed from this picture. In order to keep up with his neighbours who should be out of his wealth league, he hosted the Gulf Football Cup, despite the theoretical absence of state money to fund it.

 

In spite of all defections and demonstrations, he refuses to be unseated and ignores appeals for him to iglah! (get out)

 

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